As we approach the July 4 holiday to celebrate our country’s birth, we want to acknowledge the ranchers who raise the cattle that become our beef. You might wonder why we place such an emphasis on buying from American ranchers. Vitalizing rural communities is one of the four pillars in the Panorama Organic 360-Degree Promise for several reasons, and it’s why Panorama Organic never has and never will use imported beef in our program.
The company was founded by a group of California ranchers more than twenty years ago, ranchers who realized that consumers were demanding better beef than what they were finding in the grocery store. That group of ranchers made the decision to develop relationships with their customers. They wanted to know who was buying their beef and to tell their stories to those consumers.
Eventually, doing so allowed them to make a better return on their investment, and that financial stability, along with the judicious use of conservation easements, allowed them to preserve their grazing lands, wildlife habitat, and open space, rather than having to carve off pieces of their ranches and sell to developers to pay the bills. When that happens, the land is gone forever. As founding rancher Darrell Wood has said, “I’ve never seen a strip mall or a housing development torn down and the land go back into ranching.”
As our products became more popular, the network of ranchers began to grow. Today, every one of the families who raise cattle for Panorama Organic in eight states across the West and Midwest is also demonstrating a commitment to preserving America’s grasslands, one of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet. They demonstrate that commitment by working with Audubon Conservation Ranching, a program that helps them maintain and restore bird habitat, sequester carbon, and keep waterways and riparian areas clean and flowing, especially important in these times of drought.
When ranchers are able to keep their operations sustainable, that has a ripple effect in small communities in rural America. The businesses that support the ranchers and farmers—the local feed store, the grocery store, the coffee shop—survive and thrive. The local schools stay open, as do the local churches and other organizations that support community life. Kids have opportunities to play soccer and baseball or take gymnastics lessons and take part in activities like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. This isn’t the case in places where industrial agriculture has eradicated small family farms in favor of huge monocrop or concentrated animal feeding operations run by multinational corporations that foul the water and air, destroy the soil, and leave formerly thriving communities as shells of their former selves.
Transparency is also important to Panorama Organic, and that’s why we carry certifications on our labels. Each of our ranches is visited annually by auditors who verify the claims. Not only that, but members of our team visit our ranches regularly to see how things are going with their own eyes. We don’t just rely on a piece of paper that says a side of beef is grass-fed and organic, which is the case with imported beef. We also track each animal through the plant, so there’s no doubt that what ends up in our packages is exactly what we claim.
And one more thing about imported beef—last year we explained that Product of USA on a label doesn’t necessarily mean the beef came from the US. It just means that the meat was cut and processed in a US plant. Much of the grass-fed beef in grocery stores comes from Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, and Argentina. And much of that is treated like commodity beef—in fact, the major beef packers are the biggest importers of grass-fed beef. That may make it less expensive than American grass-fed and organic beef, but it’s not what people think they’re getting when they see “grass-fed”—and Product of the USA—on the label.
When you buy Panorama Organic beef, you’re making a difference with your dollars. Not everyone can donate large sums to causes they support or buy a Tesla to save the environment, but by spending an extra dollar or two on a package of ground beef, you’re not only getting a delicious and nutritious source of protein, you’re also saving birds and keeping land in open space. And you’re helping your rural neighbors keep their businesses going for the next generation. We thank you, and so do our family ranchers.