Last issue I was writing about our prices, and getting into some agricultural economics.
To recap, I noted that we have been raising prices recently, out of necessity. After almost 50 years of gaining experience, improving our production systems and creating many efficiencies, we still find we have not really been making a reliable living from our farming.
Our competition is mostly in the western US and Mexico, and there farmers have some major advantages, which we will never have here in the northeast USA. The three major ones are climate, economies of scale, and cost of labor.
So our assumptions about where our prices need to be have been wrong for a long time. Our costs of production and the huge risks we take every day keep us from “living (farming) sustainably”, as our website brags. If we’re going to stay around for you , our customers, we just have to ask you to pay us a bit more for the food we grow for you.
And we’ve been very gratified, as our prices have gone up, to find that you do seem to be willing to tolerate us and continue supporting us, even at higher prices.
We appreciate that a lot, and we’ve been curiously accumulating evidence for why it is. The best thing I’ve done to understand it has been to visit our competitors, Whole Foods and other supermarkets. (And btw, if you haven’t noticed, WF, since being bought by Amazon, has lowered prices!).
What’s been interesting has been looking closely at the produce in these stores, tasting it, and imagining myself in your shoes, the consumer, and imagining for myself what I would do if instead of eating NM Farm food I had to eat only what I could buy at WF.
What a revelation! Everything at the store looks, and is, kinda tired, compared to our stuff! Okra is rusty and limp. Beans same. Lettuce wilty and shredded, tomatoes unripe, peaches hard as a rock, etc etc. You can tell it’s been traveling thousands of miles! You can taste that too.
And the whole experience of shopping is nothing like it is at our market. There’s no one knowledgeable to ask questions of! Arrrgh! No one to tell you what’s good today, what in or out of season, how to cook a beet or peel a peach. Confusing price signs, mislabeled produce, a general dearth of information, which can be so important when shopping for what you and your family are going to be eating that day!
So I think I now really see and feel what makes our food stand out as fresher, tastier, more colorful, sweeter, crunchier, riper, just generally better, and worth a higher price.
And we so much appreciate that you, our customers, see and feel these things too. What a horror to imagine a life where we could only eat from Whole Foods!
See you Saturday. Oh wait!—I’m playing hooky again and going to the beach again! But I’ll return next week. Meanwhile, say hi to Adam, the manager, and our friendly crew, and don’t forget your sticky buns!