Not to steal a catchphrase from our president-elect, but here’s a story about a program that really is something terrific.
And it’s one that sadly, I was unaware of until yesterday, an oversight that is embarrassing for anyone who styles himself as commentator on subjects related to animal agriculture.
But let’s not dwell on what happened yesterday; let’s move on and talk about a story that will get zero national press. It should be national news, because it touches three subjects of national importance: small business expansion, rural economic development and the empowerment of women in the food industry.
All that is supported through a unique event called the Grrls Meat Camp — not a typo — which I guess is an homage to several pop culture and feminist websites using the “grrls” extension (Reel Grrls, DrrtyGrrls, IntLawGrrls, etc.). The camp takes place later this month at the Bar W Ranch near Calvert, Texas, a town of 1,192 halfway between Waco and College Station, with an old-fashioned main street straight out of a 1950s “B movie” Western. All that’s missing is a couple cowboys exiting the saloon for a gunfight in front of the frightened townspeople.
But there’s nothing old-fashioned about Grrls Meat Camp, other than the locale. The five-day event offers workshops, lessons in butchering and a number of educational sessions designed to “help women value themselves in the meats industry.”
Value, as in business value.
To quote from the event’s promotional copy, “From farmers and ranchers to butchers, chefs, cooks, teachers, professionals, and home enthusiasts, Grrls Meat Camp is an international gathering of women [to learn about] butchery, cooking, business development and modern farming practices.”
The camp, which is conducted in conjunction with the Texas Beef Council, kicks off on Jan. 20 with a group of around 30 or so women, who will not only attend business development presentations, but will spend an entire day breaking down entire beef, pork and lamb carcasses, followed, of course, by a seriously large barbecue session to cook up some of the cuts the group learned to portion.
Importantly, all of the meat is locally sourced from Texas producers.
The camp will wrap up three days later with an additional two days focused strictly on both culinary and marketing aspects of the beef industry, with special sessions taking place at Texas A&M University. That part of the program is scheduled to be filmed by a crew from FarmHer for a segment to be screened on their TV show on RFD-TV.
All About Role Models
Consider two aspects of the activist movement that has targeted ranchers, producers and meatpackers for the better part of three decades. Their fundamental complaints, besides a blanket condemnation of all animal foods that is the price of admission to the movement, revolve around the environmental footprint of so-called “Industrial Agriculture,” and the oppression of the workforce across all segments of the industry.
Yet Grrls Meat Camp is about promoting locally sourced food and about fostering small business and rural economic development, the twin antidotes to the (alleged) excesses of Big Ag, which activists consider the source of all that is evil in the food industry. Much of the vast acreage of Texas, our second-largest state, is unsuited by reason of climate and topography for cultivating row crops, like the soybeans and brown rice that veganistas insist is humanity’s “natural” diet.
There’s a reason Texas is the leading cattle production state, and that ranching has been, and continues to be, a linchpin in its economy.
Not to mention the best art of this story: The overwhelming majority of the protestors, demonstrators and vegan campaigners handing out leaflets on college campuses are young, white women. Are they really philosophically opposed to a program that empowers their sisters to forge new businesses, drive local food production and provide role models for young grrls to realize they, too, can succeed as entrepreneurs?
Yes . . . yes they are.
But it represents the height of hypocrisy.
Editor’s Note: For more information on the camp, log onto http://www.grrlsmeatcamp.com/ The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and columnist.