Local organic fare costs more, & why it’s worth it

Becky Ensinger milks a goat in Dayton, Tenn. (Photo David Tulis)

Becky Ensinger milks a goat in Dayton, Tenn. She makes goats milk soap that sells online at Dixie Does Alpines. (Photo David Tulis)

DAYTON, Tenn. — A caller to the David Tulis show asked why he should pay $8 for a gallon of milk from a local farmer when he can buy a gallon of milk at Wal-Mart for about $3.  I think he had a really good question and is really the question your show is claiming to answer. So let’s answer it.

By Bill Ensinger 

Our goat milk is:

Different product

Better quality

Raw milk

Delivered directly

Fresh from the farm within 24-48 hours

These things justify the higher cost. But does it help the local economy more? When you buy Wal-Mart milk:

$5 stays in your pocket.

$3 goes to Wal-Mart.

A portion is taxes.

A portion goes to the store.

A portion to workers in the store.

A portion to Wal-Mart corporation stockholders.

A portion to Wal-Mart corporation for running the company and central office.

A portion to the top executives.

You support, in other words, the corporate America structure with its ties to national government, pushing regulation that hinders small business. At Dixie Does Alpines farm in Dayton, here’s how the money is divided:

$8 to us:

A portion for base infrastructure: land, barns, goats, etc

A portion for feed

A portion for the equipment (jars, milking pail)

A portion for delivery and market fees

The remainder for my time milking, saving milk, and getting it to you.

Buying local supports the idea that individuals should be able to build a means of supporting themselves without the hinderances of government regulation that for various reasons shouldn’t apply to them. Such regulation typically tries to solve specific problems, but isn’t universally applicable, such as those laws dealing with raw milk. Sometimes these laws can actually cause problems. Local producers are more concerned about our customers. We have to be. If something bad happens, we’re done. Yet we continue to do what we do because our product is actually better: fresher, unprocessed, in its natural state, and still bearing all the good nutrients often killed by processed items in big stores. Buying local also allows us to continue to produce locally.

A locally produced product isn’t always in the best interest of local economy, especially if the cost is considerably higher than the same or very similar product produced by a larger corporation, and when it means you can keep significantly more money in your wallet. But that isn’t always the case.

Last I checked, Wal-Mart does have goat milk. It’s pasteurized, for $4 a quart.

Bill Ensinger talks with David Tulis on Aug. 7 about local economy and the blessings of local food. (Courtesy Noogaradio)

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