The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Cashing in on the Local Trend

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.

Sweet Dirt spoon

locavore

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.

Brown Butter

Brown Butter Ice Cream

Strawberry Sorbet

Strawberry Sorbet

dessert

Delicious?  Yes, very.  The consistencies were terrific and they offered some really cool flavors.

Sweet Dirt cart

debate

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?

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About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

16 comments on “Cashing in on the Local Trend

  1. juliabaileywine
    July 18, 2013

    That brown butter ice cream has got me drooling…

  2. UndercoverL
    July 18, 2013

    There is this total motard at my farmers market who bullies me into trying his wares every time I go… even my kids squeal that they hate his food. He doesn’t take the hint. I think he may be suffering from inflated ego and little-big man syndrome.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      July 18, 2013

      I’d fake food poisoning in front if him. Or just start gagging and saying “thats the nastiest shit ever” really loudly so that everyone can hear it.

      • UndercoverL
        July 18, 2013

        That is pretty much what my wee demons do! LOL

  3. rbenard
    July 18, 2013

    I’d 100% pay 5 bucks for 4 ounces of GOOD ice cream. Was it as delicious as it looked?

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      July 18, 2013

      It was good, but not outstanding. There’s a couple places here that serve house-made stuff for less money. Much better, wider selection and they are storefronts with seating.

      • rbenard
        July 18, 2013

        …multiple places that serve house-made ice cream?

        You are living my dream, sir.

  4. Socialkenny
    July 18, 2013

    I’d never heard the word locavore before reading this post. Is this term even listed in any dictionary? My phone didn’t even register it as an actual word. Anyway, do your thing! I’m all for the local man also!

  5. wildbluewonder
    July 18, 2013

    I really need to try that brown butter ice cream!!

    I tend to think that if people are paying it, then more power to those creative ice cream makers. I highly doubt they’re gold plating their tile floors with the proceeds!

  6. Laura
    July 18, 2013

    Maybe it’s because I’ve been in NYC for the summer and have forgotten about normal prices, but $5 doesn’t sound that outrageous to me…? And now I’m totally going to try this once I get back to A2, so thanks for enabling me!

  7. savorencyclopedia
    July 18, 2013

    Every single flavor listed on their board is tempting to me. It all sounds fabulous, so is there something wrong with me if I am thankful that it was not as good as you anticipated and they are not around me because I would probably be down $50 and have gained ten pounds?!?

  8. Max D.
    July 21, 2013

    We’ve been pounded into submission by Zingerman’s prices. I dont think their gelato is much more of a bargain.

  9. seasonedwithsarcasm
    July 24, 2013

    I think that while $5 sounds steep, if it is a good food item, using locally sourced goods from a local person, it’s worth the investment. Especially if they are a small start up. It’s easier to have your prices higher to start, especially if the market will pay them. Later on, once they have a following, they could lower their prices. Maybe they are trying to get back some of their start up costs, maybe they are trying to save for a store front and this is the first stage in their business plan – introducing the masses to their products. The hubs and I have spent $100 on tapas and good beer between the 2 of us and left with full bellies of delicious, freshly prepared seasonal food. So $5 for a treat is worth every penny.

  10. Pingback: Ann Arbor Eats – What Crepe? | The Food and Wine Hedonist

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This entry was posted on July 18, 2013 by in Ann Arbor, Dining and tagged , , , , , , .
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