Volume XI | Issue 1 | Spring 2011
Kathy Panner, a Country Natural Beef rancher, works behind the counter at a New Seasons grocery store last year. Photo: Country Natural Beef

Ranchers reach out to meet their consumers

Store visits, meat demos, customer days bring ranchers to town

A big challenge in the early days of the Country Natural Beef cooperative was getting the word out to the public about the availability of the co-op’s natural beef products. The best solution at the time was sending ranch families into the city to do in-store demos. Today, the interaction of the ranch families with the public is an integral part of the way the cooperative operates.

“We all see it as one of the responsibilities of membership,” explains Doc Hatfield, co-founder of Country Natural Beef. At least one weekend a year, CNB members can be found doing store visits and in-store meat demonstrations as they answer questions from customers. They also participate in yearly customer-appreciation days held on member ranches.

We all see it as one of the responsibilities of membership

Last June, the co-op sponsored the Country Food Fair in downtown Portland, with all proceeds benefiting the Oregon Food Bank. The fair featured country dancing, readings of ranch stories and poems, and games for the kids, including a chance to ride a stick horse. The top attraction was, of course, the food, with co-op partners Whole Foods‚ Burgerville‚ Fulton‚ New Seasons and Bon Appétit serving up beef and vegetables.

Earlier that week, ranchers could be found behind the meat counter of every New Seasons store in Portland, weighing, wrapping and labeling product. Ranchers were also staffing 38 Burgerville restaurants, where they served customers‚ grilled burgers‚ mixed shakes and worked the drive-up window.

“What happens is that those demos prove to our ranchers that there are a whole lot of urban people that don’t ever get off the pavement who are solid, honest, caring people who want to know where their food has been, how it’s grown and what’s in it,” Doc Hatfield says. 


See “Supporting sustainable agriculture” in this issue of Community Vitality to read more about Country Natural Beef.

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