Why the price? It is great to have jars of prepared foods on the shelves in case something else goes wrong causing grocery shelves to be empty again like during Corona in 2020.
This is our page on Why The Price of home packed food at David's Garden Seeds®. We share what goes into making a jar of home processed food.
As you look at the pricing of our home packed food, you are saying all kinds of things, none of them good, about how much the home grown and small batch products cost.
I thought I would take a few minutes and explain why the price is so much.
Everything is done by hand. There are no machines so it is labor intensive.
Why The Price?
Preparing the Jars
To start with, there is the price of the jars. They are about $2.75 each. Why the price now? Coronavirus. Mason jars used to be available everywhere dirt cheap. Then corona hit and everyone grabbed up all of the jars and accessories which drove up the price big time. Then we have to have them delivered to the farm or pay someone to go pick them up. This means car gas, car insurance, car maintenance and labor.
The jars have to be washed. Water, soap, labor, and most importantly TIME, usually by Juanita aka Mrs. David's Garden Seeds® and she is expensive! (Worth every penny, too!)
We have to have a sink to wash them in which means we need a building with running water, a water heater and sewer. We do have a well but we do not use this in our food prep. We use city water.
Then the jars are put into a canning pan with water where the water is heated up to boiling. Water, electricity and labor.
Once this is done, the water is dumped out of the jars, the jars are filled with product, placed back into the canning pan, and cooked under high pressure for 15 minutes. Water, electricity and labor.
If pickled, the same steps, only it is boiled for 30 minutes.
Then they are taken out of the canning pan, placed on the counter to dry and when dried, labeled. Labor, labels and electricity.
Then we have to take them to our store and keep them in a cool dry place. Shelf space and electricity to keep things cool. Once again labor, space and electricity.
Producing the Product
But before we get to the actual canning process, we have to plant the vegetable. Now we sell seeds so why is there a cost? Why the price? We don't sell or buy cheap seeds.
There is the cost of the seeds, the raised bed, compost, putting up a hoop house with snap clamps, shade cloth, screws and PVC pipe. Labor and electricity to put this all together.
We had to put in a well and electricity to operate the well and regular upkeep. Out in the country, these things are not cheap.
Then there are the seeds. They have to be bought, planted and then cultivated for 2 to 3 months. Seeds we get at good price because they are good seeds. But planting and cultivating are labor intensive. We pay our team members way above minimum wage.
There is watering. Fertilizing. And a daily battle with insects, especially cutter ants. They have ruined a lot of our plants and trees. The fertilizers and insecticides we use are organic, so they cost more. Everything we do is organic, even though we cannot claim we are organically certified.
Then there is the harvest. Labor and water to wash the vegetables off. The water we use at this point is city water. We put them in a cooler to cool them down overnight. The cooler is not cheap and means more electricity.
And along the way are many weeds that have to be pulled. We do not use any chemicals so they have to be pulled by hand. "Why not try some landscape fabric?", you ask. We did. Weeds grew through the holes we cut to plant the seeds. So the weeds have to be pulled by hand. Getting people to do this costs a bit of money.
Preparing the Product
Once the vegetables are cleaned and cooled then we have to prepare them for pickling. So why the price?
The product has to be cut into slices. This is labor and time intensive. We have to use a lot of caution here because it is easy to slice ourselves. Has not happened yet, but close.
Beets have to be boiled and the skins removed. This is really labor intensive.
When we start canning tomatoes, these have to be done the same way.
Ground meat divider
Various pots and utensils used for pickling our product.
The sliced product has to be put into the jars. We stuff our jars as full as we can get them. We put some in and push it down with a ground meat divider and keep doing this over and over so we get as much as we can into a jar.
Have you noticed that when you buy a 16 oz can of green beans at the store you get about eight ounces of green beans and 8 ounces of water? I remember a time when the can was stuffed with green beans.
Labels have to be bought, printed and affixed to the jars. These labels are not cheap, the ink and electricity to print them, plus we have to have a printer. There are labor charges to get this all done.
In order to accomplish our preparations for small batch processing, we use a lot of paper towels (which are composted) and hand towels which have to be washed. Water, detergent and labor to have these ready to go.
Then we have to have store space for them. Labor to stock them. We have to have a cool building. Someone to ring them up once you come in to purchase them or prepare them to mail. A bag to put them in and since they weigh over two pounds it has to be a sturdy bag.
So as you can see, there is a lot that goes into small batch processing.
But looking at the internet, I see that we are competitive in our pricing and even beat some of the other guys who are private label. And our product does not contain citric acid, calcium chloride, potassium aluminum sulfate, polysorbate 80, propylene glycol 76 and all sorts of other things to include food colorings. Some even contain high fructose corn syrup, but not ours. No preservatives or artificial flavors or colorings.