In the same vain as last week’s post, I'd like to explore the power of you, the reader and the customer, to influence and change what retailers, restaurants and farmers do and produce. And I say in the same vain as last week because it all really comes down to one thing, communication. Farmers speaking directly with their customers. Now there's a novel concept in itself, farmers having their own customers, and I mean people customers. Not the corporate 'customers' (buyers) who we usually deal with, and when I say deal with, I really mean get shafted by. However, I'll explore that painful concept in another post.
So as customer, you really do have much more influence over what is ultimately on offer to you to buy than you may think. Of course you yourself have complete control and influence on what you buy today, you simply make a decision about which shop you go to, and whether you will buy this or that. Now that’s where I come onto the scene, because my intention is to help you make an informed decision. You of course already know what you like, it’s not for me to tell you what you should or shouldn’t like, but I can introduce you to ideas and understandings that may help you like something else even more before you get to the shops. You might like grain feed beef for example, and are overcome with salivary excitement when you see it on the menu, and think $35 is cheap for a 3 oz. 200 day grain fed Black Angus steak nestled underneath a few steamed beans and wallowing in a red wine jus. That’s ok, go your hardest.
However, think about this. How about you spend $35 at your local butcher for enough natural grass fed beef to feed a couple of your friends at your place (remember dinner parties?), cooked on the barbie (remember how much fun they were?), with a few beers (unless you’re now gluten intolerant and on the cider) and relive with your friends the amazing experience you had down at the butcher shop that day where you actually met the farmer who produced the wonderful meat you were all eating and have decided, next weekend , you’re taking off to the country because the farmer also has farm stay accommodation and the local town is holding their 125th annual show? And think about how far your $35 has gone. And do you think that farmer is going to consider you one of their favourite customers and listen to your every word, take on board your feedback and try to meet every one of your carnivorous needs? You bet they will. If farmers can have customers, why can’t customers have farmers?
It’s a two way street, it’s what I call co-production. Farmers educate their customers about why their produce is better than most, and from a cattle producer’s perspective, an example is why grass fed beef is better than grain fed beef. (if you’re not sure why, read our ‘product’ page above). And customers can educate their farmers about what cuts they want and how they want their meat supplied and delivered, and in general how to meet their meat eating needs.
Your carnivorous influence doesn’t stop with farmers. Next time you’re in a restaurant and beef is on the menu, ask them “Is the beef grain fed or grass fed?.” I find the waiter will often say, “Well of course its grain fed.” To which I say, “That’s a pity, I just have the lamb then thank you.” Try it yourself, and I bet before too long you’ll start seeing more grass fed beef on menus all over the country. And it may just be mine.