Spent last week in Alberta. Could not have been better. Zoetis-good company and products to work with and for. Shawn Wilson-good Partner to spread the message. Veterinary Animal health, Feedlot Health Management, and Coaldale Veterinary Clinic- great service providers for feedlots. The men and women in charge of caring for the Beef animals we came in contact with-very good and getting better. Ruth’s Chris-great food with great folks.
I rode some nice horses, worked in some nice facilities and shared lots of ideas with some very different cultures in the tradition of making steak. From a large purebred operation to a government research facility, and lots of real good feedlots in between, lots of variety and personalities in cattle, people and facilities.
A few years ago A and W in Canada started a campaign of all antibiotics and hormone free. The decision upset many Canadian producers as they had to source the beef from places other than Canada, and felt they were playing on emotion rather than science in what is healthy eating.I said at the time we should watch and see if the fast food consumers even cared. In one discussion we had, it was said that it did improve sales and profit for the company. Macdonald’s took a different approach and made a real campaign to promote Canadian raised beef. I don’t know what that did for sales, but it was sure good for promoting the western way of producing beef as they had the Ranching theme in commercials on tv. Tim Hortons started as a coffee/donut fast food(Canadians are addicted to “Tims”) and now serve sandwiches. We had one and it was very good. I don’t know if it is all Canadian beef, but I would guess it is, but I did not see any signs or adds.
I have been keeping my eye on the recently opened Chick-Fillet in the Denver Airport. McDonalds used to always have a big line waiting to be served, and now the line is at the Chicken place,(except on Sundays, they are not open even in the airport). That is very interesting to me. We also should watch Chipotle and see if they can dig their way out of the food safety hole they have got themselves in.
I know a young man in the Fort Collins, Colorado area that has a very good grass fed beef business. His Father Steve Bowers got it started and now Nate is taking it forward. He told me that he can explain to his clients the need for antibiotics and treating for animal welfare, and they are all for proper use of vaccines and antibiotics, but they will have nothing to do with implanted beef.
This is all very interesting for me to observe. I believe in science and I do not believe Beef implanted with estrogen to be bad. All the science that I have seen from the beef industry shows no problem. I see no science from those that oppose it ( including my wife) but lots of emotion. The thing we in the beef industry must face the facts to is some people purchase food on emotion more than science.
When I order a steak, Because of my involvement with production from pasture to plate I have a different kind of emotional reaction. When I get done with a series of days working and end up flying out the next morning, I reward myself with a real good steak. As I savor each bite of medium rare prime beef, I not only chew on the steak, but chew on and analyze all the encounters with humans and animals in the last week.
When I think of the owners of the feedlots and the amount of money, and the risk of losing that money feeding the very beef I am eating, and to see how much responsibility they take on not only to take care of the animals, but also the employees and the families they provide a living for, I get a little emotional.
When I chew on the fact that the veterinarians that have dedicated their lives to the care and well being of animals, and how passionate these people are to make life better for animals and the animals owners, I get a little emotional.
The people that are the “meat” of our business are the ones I get really emotional about. The workers are what I’m talking about. The cowboys that will fight for and tell poems about the life they live. The feedlot care givers that will work in any kind of condition taking care of an animal that sometimes does not appreciate what is being done for them, and a job that always requires more. When I think of the sacrifices the workers of our industry, from the person calving heifers to the truckers hauling them to the slaughter plant and everyone in between, I get a little emotional.
When I am enjoying that steak, I’m chewing on the thoughts of if I am doing my part to help the people and the animals have a better quality of life, so that the people that are all around me in this nice restaurant, enjoying a great steak eating experience and have no idea of all the effort, sacrifice and risk that went into the wonderful experience they are having, I get a little emotional.
So, how does an implant fit into any of this? What is does is take some of the risk out and more profit in. When you have a commodity that is priced by supply and demand, the pay that all these hard working people involved is always at risk. If we can have a product that will add pounds that are helping to pay the wages of employees and the debts of owners that buy the tractors and feed trucks from the local business on Main Street, and help fund research to even do our job of raising high quality, environmentally friendly beef even better, I guess I get a little emotional about the science.
From the production side, a implant helps reduce risk and pay wages. That’s a good thing. If the science says it’s bad, then we better change it. If science says it’s okay, then we are doing the right thing.
So we all may be driven by emotion. I just hope we can find a way to convince our consumer that emotion with science is better than emotion without the whole picture. We may need to take a different approach at pressuring our consumer to accept our science.
It’s great that they choose beef no matter how it’s raised. But it’s our job to convince them of why we do what we do, and I think we may have to get emotional about our science.
Animal husbandry and science, plus transparency and honesty and a great tasting, safe product, and using the same amount of emotion to sell our production as we do raising it. That’s what I decided while enjoying my meal.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed chewing on that steak!