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But How Much Does It Cost?

My dad visited the farm this winter. Since my earliest lemonade-stand days, he's encouraged me towards fame and fortune. Now that I am living in, shall we say, rustic simplicity, he's full of questions about my economic situation.

"The farm pays for itself, Dad," I tell him as we sit by the woodstove. And it's true that the farm business has been in the black for the past 4 years. Neither Daniel nor I draw anything resembling a modern salary from the farm. But neither of us worry about daily necessities. As our former housemate Quinn said, "We may look like paupers, but we eat like kings."

It's also true that we're never going to get rich selling squash. We haven't been able to sell our organically-fed rabbits at $10 a pound, which is what it costs us to raise them. We could not buy such good food anywhere, though, and so raising it for ourselves and our close community becomes a worthy goal in itself. We are engaged in a loving relationship with the soil we eat from, with the animals who nourish us. This has brought me satisfaction I did not even know existed. It's hard to put into words, and it doesn't show up on a balance sheet.

When potential customers say, "That's too expensive" at our $10 cartons of duck eggs, that's fine. That is the cost of duck eggs with some of the fossil fuel subsidies removed. That is the cost of eggs grown with more love than economy of scale. Yes, food should be affordable. I don't have ready answers to pervasive injustices of resource management. But I do think I have a better long-term answer than the large-scale farming happening today. Is that good enough, Dad?

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