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Entice them to the city and let them eat meat

Written by stevefairchild on .

The National Geographic Society, which we've previously called into question, is publishing this book. There is room to debate Mr. Lynas in this essay, and probably more in the book. However, our skepticism was relieved when we got to this part.

 

People’s desire to eat more meat as they get more wealthy is so deeply embedded in most cultures (and getting lots of protein may even be a biological impulse inherent in all of us) that it is not something that is amenable to outside influence. As with climate change, the only pragmatic option is to concentrate efforts to fulfil people’s desires and demands in a way that protects natural ecosystems as far as possible – not to try to challenge patterns of consumption per se by insisting that they are unsustainable, even if this appears to be the case in the short term. Such an approach has failed in the past and will continue to fail in the future.


Biofuel proponents will have some difficulty with what followed, however.

Perception, reality, farming and food

Written by stevefairchild on .

Today the headline hosepipe delivered a couple stories that remind farmers that however far away from town that they live, there’s still consumer interest right down on the farm. 

Over at the Center for Food Integrity, there was a story about the CFI’s work in understanding consumer perception. It reminded us that indeed, perception is reality when it comes to opinions about food and food production.

 From the CFI piece: 

CFI's 2011 study sought to measure the difference in how consumers perceive different types of farms. The following definitions were provided to survey respondents.  

Family Farmer - A farming operation owned and operated by a family. All decisions on how to operate the farm are made by the family members and carried out by family members or employees.

Commercial Farmer - A farming operation owned by a company and operated by employee farmers. All decisions on how to operate this farm are made by managers of the company and carried out by employees.  

Respondents were asked to rank what they believe the priorities are and what they should be for both family farms and commercial farms. The data shows consumers' priority goals are fairly well-aligned with family farms. Not so much for commercial farms. Consumers believe farm profitability is the second-highest priority for commercial farmers when they believe it should be second to last. There is a lack of alignment on other issues, including farm productivity, environmental sustainability, and the humane treatment of farm animals.   

 

But bigger family-owned farms increasingly are seen as commercial farms, aren’t they?

Yes.

Still, that need not mean such farm need to be perceived as commercial or non-family farms.  According to the CFI:

 

CFI has learned that transparency and effective communication of values can overcome the bias that exists surrounding the size and structure of many of today's farms. The Farmers Feed US website features video interviews of real farmers using modern technology. Surveys of more than 3,000 consumers who have been to the site show 95 percent of them say they consider the farmers to be "knowledgeable, approachable and the kind of person I want producing my food."

 The images on the website show contemporary operations - those that consumers probably consider commercial farms. But transparency coupled with effective communication of shared values can overcome the bias.

 

Get the whole CFI consumer trust survey here.

Meanwhile, AdAge is reporting that  McDonald’s is stepping up its efforts to identify with the growers who produce food for the chain. The story’s deck: Goal Is to 'Put Face on Quality of the Food’

Sounds like CFI and McDonald’s see the same trend. The writer of the AdAge story quotes Neil Golden, McDonald’s U.S. Chief Marketing Officer:

"We thought putting a face on the quality of the food story would be a unique way to approach this. We acknowledge that there are questions about where our food comes from. I believe we've got an opportunity to accentuate that part of our story." 

McDonald’s will push the campaign through TV, print and digital media and “additional paid and earned media,” according to AdAge.  Featured farmers will be producers of potatoes, lettuce and beef. 

Recall that just a month ago, McDonald’s egg provider, Sparboe Farms was spotlighted by Mercy for Animals. The animal rights pressure group's broadcast of alleged health and animal welfare failures at Sparboe induced McDonald's to drop the egg producer as a supplier. 

McDonald’s is among the largest buyers of meat, milk and eggs in the country. Checkout @McDListenTour on Twitter to see one way the company approaches social media. 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources for further reading: 

http://www.foodintegrity.org/

http://adage.com/print/231579

$20,000 per acre

Written by stevefairchild on .

Here is one of those how-high-can-it-go? stories from Iowa. Apparently, one answer is $20,000 per acre. 

 

 

Iowa set a new farmland price Wednesday when a 74-acre tract near Hull in Sioux County went for $20,000 per acre.

The buyer was a neighboring farmer, Leland Kaster, who bought the land from Clinton Shinkle of Washington State.

“Farmland is very valuable up here, with good commodity prices and a strong livestock industry,” said auctioneer Pete Pollema of Hull, who called the sale.

 

There is the appropriate gnashing of teeth about the paralells between now and the 1980s, which are ultimately dismissed—read the rest.

What Iowa soybean farmers told Newt

Written by stevefairchild on .

 

This is a release from the Iowa Soybean Assciation. I thought it had some good information on how agriculturalists will vet presidential candidates: 

Soybean farmers across Iowa participated in a telephone townhall meeting, speaking directly with Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Tuesday evening. It was the first of several opportunities planned by the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) in an effort to focus attention on the critical topics of agricultural policy and trade issues impacting America’s farmers.

ISA has extended the invitation to all major Presidential candidates to participate in telephone calls with Iowa farmers. Former House Speaker Gingrich was the first candidate to accept the invitation.

The questions raised by ISA members during the call aligned closely with the issues that have emerged during the association’s recent District Policy Conferences.

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