Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, has a steadfast rule against shipping products of Polyface. So committed is Joel to this, he refused to ship Michael Pollan a T-bone to New York. Worked out pretty well for Joel, Pollan was intrigued and Polyface became the central hero of “Omnivore’s Dilemma”.
I tip my hat to Joel and Polyface as this is one of the most difficult commitments to which a business would try to adhere. “Somebody wants my product! Where?! Beijing! It will be on the next plane out!” At Massey Creek Farms, we find ourselves faced with this proposition on a regular basis. We have, however, begun to see the light. Local, means local. Shipping is expensive! Most of the time, shipping costs end up exceeding the cost of the item. This is not rational, reasonable or sustainable. If we ship to Charleston or DC, we might as well ship to China. What’s the difference?
Polyface defines their foodshed as a “four-hour drive” the distance one could make a day trip to check out the farm and return home. Of course, this is somewhat subjective and arbitrary, but it is a defined limit to their idea of local. A perfectly rational and reasonable definition as far as we are concerned.
For Massey Creek Farms, we have sort of settled around a slightly more narrow view of “our” foodshed. For us, a couple of hour drive seems about right. A family could drive to the farm, spend some time taking in the sights, grab lunch and return home with a cooler of meats and eggs without being exhausted. Additionally, there are plenty of other farms closer to a given area, that deserve your support. As much as we strive to produce a great product, we don’t have a monopoly on pasture raised meats and eggs.