Thursday, August 12, 2010

Food for Thawt

I read a lot about food, I probably think more about food (mostly meat) than just about anyone you know. In fact, the only thing that I think about more than food is boobies...but I'll leave that for a different post.

I ran across a couple interesting reads this week. The first is a great Huffington Post piece written by an online friend of mine, and follow meat lover, Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn, owner of the site Craig examines some of the arguments for and against including meat in your diet and has succeeded in cultivating a very civil discourse in the comment
s section. I recommend checking it out, his site is also a great reference point for all things barbecue related.

The second article, "Is Food the New Sex" comes from a writer at the Hoover Institute, Mary Eberstadt. I have no idea who she is but she does take an interesting look at the recent trend with consumers to demand more information about where their food comes from, and the emergence of using food choice as a morality indicator.

I have benefited greatly from consumers seeking greater transparency in their food choices. Whenever people are paying more attention to what they eat, niche marketers like me can benefit. This is because we know a lot more about each product that we sell than your typical employee of a supermarket with tens of thousands of pre-packaged items in a never ending turn-over of "New and Improved!" product roll-outs. My business, and thousands more, might not exist at all if customers weren't demanding more choices than traditional retailers provide. This is a great thing.

Unfortunatley, this greater interest in food has some shortcomings as well. The market is incredibly fragmented with labels like "organic", "sustainable", "humane", "natural", etc. thrown around, many times with little relevance to the actual meaning of the words. It's confusing for those of in the food industry, even more so for consumers I suspect. The result is that these days there is a lot more data available regarding your food choices, but not necessarily more knowledge.

In the article I mentioned above the author refers to a housewife in the 50's compared to a single woman in modern times with the conclusion that the modern consumer is much more aware of what they eat. That's only half the story though, in the 1950's over 80% of the population was less than 1 generation away from production agricultural. Either they had grown up on a farm, or their parents had grown up on a farm. They might not have read labels closely or been too concerned about whether their beef was grass or grain fed, but that's because they had most likely spent a lot of time witnessing the actual work of producing food. They had knowledge of where it came from so they weren't frightened by it.

These days, in the developed world, less than 2% of the population is involved in production agricultural and the other 98% are several generations removed. For most people farms are either something quaint like a post-card, or something frightening like a factory. To overcome this lack of knowledge, they have a thirst for data and often get mislead. I don't really have a point here, just something to think about.

If you actually do manage to get through the article, you'll notice a pretty distinctive right-wing tilt to it. For the record, I don't agree with most of it. She actually claims that the sexual revolution was a bad thing, that's like saying loose women are a bad thing, pretty messed up...

Here is a picture of a meat pie, which is the closest thing on our site to the intersection where food and sex collide.

Q. Who loves ya?
A. The Meat Guy loves ya!

What do you think?