Price can be a stumbling block for some people: Humanely raised meat can cost up to twice as much as the industrially produced stuff. But Jen has many customers who have found innovative ways to make it work, by including half as much meat in their weekly diets, or looking elsewhere in their household budgets to trim expenses. Still, in this cost-conscious economy, it's hard to see how a place like Flying Pigs manages to survive at all. "We get an income off our farm," says Jen with a shrug. "But it's not a way to get rich, by any means." Yet both Jen and Mike consider their farm successful, because success in this business may simply mean finding equilibrium: Flying Pigs has reached a size the couple can manage without compromising their values.
It's a Thursday afternoon, and Jen and Mike are getting ready for their weekly trip to the city. They eye the weather report anxiously because a rainy weekend means a deserted market where they may not sell enough even to cover the cost of the trip. After supper they'll tuck their children into bed, say goodnight to the babysitter and farmhands, then climb into the truck and set off, arriving well after midnight. All day Friday while Jen works the greenmarket, Mike will make deliveries to restaurants. Saturday they'll work two markets, then load their truck with vegetables, bread, and cheese they've traded with fellow vendors in exchange for unsold meat. By the time they pull into their driveway, another 450 miles on their odometer, their children will be fast asleep.
Yet Jane and Charlie are never far from Jen's thoughts. "I don't want my kids to be as ignorant as I was about where food comes from," she says. "And I hope they won't have to live in a country where the farmland has been paved over. Once it's gone, it's gone; you don't get it back."
She adds, "I don't want my kids turning to me in 20 years and saying, 'Where were you? What were you doing?' I know it's a cliché, but I don't want to be part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution. I want to do something that outlasts me."
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