Recently, I had a pretty nice article in our local newspaper, about our harvest of Thanksgiving turkeys, and some unique opportunities it offered to us and to the buyers of those turkeys.
The article was published on the papers webpage, and most of the comments posted about the article were extremely positive, and supportive of me and what I try to do for a living. There was, however, one naysayer who thought that the price that I charged for the turkeys was a little high, to put it lightly.
Let me say this right now: I don't give a damn about this guy, or his opinion of me. I live by Abe Lincoln's admonition about not being able to please all the people all the time, and that philosophy serves me well. In my mind, if I produce food that only one person in this whole wide world appreciates, then my life and my life's work has purpose. Period. I'm not running for Homecoming King, and popularity has never appeared on any list of my goals. Ever.
But as a result of this heckler, I've been thinking again about the stereotype that people who seek good food for themselves and their families are painted with: Elitists. Food snobs. Tree huggers. The Haves, not the Have-Nots.
I think the labels are bullshit.
I think that the desire and the willingness to seek out and pay for decent, honest, wholesome food boils down to nothing more than priorities.
People who buy from me, and other farmers like me, place a value in the role that food plays in their lives, beyond simply providing protein, fat, and carbohydrates in order to maintain their existence. They value the relationship and interaction that can be had with people who grow their food, or prepare it in a restaurant kitchen. They recognize the fact that, through their purchase and careful preparation of food, they can influence issues ranging from family cohesion to environmental protection, from foreign policy to public health. And they recognize that their influence can be positive.
Others don't hold food or it's producers in such high esteem. To them, every dollar spent on food is one that takes away from their entertainment budget, or their cigarette money, or the weekly bar tab, or the new car that they buy every two years, or the NFL channel, or whatever other IMPORTANT things exist in their lives, besides food. So therefore, food expense is something to be minimized, to be reduced to as close to zero as possible, and by default, food itself becomes a sterile, meaningless necessity, and those that are involved in food production are no longer professionals or artisans, but instead technicians or laborers.
I proudly consider myself a member of the first group, and I feel nothing but pity for those who are members of the second.