Our son’s first-grade class had an assignment to write about a Thanksgiving turkey. Now, our son should have a leg up on his classmates here, because he regularly accompanies me to check our flocks, and this summer, he proudly learned how to catch and hold a turkey by himself.
He managed a pretty accurate portrayal in his writing assignment, but when asked what his turkey would eat, he listed corn, wheat and … candy. Given some of the unexpected trends in today’s world of food, maybe he’s on to the next frontier in specialty poultry marketing!
We do live in an extremely interesting era for food. As consumers, we’re surrounded by endless options and new technology. I just read that Amazon carries over 100 varieties of tartar sauce, and the yogurt aisles are full of new globally-inspired varieties. This year, even the biggest turkey companies are now adding traceable technology so consumers can see where their bird was grown.
We live in a time where food from across the globe can be shipped right to your doorstep or packed in a box ready to prep and serve. And as the Star Tribune recently noted, an era where our world’s biggest food companies are launching “stealth food” brands in an effort to hide their size and present like craft-scale startups. I’m guessing very few foresaw these food trends 25 years ago.
But I’m afraid many consumers feel more disconnected from their food than ever. In the crush of new brands, more label claims (candy-fed turkey, anybody?) and more online searching to find the origins of your meal, I think we lose sight of how our food is being grown. More importantly, we forget that we have the ability to shape our food future each time we go to the store.
This was the simple goal we started with here at Ferndale Market. We saw it firsthand as farmers. Whereas the dollar spent on “stealth brand” foods flow back to a corporate headquarters, dollars spent on local foods flow directly back to the farmer or food maker and multiply into their local community. These dollars help to preserve family farms, farming traditions and community vitality in our rural regions. Local foods have never been solely about geography. They’re about the people, communities and traditions they support.
In this season of holiday preparations, we thank you for your loyalty in seeking out local, sustainable foods. Best of all, they’re delicious and are assured to be distinctive gifts. Who else is going to fill a stocking with Smoked Turkey Drumsticks?
Whether you come see us at Ferndale Market or at your neighborhood co-op or grocer, we are grateful that you cut through the clutter and noise in food marketing to create meaningful and lasting choice in the world of food and farming.
John Peterson is a third-generation turkey farmer and owner of Ferndale Market near Cannon Falls, Minn.