Garlic Scapes for Market
I liked watching old grain farmers poke their way into the production area of the winery and start the back-of-napkin math, eyeing the barrels to figure out how many gallons they held.
To the farmer, if you can get the crop into the bin - or the wine into the barrel - the money is basically in the bank. You’re just waiting to see what the market gives you once the product is graded.
There are more steps for the winemaker. You take the responsibility of production, packaging, registration, and selling, all under the scrutiny of strict regulations.
This is the winemaker tradeoff: you only need a small amount of an input, but you take on the risk that the value you add won't get rewarded by the buyer.
On a sliver of farmland that produces $2000 of wheat, that equivalent in the Okanagan produces over $50,000 worth of grapes, and that can be multiplied by four to get the value of the wine.
It explains in part why arable land is 50-100 times more expensive in the Okanagan than farmland elsewhere.
If this seems a bit skewed, it is.
I am told that it’s the market determining the price of land, as though it's like at a farmers market, where a farmer sells their bunches of carrots at their stall. Market forces intervene, and if the farmer’s price is too high, she needs to lower it next week.
In my experience the analogy doesn’t hold up. I’ve sold carrots at the farmers market and premium wine in the city, and they aren’t the same.
In this country at least, regulations stop winegrowers from doing the equivalent of taking carrots to market. Much is hidden and warped in the wine “market”. I’m not sure why the players get away with it but I’m guessing it’s related to protecting the money that flows to the big corporations and their network.
My point is not to call bullshit on the illusion of a market. That’s not news.
First, it’s to suggest taking a long hard look at the sales space before you go in. If the back-of-napkin math looks too good to be true it probably is. Unless you’re lucky, it takes a lot of money to bump the incumbents for a few morsels. Amazon and its kin have spent a lot of money to condition buyers and keep them bought.
Second, I want to recognize the carrot grower scale operations that stay in business, both the ones that take their raw product to town and the ones that produce a refined good. It’s farmers market season, a great time to reward the producers with a purchase.
See you next Friday,
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