Some farmers today survive year to year with their crops because they are subsidized by the government to succeed. This of course means that some foodstuffs are priced too low and it creates a “chicken and egg” paradox for pricing. Once governments intervene with subsidies, consumers will not pay higher prices for products. Farmers then become dependent on the subsidies and slowly the market diverges from accurate pricing.
Now, what if we determine the price according to a rough estimate of the labor involved measured in time? Lets measure it out in the scale of a minifarmer. Smaller farms or miro-farms can be more productive in areas because they require less energy/pesticides/ equipment to manage.
Its said that a mini-farmer can grow on 3/4 acre enough food for 24 people working 40-45 hours a week. That’s about 33000 square feet, or imagine a big garden plot 180 feet x 180 feet. The raw labor divided across 24 people with some profit (say, 3x-actual labor) means that those 24 people can pay the mini-farmer 5 hours a week to farm food for them and the farmer gets paid handsomely for being a veggie-growing rockstar.
If the mini-farmer isn’t growing for distinct individuals in a coop like system, then the veggies will be sold ad-hoc to a market. There the farmer can price the food per-item in a similar way, by keeping track of the labor applied to the crop. If a farmer did 12 weeks of work on just tomatoes(40 hrs/week or 480 hours of work x 3 = 1440 hours) to grow 43560 pints (a rough guess of a bumper crop of tomatoes on 3/4 acre) ends up being 1.9 minutes a pint, with profit.