Last Saturday I had mentioned that I went to breakfast with a friend. She lives in North Carolina just a short distance from our home. We had a wonderful breakfast, and she asked if I minded going to the local organic grocery store with her. I was more than willing. It was my first time ever being in one of those types of grocery stores. The first thing I saw was beautiful arrangements of fresh organic flowers. The ones that caught my eye were the bunches of Sunflowers. I looked at the price and I about choked. Now, I like Sunflowers, but NOT that much. We quickly moved on to the produce. The prices were enormous. I was truly shocked. There were many people in this store, and I was amazed at how many young families were shopping there. Generally they were not toting 5 or 6 kids with them, but several did have 2 youngings with them. At the meat counter, I asked about the meat being organic. I wanted to know exactly what that meant. Come to find out the meat wasn't exactly organic but it was all natural. That meant that it didn't contain hormones, steroids, antibiotics etc. I wondered if the people shopping there knew that piece of information. The meat was VERY expensive. Our family would have to be vegetarians if it meant spending that amount of money per pound of meat. ( I am not joking).
I left there in shock and awe. First, I felt my eyes were opened to a whole new population of people. I was impressed that money wasn't the first thing on their mind when it came to their convictions of healthy living. Secondly, I was so thankful to God because our farm provides the exact same products and more for a whole lot less. I think the payment on our farm would be cheaper than paying that much money for groceries. (Again, I am not joking). I also realized there were a lot of people out there that want what many of us provide for our own families. They are willing to pay B-I-G money to get it. This one trip totally renewed my thoughts about a CSA. Truth be told, Michael and I are not at a place in our life to build a farm that produces enough food to sell. Our goal for now is to produce enough food for our own family. For every dollar that I don't have to spend at the grocery store, it is just like we earned that dollar. If we can produce it here, that truly does help our checkbook. Plus our kids get the life lessons that come with raising their own food even when they don't want the lesson! I know without a shadow of a doubt they will be thankful for the experience later in their life. I also KNOW exactly who has touched our food and how it has been handled. Recently I bought two packs of ribs at the grocery store. Both packs were the same type with the same expiration date. The first pack was normal. The second pack had an odd smell, but nothing major. I was in a hurry and I cooked them anyway. (I WILL NEVER MAKE THAT MISTAKE AGAIN)! I ended up with food poisoning. I will spare you all the gruesome details, but lets just say I was very sick. Now both packs had come from the same store. Who am I to blame for this? First, I blamed myself because I knew better. But who can I hold responsible. I have no idea. I went back to the store I purchased the meat at. I realized they would listen to my tale of woes, but they really could care less. I have no way of controlling the way they handle the meat. Perhaps they let it set out too long. Perhaps the butcher let it set out too long. Perhaps the truck driver let it set out too long....and it goes on and on. Here on our farm...I know how long the eggs have been in the chicken coop. I know that I can eat them raw if I want to without worrying about salmonella. We are in control of how these animals are taken care of, and we know exactly what has been put on our plants. I really like that peace of mind.
I write this to encourage you as fellow homesteaders or homesteaders wanta be's. There is a market out there for what we have. People want it. and many times they are willing to pay for it. I am sad about the Farm Laws here in Tennessee. I wish they were different. Lets just say they aren't very farm friendly. If I wanted to purchase meat from my neighbor that he had slaughtered that is against the law. If I want his meat, he can sell me half a cow and I can go to the butcher to pay him for my portion, but it isn't as simple as making a deal with your neighbor. If I want to purchase eggs from my neighbor, I can't. If I want to purchase raw milk from my neighbor, I can't. I would have to purchase the milk with the understanding that it is for pet consumption only. (Do children qualify as pets??) (Now, I am joking)! However, if I had purchased those ribs from my neighbor and I had gotten food poison I would know exactly who to have a talk with....IT would be my neighbor. I would expect my money to be refunded, and I would give him or her GRUESOME details of what his meat did to my body. Then I would have the decision to shop somewhere else if I didn't like his response to my tale of woes. More than likely my neighbor would have a small enough clientele that it would make a difference to his pocketbook if I took my business elsewhere. (Unlike the large grocery stores who really don't care one way or the other about my "pauper" amount of grocery money spent in their store). However, Tn. does not allow me the freedom to live that scenario so I just get to purchase my food from China....oh that makes me feel all better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
grace and peace,