Does it taste good? Last Saturday at the Columbia Farmers Market, I asked a new customer that had just purchased 4 of our sirloin steaks what they’d like to know about the meat they’re buying, such as how we raise our beef cattle? The customer said, “No, but does it taste good?” This is a completely different kind of customer interaction than we used to have several years ago. When we first started participating in the Columbia Farmers’ Market, we were asked a lot of questions about how we raised and handled our cattle. There seemed to be a lot of decision-making regarding our herd management practices before a purchase was made. Over the years this has changed–now purchases are made more on the appearance of the meat cuts, the perceived taste experience (for new customers–repeat customers know our meat tastes great) and the cost. I’m undecided if this is a good thing? Do farmers market customers just assume products sold at the market are produced with high standards? Have customers become numb to all the marketing lingo they’ve been bombarded with and they just want great taste for a great price? Have farmers markets turned into a fruit, vegetable and meat products flea market? I don’t know.
I answered this customer’s questions by telling him that it is because of our herd management practices that our meat not only tastes great, but is very healthy to eat. It is our forage-based feeding system, our antibiotic, beta agonist and medicated ionophore free practices and humane handling methods that produce happy and healthy steers, heifers, and ram and ewe lambs. Stress-free, healthy animals taste better. But, I’m not sure if this customer was listening–he was admiring the 8 oz. 3/4″ thick sirloin steaks with just the right marbling that he was getting ready to take home and grill. Oh well, we’ll still keep on doing things the way we do and always striving to do better the next breeding, calving/lambing and finishing seasons! Happy grilling!