I had spent the first 18 years of the 3rd Turning ‘The Unraveling‘ doing my own life unraveling from Cleveland to Atlanta to Cairo to Phoenix and finally Houston. The ‘3rd Turning’ stretches from 1984 to 2004 and by the time I discovered Karl Marx at the Rice Village Farmers’ Market I had stretched my ’68 BS of Architecture and my ’82 EMBA diplomas across being fired three times, foreclosed on twice, 14 months as an insecure security guard at Fleming Foods grocery warehouse, 10 months hobbling around carrying 50lb feed bags at Tractor Supply, 14 months vacuuming under car floor mats at Wal-Mart’s Tire Lube Express and 10 years of cognitive psycho-therapy. Oh, I forgot, 5 months as a beverage counselor at a Shell station at night and a ‘takes-too-much-time’ courier by day.
After three hours of selling fresh, as in raw, goat chevre and feta cheese for $5/8oz container and $4/pint raw goat’s milk kefir, paying my $10 booth fee I had EIGHTY-FIVE dollars in cash, greenbacks, real hard-earned money. Well not as hard as checking the air pressure of 50 four wheeled cars at Wal-Mart. Cheese and kefir making compared to the labor of milking 50 goats twice a day, seven days a week. I deducted $15 for a rib-eye at Chili’s on the way home to celebrate my introduction to Marx’s, “the labor theory of value.”
“Human labor – the time and effort needed to bring a good to market – is the “secret sauce” that determines the value of things. This is what modern capitalists want you to forget, with all their hearts. A motorbike costs more than a bicycle because more time and human effort goes into making it.
“I am in Texas and sell chevre for $25.00 per pound and sell out!”
At my Wal-Mart, hourly wage of $7.15; I would have to work, work, for 12 hours to clear 85 bucks. Even my 10 to 10 six days a week cushy new home sales counselor gig netted me $38,453 or little more than $11/hr. But at the Rice Village Farmers’ Market, I was an entrepreneur and as Marxist Deng Xiaoping famously said, “making money is exhilarating!”
PRICE OF GOOD = FIXED CAPITAL + VARIABLE CAPITAL + “SOMETHING EXTRA”
FIXED CAPITAL is the machinery, equipment, information, know-how, place of business and other “tangible” factors that go into making a product and delivering it to market.
- $150K place of business: 15501 Alton Rd. Kendelton, TX. 18 acres with barn, septic and well 50 miles SW of Houston + dairy and trailerhouse
- $70K machinery: 2 goat milker, tractor, F350, Ford Explorer
- $30K equipment: freezers, refrigerators, chill tank, welder, 50 goats, 2 cows
- information: CPA Systems Analyst, BS Architecture, EMBA, TXDept of Ag & Health, 2+ years as a Boer goat breeder
- know-how: not much about goats, a lot of business sales & finance experience
VARIABLE CAPITAL is basically a fancy way of saying “the money spent on labor power.”
PRICE OF GOOD: Since it takes a gallon of milk to make a pound of cheese, our average price for our 55-30-15 mix of $15 milk-$25 cheese-$45 kefir dairy, was $25.00 a gallon. = FIXED CAPITAL $2.38 per gallon + VARIABLE CAPITAL is basically a fancy way of saying “the money spent on labor power.” $3.36 per gallon + “SOMETHING EXTRA” $25 – $2.38 – $3.36 = $19.29 per gallon profit.
Farmers’ Market “Something Extras”
Nina Planck “Real Food”
Nina Planck was my inspiration for visiting the Rice Village Farmers’ Market because her family in Louden Virginia grossed $375,000 serving 17 markets in the Washington DC area averaging $500 per market.
Further inspiration came from interviews with my fellow vendors: “If I do not make at least $500 per market. I drop that market” – Wharton County ‘vegie’ producer who lived ten miles further down the SW Freeway than us.
“My hero is the guy who grossed $250,000 from a 1/2 acre vacant lot in San Francisco, selling specialty greens to restaurants.” – Permaculture Professor at Leisure Learning Unlimited.
The proof in the raw goats milk pudding came when Ken showed me the $965 in cash at the close of his 8 to noon day at the Houston’s Farmers’ Market. Ken’s smile was validation of a sales record for the Anala Goat Company and his $241.25 – $60/hr share of Marx’s “Something Extra.”