Why Bother Buying Direct?
I would like to start this blog by thanking all of our awesome customers – we had another great winter selling beef & pork off the farm, the egg sales really took off in fall and our first year of pastured broiler chickens was a big success. We plan to grow all aspects of the direct market component of the farm in 2022, particularly the pastured broilers which we have doubled from 300 in 2021 to 600 in 2022. Although we are seeing incredible support of our direct market business, I am fully aware that buying from us (or any other farm that is marketing direct to consumers) isn’t always as convenient as buying from Wal-Mart or Superstore. And yes, our products often cost more. To counter some of the challenges of buying direct from a farmer, I have compiled a short list of reasons why I feel buying your food direct from a farmer is the best way to spend your food dollars in a time when all food prices seem to have skyrocketed.
I think one of the most powerful reasons to buy food direct from a farmer is the impact on the local economy. Not only are you helping to keep that family farm in business, you may be partly financing another employee on the farm. Either way, this helps to keep more people in the community and kids in rural schools. Additionally, this farm business is going to purchase supplies for the farm and their home in the community, supporting jobs at these other businesses. For example, every package of meat you buy from Green Beach Farm & Food not only supports our business but also 2 local butcher shops in our area. That’s a lot of support for local businesses with one purchase!
Another reason to buy direct is that everyone knows farm-fresh food just tastes better. I know any of you that have a garden have experienced the superior flavour of garden-fresh produce versus veggies you find in the store. We have heard the same thing from our beef, pork & egg customers. In fact, we have several customers that no longer buy certain products from the grocery store. Even if we have a waitlist, these customers will hold out for Green Beach Farm & Food products because the taste is much superior to what they feel they find in the store. Interestingly, there has been some recent research published regarding the difference between ‘grocery store’ food and regeneratively grown meat & produce. A study published this past January in the journal PeerJ investigated how regenerative farming practices (similar to what we do at Green Beach Farm & Food) affected the nutritional content of food. The study, led by David Montgomery, found that food from regenerative farms had elevated levels of magnesium, calcium, potassium, and zinc, as well as elevated vitamins B1, B12, C, E & K. Although this research is geared toward regenerative agriculture, flavour & aroma of food seems to be strongly correlated with a lot of the food quality characteristics outlined in Montgomery’s study – remember the difference in flavour of your homegrown veggies versus the ones you buy from the store?
At Green Beach Farm & Food, we have always valued knowing where our food comes from and how it has been raised. This was the initial reason we pursued the food production enterprises on our farm (versus commodity production of grain & live cattle). I think it is very valuable as a consumer to have a relationship with the person who is producing your food. You can search out a farm that is producing great-tasting food in a way that you feel is responsible. On another note, if you are buying direct, chances are you have found a fairly local source. At the risk of sounding too ‘doomsday’, why not have a relationship with a local food producer just in case the delivery truck doesn’t make it to the grocery store for one or two or several days?
I strongly believe that consumers seriously underestimate the power of their food dollars – what foods consumers choose to buy, and from where, have shaped, and continue to shape our Ag & Food industry in this country. So what would you like your food system to look like? If you can figure that out, find a farmer who checks all or some of your boxes and help them to stay in business so they can do their part in moving our food system in a direction that you as a consumer would like to support. In a time where we have seen food prices increase dramatically, think of it as getting more bang for your buck. You aren’t just paying for food – you are supporting a local family-managed business that is striving to improve its land & local community.