What’s your beef

Smoky River Regional Economic Development

by Dan Dibbelt

A few articles back I wrote about the need for us to support our local economy in everything we purchase.

While that is in itself an admirable goal, it is largely impossible; just check out the label on the clothes you wear, the kitchen products you buy and the food you eat.

Most recently, we have heard through news sources the decision by Earls restaurants to only use meat from a producer who has been Certified Humane which is only available through a US supplier. The Certified Humane label refers to the animal’s availability of food and water, conditions of their pens, air quality and the transportation of the animals.

Now, I am not a farmer, but I have relatives that were and have many friends who are, and never, have I seen animals treated better than by are own producers.

Many years ago, I did a series of articles on the 4-H. I spent time on farms and watched how the farm youth raised and cared for their animals. I also saw many tears, after their cattle were auctioned off for slaughter.

It was a tough lesson for many kids, and for all of us that eat meat, it is a reality, that animals must be slaughtered in order for us to enjoy our Sunday evening BBQ’d rib eye.

And while I know the world would be a better place if we all stopped eating meat, that’s simply not going to happen.

It is in the producers own best interests to ensure their animals are healthy and happy. It should also be noted that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has strict regulations on the transportation of animals and slaughtering.

So perhaps our cattle producers don’t have a certificate, but I would suspect they meet or exceed these standards set by some one else.

In addition to that, Alberta has a reputation for growing the best beef you can buy.

Despite all that, restaurants have the right to purchase their food products they serve from where ever they wish. And we as consumers have the right to eat at restaurants that provide meals prepared with food products, we trust, believe in and support our local and the Alberta economy.

Because of the superior quality of Alberta beef, I have always just assumed restaurants used Alberta beef. The recent decision by Earls, however, has wakened me to the fact that is not the case.

In an October 2015 article by Jennifer Graham, with the Canadian press, she writes, “No one from A&W was available for comment, but the chain has said previously that it gets some beef from Canada, but also brings it in from the United States and Australia to meet its hormone-free guarantee.”

She goes on to write, “McDonald’s Canada says it gets 100 per cent of its beef from Canadian producers. That amounted to about 64 million pounds last year, says Sherry MacLauchlan with McDonald’s Canada.”

This issue can go far beyond beef to include other meat products and other food products used to prepare our meals.

Perhaps it is time we stood up for local, Alberta and Canadian producers.

Perhaps we need to start asking where the food products the restaurant uses are sourced.

And perhaps we need to start patronizing only restaurants that make every attempt to source local.

I am an A&W fan, however, I am a bigger Canadian fan and I will now support McDonald’s because they support us. As consumers we need to impress upon the places where we shop, that we want them to support local and Canadian or we will no longer patronize them.

Many of you may recall the situation in Leamington, Ontario, where Heinz Ketchup shut down a plant and French’s moved in and sourced Canadian tomatoes. Local consumer support for French’s’ was overwhelming.

Consumers have the power, perhaps it is time we started using it.

Share this post