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Will You Occupy Our Food Supply?

February 27, 2012

Across the social media world today you may see mention of the Occupy Our Food Supply. It seems like one must occupy something to protest or call attention to it. We call that making food choices.

The Occupy <whatever> is beginning to irritate many people. Although the Occupy Our Food Supply sounds noble, and indeed would benefit us as small farm, slow food, direct market producers there is the concern of several fronts. We cannot supply  a large market. Many of those held up as supporting the ideals are not farmers.

““Occupy our Food Supply is a day to reclaim our most basic life support system – our food – from corporate control. It is an unprecedented day of solidarity to create local, just solutions that steer our society away from the stranglehold of industrial food giants like Cargill and Monsanto.”—Ashley Schaeffer”

We are not corporate, but need a healthy shot of finances to be viable. When we try to talk about $1,000 or $10,000 it’s quickly turned to other conversation. It’s said the average farm feeds 155 people. Are there 100 people out there willing to invest $1,000 in a farm to get land? Are there truly enough people willing to put money down in advance?

That’s what it takes. Land costs. Buildings cost. Opportunities cost. Small operations especially under $100,000 have a very hard time coming up with financing, and that is a very small farm. It quickly can become a million dollars and who will invest in that if small farms can’t find investors for smaller amounts?

Then it gets into contracts, long term financing and larger operations in order to be viable. Before long those farms aren’t small anymore and often cannot accommodate individual orders.

Occupy Our Food Supply takes more than talk. It takes more than good ideas because we have a long list of those! We’re called trendy, forward thinking, edgy, progressive. But those words, while we think it’s awesome, are just part of the food issue.

We have options. Many play Farmville, oblivious to what $25 can do if put towards real farms…check out our Move Over Farmville.  This has been an option for quite some time, but to date no one has taken advantage of it. How many millions are spent on the (corporate run) Zynga Inc just on Farmville the game in comparison?

It takes action and every consumer takes action. It might be buying from us. It might be buying from another farm, or a CSA or buying at a farmer’s market. It might be that those options are out of reach and you have to buy from the regular grocery store, where you can get food that is produced in bulk at a lower unit cost.

We offer options. We cannot make anyone take options and do not want to guilt trip anyone into “pick us please the horrible corporations don’t give us a chance.” The truth is Cargill doesn’t care what we’re doing, and we will never be a competition for them. Even if we hit our 155 people, we’re not large enough to be of interest to corporations.

If 20% of Americans began financing small farms like ours, the market could change. If there was enough money down real demand things will change right now. The majority of people just want food that is safe and affordable.

These black chickens are among the things we offer. They are not dyed, or commercially available. The breed of chicken has black skin, and it’s all natural chicken. It’s not something that everyone wants, and at the cost in many exotic places of about $30 per pound it’s not something everyone can have.

We offer options. Cargill offers options. Smithfields and the Nashville Farmer’s Market offers options.

Every consumer has options. What will you choose?

13 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2012 12:19 PM

    Good points, Jan. It’s all about choice isn’t it? Also I have never seen a black chicken. That is very cool!

    PS: Is the word solidarity worn out yet?

    • February 27, 2012 12:53 PM

      Choices are awesome and I’m so glad that we have them and can offer them. The black chickens are a breed called the silkie, with several feather colors. Connor got into them some last year as he thought they looked “cool” – it was later we found even pound for pound they could outsell the others!

      • February 27, 2012 2:21 PM

        I used to order chickens when I worked for Rural King. I can remember ordering silkies. I just made the orders, I’m no chicken expert.

    • February 27, 2012 8:13 PM

      They’re a smaller breed than my Dominiques, Buckeyes etc. But they are very unusual. This is one reason in listing them I called attention to the appearance – some may find it off putting!

  2. February 27, 2012 2:09 PM

    I can’t remember whether I signed up for a black chicken as I bought into Slow Money…. it looks so strange that I sort of want to try it. At that price though, that’s all I can do is try it, sure wouldn’t want to really love it as I couldn’t afford much protein in my diet if it cost that much!

    • February 27, 2012 8:11 PM

      Ours aren’t quite that level! They’re in exotic meat places, as is the Muscovy duck and some others, but we’ve put them at slightly more than the “regular” ones. Will make a note of that!

  3. February 28, 2012 3:13 PM

    This is the first time I have seen or heard of black chickens, very cool. I enjoyed your article and your right, we do have choices.

  4. March 20, 2012 1:53 PM

    Great post, Jan! I always learn from you every time we interact! I am so proud of your part in educating the public about agriculture issues. A black chicken! Hmmm let me know what it tastes like, LOL….

    • March 20, 2012 4:00 PM

      Thanks Mel! We’re aiming at another order of silkies this spring – will be ordering some extras as we know what we’ll do with those extra roosters now! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

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