Monday, May 13, 2013

Choosing Between Local Products and Those with Less Packaging

This weekend, while grocery shopping, we were faced with an interesting dilemma. Lately we have been trying to buy all of our chicken from Pike Valley Farm in Lancaster, KY. We have found that they do not often have packaged chicken breast at their farm store, but it is available a the Good Foods Market, so we buy it there. We prefer buying directly from the farm, especially since the price is the same, meaning the farm gets more of the money when we buy direct. However, we like to support Good Foods as well, so have no problem with buying from them, especially when we can't buy directly from the farm.

This past weekend our plan was to stop by Pike Valley Farm before going on into Lexington. We were running ahead of schedule, however, and would have had to kill an hour before the farm store was open. Since we were able to buy ground beef, which we had also planned to get at Pike Valley, at the Marksbury Farm Market we decided to just skip Pike Valley Farm.

Good Foods did have Pike Valley Farm chicken breast, as expected. However, what we did not expect, is that all of the packages were single breast packs. Since we planned to buy approximately fifteen pounds, this was going to result in a lot of packaging material. On the other hand, another brand of chicken was available in packs of two or four.

The only real benefit to buying the Pike Valley chicken was it being local. We use to eat the other brand, before discovering Pike Valley, so knew that it met all of our other criteria. It was also quite a bit cheaper, which would likely be enough for many people to make the decision. We prioritize buying local, however, when we can, so price in itself isn't enough to influence our choice. The amount of packaging, however, was the one real sticking point.

In the end we decided that the additional packaging was just too much to justify the purchase of the Pike Valley product. As much as we wanted to buy local, we just couldn't bring ourselves to do so when there was a perfectly good non-local alternative that would result in much less waste going to the landfill. It is worth noting that the farm is in no way responsible for the amount of packaging. They sell whole chickens to Good Foods, where they are broken down and packaged. For whatever reason, the store had decided to package their Pike Valley breasts in single packs. I think that before our next visit we may try contacting the store and request some packages of Pike Valley breasts be prepared in larger packs. They may not be able to fulfil our request, but it is worth asking.

What I've learned from this experience is that even when we think we know the best products to buy, there are sometimes additional variables which, once considered, cause us to change our minds. This doesn't just apply to buying food, and doesn't just apply in cases of buying local or trying to minimize packaging. There are countless variables to influence our purchasing decisions, and the prioritization of those different variables vary from one person to the next.

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