Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Reality Of The "Clean" Food Situation in Georgia....

Berkshire Pigs at Nature's Harmony Farm, Elberton, GA

You know, the last couple of weeks have been an eye opener for me. I have visited a few farms and talked to quite a few farmers. What concerns me is not what is being produced, but how much is being produced.

Quality and quantity do not always go together, especially when you are talking about farming in a natural way. But as the local food movement gains momentum, I'm concerned that such a higher demand than supply may work against rather than for the small farmers. What I mean by that is, let's say a mother is trying to feed her family healthy, natural, "clean" foods and she has heard of pasture raised chickens, pigs, cows, organic/natural vegetables, eggs, and milk. Now, she initially goes to the big box chain grocery stores looking for food and she can't find it.

What next? She starts to call around to local farmers she has found on the internet. She finds a few farmers within a reasonable driving distance but they are already sold out or the product is locked in to a CSA that has a waiting list. What does she do? Maybe find a farmer's market close by that has farmers selling the products she is looking for. Maybe she gets frustrated and stops her pursuit, or "opts in" to the grocery store organic isle for hit or miss items.

Have you ever tried to get pastured chickens in the grocery store? They don't have them. They do have "free-range" natural chickens, but it is not "free-range" and it is certainly not natural. The chickens are raised in a chicken house just like all of the others, but they leave a door open for an allotted time every day. The chickens which have never seen daylight and are too scared to chance going out in the sun, now have access to the outside world. This particular company can now label their chickens "free-range" natural chickens. That is why it is so important to know your farmers and are they practicing what they preach.

The point to all of this is realizing the need for more people farming this way to increase the availability of the "clean" food product. This will also help bring the price down somewhat because organic inputs like feed, soil amendments, etc. will go down. This is not to say that natural or "organic" will ever compete with conventionally grown, factory farm products in price, because they won't. But I do think it will become more affordable. And again, to steal a point from Joel Salatin, "put the candy bars down and the chips up" and prioritize your dollar on healthy, nutrient dense foods instead of cheap, unhealthy calories.


"A man's doubts and fears are his worst enemies.”

~ William Wrigley Jr.


  1. Nice post, as always! You seem to always have thought provoking topics. Great stuff!


  2. Scott,

    You're totally right in your post that there is more demand than supply. The hardest part of our farming life is how often we have to say no to people. No we don't have any product. No we can't let you visit the farm tomorrow, or whenever you want (because we're too dang busy). No...etc.

    However, I have hope. We are an option for a number of families and we didn't exist three years ago. The same applies to you. I know of at least four small farms that we have been fortunate enough to inspire to get started, and countless others dream to. Some of these will fade, but some will make it. The point is that while demand is there and growing, there are some caring people making gallant efforts and meeting that demand, and that gives me hope.

    Keep up the great work.

    Nature's Harmony Farm

  3. I ran across your blog and i have to say great job. You make a great point.

    We live in NY and food is always an issue here. When you find a good source for organic, they never have enough for us to buy in bulk. We like to stock up on meat and chicken when we can and it always seems to be a problem.

    We are on 3 waiting list for CSA's up here and don't expect a call any time soon.

    I'll definately bookmark your blog.