I can’t grow an avocado or a lemon or a fig for less money than Hostess can produce a Twinkie. I don’t know how they can do it so cheaply, but they can, and I simply can’t compete with that.
Or perhaps I should say I can’t compete with that on price. I can’t play their game and expect to win. But I can play a different game, my game, and expect to thrive.
Value is about something more than the lowest price. There is incredible value in a cool apple, a sticky-sweet fig, or a tart Meyer lemon. These I can produce, and being blessed by geography, I can produce them at a reasonable price for customers who appreciate the value that they represent.
It may be a sad truth that not everybody appreciates good food. I’d like to think that the world would be a better place if this were otherwise. But I don’t need to wait for the world to be perfect, or even better. There are people who want what I grow, and I grow what they want.
We just need each other.
Now, perhaps this sounds like foodie elitism. Perhaps it is. But every trend starts somewhere. If good, fresh, flavorful food is just a form another of conspicuous consumption, maybe that is not a bad trend for others to emulate. If beet greens or fava beans or quince became as ingrained in American culture as formerly obscure espresso drinks have become, would we be worse off? I think not.
So if this elitism, I think we owe the elites our thanks. They are voluntarily subsidizing a grand experiment in creating a food system that places the emphasis on “food” and not “system.”