Posted by: J Nyman | March 21, 2008

Anyone remember the Lada?

My Dad drove a Lada. It was pumpkin orange. His girlfriend at the time drove the exact same Lada except that it was fire engine red. To my eight year old mind, these were just cars. Small cars, mind you, but just like any other car.

lada.jpgMy, how I was mistaken. The Lada of my youth was never a car in the way a BMW M3 is a car, for example. Similarly (and yet very differently), the Lada’s I have known were not cars the way, say, a ’68 Camero with gold pin striping is a car.

Why, you ask, am I bringing up painful vehicular memories from my family’s sordid car history? It may seem unrelated but to my mind these cars are relevant to the struggle of pricing what we produce here at the farm.

Lost yet? Bear with me.

Very simply put, trying to determine a selling price for our meat gives me a head ache. Any way we do the math, the delicious, healthy SOLE food we produce is a BMW. And high end vehicles cost more to produce. So does high end food. Working a living wage into the equation is the challenge.

We’re working at whittling the cost down as we progress and, not insignificantly, we don’t have to buy grain at the exorbitant prices of late because we produce our own. But, at the end of the day, J. & C. Nyman Farms lamb, for example, is still a BMW of lamb. And that’s where the head aches start.

See, people go car shopping and expect to get what they pay for. If you pay for a Lada, you know what you’re getting yourself into. Something that will be cheap to buy, easy on fuel but cost a lot to maintain and have a short road-life.

If you choose a BMW, you’re expecting – and getting – something that delivers performance, pleasure, fuel efficiency, low emissions and a long driving life ahead.

Unfortunately, when it comes to food it doesn’t matter that the produce cost a top quality dollar to produce and is truly quality food. The average consumer is conditioned to be able to pay a Lada price and believes they’re getting the BMW product. (The fact that they’re not actually getting the quality of the BMW is one of the great crimes of the big food machine, but that’s another story altogether.)

Where does that leave me with my calculator in one hand and my head in the other? It leaves me trying to explain (to people who are open to the idea) that they’re not actually getting the BMW for the Lada price. It leaves me needing to be informed and sincere enough to be able to show them that they’re eating Ladas. Yummy.

Realistically, I’m not going to be able to convince very many people to stop buying their bargain food and pay a lot more for our top of the line variety.

So I’m using my calculator to cut out a large part of that living wage I mentioned. And I’mp1010157.jpg selling what we produce to the customers who are willing to pay a little bit more for quality food.

And, most importantly, I’m sleeping well (possibly not as well protected as my husband John here, but well) and I’m reveling in my days.

I get to do something that is good for the Earth, my community and my family. And, I love to do it. Living wage? Who needs it!

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