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Are Warnings Useful if Ignored? Here’s 5 to Heed

October 9, 2014

800px-Western-pack-butterBecause we deal directly with customers, I read quite a bit on food issues and go beyond that to comments from people out there, whether I agree or not. It helps me get in the frame of mind of what we can offer that others don’t – and sometimes, I’ve learned, what people say isn’t really what they want (will pay for).

If I came to you for an ad for a car you’re selling then expected a new straight from the lot upgrade, there’s an obvious difference in an older vehicle and a new one. There’s a value difference. So it is among food choices, only many of those are emotional personal choices. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there are times that it comes to what is wanted just can’t happen. Millions of people have the luxury to not think about their food because others think for them.  If food is at the market, they have dinner; if not there needs to be another plan. Producing for themselves isn’t in that plan, and won’t be.

Recently my friend Emily from Zweber Farms in Minnesota posted a note on Facebook. Emily and her husband Tim are part of a family run organic farm with dairy as part of what they produce.

Farmer insider tips of the day: fill your LP tank now, stock up on butter now, don’t expect local wines to be cheap in 2015.
Now you know.

I would read that to be stock up on butter for Christmas baking as well as eating! Don’t hesitate. And yet many things I see over the last few years that I’ve tried to warn about go unheeded…until it comes true.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany in urban environments, it seems, thinks we’re being self serving when putting forth warnings – after all we’re selling food. It’s true, there is the potential for sales if someone is close enough and if there is action behind it…and if there is still room in our limited availability. It’s true when I said a year ago that pork and beef were going to go up and folks should buy in it could be perceived to be for profit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t change that pork and beef HAVE increased a great deal and surpassed what I was told was too much…less than the grocery store now!

Have you ever looked at a situation unfolding and you just KNEW what was going to happen next? Others who weren’t watching didn’t see it the same way, but you had more information and were right. Emily, like me, has that information not to alarm people with but prepare you. Sometimes there are things that would benefit us, but are dishonest or misleading, as another friend reported recently on a brand of kefir that is not honest about the farmers they use. Should we let you the consumer believe any marketing statements made?

There are issues coming and, directly or indirectly, it might have a say in your grocery bill and food choices. Here’s five tips to heed…in addition to those above!

1. As beef and pork increase, poultry will see increased demand and prices. If you plan on trying some specialty foods – rabbit, game meats, fish for example – plan now for supply. These things are specialty because they aren’t produced in volume, largely because they aren’t as big as pigs and cattle!

800px-Nuts_mixed2. Stock up on nuts – as a healthy snack alternative, nuts are valued, but production issues including the drought, are impacting supply. It takes time for new trees to come into production so if you’re looking at walnut goodies or pecan pie for the holidays, buy them now to insure you get what you want. Be smart, think ahead.

3. Contact a direct purchase farm to see what you can buy direct. For example, here at SlowMoneyFarm we have poultry, raised bed gardens, herbs and other goodies. The Zwebers in Minnesota have seasonal chicken, beef and other options also. Many farms do this as a way to have contact with customers, but also to keep more pennies from your grocery dollar. It helps farm growth and farm survival. You might be surprised that prices aren’t as high as “everyone knows” (incorrectly).

4. As the year’s production winds down in many areas, stock up on fruits and other items. Dehydrate, can and freeze so you have enough until the trees and bushes start producing next year.

5. Learn one kitchen skill per month. Practice it. Start where you are – if you can’t boil water, learn to make a mean pasta over the next month! Read, find some folks to commiserate with and practice. If you can’t find anyone come on over to SlowMoneyFarm’s Facebook page or – better – visit Foodchat on Twitter or Facebook. Get tips, read books from the library, learn new things. There is tons of information available to learn – use it!

None of these are earthshattering. Apart from paying more there may or may not be consequences from not heeding warnings. Doing without food choices is inconvenient – after all we all like to have that luxury. May we not have to do without food, and in some areas that may be a more grim future long term. Sometimes farmers need your help to keep everyone fed, thus trying to include y’all in the discussion.

After all, it’s your food choices.

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