Take a minute to read a portion of this article I found from a grass-fed cattle producer who wants to move past the local, farmers’ market movement. A challenging view into the local food movement.
So, I can say that I want to see my pork in Price Chopper, because behind the veil of the many myths of the local farm and food systems movement is a reality that we need to deal with. The energy and counter-cultural impulse to buy local, to buy directly from the farmer, is more than the vast majority of our population can or ever will be able to muster — heck, it is more than I can muster half the time! Historically, it has never been done this way. We tell ourselves we are going back to the future, but there is no there back there. We are attempting something brand new wrapped in a false veil of familiarity. If we insist on such a marketing model, local food will never account for more than a pittance of total sales, 1 percent, maybe 2 percent, possibly 3 percent (which is about where organic is right now).
To get beyond niche level, we need to radically change our marketing model. We do not need to sacrifice the integrity of our cultural model. We can and will continue to farm ethically. We can and will continue to be remunerated well enough to make a decent living. We can and will be able to afford to pay our employees living wages. What we cannot do is insist that we farmers look into the eyes of every consumer of local produce.
Newsflash: Grandma bought faceless commodity meat from a nameless farmer. That is not a past I want to return to. I want us to build a new, different, and I do think better, future.
I have considered many times how consumers would respond to seeing the face of a farmer on the labeling of their food. Ever since the COOL Act (Country of Origin Labeling) was signed into law, food labeling has been a topic of hot debate. I hear so much argument within food production about “local this”, “organic that”, and “grain-fed this” that it makes me sick that food producers cannot even get along with each other despite all trying to do fundamentally the same thing – produce food.
Over the course of time I have asked waitresses, employees at the meat counter, and even consumers at the beef display how they would feel about meats being labeled with producers’ information. We have the capability with current age/source and EID technology. It’s a obtainable possibility. Every response had some things in common. YES – Consumers welcome more information about the origin of their food. NO – Consumers do not believe the integrity of food production to label food correctly or responsibly. Kind of brings a challenge to the point from the article above…
What are your opinions? Have you ever asked consumers, food retailer employees their opinions?