JEFF'S NOTE: The was posted on my Facebook page April 28, 2016
Earls, I have a beef with you and with this silly, twisted debate.
Here's a reason why I buy local: I know where the beef comes from and I know it's high-quality to barbecue. When I go to a farmer's market or at my nearby butcher shop, I can actually talk to a rancher or my butcher can actually tell me what rancher or Hutterite colony his beef comes from.
So for Earls to ship beef all the way from the U.S., that's just ridiculous. Even to say the U.S. company they are buying its beef from is “certified humane” is a slap in the face to every rancher who lives near an Earls — regardless of them having the certification or not.
And, according to Earls, its decision comes on two years of research into beef, claiming it has tested 16 companies throughout North America to come to its conclusion.
There is something wrong with that logic. For starters, treatment guidelines of farm livestock isn’t cut and dry in Canada. (UPDATE: It also isn’t cut and dry in the U.S. either.)
With that said, I would be curious to know why Earls — or any other franchise restaurants like Boston Pizza, the Keg, or Milestones — chooses to source their beef from companies instead of local farmers and ranchers.
At Earls, it employs a “protein buyer” who, as explained in this video, “sources and procures the most humanely-raised, cleanest proteins” that are available to the company. The question I have is why do that in the first place?
Instead, if Earls — or any of the other previously mentioned eateries — wants to make a difference for its customers, how about making its franchise owners or restaurant chefs and managers source their own “humanely-raised proteins” from its nearby ranchers, farmers, growers, and butchers. They can learn a lot by meeting those hard-working food-producers at their nearby farms.
I always try to avoid eating at franchise restaurants for this very reason — my food should be locally grown. I want to know where it comes from.
However, this is something that gets lost in this ongoing debate on social media. Those who are passionate about Alberta beef are calling for an Earls boycott. I wouldn’t go that far.
My thoughts for those who are reading this is this: the next time you dine at Olive Garden, the Canadian Brewhouse, Boston Pizza, or any other franchise restaurant or pub, ask the waitress where the food you are ordering is “sourced and procured.” You too might have a beef about the answer.