Addressed to Mike Callicrate, owner of Ranch Foods Direct...
Here's a loyal customer's take on the situation.
When my wife and I travel through Texas and Oklahoma, we almost always patronize a business called Braum's (http://www.braums.com). I'm sure you're familiar with the company. They have lots of foods that are good for our bodies, but also lots that aren't. I try to choose wisely, but sometimes I go for taste over health, too. We all do it!
They define local as encompassing the radius of a day's drive between manufacturing and corporate headquarters in or near Oklahoma City and each of their stores. That sounds reasonable to us, but apparently conflicts with the definition of local as presented in Dan's article.
Whether that's really local or regional could be considered a question of semantics.
We consider local for Colorado Springs to encompass anywhere in Colorado, northern New Mexico, southern Wyoming, western Kansas and Oklahoma, and the panhandle of Texas. These are all within a day's drive from here.
I do not condone the "dumping" of product in order to gain market share under any circumstances - whether it be from China via Walmart or from Australia via King Soopers. Many consumers find it difficult to understand that the low prices offered in cases such as this are really a huge bait-and-switch scam. A savvy consumer can sometimes tell the difference, but most consumers could care less, of course. All they want is low prices, regardless of what it takes to get them. Consumars are often blinded by the pocketbook. Therein lies the problem, and I understand that this is the driving force behind the article.
I think that one of the most important things that farmers and ranchers can do is to continue the dialogue with their customers. This seems to be the most important point of the article. As you well know, it's the large agribusiness corporations in the middle who are distorting the picture. That is what seems to me to be the most important thing that needs to be addressed.
Consumers in general have a love-hate relationship with food. Consumer loyalties are split between farmers and ranchers on the one hand and the large agribusinesses and supermarkets on the other. They are torn between low prices on the one hand and good quality (and all that entails) on the other. The love convenience foods but hate what they do to their bodies. We buy "fast food" without realizing that such a choice often reflects a questionable change in each person's priorities. The trade-offs seem to be endless and overwhelming. How can Jane and Joe Consumer decide? Education is probably the key to this dilemma. The more the consumer is aware that these choices can and should be made consciously, rather than "off the cuff", the more likely it will be for the consumer to make wiser choices. Dan's article makes good on the awareness issue.
This discussion should be continued both at home and in our schools. With D-11 as one of your most important customers, you have an outstanding opportunity to raise awareness of these issues. Care and Share, I trust, with their nutrition education programs, can make an excellent partner in these discussions on campus.
Honestly, I wasn't too terribly impressed by Dan's "poor farmer/rancher" approach. It puts you in a weaker position than I think you should be. I'd much rather see you and our other local ranchers and farmers take on a more positive and/or aggressive approach to this issue. You all need to stand your ground here, and I for one am willing to stand up with you!
Keep on keepin' on!
I've asked several people in my district (that the "good" Senator only legally represents) about how to get a recall election going. Unfortunately, I've not received any responses. How 'bout it, folks? How do we electors get rid of this blight on our fair city?
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