Female Farmers Can Make a Viable Living

Female Farmers Can Make a Viable Living
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What are the issues facing American farmers today? What are the needs of today’s female farmers? These are just a few of the questions that will be answered by today’s guest, Charlotte Smith. Charlotte is the owner of  the grass-based farm, Champoeg Creamery, and 3 Cow Marketing.

In part two of this interview, Charlotte talks about the health transformations of her family, and how the US government, big pharma and big agriculture are trying to block the way.

charlotte-Smith with horse

Charlotte Smith was named a food rebel, pioneer and visionary by PBS’s Food Forward TV, and a “Pioneering Leader in Raw Milk Production” by Mark McAfee, CEO Organic Pastures Dairy, and Food Tank named her one of the 25 “World’s Most Influential Women in Food and Ag” Charlotte Smith has created a sustainable farm-to-consumer business selling premium meats, poultry, eggs and milk. After witnessing one too many small business owners close up shop after being run ragged and still not being able to pay the bills with their sales, she founded 3 Cow Marketing to help others transform their marketing skills and begin to live the life they always dreamed of.

You can follow Charlotte through 3 Cow Marketing,  Champoeg CreameryFacebookInstagram, and Twitter.


Other links mentioned in this episode:

ADRIENNE HEW: Aloha and welcome to the Nutrition Heretic podcast, this is Adrienne Hew, The Nutrition Heretic. And today in the studio, I’m saying with air quotes, we’re going to talk about farming, which we do a lot on this show because when somebody truly is committed to their health they realize that their farmer is their best friend. One thing that I noticed years ago when my eldest who is now 13, when she was just turning two, we went to Switzerland and as I have talked about numerous times on this show, when I travel I like to travel in a way that I can connect with people because I want to know the food traditions in the places that I go. If you stay in a hotel you’re eating in restaurants all the time, maybe you stop into a supermarket every once in a while to buy a bottle of water but you don’t really get the full experience so this is kind of a little bit of my obsession, but it’s also just a way that I get to experience the world in a very tactile way and to visit places and really feel a little bit like a local. 

So when Daisy was two we went to Switzerland and we stayed in this small town in the French speaking part – I don’t even remember the exact name of the town to be honest. But it was a very small town and we stayed with a transitional organic farm. The thing that kind of slapped me in the face was that, our accommodations were definitely a little more meager than the people that lived there. They were installing marble counter tops and the house was beautiful but it was just like a really nice livable space. From the years that I have spent shopping at farms in Pennsylvania and now in Hawaii it’s abundantly clear that we are not prioritizing our farmers. Our farmers in the US unfortunately are living below the poverty line a lot of the time. As a matter of fact, one of the first talks I gave was for a farm where the farmer, raising two children, was pulling in $13-14,000 a year, if he was lucky. They barely could run electricity in their house, that’s how little they were making in Pennsylvania and these guys weren’t even Amish. The Amish have a whole other thing going with how much money they can pull in. This really stuck out in my head as one of the injustices in our society. 

For that reason I wanted to invite our guest heretic this week, Charlotte Smith. She is from 3 Cow Marketing and Champoeg Creamery. Where are you based, exactly? In Oregon, correct?

CHARLOTTE SMITH: Sure, I’m in St. Paul, Oregon, which is about thirty minutes south of Portland.

AH: Okay, so if you’re in the Portland area, please stop by her creamery. I can’t even say it twice, and I speak French, I don’t know, Champoeg. I think I want to say Shampooing, which is what they call shampoo. Tell us a little bit about 3 Cow Marketing and what you do there.

How to Price so You Stay in Business

CS: Sure, well 3 Cow Marketing started out as kind of like you talked about in your intro. I think that the current statistic is that 2000 farmers go out of business in America every single week and 80% of farmers are out of business within the first two years. Only 2% of farmers make it to the five-year point, and I’ve been in business seven years and part of that I think is directly related to the fact that I’ve been self-employed for 25 years. 

CS: I brought my marketing things I already understood and my background is in communications, and I built my businesses on relationships so when I started my farm I kind of knew exactly what to do to get customers. I had to build strong relationships with them and treat them really well and keep in touch with them all the time so they didn’t forget me. Then put customer service first and foremost. I inherently knew this because that was my background. So when other farmers who were nearby would start asking me, “Well, how is that you can sell your raw milk, for instance, for twice as much as we can and you’ve got a waiting list all the time and we can hardly sell half of what we produce and we’re only five miles away from your farm?”

CS: So then I would email back and forth and it was on an individual basis and then I had a group to my house. We had raw milk producers come here and I taught them some things all day. Seminar-type things. And then with the online marketing world, I thought, sure, I can reach the famers around me, but this is a message that they all need to hear all across America so I just took what I do and put it into. I wrote it down, and I created videos, and I put it into a course and now I have a wonderful private Facebook group called The Profitable Farm. 

I am trying to change the mind-set of farmers. The rest of the public will follow suit if farmers put themselves in higher esteem. So many of them feel like it’s okay to live at the poverty level and they think, well, we’re farmers so therefore we shouldn’t be able to afford to send our kid to college or they take pride that they drive a 20 year old car that leaves them stranded on the side of the road because that’s what our society has taught them. Since I came from a different world it’s like, no! Why is it that my children should not have the right to go to the college of their choice?

AH: Yes.

CS: Or to graduate with $200,000 debt because they had to get loans all the way through. I should have the same rights as these customers who are driving up to my farm store holding iPhones and lattes and driving BMWs and complaining that our hamburger is not 99 cents a pound, or something.

AH: Yeah, exactly.

CS: So that’s where it started. I had this bigger dream and I worked towards that big dream. My dream is that we will have small farmers scattered all across America serving the two or three hundred families that each small farm serves. Maybe that’s 50% of our food instead of the industrialized model we have now. But that’s only going to happen if we start getting farmers. We have this continuous turnover of farmers which means we never get anyone that’s, you know, only a certain amount of experience and then they’re out of business and they’ve lost tens of thousands of dollars or their whole savings or something when they go out of business. We have this constant influx of newbies who aren’t quite sure what they’re doing.

AH: Absolutely, and this is a huge issue in the marketing world online is that there are the gurus who believe they can train anybody in any industry. Yes, there are some basics as you know, as a marketing person, there are some basics that are universal. But no one who really understands the struggle of people who are very industry-specific particularly in these industries where we are supposed to be considered so selfless, right. I know that as a nutritionist people don’t want to pay me. I had to go to school to get the education, “But it’s just your knowledge, why are you charging for that?” You know, they don’t see it as a tangible thing, they don’t begrudge their doctor who they will go to every week and attest that they are not getting better with their doctor but wait a minute, you’re supposed to help me do it for free, right. Somehow the guy who makes you sick you pay; the person who makes you better should do it for free. Right.

CS: Right. You see the same thing in the food industry. “Why do you charge for milk, you’re milking the cow anyway? Can’t you just help out your neighbors and give it away?” Oh, you have no idea!

AH: Right, exactly, so you want to walk a day in my shoes?

CS: Oh yeah, yeah.

AH: So what is the mental block you see with the farmers themselves? What is it that makes them think that they can’t charge more? Like, oh people will only pay but so much? Or, “but they only charge this in the supermarket.” What is the mental block you find that they have to overcome to get their worth?

Why Marketing for Female Farmers is Different

CS: Well I think it often starts out because we have commoditized food. So they decide to raise their hundred chickens to sell and they realize, wow, these hundred chickens cost me $15 a bird which means I have to charge, $17 a bird to make $2 a bird, which is nothing. Yet the chicken in the store is $5 dollars cheaper so my competition is the store and therefore they’re trying to compete with Walmart and Whole Foods and all that instead. There’s that fear of not getting a customer. 

There’s also confidence. Lots of times I find that in my training, my consulting, my courses, the number one thing they give people is the confidence. They say, “Holy Cow, I can’t believe I was charging $10 a chicken. I’m raising mine to $30 now.” Once they have the confidence that they not only can, but should do that. 

The other I do is a little mind-set shift. That’s a block that often people have. “Who am I to say that my grass-fed beef is so good when they can go to Whole Foods and get supposedly. Who am I to say that?” And I help them to do a 180 on their mind-set. That if you have a product that will make someone’s life better: because we all know how people are using farm fresh foods to get their health back in order. If you’re selling pastured chickens and I have leaky gut, and you’re not doing everything you can to get your chicken in front of me, which means pricing it so that you’ll be in business two years from now, then you’re stealing my health from me.

Once I explain this to farmers; that they’re stealing from their customers or potential customers, that’s kind of a dramatic word, but what I use that to make the point that you’re stealing from them if you don’t do what it takes to get in front them, what that does is it makes them look at it like now they’re obligated to price their products sustainably so they will be in business one and two and five years down the road. Because otherwise they’ll leave all these families hanging that were relying on say, raw milk. A lot of people use raw milk to heal their kids’ eczema, allergies, asthma. Before we ever got our first milk cow, we had three different farmers in those first years; each one went out of business and left my family hanging with what I thought was my kids’ medicine. 

AH: Yeah.

CS: It is the only thing that works. When farmers start to look at it as being their obligation to run an actual business so that they can afford to stay in business, then often that’s all it takes for them to say, “Oh yeah, of course my chickens need to be twice what they are at the store. As a matter of fact, the store isn’t even any competition; it’s like apples to oranges.”

AH: Absolutely.

CS: Two different products, so it’s often just that mind-set and the fear. Once they get over that, gain the confidence, then they’re full steam ahead.

AH: Right. That’s the same thing I do, where people don’t want to pay for it. They’ll pay for anything doesn’t really require their actual actions other than showing up. The last interview I did, I was talking about a woman who was in my Facebook group and she didn’t want to spend the money, “I can’t even afford your book, it’s $15.00, is it going to be worth it?” 

I’m like, “You come in here, and you get information for free all the time. Seriously, lady,” I’m thinking to myself. Then it leaks out that she is going to the chiropractor every week and I’m like, “That’s going to cost you forty-five to fifty bucks a pop.” “Oh well, he makes me a special deal.” I’m like seriously, because the stuff that makes the chiropractor’s, chiropractics actually stick and work is what I do. So you won’t have to be beholden to the chiropractor for the rest of your life. And now I just made a bunch of enemies with chiropractors.

CS: Well you could fill in the blank with any alternative-type person. We get the same thing with probiotic pills. “Why is your milk so expensive?” And when I ask, they say, “We’re taking these probiotic pills that cost $400.00 per month.” “Wait, don’t you know you could stop taking probiotic pills when you drink raw milk?” So yeah, a lot of that is the mind-set shift that has to happen in the public which is slowly happening.

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AH: And unfortunately it’s happening when people have one foot in the grave.

CS: Well, that’s it. The whole idea could be preventative health care industry. But they don’t, they wait until they have the heart attack and then they come to you and me both and say, “Okay, I’m ready.”

AH: But you know, that’s the thing. The warning signs are always there, but they always say, “Oh no, that’s not it. That couldn’t be it; it runs in the family.” Every excuse they can come up with to not just take control. And one of the most infuriating things with me is when you talk to people about their health and they say, “Oh well, you know, it can’t be helped. It’s just in the family,” or whatever their excuse is. Or you know, the classic one is, “The government wouldn’t let it happen if it wasn’t good, right?”

CS: Right

AH: So wait a minute, you mean, like the elector in college that we don’t trust; the same people who take the tax money and you don’t trust what they do with the taxes, starting new wars. These same people on every other level you don’t trust them, but what is most personal to your family, to your body, they know better.

CS: Yeah, the good old food pyramid.

AH: Don’t even get me started on that crap.

CS: Right.

AH: We could go on for hours if we talk about food pyramids, or boxes, or steps, or whatever the heck they’re doing these days. It’s just this vicious cycle. There’s a lot of denial out there about what fuels our bodies and the role of food. Because we dump it down to this caloric value which we are finding out more and more is a little bit of a red herring.

Because it doesn’t talk about absorption rates, it doesn’t talk about fiber, you know. We push this whole fiber thing, it’s like, you ever stop to think if you eat too much fiber it might push the food out before you can actually use it. You know your body didn’t get a chance to do that. 

But at 3 Cow Marketing, you specifically are more tailored towards females, correct?

CS: I am, yes. Back to what happened in the last century. The industrialization of food meant that farmers no longer had to work directly with people. A lot of farmers hate people and that was fine because they sell to the big canneries and the processors. But now that we’re having this movement back to direct-to-consumer, farm-to-table, somebody’s got to sell that food. And if you’re a grumpy old farmer, which a lot of them can be, man or woman, you’re not going to have a happy customer base that is loyal to you. Women are so natural at building and maintaining deep relationships.

AH: Gotcha.

CS: And that’s what it’s going to take. In order for me to get someone to drive an hour to my farm once a week for raw milk when they could just pick up some milk at the store. I have to have a really deep relationship with them; where they have so much respect for me and what I do and say, what I believe in, and what we are here on the farm that they’re willing to drive out here and support me. That takes some work, but also it’s something that women are really good at. So I do focus my marketing training on women and because they are super-successful with this. If you’re a grumpy old man, listen: maybe find someone in your community who can take over the building of these deep relationships. I deal with hundreds, thousands of farmers, so I’m not trying to generalize it all you know. Gender differences aren’t exact but I do focus on women because they are naturally really good at this and they have a lot of success with what I teach. And let’s face it, you and me both, in our businesses, we want our clients and customers to have success or we don’t look good.

AH: Right.

CS: So the people who are most successful at what I do and building deep relationships to sell their farm products and build a loyal following are women. And it just works, and we get along. It’s the one place they can talk, “But, oh I feel bad doing this.” We can address that because they’re women’s issues.

AH: Right, right, absolutely. Do you homeschool? I know that’s very big in the farming community. Is part of your training helping people to try to juggle it all?

CS: I run a very busy farm with seven employees and my online marketing company. I actually run two businesses and I don’t homeschool; I’m very busy. I work very long days, and I have a personal assistant and a virtual assistant. I know where my strengths are, and it would not be homeschooling my children. However, my children can teach you how to milk a cow from start to finish, and the proper sanitation procedures, and the biology behind it. So they’re getting this education from working with me on the farm. But no, they go off, well, two of my kids are out of the house, I only have one at home now. So she goes off to school for seven hours a day. And you wouldn’t believe the amount of things I get done in those seven hours. Well, actually you can because you have kids too. I’m all for the helping of women; she just needs to say, “No” more. But no, I don’t really teach how to do it all.

AH: Okay.

Cattle farm

Things Most Farmers are Doing Wrong

CS: My lead magnet on my 3 Cow Marketing website right now is the Eight Traits of Successful Women Farmers. And one of those traits is, “She says ‘no’ swiftly and often”. Because as women we like to please and help people, we say yes too much. So that’s something I would talk about in our private Facebook group. Definitely, pick out one of your top one or two or three things that you’re really good at and do those things and hire the rest done. So yeah, one of my things is the kids go to school.

AH: Right. You know it’s funny because in recent months I’ve been kicking myself in the butt because I am a yes person. And if somebody is stranded and they need a ride or something and they call me up I’m like, oh shoot, if that was me…And I live on an island so it’s even more in your face. So I’m like, yeah oh man, she’s stranded; she needs a ride to the airport or something. And her husband’s not on the island and who else is going to help her? She doesn’t really know anybody else. And that’s one thing that’s interesting. Because I’m in the school system I know more people, but some of my friends, their kids live off-island or whatever, or they don’t have any, or they don’t have a spouse. So when they need somebody, they really need somebody.

CS: Yes.

AH: Yeah, so that’s a huge thing for me going forward. Really learning, “Do you have somebody else you can tap for this one because I have to get my stuff done today.”

CS: How to say no and how to be okay if someone is going to grouch at you behind your back. Well, it’s okay because your obligation is to your children and your family first. And if you don’t have time for them because you’re picking up somebody else’s kid then they suffer.

AH: Yeah, it is definitely a balancing act and it’s something we have to get more comfortable with. Now to speak to what you said before about not wanting to be gender specific, but these traits are embodied more by women vs. men. Don’t feel too bad about that because there is a reason why we have the old adage that behind every great man is a woman, right?

CS: Oh, yes, it’s so true and I see such an opportunity. I say this because there are things on the farm I just can’t do, and the things that I’m lacking. I think most women are lacking the physical strength. For instance, we moved a mile’s worth of irrigation pipe, so 30 foot long aluminum pipe carried across a field. A mile a day during the summer. Well, I can’t do that so I hire a guy. I have a guy who does those things, so yes, the genders are perfectly balanced like God intended but for the men on a farm especially. I think, if you look back 150 years, that’s probably how it was too. The men were doing more of the physical labor and the women were building the relationships that kept the farm going. Embracing what we’re naturally good at.

AH: And sometimes it’s not even necessarily strength, I think it’s also just being cumbersome. There are certain things like my arms; they’re not as long as my husband’s arms. It’s so easy, sometimes you just can’t get a grip on it because your hand’s just too darn small.

CS: Yep, exactly.

AH: There are just certain things that if you can save a step and it can be done a little quicker with him. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it in a pinch if you need to. There’s got to be a division of labor one way or another.

CS: I’m a firm believer in figuring out the highest and best use of your time. Whether you’re a woman farmer or a man or whatever, highest and best use your time. And then get someone else to do the other things that are going to take you two or three times as long. For me it always goes back to taking time away from my family. Am I willing to take two or three times as long to do that one thing so my family pays the price? Or figure out what I’m really good at and focus on that.

AH: Right, and also shifting gears; you know sometimes just moving from, for example, right now; podcasting. In a couple of minutes when we’re done I’ll be straining guavas to make guava syrup but a mental shift has to happen. And sometimes it takes a little, “Okay, I’m in this new space, I need to do this.” So you know, just these few minutes that you would lose laying out the steps of the next process even that is a strain on your time. A lot of people individually doesn’t take long to throw kefir grains in your milk, but when you’re adding that to making a stew and milking a cow or whatever, it adds up.

CS: It does, yeah, and as women and mothers and business owners we do a lot of that. Yeah, that’s my whole day.

AH: Yeah, it’s because, I’m good at it; so why give it to somebody else? I know what I’m doing. But then you end up having everything fall on your lap.

CS: Right, right.

AH: What are some of the challenges other than just the marketing. What are some of the things that you see farmers doing in a, I don’t want to say, a sloppy way, but that they could be doing better. Whether it’s in terms of what they offer, let’s say value-added products, beyond just the regular marketing. Are there other things that you see like,  guys, you should really be doing it a little…or if you do it this way it’ll probably work in your favor better..

CS: Yeah, I think one of the big things that I see there is, they often start with one thing. Like they decide, “I’m going to raise chickens,” so they raise chickens and they sell some and it went mediocre. So they think, “Well I’m going to raise sheep.” Then if they switch to “Well, we’re going to raise this really unique pig breed that’s going out.” And they’re jumping from thing to thing and each time you jump it costs a lot of money. But what I tell farmers, “If you’re not really good at selling the first thing and you don’t. You need to be sold out and have a waiting list two pages long before you move to the second thing because if you can’t sell the first thing and you can’t be successful at the first thing, you’re not going to be successful at the second thing.” So they keep jumping from species to species or whatever it is until finally they go out of business. 

It’s so sad because 80% of them are gone within two years. And we don’t hear about it; the public hears about farmers as oh, it’s a hot new field and a lot of people are going back to the farm and what we don’t hear is the other side of that; how many people are going out of business just as fast. That’s one of the big things, they’re just taking on too much too soon. And, yes, get really good at one thing and then you’ll be really good at the second thing.

AH: Right. I don’t want you to give away all your tricks here, but let’s say somebody goes into the chicken business. Is it a matter of knowing the difference between knowing a single or a dual-breed chicken or triple – they’re the ones that they use for the feathers too, right. So is it diversified? Trying to tap as many markets as you can with one type of chicken? Is it offering the bone broth from the chicken or the ones that don’t turn out too? Let’s say the skin rips or bruises during the butchering and not having a game plan. “What do we do with the chicken for when it doesn’t look good for a nice roast chicken on the table? Are we going to make stock? Are we going to offer chicken sticks? I don’t know, some other thing we can do with it?”

CS: What you just described is perfect because you’re just describing what usually goes on in many farmers’ heads when they first start out. We need to this and this and this and it’s much simpler than that. It’s a matter of, and this is where we start in our training; identifying who is your ideal customer. It goes back to who is your customer and what does she want? We see a lot of people thinking, “Well, I’m going to buy these chickens of this heritage breed because I read in Hobby Farm Magazine that heritage breeds are making a comeback. Well it turns out most Americans want a fat, juicy, plump chicken which is not often a heritage breed. Then they lose a lot of money because they take twice as long to raise. So start even before you start your farm. Start identifying who your customer is and that other problem that often farmers make or have is they think, “Well my customer should want these things,” versus what their customer really wants.

So my customer should want to preserve a heritage breed of hog and therefore should want to buy this specific breed that costs twice as much. They should want that and therefore I’m going raise that. No. You have to go back to what does your customer really want? What your customer really wants is; she’s a busy mom with family and basketball practice and she needs to get a healthy farm-fresh dinner on the table every single night. That means pork chops from any pig that was raised on pasture. Farmers get way too caught up in the specifics that we can geek out with each other. Like, let’s get together and geek out all these crazy breeds and feathers and what we can do with it. But if you want a sustainable business you identify who is your customer and what do they want. And 99% of them want a fat, juicy, plump chicken on the table for dinner. And that’s it. 

AH: Very important. You reminded me when I first started shopping in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and I identified these different farmers and I had this one farm that he raised black Australorp or whatever. He had this little black chicken and it was the most delicious chicken ever. But yes, they were smaller. I don’t think they took a crazy amount of time to get to weight for that particular chicken, but they were smaller and the meat was darker. It had a little layer of yellow fat, mmm; I can taste it right now. I introduced the farmer to a friend of mine and she just starts winging, “It’s not big enough, and my family needs two,” and blah blah. And I’m like, I don’t give a crap, it’s the most delicious chicken. To me, I wanted that flavor. But to her, she was much more average American let’s just say; she wanted big boobs on this chicken.

CS: Yep.

AH: And it wasn’t as important to me.

The Value of Relationships with Customers

CS: Right. And you and I know sustainable and humane and all this and maybe these breeds are better. But let’s face it; we have to make a profit as a farmer or we’re going to not be here in two years. We’re going to be that 80% that’s out of business. So focus on what you can sell to pay your bills and pay the costs. And nothing against those little black chickens, but maybe in order to be here two years for now; because that should be your goal, is to set yourself up to be here two years from now. Then you can experiment. So maybe you get to the point where you’re raising a thousand Cornish Cross chickens for your bigger customer base and you do one hundred of these little black ones for the customers who are more educated. And back to the woman farmer who is building these very loyal deep relationships with people. You’re going to educate them over time. So they may start out wanting the Cornish Cross, but a year from now they may want the more gamey chicken that ran across the fields that is a little bit tougher, but they know the nutrition is better. But they don’t start out that way. You as a farm owner, it’s your responsibility to educate them and get them there. But you’re starting out with kindergarteners so you can’t, you need to do what’s sustainable for you and keep you in business and then start experimenting with the fancier breeds, whatever it might be.

AH: Right, and actually it’s cool to hear you say this because the person I just I interviewed prior to you, she has fibromyalgia and this crazy skin disorder I’ve never heard of, and you name it, she has it. So with my input she starts going to farmer’s markets and one of the things she says in the interview is that she didn’t realize the relationships you build with the farmers. So when she goes to make her bone broth she talks to the farmer and he’s like, “This is the cut you want for this, you want the knuckle with the sinewy skin and all that good stuff that’s going to give you more collagen, and this is what’s going to help heal you.” She was floored that she could get feedback like that, and instructions and ideas, and understand even more through the farmers. So yeah, the farmer is definitely part of your education and is going to be your partner in this whole thing.

CS: Yes. Goodness, yes. I know Dr. Eber told her how to do that.

AH: Oh God, no!

CS: The thing that we then develop as farmers, now that we’ve been in business for seven years is we have seven years of customer healing stories or testimonials about how it changed their life. Whatever reason it might be that people come in our store. They often find us for health reasons because they’ve been going to a traditional doctor for years for whatever it might be and the doctor finally says, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you,” or, “You’re going to be on this medication the rest of their life.” So they start Googling and taking it into their own hands. They end up in our store and then we tell them about six other customers who healed from the same thing by just changing how they eat and they’re blown away. Often there’s a new person in our store, and, a veteran who’s been at our store for years will be there at the same time. And that is just wonderful, they will tell them they were just in their same shoes a year before that and they say, “Yeah when I first started I had this and this and then I made my bone broth and listened to Charlotte, she knows exactly what she’s talking about because it helped my kids do this and this.” And there’s so much, this whole community around farms that you don’t find in any other practitioner-type setting.

AH: Absolutely.

CS: That yes, And they’ll even exchange phone numbers and they’ll text each other and they’ll say, they’ll catch up on their progress, it’s just a beautiful thing

female farmers helping each other

AH: Right, that’s the thing about this woman; she has all this stuff and a month into it she goes, “Oh my God, I feel so wonderful!” She started feeling great but she had actually friended me on Facebook as well as being in my group so I see her personal posts and she’s telling all her friends, “This is the best decision I’ve ever done. This has changed my life like nothing else I have ever done before.” She’s just so excited after sitting on the side lines for two or three years. She is finally coming to grips with what she needs to do. She’s like, “I can’t even see myself going back there, all I have, all I would have to look forward to is more pain again.” Because the one day she had forgotten her water bottle, she’d bought a Lipton Iced Tea and she drank about a third of it and threw the rest away and the next morning she wakes up, she’s in complete pain. “And I just remembered I drank that thing yesterday, so if that isn’t a hint and a half.” And she’s not even doing everything; she’s just doing the basic: get the processed stuff out, that’s all she’s done. And adding the farmer’s markets. Where a lot of people are worried about the amount of money they spend, she’s saying, “Well, my boyfriend has remarked that I’m eating about 40% less than I was eating before,” so it’s pretty much a wash.

CS: The other thing is when we started eating this way twelve years ago, it was nothing for me at the time before real food to go to the grocery store once a week and spend an additional $40.00 on over-the-counter medication; cold medicine and headache medicine and sore throat medicine. After our first year of drinking raw milk in twelve years we spend nothing. We don’t have over the counter medication.

AH: Thank you.

How Big Pharma and Grocery Stores Fit Into the Mix

CS: Yeah, so it’s more than covered our raw milk cost, not to mention never being sick. You know, the amount of energy that you have and your mood, you never have to deal with depression or anxiety, so the cost is not even an issue anymore. I’d pay anything for farm fresh food if we didn’t raise it ourselves because there’s no comparison, but you know, the public just doesn’t get that yet. Slowly, more and more people are turning around. For that woman you were just talking about, it just seems like it’s criminal to me that we can’t get her story out you know, that doctors can’t tell those stories. It just seems criminal that they’re keeping people sick. And I have my own personal friends because I have my wonderful people that believe in what we do and have healed, and then we have friends, neighbors, and high school friends, and college friends that think we’re lunatics or something.

AH: Oh yeah.

CS: They’re sick and taking their all their medications and they would never dream of trying bone broth or farm fresh eggs to heal. It seems criminal to me that doctors aren’t telling them that, “Stop your medications and start your bone broth and you’ll be fine.” But then again, their salaries are paid for by these pharmaceutical companies and things. A real big shift has to happen but it’s sad that only a few people are in the know in America.

AH: Right, right, yeah. And actually you’re reminding me that a friend of mine was telling me, I believe it was in the book, Think and Grow Rich, I don’t if you’ve ever read that, but I think that’s the book that she was saying.  I read it a long time ago and I just don’t remember this but apparently there’s a passage about how the pharmaceutical industry got started purposely. To get people scared of handling anything themselves, in just knowing they have the resources at their fingertips. You’ve got to go to this faceless entity to get everything fixed.

CS: That was all the last century; that was what it was all about, the industrialization of America. When my mom had us kids in the ’60s the doctor told her, “Don’t you dare breastfeed. They make this formula now that’s far better for you.” And so we’re trying to reverse a whole century of brainwashing that occurred. 

AH: Yeah, I’m going to call some people out right now.

CS: Yeah, go for it.

AH: Not directly, but to me, and I’m not the most religious person, I believe I have a spirituality about me but I’m not going to church every Sunday necessarily. But if you’re going to tell me that you believe in God and you believe in a plan and all this stuff, and then you don’t trust anything that He’s put on the planet to nourish your body and you’ve got to go to something in a package that’s completely denatured and chemicalized and that’s your first-line solution, I’ve got a problem with that.

CS: Yeah, good point. Last century they disconnected us from our food source. So anything, any meat you get in a store is from a confined animal speed-lot operation and where not only the animals are treated inhumanely. But if you’ve done much reading on it, the humans, they bring workers from across the border. They truck them over in the middle of the night. They might get their arm severed in these plants and then they take them back and drop them off because that’s the end of their career. And if you shop in a grocery store, that’s what you’re supporting. Slave labor happens in Mexico harvesting, the NVR just did an exposé on this and it took them two years to complete the report and then be able to air it because there was a lot of controversy. If you buy a pepper or a tomato in the grocery store, you’re supporting slave labor. We’re so disconnected people don’t care. They’re like; your tomatoes are $5.00 a pound. Well, I’m going to go to the store and pay $2.00 a pound.” You could say, “You’re supporting slave labor,” and they just laugh it off.

AH: Right.

CS: So you call yourself an ethical, spiritual human being but you’re supporting the most hideous human acts there are.

AH: Right. That’s not even necessarily only the stuff coming out of Mexico, like you said, they truck people over and then they chain them to beds at night in Florida. And you know, they’re picking your dollar-a-pound tomatoes. Something about this system has to change.. You can scoff at what I do and you can say you’re going to vote for whomever, but unless these fundamental changes are going to happen, we’re still going to have the blood avocado. We’re still going to have millions of bees dying to produce your almonds. That you, because you’ve sworn off milk, because milk is the bad guy, now you drink almond milk and now you eat everything with almonds in it and billions of bees die in transit every year going to and from California for your bloody almonds.

CS: Right, right.

AH: I’ve got my little vendetta against the almond industry, if you can tell. But it comes back, the almond industry is going to stay there and be profitable unless people get educated and choose to make different choices.

AH: Right, right. Exactly.

CS: A lot of them are educated yet they still go for the cheaper whatever.

AH: Right, it’s the cheaper thing; it’s the more politically correct thing. I get just as much out of my almonds as you do from your milk or what have you and it’s really? I always say, if you’re going to swear off something, just consider what goes into the alternative and who’s told you about that. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the blood avocado, but that’s the cartel in Mexico that holds families at gunpoint over their avocados.

CS: No, I hadn’t heard of that.

AH: I heard that on NVR too.

CS: It aligns with everything else that’s going on too, so I wouldn’t doubt it for a moment.

AH: The price of limes, a case of limes went from I think $26.00 a case to $90.00 something in the span of a year and these are Mexican limes. Here in Hawaii avocados are dropping on the floor every day, but somehow they still find a reason they have to import them from Mexico.

CS: Yep.

AH: All of these new trends; the avocado oil, the almond this and that, You know what, I shop with my farmer. I know what this person is doing, this is the future I want to support. 

CS: Yes, and yes, and so we’re all slowly getting the word out.

The Top Two Sacrifices Farmers Make and Why They’re Ironic

AH: Exactly, and hopefully, and as this podcast grows in popularity we’ll help you get that out. Going back to the marketing, what are some of the sacrifices, you talked a lot about new farmers and people going out of business. What are some of the sacrifices they may not be prepared for?

CS: Oh, boy. Finances are the biggest one. People think, “Well, Charlotte sells her milk for $12.00 a half gallon so I’m gonna go buy a milk cow and get rich. And little do they realize that that $24.00 gallon raw milk costs $25.00 a gallon to produce you know.

AH: Right.

CS: So financial, that’s the biggest. So what was your question?

AH: The sacrifices that people may not be prepared for.

CS: Okay, so financial is number one probably. The second one is they have no idea of the time that’s going to be involved. A lot of people will sell everything in the city. They made a little money in the, real estate market or something, so they sell. Everyone’s dream of five acres or ten acres and they buy their animals to have a better quality family life. So they can spend more time with the kids and the kids can help on the farm. And then they’re working eighteen-hour days, they’re up in the middle of the night, the husband and wife never see each other. They try to drag the kids out of bed and demand they collect eggs but, slave labor.

AH: Yeah, my kids begged me for chickens and we finally got them and they’re like, “What do you mean I have to get up and feed them?”

CS: Right, like every single day. So all of a sudden they realize they’re never seeing their family. I’m really, really involved in the raw milk business. That’s a big part of our business and the raw milk world in general. Often people think, “Oh a dairy cow, Little House On The Prairie have the milk cow in the back yard.” Well, milking a dairy cow, in raw milk dairy we’re limited by law to three cows so it’s very small. So raw milk dairy is the worst kind of farm life you could have because milking happens at breakfast time and dinner time, seven days a week, 365 days a year. So people often have no idea that it’s the hardest on family life farming that there is, is a dairy cow. So dairy farmers. I often get a call or email that says, “Well, my wife gave me the ultimatum: it’s either me or the dairy cow so I have to go out of business. So if you know anyone who wants a milking machine and 3 cows let me know.” Because you sacrifice your family.

AH: Yeah.

CS: So those are the two: financial and time. So the two reasons people get into farming in the first place is to have more financial freedom and more time are the worst reasons to do it.

AH: Right. I think that could apply to pretty much any business that you’re doing yourself. You watch your boss and you think he’s just in that corner office staring out into space. But in fact the wheels are turning to get everybody to say, “Okay, this is what needs to happen.” I think people overlook that when they decide to go into business. Period.

CS: Yes. Yes. And farming is harder, too, because you’ve got the animals. So you may be in business for yourself, but then you don’t realize you’re going to be up at 1:00 am with a cow that’s got milk fever and 2:00 am with a pig that’s having problems giving birth, or a cow or whatever it is. And then, the financial part it, you know, we raise grass-fed beef, well I have to, I buy all those cows as weanlings and raise them. And you don’t get your money out of them until they’re two to three years old. So then the farmer has you know, $50,000.00 tied up that you don’t get for two years later, and so you never get ahead.

AH: Hmm, yeah, I don’t know why this popped into my head, but it sounds like a story I heard where a guy won the lottery and he chose the annuity. He’s paid off all of his bills and he had nothing in the bank for a year because he paid everything off thinking he was doing the right thing. But he couldn’t touch the rest of the money for then next year.

CS: Right.

AH: He went into huge debt for a year until the next annuity paid out, and I think he and I can totally see where people would do that

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