Ranch to Table Tours - A Personal Perspective

04/26/2019

Over my 10 years at Snake River Farms I’ve had the honor of hosting many ranch-to-table tours. I’ve worked with a wide range of groups including our distributor and restaurant partners, culinary educators and writers for national publications. I was leading a tour with a group of food writers and a colleague asked me, “What is the one thing you want communicate to the public about our company?” I thought about the stops along our tour that day and the answer came to me right away – In every aspect of our business, SRF has intelligent people who truly care about the role they play.

The common thread running through the tours I’ve hosted is the quality of the people who are part of our Snake River Farms team. It’s rewarding to watch tour members see each step of beef production through the eyes of my SRF co-workers. By walking in the shoes of the people performing the work at Snake River Farms, our attendees begin to understand what goes into producing some of the best beef in the world.

The people behind the scenes at Snake River Farms are some of the most driven folks on the planet. They are responsible for feeding the world’s growing population and they take that role to heart. They’ve earned PhDs and master’s degrees in ruminant nutrition, economics or food science. Their jobs are a lifestyle, a passion and often a family legacy. Without them there would be no Snake River Farms, Double R Ranch or any other premium beef programs.

I learn something new every time I tour the ranch, feed yard or packing plant. Each trip uncovers a new process or system put in place to make our beef higher in quality, more consistent and more sustainable. I’m amazed to see the innovative changes that improve animal welfare and make tough jobs easier. I used to ask myself “who is driving all this innovation?” Over time I’ve learned the answer is clear – it’s everyone. It’s the culture that evolves from the people drawn to the cattle business. It’s a sense of pride that comes from putting in a hard day’s work. At Snake River Farms, each of us has a feeling of responsibility to our colleagues in other parts of the company. We count on each other to be the best in our field and pick up where the last person left off. Our shared goal of delivering the highest quality beef to our customers.

 

There are a lot of ranch to table stories out there. As an industry we toss around buzz words like local, sustainable, family farm and natural which really have no clear meaning. I see slick marketing materials with simplified answers to very complex questions. Instead of using one liner answers, I view these questions as an opportunity to have a conversation. I have come to understand there are no simple answers when it comes to breeding, raising, feeding, slaughtering and processing beef.  It’s impossible for one person to fully comprehend every aspect of the beef business. There are many factors that go into every decision. At Snake River Farms we have an educated and experience team that works together to solve problems.

To me, it all boils down to the integrity of the people behind the product.  I’m fortunate to work for a company where integrity is a pillar of our business. I know we are doing the right thing, because I have witnessed the character of the people making the decisions. These are the same people who have taken the time to thoughtfully explain every question I have thrown their way and would do the same for anyone else willing to take the time for a conversation.

The dedication and drive of everyone on my team is what gets me up in the morning to catch that 5 AM flight to New York City. It makes me proud to be the one who represents our products and production system to chefs and distributors throughout the U.S.