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$$$ High Food Prices are a good thing $$$

Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 3884
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  56
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$     I often encounter people who lament the high cost of food. Many of them believe that spending 10% of their income is outrageous. I checked some statistics and it turns out that the average person in Canada spends around 6% of total income on food and some of that is restaurant fare. So other than for those in very low income situations, food is not expensive. It's cheap.

   For most of human kind's existence we put most of our labor into the acquisition of food. Now that our money goes into cell phones,credit debt, haircuts, cars, rent and mortgages, many people choose to spend freely on other things while skimping on food. It's a priority thing.

   Those people will not be my target market. I plan to produce plenty of food, but nothing cheap. I can't begin to fill the whole market in my area so it makes no sense for me to grow low profit items. I'll produce enough cabbage and potatoes etc. for personal use but I'm not too worried if I don't have enough of that stuff for everyone. Below are a list of fairly expensive items which I hope to produce in quantity.

   $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$         I commonly hear people complain that one huge disadvantage to living on this island is that we get screwed by the grocery store. As I remember the song it went, "you've got to accentuate the positive"...
 
     A trip to the fish market the other day was quite enlightening. They sell Tilapia for $30 per kilogram which is about $14 per pound. This stuff is not organic and it is shipped from thousands of miles away. It's conceivable that I can charge more than this.  

   Organically raised chicken can sell for six dollars per lb. It's about the same for turkey and duck is even more expensive.

   Jerusalem artichokes sell for seven dollars per pound at my local supermarket. Again, they're not organic.   Then there are organic things like sweet potatoes, melons, berries... that bring a nice hefty price.  Our entire industrialized farming complex is devoted to producing run of the mill cheap product. So it only makes sense that I differentiate myself in the market not only by producing organically but also by producing expensive crops which are not readily available elsewhere. In discussing this with my niece she thought it only appropriate that I produce things which everyone can afford. But it's not my job to feed the world. I'm only willing to feed those who are willing to compensate me handsomely.

   High food prices are only a problem if you haven't figured out how to feed yourself. I will gladly demonstrate how it's done to anyone who visits. But then I'll empty their wallets into mine. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

       Thank you: Dale Hodgins, "the greedy curmudgeon."--------- Yes, this is very permaculturey because I plan to give away all of the money, honestly. On my 200th birthday.


QUOTES FROM MEMBERS --- In my veterinary opinion, pets should be fed the diet they are biologically designed to eat. Su Ba...The "redistribution" aspect is an "Urban Myth" as far as I know. I have only heard it uttered by those who do not have a food forest, and are unlikely to create one. John Polk ...Even as we sit here, wondering what to do, soil fungi are degrading the chemicals that were applied. John Elliott ... O.K., I originally came to Permies to talk about Rocket Mass Heaters RMHs, and now I have less and less time in my life, and more and more Good People to Help ! Al Lumley...I think with the right use of permie principles, most of Wyoming could be turned into a paradise. Miles Flansburg... Then you must do the pig's work. Sepp Holzer
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6523
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
133
Talapia @ $30/K ?  IMHO, talapia is a garbage fish...I might consider buying it to richen up a compost pile, but certainly not to eat.

A high ticket perennial crop is asparagus.  Once planted, it requires very low maintenance.  It is one of the earliest ca$h crops.
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 3884
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  56
   I just report the news that was the price at thrifty's food Victoria at 8 PM last night –  Next to salmon, tilapia are the most commonly farmed fish worldwide. When they're not raised in manure pile runoff the meat can be firm and tasty. That is why it is the number one fish raised in aquaponics systems. It is a filter feeder and can live on algae and duckweed with no additional inputs. By far the most ecologically sound fish to grow. If there's another fish which can be raised in this way without outside input I would like to know about it.

    The farm raised varieties are vastly different than the trash fish which have invaded southern US waters. There are hundreds of varieties of tilapia most of which are better known as aquarium fish. Many aquarium type tilapia have become endemic in places like Florida and Louisiana.

    What is IMHO?
                                        


Joined: Nov 02, 2011
Posts: 2
In
My
Humble
Opinion
(IMHO)
...I suppose ya' gotta farm fish to feed 7 billion people.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6523
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
133
IMHO stands for in my humble opinion.

I bought talapia once, and never again.  What a waste of a perfectly good lemon.
Since my father and I have spent decades commercial fishing, I am probably slightly opinionated on what good fish should taste like.

I recently read that 25% of all seafood consumed world wide is farm raised.

Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 3884
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  56
  My brother is doing quite well supplying worm castings to marijuana growers. Some of these growers are legal but most are not. But there is no aiding and abetting law concerning this. He is simply selling fertilizer to those who wish to buy it. Many of these guys go at their business in a spare no expense manner. They spend like sailors on anything which is likely to increase yield and product quality.

    Most of our production goes to the United States. It is British Columbia's largest cash crop and thus contributes to our balance of trade. Unfortunately it also contributes to organized crime and other social ills but the guys who choose to do it organically are generally feeding the high-end market so they also avoid herbicides and pesticides. Over all the lesser evil and I'm not sure that there's anything evil about it at all.

  So legal, moral and flibbertydibberty blah blah blah issues aside, the production of worm castings is a very viable business for anyone who has access to plenty of compostables whether they have land or not. Worms can be raised in the city and many of your potential customers are within the city. In the suburbs we have plenty of small farms which have free horse manure available. The availability of this free resource combined with this built in customer base makes this a no-brainer for me. I've never smoked any dope and don't expect I ever will but I'm happy to take the money and it's all perfectly legal.

    Our neighbors to the south maintain a multibillion-dollar infrastructure which only serves to keep prices high which is exactly as our growers prefer it.
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2170
Location: FL
    
  54
Tilapia is a lower grade of fish, but cod, mackerel and herring were being overfished in the 60s.  Fishermen are headed down the quality ladder to maintain full coolers.  Some fish are being renamed: was patagonian toothfish , now seabass .  Tilapia has the advantage of growing well in containers. 

As a soon-to-be-back-in-the-game natural food grower and market gardener, higher food prices are a good thing.    It means I can compete better with the big box stores, get more for my product, and flush that job sooner. 



Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
http://farmwhisperer.com
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 3884
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  56
    If there were a simple way for me to produce coho or Chinook salmon I would certainly prefer that. But I have tried tilapia which was raised in clean water and found it just as palatable as snapper and more tasty than cod.

   Some fish will take on a muddy taste if they are raised in muck. In the wild, these fish create muddy conditions since some of them eat bottom mud and they burrow into the sides of riverbanks and canals. So just as the flavor of pork may be affected by diet this is also true for vegetarian fish. Israeli carp and other crap fish have been commercialized by dietary control.

   But the important thing for me in this is that people are paying $30 per kilogram for a lower grade product than what I will produce. For me that's the bottom line. If they were eating bellybutton lint I would try to fill that niche.

   On the  naming thing: years ago canola was known as a RAPE. They sold rapeseed meal and rapeseed oil. But rape isn't a good marketing word so they came up with CANOLA. The guy who developed the first commercial cultivar derived the name from Canadian oil low acid.=canola. It just sounds better than rape.
Kay Bee


Joined: Oct 10, 2009
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
I'll also second the agreement that tilapia can be a good tasting fish, depending on how it was raised aAND how fresh it is.  Tilapia from a local farm was a hell of a lot better tasting than the shipped in stuff from overseas. 

High food prices can be a good thing for the grower.  One aspect that I would check on though, when you hear about high dollar items, is volume.  The local markets may be stocking some $10+/lb items, but how much are they selling over a weekly and yearly basis?  Just something to know before starting to plan on raising it locally and charging MORE than the shipped in stuff.

Local, quality chicken and eggs are good examples that I've seen do well, even at high prices reflecting that reflect the higher quality of the product.

This is an issue I am mentally wrestling with as I develop my own property.  I am happy eating a wide diversity of foods that I raise on my own.  Finding a market for the diverse crops is likely to be much more difficult.  Also, as I live in a small town with only one market, I don't want to hurt their business so much as help them.  Help them sell locally raised high quality food, that is...


"Limitation is the mother of good management", Michael Evanari

Location: Southwestern Oregon (Jackson County), Zone 7
Brian Bales


Joined: Jan 13, 2011
Posts: 90
Very very interesting topic! With prices like that I'm surprised there aren't more people growing food for sell in your area already. Seems like a hell of a markey opportunity. I've been looking at market crop ideas in my area too. I feel somewhat at a disadvantage trying to compete with the local markets but I also see some potential. There are two farmers markets that are near by (oddly the one in my own town has no one selling produce!) and if I want to get into aquaponics there are a few asian markets in the area that would be very likely to jump at a fresh local source of tilapia.

For me its all going to be about diversity.  I've been working on a list of sellable goods and what I need for them. I do a small trade now in selling goats. I however see a larger market in selling goat milk. Often when I have adds up for goats I get about 2/3 more responses from people looking for milk than for the goats. Only way I could make this a workable option would be to build a milking machine and breed more goats a year than I currently am.

Seedlings are another option I am looking at. I don't think this has huge market potential but I can produce seedlings cheap and I specialize in heirlooms. If I can keep costs low it can turn a profit. I also see grafted trees as an option. I have a collection of heirloom apple trees that no one else in the area has available. Selling grafted apple trees could have possibilites. Lastly I've had some success with pumpkins. A lot of people in the area love you pick pumpkin patches and I did one for friends and family a few years back. It was a 3 sisters planting and I grew many many more pumpkins than I needed so the extras were sold or given away. Everyone really enjoyed hunting thru the corn stalks for their pumpkins.

Meat is another idea I am considering. I've done some home butchering and while its not the most enjoyable activity its workable and with a few labor saving items its a reasonable investment of time. Goose, guinea and turkey are the big ones I'm looking to try. 
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 3884
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  56
These photos show the organic produce available in downtown Victoria. It's a big market niche here. The most interesting prices to me are for the root vegtables. $2.69 per lb. for regular beets. Some sort of big fancy beet $3.69, $1.50 for potatoes!!!. $1.69 each for little kiwi. $2 per lb. for apples $2.69 for fancier apples. Peppers $7.99 , rutabegas $2.69 , ginger $10, zuccini $3.69, egplant $9.99, cucumbers $2

There are several exotic Chineese veggies that all seem to be some type of cabbage ranging from $4 to $8. Fancy little potatoes $3 and it goes on from there.

By far the most expensive stuff are various salad mixes going right up to $20 per pound but most are half that price. There are deer at my property. Deer like salad. I'm sure I could do much better producing $3 beets and $2 potatoes than I would if I grew $10 salad mix. There aren't many edible root crops native to this island so our wildlife look for their meals above ground. And most importantly, root crops are heavy and they store well.




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Jesus Martinez


Joined: Mar 07, 2011
Posts: 143
When I look at the prices of this stuff it seems to me like it would be very viable to make a living off of it. However, when I look at say, a traditional fruit orchard, they are making ~3k an acre profit, and while honeycrisp apples may be 4$ a lb at whole foods, the majority of the harvest is actually less than #1 grade and goes for say, 30 cents a lb.

Raising fish seems viable with aquaponics, but they systems are not exactly low maintanence, but, you could have some vegetables such as lettuce growing as well, but I'm not familiar with how much work it takes to produce the 200 lbs of tilapia needed to pay my mortgage each month
David Goodman
volunteer

Joined: Dec 14, 2011
Posts: 345
Location: Zone 9a/8b
    
  14
They can be good when the free market is allowed to work... but when I consider the brutal regulations and the threat of police action against my farm if I fail to dot every "i" and cross every "t," I fear that little guys like us aren't going to be able to pull off a solution by selling food easily... and what will simply happen is that the poorest members of society will be pinched even more by the runaway inflation in the price of food.

I grow extra and give it away at this point - though even that may be illegal soon.


Permaculture, bio-accumulators, rare plants, tool reviews and lots and lots of gardening inspiration - a new post every day: http://www.floridasurvivalgardening.com
Jesus Martinez


Joined: Mar 07, 2011
Posts: 143
The biggest protection against runaway food prices is being able to produce your own food.
David Goodman
volunteer

Joined: Dec 14, 2011
Posts: 345
Location: Zone 9a/8b
    
  14
Jesus Martinez wrote:The biggest protection against runaway food prices is being able to produce your own food.


I totally agree with you - it's a lifesaver for us. Plus, the food is much better than what we could afford anyhow.

Unlike some other commodities, food can be created!
Jesus Martinez


Joined: Mar 07, 2011
Posts: 143
thats a good point, its something i dont think many people realize. anyone with a small space and a bag of dirt can grow better than organic vegetables. if they have a larger bit of land they can raise ultra high quality meats and eggs.
jessie bell


Joined: Feb 25, 2012
Posts: 1
Has anyone every tried eating S.A barble?
Chris Kott


Joined: Jan 25, 2012
Posts: 796
Location: Toronto, Ontario
    
    9
Hi all,

Even if one is simply growing one's own on whatever scale, high food prices simply serve to give us another reason to keep doing so.

As to aquaponic systems, while I agree unreservedly that if there is no space issue, protein and vegetation from pond and stream systems are an invaluable addition to any permaculture operation, I feel that going the full permacultural monty and figuring out as complete and complicated and as diverse a self-supporting system as possible rather than something that relies entirely on tanks and bubblers and saturation monitors; in a word, aquaculture. Not just tilapia with algae and duckweed, although such a hardy fish is an obvious choice if it fits in the system properly, but a full range of small and large fish filling different niches and in their own physical niches within the larger system, as well as a variety of supportive vegetation and animal and insect life, although insects and, depending where you are, amphibians will likely find their way to your ponds by themselves. Not to say that I wouldn't augment any system at need with added oxygenation or whatever, just I'd like to address any needs with natural controls, or analogs of natural controls.

All one needs to do is identify what food items fetch both nice high yields where you are, and nice high prices at market. Even if you charge the same price as an inferior product (or a similar!) from far away, you will sell out before the import, for reason of it being both local and better.

I have given some thought to doing what Paul Wheaton recommends as far as a sliding scale rating for products of Permaculture, where level 1 is what USDA calls organic, and 10 will be, say, what the consumers harvest themselves from foraging animal-fertilized polycultural pick-your-own food forests. I think if independent producers took videos of their crops and lands, their practices and different stages of growth, and some extremely community-oriented website started hosting farm pages that could be linked to, it would be possible to put those QR codes (the 3D square barcodes you read with your smartphone) on stickers on the produce or at point of purchase and provide consumers with the information they want about where their food comes from and how its grown. And the farm pages could have links to www.permies.com, and we could help expand Paul's evil empire, Mwah hah hah hah ha!
 
 
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