Why does your stuff cost so much more?
We know that is a question that comes up a lot. We do not want to sound like we are making excuses for ourselves, but we want to be real with you, our customers. Most folks do not have the luxury of paying “whatever it costs” to eat what they want, but they can relate to budgeting and counting the costs of doing what they love. We want to be transparent with you on the prices we ask for our products. Here are a few of the reasons they are so much higher than conventional products. Keep in mind, however, that cheap food is not really cheap in the long run.
1. We don’t use soy.
Soy has become the number one protein source for American farm animals because it is high in protein and it is subsidized by the government, so it is falsely very cheap. But we believe it is toxic in large amounts, tending to cause problems with the thyroid of creatures that consume it (humans or animals). It contains estrogen-like substances that have been linked to a host of estrogen-related cancers (breast, testicular, etc) and other problems (early development of girls, under-development of boys, and reproductive problems in both). These substances do get transferred into the meat and milk of animals that consume soy. We believe the risks outweigh the benefits of using soy, and so we are forced to find alternative (what were once traditional) sources of protein, which happen to cost much more than soy.
2. We don’t use subsidized or genetically-engineered grains.
Most of the animal feedstuffs used in conventional production are now either subsidized by the US government or genetically-modified, and often they are both. Corn, soy, cottonseed, and rapeseed (canola) are among the most common that fall into both of these categories.
GE crops are not natural, no matter how reassuring the brochures may sound. We are not comfortable with the idea of crossing DNA between species (fish with tomatoes, corn with bacteria, etc). We also disagree with the FDA’s stance that GE crops are substantially equivalent to traditionally bred crops, and feel that the few tests that have been done on GE foods do not substantiate the safety of these crops in our food supply. In addition, farmers have historically been able to store seed and plant from their own crops each year. GE crop companies require new licensing and the purchase of new seed each year, further stealing from what little profit farmers today make. To add insult to injury, one GE crop company has been known to sue farmers who have suffered from unintentional cross-contamination of their non-GE crops, ruining their financial status and their reputations.
As far as subsidized grains, we disagree with the idea of taxpayers being held responsible for overproducing commodity crops just to keep their market price low. The government should largely keep its hands out of commerce so that the market can be controlled by people, not prospectors. Unfortunately, the American shopper unwittingly pays twice for corn—once at the store, and once on their 1040.
3. We don’t use growth stimulants.
Antibiotics and chemical compounds containing substances such as arsenic have become commonplace in agriculture as growth stimulants. The subclinical use of antibiotics has caused a great deal of concern in today’s food supply. There have been food scares several times a year for at least a decade now, and we believe they are partly linked to the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production. What is particularly frightening is that many of the animals that are fed these drugs would not survive without them—is that what we should choose to eat? The sickest of the sick animals?
4. We pay fairly for labor.
We do not hire illegal laborers, and those we do hire receive a fair wage. We also believe that we should receive a fair wage for our own labor, and that is factored into our prices. We cannot do this for fun—real farming must pay for itself. Many conventional farmers have full time jobs off the farm just to support their hobby. Food production is one of the most important aspects of human life. To do it right, it takes time, care, study, and lots of hard work. It is a full-time job and then some!
5. Our animals are exposed to the elements and predators.
One of the biggest disadvantages of pasture-raised foods is that our animals are exposed to many dangers throughout their lives. Predators, storms, extreme temperatures… these things continually threaten our prosperity. We strive to protect our animals against them, but to eliminate them altogether is impossible, and that is part of the cost of production. Another part of the cost of our products is in keeping guardian dogs, electric fencing, protective housing, etc, to do our best to protect our critters from harm.
6. We don’t cut corners on quality.
There are lots of ways to cheat in any kind of production, but we desire to provide products that are wholesome in every way.
This means we will not sneak and finish our cows on corn just to make a few extra bucks at processing time. If it takes a couple extra months to fatten them, we’ll do that.
We will not confine our chickens for the last half of their lives just to cut down their exercise and therefore save on feed consumption.
We will continue to find ways to make our animals more productive by using improved nutrition and management, not chemicals. We want to be the kind of company that can answer any of your questions without feeling ashamed about the answers.
Now jump over to our article on How to Eat Well and Save Money!