leave your inhibitions at the door
Trust me, I’m a HUGE proponent of being a locavore. Food that doesn’t have to be schlepped across the globe or across the country is a “win” in so many ways. It definitely helps the local economy since your money is going to people down the road instead of some faceless person in Chile. And, assuming they pay their taxes, it helps pay for roads and schools in your area.
Not having to ship food over long distances also means that we’re saving on transportation costs – both in terms of money and the environment. I recall a line from one of my favorite books, Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” where sustainable farmer Joel Salatin weighs-in on whether to use organic or a local non-organic seed. He said something to the effect of the organic seed “being covered in diesel fuel.” I look at it from a somewhat simpler standpoint – because it gets to me quicker, local food is fresher, tastes better, and is more nutrient-rich.
There are a lot of people who are extolling the virtues of being a locavore. And, as it gains more popularity, it’s driving more people back to food.
Which brings me to the downside.
At the Farmers Market, I’m seeing more and more stands where people are selling prepared foods. There are the Amish people selling jams and preserves, but let’s not count them. Even though I do find the whole electric-free life bizarre, I’m not going to tear into them for it. They are an easy target because, theoretically, it’s not like they’re going to be reading this blog any time soon. But I’m not going to do it because they’re wayyyy more religious than I am and I’m not about to mess with anyone who could be, again theoretically, closer to God than me.
Where was I?
Oh yeah, prepared food at the Farmers Market. There’s all kind of stuff there – tamales, bread, pasta, chocolates, pastries. They all look pretty good, but I rarely buy them. Why? Because it’s dayyyyumm expensive!
People who’ve been reading this blog for a while and those who have met me in person know that I’m not a cheapskate. If I see something worth having, I’m going to buy it. That could be both a temporary-fun thing (aka beer) or what I perceive to be an excellent long term investment.
But $9 bucks for a bag of noodles? No fricking way.
The latest entry is Sweet Dirt.
I noticed them a couple weeks ago when I was there with the Pieholes. I was feeling pretty happy that they came along with me, so it didn’t take much begging on their part for me to splurge on some.
Here’s what we had.
Delicious? Yes, very. The consistencies were terrific and they offered some really cool flavors.
But $5 for less than 4 ounces?
Look, I know that it’s hard to start a business from scratch. Getting the money to pay for equipment, ingredients, plus the emotional energy are tough enough. And that’s not even taking into consideration the time and effort to perfect your product. Add to that the RIDICULOUS flaming hoops that the local government makes you go through to make sure you don’t kill anyone with lack of cleanliness and shoddy prepwork. I get it.
But is it really worth that much? Are the prices high because they reflect the actual cost of doing business? Plus a little bit extra to try to recoup start-up expenses? I could understand if they had a retail space that they had to rent , furnish, and insure. But a small ice cream cart?
Or are they being good little free-market capitalists by charging what the market will bear? In this case, the market is a town full of bleeding heart professionals with deep pockets. And idiots like me who drag their kids to the Farmers Market. They know their product isn’t worth THAT much more, but there’s always enough people to pay for it.
But will it catch up to them at some point? I wonder if people are going to eventually say, “The Emperor has no clothes!”
Buying local certainly makes me feel good, so I’m probably still going be as much of a locavore as possible. But are they taking advantage of me?
What do you think?