Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The (Dubious) Economics of Organic Turkeys

The Post had an article yesterday on a founder of Cisco who's using her money to subsidize an organic turkey farm in the hunt country of Virginia.  She sells a 22 pound bird for $230, sold half the 1,000 she raised last year, and lost money. The owner is a former 4-Her who vows to make her operation pay.

My first reaction was to mock her for not understanding economics, and for waste, something upon which the food movement frowns.  But perhaps a fairer assessment is this shows the weak infrastructure supporting organic meat and dairy farms and the high hurdles organic farmers have to vault in order to make a profit and survive.  How can anyone pay $10 a pound for turkey, when a reasonable bird is one dollar a pound?  The only way is to sell to someone like the Inn at Little Washington, which is a famous and highly rated restaurant, and very, very pricey.  It's the sort of place an ordinary bureaucrat might go once a decade for some special occasion if the bureaucrat was very into taste and class. You couldn't hope to sell turkeys for that at Whole Foods, or even a farmer's market.  (Remember, this is a geezer speaking, and I'm out of touch.)

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