The Michigan Beef Industry Commission (MBIC) held a pasture to plate beef industry tour in Michigan for chefs and culinary instructors. Participants explored a cow/calf farm, a feedlot, a beef packing plant and a meat processor that cuts and packages beef for the foodservice industry.
"We included all industry segments in one tour because we wanted to familiarize the chefs with the entire beef community," says George Quackenbush, Director of Promotions for MBIC. "Chef's may only see our product from the time it arrives in their kitchen until it leaves on a plate. This tour was their chance to meet the farmers, cattle feeders and processors who all play an important role in getting beef to their kitchen."
One initiative of the Beef Checkoff Program is to communicate beef's positive production story. MBIC encouraged Michigan's culinary school instructors to participate in the tour because they touch the lives of future chefs and food industry professionals. "We hope the instructors will share what they learned on the tour with their students, which will help us reach that millennial generation who we know is far removed from food production," says Quackenbush.
Participants were required to complete a pre-tour and post-tour survey so MBIC could measure the effectiveness of the event. The survey indicates that the tour has significantly increased the percentage of participants who say they know cattle raising somewhat or very well; it also indicates a significant improvement in the percentage who have favorable feelings toward cow-calf farmers and ranchers, cattlemen who run feedyards and managers of beef processing plants.
When asked what was the most interesting or beneficial thing that you learned, one participant commented, "It's hard to say as I learned a lot of new information. What I feel I can share with my students and my guests is how at each level of distribution food safety is of the highest concern. Everyone we met was passionate about what they do and took pride in how they did it."
The tour concluded with dinner at Webster's Prime steakhouse in Kalamazoo, recent recipient of the Beef Checkoff Program's 2012 National Foodservice Beef Backer Award. Guests were treated to a beef tasting where they sampled several different types of beef.
For more information on the Michigan Beef Industry Commission, visit www.MIBeef.org.