A new wave of consumers, focusing on locally grown foods produced by small, family-owned farmers and ranchers, replaces the traditional environmental movement.
Food should taste better. That’s the drive behind the new foodie takeover, a food movement revolution where consumers are seeking locally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables and meats produced by small, family-owned ranches, and specialty seasonings, herbs and cheeses found in main street shops. What was once seen as extravagance is now being viewed as a necessity.
Consumers want a higher quality product. Are we ready to give it to them?
Jay Richards, blogger for the American Enterprise Institute, writes, “Food finickiness is a luxury, not a mandate. Most people couldn’t indulge it even if they wanted to. In recent years, however, the locavore, foodie lifestyle has transmogrified from what it obviously is – a luxury – into a quasi-spiritual ideology resembling late-stage environmentalism.”
Bryan Walsh, TIME magazine writer, adds, “Even as traditional environmentalism struggles, another movement is rising in its place, aligning consumers, producers, the media and even politicians. It’s the food movement, and if it continues to grow it may be able to create just the sort of political and social transformation that environmentalists have failed to achieve in recent years. That would mean not only changing the way Americans eat and the way they farm – away from industrialized, cheap calories and toward more organic, small-scale production, with plenty of fruits and vegetables – but also altering the way we work and relate to one another. To its most ardent adherents, the food movement isn’t just about reform – it’s about revolution. Why has the food movement sprouted so rapidly, even as traditional environmentalism has stalled? Simple: it’s about pleasure. Before the political games, before worries about dead zones and manure lagoons, before concerns about obesity and trans fat, the food movement arose around a simple principle: food should taste better.”
However, Richards acknowledges that this desire for higher-quality food may be a difficult task to deliver to the masses.
“The truth is, if we abandoned industrialized farming and everyone adopted the locavore lifestyle, the human race would be much poorer, and several billion people wouldn’t have food. Unfortunately, the locavore ideology is spreading a lot faster than economic common sense. I suspect Walsh is right about one thing: we should expect to see more and more environmental causes packaged in foodie form, if only because everyone would like to believe that indulging in expensive luxuries can somehow save the planet.”
Whether you feed thousands of steers in your feedlot or run a dozen cows on your acreage, it doesn’t matter. Each and every one of us in the beef business should always focus on producing a quality product. That means following Beef Quality Assurance protocols and keeping the retail product in mind every day.
We must continue to be alert on consumer demands, and right now, the foodie movement wants a story behind their beef. It’s up to us to dish up our own stories right alongside that juicy T-bone. What’s your beef production story?