April 10, 2012

College Tuition or $12 for a Dozen Organic Eggs? ~ Rob Thomas

Photo: IvanWalsh.com

Where Is the Value?

When I saw an $8.95 per lb price tag on the locally raised all natural heirloom Thanksgiving turkey from the farmer’s market, I knew I was close to my limit.

I knew the “free” turkey at Big Shop Markets was a hook to get me in for all the fixings. I knew the 99 cents per pound of frozen factory farm bird was not for me.

I did finally decide to sign up for that natural turkey, but mainly because I was too distracted to hammer out the math. When my wife and I drove out to the family’s farm to pick-up our freshly slaughtered, formerly pampered bird, however, reality struck.

We pulled into the yard, the chickens scattered, the dogs barked, the pigs grunted and everyone was smiling and friendly heading into the farmhouse. I took the bag from our friendly local turkey maven’s hands… “$215.00 please,” she said. I’d refused to do arithmetic for fear of the number. My wife’s jaw dropped.

It was a long quiet ride home, I swear I heard the turkey gobble with laughter.

I know I wanted to pay attention to what my money ends up supporting, but I also have to be responsible to my family. College tuition payment or $6 for a half dozen free range, organic mozart-listening-to eggs, never shaken or exposed to harsh words?

Over the next few years we found healthy, natural birds at a local co-op priced at $2.99-$3.99 per pound. More expensive than a free butterball, but tastier and more ethical by far. In this case, a few dollars more on an occasional purchase pales in comparison to the benefits to myself and my community.

With almost any purchase we measure value, cost, convenience and vendor reputation. As a founding member and supporter of B Corp, Social Venture Network, and a member of Certified Green Business and 1% For The Planet, I pay close attention to where I spend my money. Who I support is usually more important than the cost of the product and service, within reason. When I have gone for cost as sole concern I usually find I get less value. When I shop outside my community, I do not enjoy the transaction as much. When I need to resolve an issue with a vendor, knowing that person or organization more intimately always makes for a better experience and a swifter resolution. By sticking to the community where we value reputation and common dreams as a shared goal I find I am far wealthier at the end of the transaction.

Still, I find it’s best not to bring up the turkey story with my wife.



Rob Thomas fought the hard battles on wall street and left with spoils.  Social(k) was created while looking for a retirement plan organizations could offer employees that had more than one Environmental, Social or Governance, ESG, screened fund option. After seven years and with over 500 ESG screened options along side traditional offerings Social(k) is the leader in our community with close to 250 progressive and forward thinking organizations offering Social(k). MoveOn.org, Busboys and Poets, Green America, Alliance for a Just Society, Ella Baker Center For Human Rights, and Great Plains Institute for Sustainable Development are just a few who have gotten off the mat and picked Social(k).

Rob splits his time between NYC, The Bay Area of Northern CA and The Happy Valley in Western MA.


Editor: Brianna Bemel

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