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Organic Revisited

October 8, 2011

Sometimes the most difficult balance is finding what people want vs what they say they want. We’ve discussed the organic production many times. Just recently on the sister blog we touched on this from a food/market side of it. So first jump out of the box this morning we find three criticisms on a discussion forum because we’re not more organic.

Now regular readers know we’re custom based. That means if you want organic by all means you can have it – but it costs. I showed the numbers – five bags of organic feed is just over $200 per week. That’s about $1200/month here just for feed for the birds. That doesn’t cover feeding the rabbits – and the chickens must not ever get near the rabbits then or they might eat a non-organic pellet. It was criticized that well their costs weren’t that much for organic…so I showed the resources of near $25/bag of organic feed, plus shipping. Then came the ethical trump card. It’s not just about money it’s about ethics – and we’re not ethical.

Wow. So much for respectful discussion! So here’s the thing…I’ve got $200 today with which I must find a way to pay our bills, get feed, get a few groceries and find a way to cover $280 in expenses. Instead of that – I should just feed the chickens organic feed and let the rabbits and dogs and cats and us do without food – but hey we’ll be organic and ethical! Really?!!

Now keep in mind that to come anywhere close to an income we need to be double in size – doubling prices isn’t going to work as people are only going to pay so much for food. And of course, none of the critics want to pony up funds to allowing this organic ethical raising as they can do it in the city with 10 birds feeding them organic vegetables. There is no offer to donate which allows larger operations to do the same, because there is no one who will pay the difference. Our eggs at $3/dozen combine the reasonable cost with (barely) covering expenses at $9/bag. So at 2-1/2 times the costs, there are people who will pay $8-9/dozen for eggs? And birds have to eat even when there is a lull in production, as is the case right now…so that’s still about $600 in feed that wouldn’t have large production return. So to be “ethical” it’s not enough to insure our birds have plenty of feed, water, shelter, outdoor area, etc – we *must* operate at a loss every month to insure they eat organic. We’re promised we’ll lose 30 pounds each if they do…because someone else lost 30 pounds when they went organic.

So to the reader – a question! What will you pay for a dozen organic eggs? As it is we’re scrambling for support constantly with a big and upcoming goal of getting land. How much would you, personally, invest in a farm that not only did what we do but used all certified organic feed? That means we can’t buy at the local feed store – that isn’t organic enough…we must order from several states away and have it trucked. It’s not good enough to buy from a neighboring farm – that’s not certified organic either. And if we grow it ourselves (which we’ll do when the land fairy grants us 100 acres!) it’s still not certified organic so therefore not ‘ethical’ in the minds of extreme critics.

Are you willing to pay $10 for pork chops and $10/pound for burger? Someone has to pay it – there are no handouts from the government like people think. We can’t feed $1200/month in feed for $900 in egg sales. So what is the answer? Raise it yourself…that’s awesome…what about all your neighbors. I’m pretty sure those 30 chickens our critics own won’t feed L.A. – so who feeds the rest?

We’re custom options – so if anyone wants that it’s sure available! All the risk and rewards are open!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2011 5:11 AM

    Well said. Even the most erudite critic who thinks he or she is thinking globally likely is thinking extremely locally. “In MY experience.” “Based on MY research.” “MY thoughts…”

    The same localism often is behind a lot of the “no meat,” “no fur/leather/etc,” “no internal combustion,” and “no whateverelse” crowds.

    We’re a much smaller farm with plans to expand only slightly, so we have some more options. We won’t pursue “organic” certification. Our chickens and ducks free range, but have access to quality commercial feed at night and winter/poor weather. Our meat goats browse all day long on forage fertilized with our own (not organic-certified) composted manure, but we feed them hay from another farmer’s fields (also manure-fertilized) as well as commercial grain.

    Yet I could confine my chickens, ducks, and goats to a significantly smaller space, feed them with 100% certified organic feed (grown, processed, and shipped overland with fossil fuels) with no access to true forage and then pay to qualify as certified organic. Of course I’d also need to go into debt and then default on those debts soon afterward. This evidently will make me more ethical.

    Sounds like this will grow into a full-length blog post – I’ll be sure to link back here.

    • October 10, 2011 12:01 AM

      Few people have that money tree that enables us to do everything we want without consideration to finances! No matter what we want to do we’re limited with finances. From a farm standpoint we must find and do what works *for us* – and that may well vary from farm to farm! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Nelson permalink
    October 10, 2011 9:39 PM

    Since organic feed is readily available to them, obviously it is readily available to everyone. And the cost is not much higher for them so it must be the same price everywhere.
    As a young friend of mine posts on facebook, SMDH.

    • October 11, 2011 1:34 PM

      That’s true – where there is more demand for it then it will be more readily available. Even “proper” “ethical” ‘leaders’ don’t use organic feed…but that’s different! No one can answer how but it is. I know what we are and what we aren’t – and if there’s not 100 people out there to agree then I suppose the ‘food revolution’ is already fizzled.

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