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The Cost of Food: Why Buy Regional

We heard from you in your survey feedback that you'd like to know more about what goes into the cost of food available through the FarmHub. We summarized several resources to shed light on the challenges small farmers face, and why supporting food producers in your region is such a good thing. Sources are included at the end of this post!

Feel free to check out the Farm Videos on our blog for a behind-the-scenes look at some of the challenges farmers experience right here on the Island!

Ok, lets dig into economies of scale!

Why do economies of scale matter? Lots of the food in grocery stores is grown on massive farms - lettuce farms in California are as large as 30, 000 acres. These industrial farms benefit from economies of scale, which allow them to profit and maintain those profits even as they drive the price down and dominate the competition.

When comparing prices in grocery stores from industrial producers to the small producers in our region, it is really important to remember that the scales are not even. Prices aren’t the same because big businesses have the ability to produce food much more cheaply. It doesn’t cost all farms the same amount to grow lettuce, and therefore, the prices aren’t the same either!

So we know that small farms don't benefit from economies of scale. But what are the costs of farming (which are so high) that factor into price? There's a lot more than meets the eye.

These factors are a major reason why local food costs more. There are a lot of aspects and costs of farming that consumers and purchasers don’t see or think about, and so are easy to forget or ignore. But they are part of what makes farming so hard! You need more than a green thumb - you have to be a business owner, a manager, and so much more.

The barriers of access and price experienced by consumers in the marketplace are very real. But at the same time, when small farmers and food producers set a price for food, they must analyze the cost of production and find a price in order to be profitable and competitive.

So why bother? What is the benefit of eating from your region?

We’ve had a look at the costs of small-scale, local farming. Understanding the challenges farmers face, and why their prices are different from typical grocery store prices is important. But so is celebrating the positive impacts of eating from within your region! Supporting CRD farmers helps us move towards a better food system for the South Island.


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