Yeah, that’s a thing.
As I was driving north to Grand Rapids last week for a Michigan Meat Network Meeting, I had thoughts about the purpose of groups like the Meat Network. Why do so many producers, processors, and others take time out of their busy schedule to attend these meetings? With margins so small and calendars so full what is the benefit? I continued to think over these things as I pulled up to my first stop of the day.
Harmony Brewing Company is one of the many restaurants in Grand Rapids that we work with through Cherry Capital Foods. We don’t have the direct connection to our accounts through Cherry Capital, so I always try to take advantage when I’m in the area and meet as many of them in person as I can.
Just down the street was Brewery Vivant, another great connection through Cherry Capital. I actually had to come back later that night a try one of their famous burgers – and it lived up to everything I had heard.
My third stop was at Reserve Wine & Food.
I always enjoy the wide variety of restaurants that choose to work with local producers. From old church buildings to modern style there is such a range of decor, but the one thing that you will find at all of them – a team of professionals that takes a great deal of pride in what they do. Like my friend chef Jeremy Lycan would always say – “You can taste love.”
Now it was time to head to the meat meeting which was held at Louise Earl Butcher – a small whole animal butcher shop run by Matt Smith.
After a fantastic lunch from Louise Earl, we discussed a wide range of topics that directly impact each part of the local meat system – from finding new customers through marketing to developing new products for institutions. Everyone there came looking for ideas and connections and that is what they found.
So yes, groups like the Meat Network do have value. Successful entrepreneurs are always working to build value, but often we can get hyper-focused on a goal. Not taking the time to pick our head up and see exactly where we are going. And that’s what these groups force us to do. Stop. Look around. And see where we are headed.
That, and they send you home with a box of meat!