Marketing the Cultural Creative
Small farms and local livestock growers need to differentially market our products and earn a higher price point by elevating perceived value of our wholesome natural food. Our sustainable methods and high level of care enable us to achieve superior results but present significant challenges to scaling up operations. Growth is limited by the resource base that provides our livelihood. Conscientious consumers are happy to pay a premium for quality when it comes with a story. We are blessed with the support of many chefs and families who believe in our work and our passion for artisanal meat raised with respect… The robust renaissance of our agricultural system is in full swing and we are, in the words of Chuck Lacy, retired head of Ben & Jerry’s, “at the head of the right parade”.
I spoke to this topic last summer at the Swiss Village Foundation in Newport, RI along with Dr. George Saperstein DVM, long-time director of science for the highly regarded repository for cryogenically preserved reproductive material from rare livestock breeds (sheep, cattle and goats) www.svffoundation.org
Dr. Saperstein reflected on public perception of local farm products and diversification efforts by agricultural producers. I presented some thoughts on the challenges of raising and marketing heritage breed meat rabbits that produce fewer kits and take longer in a high-welfare, pasture-based system. This tasty, low-cholesterol and underutilized protein can be raised easily in small spaces on grass, browse and garden scraps. Our Silver Fox does are excellent mothers that can produce 3 litters per year. Our market rabbits are consistently received with rave reviews from James Beard-awarded chefs and home foodie gourmets alike.
The historically recent separation of people from the land which supports us has created deniable plausibility in the minds of many that we are, at times, life-takers. Many folks who are reluctant to look dinner in the eye ask if I feel bad for the bunnies to which I answer “Yes, I feel bad for rabbits that aren’t mine.”
Growing and killing of animals is best done close to home. Local meat production has been largely replaced by faceless corporate agriculture and large portions of cheap protein grown in a shameful, chemically supported system conveniently kept out of view. Animals, public health and the environment have suffered with the expansion of these confinement facilities.
Many individuals reject veal based on perceived cruelty issues but are quick to fill their shopping cart with pork and chicken grown in equally disgraceful industrial conditions. Dr. Saperstein described a developing niche market returning to traditional husbandry of pastured “rose veal” raised on mother’s milk and grass rather than the common replacement formula method. Growing the calves naturally and humanely for a longer period of time results in delicious dark-pink tender meat and greater hanging weights that command an impressive premium..Skillful communication of these “good meat” stories can shine profitable light on the compassionate carnivore who brings the life close and takes the gift in gratitude. We also explored opportunities for achieving fuller usage of these noble beasts – creating value-added sausage and smoked products from under appreciated cuts. “Snout-to-tail cooking” has become a catchword among “farm-to-fork” chefs swapping out overt excess and fancy steaks for thrifty ethnic creations using the humbler parts to outstanding result. Eat well, my friends…..
Respecting the Protein, PMB