The Dinner Bag for the Week
Week of 8/21:
Classic BLT Sandwich with Local Chevre and a strawberry apple fruit salad
Asian Salad with Shrimp and steamed Cauliflower with a side of Citrus
I had a great conversation with a long-time member of the farm this week about the value of our food. Bang for the buck. Stretching your pesos. Or whatever you want to call it. During this conversation I realized that it is time to devote a newsletter to this notion of value. So let’s dive in.
First off, I have to say that I am happy that Amazon has stepped in and actually cleared up some confusion that existed in the marketplace. As Whole Foods started to see their sales numbers cool off (about 3 years ago), they began to act more like their competition rather than the pioneer of the Organic food industry that they were founded on originally. As Sprouts germinated and began to harvest some of Whole Foods’ market share, Whole Foods assimilated to look more like Sprouts rather than define themselves as The Organic leader. Instead of drawing a line in the sand, Whole Foods just threw mud in the water to make things confusing for customers.
So Organic products became harder to find and I honestly feel that Whole Foods “mined” their brand and tried to play up their historical commitment to Organics even when their current purchasing did not reflect that rooted commitment. Right now, walking through the produce section you are pretty hard-pressed to find a lot of Organic items. That is definitely a stray from the mantra of their past.
Amazon has no such historical (or current) commitment to Organics. So buying Whole Foods, I think Amazon will actually solidify that the future of both companies will not be as a champion for small or Organic farms. The Whole Foods/Amazon crew will now head off to go battle with Wal-Mart for world domination. And the Organic movement will be left to reshuffle the deck and look to see who will carry the flag of the small producers that Whole Foods dropped.
In watching all of this craziness unfold with Amazon and Whole Foods, I have to tell you that our mission has become even more resolute. As I see the natural food industry dilute itself down in a race to the bottom, I feel even stronger that we need to distance ourselves from that race. When they assimilate, we have to separate. No other path feels right.
In my first newsletter of this year, I vowed to you that 2017 would be the year of Authenticity for us. We would bring you closer to your food and give you better experiences with your food. And all of that was written before Whole Foods sold to Amazon and before a national company, Instacart, launched their home delivery model in ABQ (this week).
These are some amazing times for the future of Organics, the Local food movement, and grocery delivery. 2017/18 will go down in the history books as a watershed moment for all 3 of these separate movements. As Hans and Franz used to say on their SNL skit, “Hear me now and believe me later.”
So all of that brings me back full circle to the value discussion I was having with our member. After our discussion last week, I took my tush to two different grocery stores to price check our offerings. I left both stores with smile on my face and maybe even a little more pep in my step. Our price for comparable Organic produce was 10% less on average than the stores. In addition, neither store even carried all of the Organic products that we do. Finding Local Organic growers was like searching for a needle in a haystack. And neither of the stores will come to your home and deliver for free.
Seeing these numbers, I was definitely reassured that we are on the right path. We bring value to our customers, pay living wages to our employees, and offer fair/consistent prices to our growers. All three of these core principles make up the backbone of our business philosophy. We want (no, need) to have a business that customers, employees, and suppliers all believe in or we will not be sustainable. It is that simple.
In the end, I think that all of these curb-side pick up models and new national home delivery models coming to town will bring awareness to shopping for food online. At that point, it will be up to the community whether they want to support local businesses or national chains. Economic democracy in its purest sense. I look forward to the transition here as grocery finally gets into the 21st Century with online ordering and home delivery. It will be a win-win scenario for everyone.
Thanks for the continued support, Farmer Monte