People in the health industry, not unlike the rest of the general population, are becoming more and more disconnected to agriculture with each passing year. Last week, a group of dietetic interns from Texas A&M and Prairie View A&M bused over to tour a working ranch to get a crash course in beef production. Hawley Poinsett is the senior manager of nutrition with the Texas Beef Council.
“When we bring students here or we bring even dieticians or other health professionals here, when we ask the question how many of you have ties to or have ever been on a ranch, there are not that many hands that are raised.”
Poinsett believes it’s important for dieticians and nutritionists to know something about how food is produced.
“So, if our profession as dieticians is to educate people about food, and we don’t even have any context of how that food was raised or grown, then how can we really do our job effectively? So we’re really passionate at Texas Beef Council to be able to bring people with full transparency to just see what our farmers and ranchers do every day so that they can ask the hard questions that their patients will ask of them.”
Catherine Manterola’s family has worked their Bar W Ranch outside of Calvert since 1860.
“Because we’re in the country, unless we invite people in here, they don’t see it. And we’re happy to do it. We’re happy to let anybody come in at any time that they want to see what we’re doing and to get to know us and see the process.”
Manterola is convinced that it helps consumers to be able connect a face to agriculture.
“I think it’s really important to know where your food comes from whether it’s meat or whether it’s produce or whatever. I think that when you see the work that goes into it, when you see the faces behind what you’re eating, your beef, then I think that you appreciate it more. When you can see the cows in the pasture and you can see the faces behind those cows that are working a family operation, I think when you go into the grocery store and you’re looking at the meat counter it’s not just a flat iron steak. Now it has a story behind it. I’ve never known an unhappy cow, so I don’t know what it means when people say I want to see a happy cow. They’re here.”