You Get What You Pay For
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That’s the truth isn’t it?

Why is that Americans will spend $$$$+ on a car or clothes but only $ on food?

In this chapter, Joel says, “Never has a society spent less of its disposable income on food, as a percentage of all expenditures.”

Have you noticed that society also spends more on medicines now too? Coincidence? I think not.

If you’ve read this chapter, and I hope that you have, you will remember Joel’s stories about how being a farmer is not considered a “viable occupation” in the eyes of many government agencies. (remember the story our apprentice who wanted to marry a girl from Canada?) And yet it’s farmers who feed the world, or is it a machine? I’m always forgetting. (notice my sarcasm here)

Joel writes: “We started this chapter talking about cheap food policies and disrespected farmers. I would suggest that the real elitists in our culture are those who would deny the first-line stewards of our nutrition and our landscape their rightful place in society. I’m all about restoring the Jeffersonian intellectual agrarian. Every one of us – farmers, urbanites, condo dwellers – can join this great return to Jeffersonion normalcy by elevation the place of food in our lives to its rightful altar. That can be one giant step toward restoring normalcy.

“How about some practical ideas?

  1. Complain to your farmer that he isn’t charging enough.
  2. Display good stickers on your refrigerator or car bumper: “Know your farmer” -type language.
  3. Do some price comparisons between processed and unprocessed foods.
  4. Look at your expenditures and see what is unnecessary. Add that amount to your food budget. Do that for 3 months and then tell me you don’t have enough money for good food.
  5. Before saying anyone can’t afford good food, make sure their house contains no alcohol, coffee, tobacco, soda, frozen dinners, flat-screen TV’s, iPods, tattoos, or unsingable music.”

Michael Pollan, Author of Omnivore’s Dilemma, says

“Cheap food is an illusion. There is no such thing as cheap food. The real cost of the food is paid somewhere. And if it isn’t paid at the cash register, it’s charged to the environment or to the public purse in the form of subsidies. And it’s charged to your health.”

 

What do you think?

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About Sheri Salatin

Sheri is married to Daniel Salatin. She is the marketing director at Polyface Farm and stay-at-home mom of three children. Sheri is passionate about clean food and is enjoying working the land along side her husband. When not farming, Sheri can be found reading, writing, sewing, baking and serving in her church family.
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11 Responses to You Get What You Pay For

  1. Aaron Thomas says:

    This reflects a lot of my feelings almost perfectly. We have become a nation of superficial users. The cheapest things are demanded unless it can be seen as “rich” then we borrow extradinary amounts to have it. I believe we are on the way back to the Thomas Jefferson Agrarian Ideal although the pain in getting there will be high.

    We need to develop relationships with our local farmers as that trumps any government regulation avalible. It comes as no surprise that these views are eminating from the Shenadoah Valley as it was the breadbasket of the South! I encourage everyone to support there local farmers as much as they can. They will be the ones feeding you if the trucks ever stop rolling.

  2. There is no way to force governments to do the correct thing unless it’s completely politically expedient to some politicians career during re-election time. Most politicians are put into office by special interests groups who hand the politician the bill after the election.

    The E.U. where I presently live is somehow promoted over in your land as being superior when compared to the rest of the world when it comes to being ECO-GREEN and EARTH-FRIENDLY. In amny ways this couldn’t be further from the truth. Their citizens are no different than others around the planet when it comes to trying to live life to the full. Michael Pollan was right about one thing, the bill comes due or paid one way or another.

    I’ll give a couple examples in a future post over on my blog on some EU mistakes. Bio-Fuels are one of them as I find them a disasterous mistake if their idea is to monocrop one or two choices by chewing up wildland or taking good food production land out of circulation just so that one country’s propaganda brochure can declare themselves the most eco-green. Actually this is happening right now.

  3. Laura says:

    I love telling people who complain about local food prices that we do this on a teacher’s salary. It’s that important to us. No, we don’t take lavish vacations, but we don’t feel a need to because of the more “normal” lifestyle we’ve chosen.

  4. Chris Sturdy says:

    It is really too bad how much people complain about spending money (read: paying a fair price) for actual food from real farmers. Whenever I start telling people about Rusty and Agnes Bellamy and their operation at Big Coulee Farms (where we get our beef, pork, chickens, turkeys, eggs) almost the first thing they ask is whether it is expensive. Compared to what? The quality is so much better than everything else available commercially, and for many items (like those produced at Polyface), there is no equivalent available. You really do get what you pay for.

  5. Annie says:

    I loved this chapter. Here in ND, the vast majority of residents still think the “super”market is the hallmark human achievement: the variety, low cost, instant gratification. There is a growing voice of those who realize what we’ve sacrificed on the alter of big ag. We had a customer tell us last week when she reserved a whole hog for fall processing, “The cost doesn’t matter. What matters is the food, good food.” This is not a mindset that can be legislated, it’s shared person to person. A choice made with every dollar.

  6. Grace says:

    I didn’t get interested in food, good food until my 30’s. Health challenges changed my desire to eat right. Good food is now what we spend most of our money on. I started raising animals on a small scale to get familiar with what I was eating. It’s been a wonderful journey. Not for everyone I know but right for us. When we started shopping at farmer’s markets over a decade ago, we felt the vibrancy of healthy food. Conventional food stores became unfamiliar to us when we lived in California as farmer’s markets became our priority. Eating good is truly a passion.

    I might also add here that as long as there is a movement to keep undocumented workers (immigrants) out of the U.S. food prices will increase. These people are the only folks willing to work long hot hours in the sun growing and harvesting food for us to eat. Last summer a tomato grower in Alabama had to close his business when the town ran out the immigrants. He tried to hire local people, they lasted less than 24 hours. The work was “too hard.”

  7. Kate Swist says:

    I think where we (the big we) get stuck is in the cooking of food. It becomes very easy and doesn’t feel as expensive if we cook meals with whole ingredients (raw veges, whole grains, etc…) Eating “good food” is much harder if we don’t prepare it ourselves from scratch. I think many Americans either don’t know how or don’t care to cook whole foods into meals. It requires planning, both short term and long term, creativity and most importantly persistence. Its one thing to prepare a “Sunday” meal once a week, its quite another to prepare 2-3 meals per day 7 days a week. Its the difference between running on the treadmill occasionally at the gym and training for a triathalon.

    I personally fall somewhere in the middle, I often cook meals from scratch with whole ingredients, but there are nights when I’m too tired from work, kids, and other commitments that I order a pizza from Dominos.

  8. I would add to the list of action items if we’re promoting a Jeffersonian intellectual Agrarian mindset: Ask your farmer what he/she is reading…then read it and discuss it with him/her. Ask your farmer for recommended reading to help you become a more educated partner in the farm. If your farmer isn’t a reader either encourage them to start by recommending something you are reading, buying them a copy of something you treasure or just find another farmer.

    I am more than just a vendor. I want you to be more than just a customer. I’m more than your own personal farmer. This is so much more than just labor, finances and nutritional density. We’re in this together and together we can transform our families, our society, and our world.

    Jefferson also worked to remain fit but that might get too personal.

    You, the consumer, are the watchdog. Is your farmer stewarding his mind and body as well as the land, animals and finances? If he is neglecting the former, he will fail at the latter.

  9. Most of the people I know spend small fortunes on food. But it’s not necessarily good food. My husband and I spend about 20% of our take-home pay (our income is less than median for this country) on groceries, but we eat so well. Our CSA membership begins soon, and we just got our 1/4 beef from a local guy…plus we just ordered some chickens locally. Honestly, I just got tired of bad tomatoes, and that’s what started me on this change for our family. It’s been worth it.

  10. I can’t wait to read this. I am a real food advocate. I am also a single mom who works full time and is in school. I know if my family and I can invest our money in real food than anyone can. What people do not understand is you end up paying a lot more in the long run when you eat processed foods. You will end up with lots of health problems and it will cost a fortune. I have worked in a pharmacy for 12 years now, and when I started researching nutrition and health I decided to go back to school so I can help people get back to healthy through nutrition and not just cover up symptoms with medications. I have been around drugs for 12 years now and there isn’t a one I would put in my body. What does that tell you? Trust me the people who know what these drugs do, wouldn’t dare take them themselves. Eat real food! Support your local farmers! Plant a garden! Thank you guys for all that you are doing and the message you are sending out.

  11. David says:

    Enjoy the book. Reading “the food police”, jayson lusk at the same time. Let ya know my views. David