First, a little housekeeping. I have to remind you about the deal on “Is Your Flour Wet?” Subscribers can get this ebook FREE! And for every 100 new subscribers I get by the end of June, I’ll discount Real Food Basics by $1. At this point, we are at $1.25 discount. Keep sharing this page with friends and helping to drive subscribers! I’d love to sell the books for just $1 total (that’s 475 more new subscribers)!
Besides…we have some awesome things coming up later this month, which you won’t want to miss. 🙂 The current awesome mini-series, posts by my excellent contributing writers, and I’m planning some awesome summer giveaways and book sales! Plus I’m hoping to launch a new book in July, all about saving money on groceries!! But you won’t know when it’s coming unless you’re subscribed!
Anyway…moving along to today’s real post — direct-from-farm purchasing!
Direct-From-Farm Purchasing Realities
Many of you already know that I run a local food buying group. Most of what we buy is through a semi-local farm (about 2 hours away) and this farm provides raw milk, eggs, pork, turkey, lamb, beef, and chicken. Pretty much any animal product that we could want!
Very recently, we weren’t able to get eggs because something happened and the chickens didn’t really lay for a few days. When the person doing the farm pick up that week showed up without eggs, I was initially unhappy, thinking perhaps they’d forgotten to load them up. When I learned that the reason was because they were unavailable, I was perfectly fine. Why? Because I expect that with direct-from-farm purchasing.
A lot of people, however, are simply not used to buying from farms. Even among people who actively seek out real food, there is a total disconnect to the realities of farming.
Last weekend, we went strawberry picking and got another 30 lbs. of strawberries. When I was sitting out in the field alone, picking the last of them (my husband had taken the kids to the car, along with the rest that we’d picked), I overheard some kids talking. These kids were maybe 10 or 12 years old — not really little or anything. One said, “Oh…there are no blueberries here. We should go to a blueberry patch sometime.”
Maybe I’m wrong. But it sounded to me like they expected to find blueberries growing among the strawberries! They certainly weren’t aware that strawberries grow on plants low to the ground, while blueberries grow on big bushes — otherwise it would have been immediately apparent (it was a small-ish farm) that there were no blueberries there. They also did not seem aware of the seasonality of fruit. Blueberries won’t be available in my area for at least another six weeks.
Disconnect from Food
Disconnect from food has led us down a dangerous path. At the very least, people are impatient. They want what they want, when they want it. They don’t accept that eggs aren’t available this week; they want a constant supply! They don’t accept that blueberries aren’t in season for another couple months; they want them now!
It’s impossible even in grocery stores to really understand what’s seasonal. Strawberries show up cheap in stores here around the beginning of April or so — when they’re actually in season in California and Mexico! They don’t come into season here until the end of May. Raspberries and blueberries are starting to show up in the stores cheaply too…for the same reason. They’re in season in the “big” export areas, but not here. Even people who are paying attention are getting a skewed view.
Think about how it is if your local store if out of something. You have two options: go to a different store to buy the item, or get a raincheck and come back (if it’s a sale price). Stores don’t usually run out of items unless it is a sale, and another store will certainly have what you want! We’re spoiled. Everything’s available all the time, so we feel entitled to have this. Imagine how the average family would react if told they could not have milk for two months. Horrified, right? But some who purchase raw milk know that this may happen, in some areas.
Impatience with the seasonal nature of food eventually grows into desire to have easy food. That is, prepared food. We don’t want to do the work to make the food. Once we have it home, it ought to be basically ready to eat. Right?
And soon, we’ve entirely lost touch with the way food is supposed to be. We look at ingredient labels and convince ourselves, “It’s not that bad…” Maybe we don’t even know how bad it really is. But, trust me…it’s not a place you want to be.
Farms Can Help
Back to the farms. When you purchase directly from a local farm, you have to be in touch with all the issues surrounding farming. Sometimes crops come in late, or not at all. Sometimes there are bumper (large) crops! Sometimes chickens don’t lay. Sometimes animals don’t grow quickly enough and there is a time between slaughter without meat.
Farms are “messy” too. There’s dirt everywhere — it’s necessary to grow crops! There’s manure — from the animals, and used for fertilizer. Your hands get stained from picking the produce. Your clothes get dusty. Farming life isn’t about being clean. But, it’s not “dirty,” either, not in a bad sense. There’s dirt, but there aren’t contaminants or things that will make you sick.
When you purchase from farms, you accept all of this. You might be waiting in the hot sun and stifling humidity as you make your purchase. You might not get all of the meat or eggs you ordered. But that’s okay. That’s what food is. That’s how it’s supposed to be.
Benefits Outweigh the Drawbacks
What it comes down to, for me, is knowing that what I’m purchasing is 100% the food I want to feed my family. I know I am getting absolutely top quality, 100% grass-fed milk and beef, pastured eggs, chicken, and turkey. Pastured hogs, even! There is nothing for sale on a farm where I have to hesitate, read a label, or weigh my choices. I can feel free to purchase at will, without fear that I’m getting an inferior product.
With that freedom nearly absent in every other area today, I don’t take it lightly. Even at health food stores, things are loaded with semi-refined sugar, vegetable oils, soy, and other “food” items. I have to wonder if the meat was really pastured. I know the milk’s not raw. There’s little that I buy at any store that isn’t a compromise in some way (although I do shop there for things I need and cannot obtain from farms). A lot of meat from health food stores is not that much different, nutritionally, than meat from a confinement farm (read the link to learn the differences, from a farmer who’s done it both ways).
Farms are really the one place where, once I’ve sought them out, I know what I’m getting is exactly what I want. It’s not something to ignore or take for granted, either. There are a lot of people I know who would absolutely love to have the opportunity that I do to get 100% pastured animal products from a local farm! (If you’re local and want to — contact me.) These animals are never given grain (well — chickens are, because they should, but cows aren’t). There’s zero concern about the product I’m getting. Even many people who buy from farms, or want to, can’t say that!
Which is why it honestly boggles my mind when some people let concerns about availability or the other small issues that go along with buying from farms get to them. Perhaps one week they put in an order…and something’s missing. They don’t want to try again; they want to go with a “sure thing” at the grocery store, even if what they’re getting is lower quality…and probably more expensive, too.
Real life, and real food, isn’t always convenient. But it’s absolutely worth it.
It’s time to put farmers and real food back up where they belong: in high regard. We need to embrace buying directly from farms, and all the “messiness” that goes along with it. It’s the only way to get back to our roots and eat true, 100% real food.
For more, please check out How to Buy from a Farm.
Do you buy directly from farms? Why or why not?