On March 5th, 2018, The James Beard Foundation (JBF) gathered a group of professionals from sectors directly and peripherally related to meat to discuss vital issues in California’s meat supply chain. This conversation was facilitated by Christophe Hille, Senior Consultant at Karen Karp & Partners and a long-time practitioner and advisor in sustainable food sourcing for retail and restaurant settings. The setting for this dialogue was Hidden Villa in Los Altos, California, a nonprofit educational organization that uses its organic farm, wilderness, and community to provide opportunities to learn about the environment and social justice.
The livestock sector is an incomparable setting for thinking about issues around localized, regional, sustainable, start-up and scaled-up food production. Its activities range from breeding animals, raising and administering feed, animal care and welfare, animal transporting, and extend to interstate commerce, federal and local regulations, and a mainstream system dominated by just a handful of players eager to maintain their market share. Livestock offers a unique perspective to examine animal issues, as well as land use policies and farming practices, capital and loan programs, technical assistance, education, animal science innovation, and marketing.
At the Hidden Villa Meat Summit, the goals were to explore how the local livestock sector in California is working from farm to plate, examine gaps in the sector, and identify opportunities for growth of the region. Best practices from other regions and from within California were discussed and shared to increase cross-sector and cross-region learning, and participants were engaged with activities and facilitated conversations with industry professionals.
According to Christophe Hille, “It’s amazing what happens when you get a group of meat-oriented food professionals in a room together and facilitate a conversation where people can speak confidently and candidly about their work and about challenges in the meat sector. In minutes you’re talking about poultry exemptions, county ordinances, improved access to processing, and tons of other things. People come out of these conversations with a larger network, with plans for new collaborations, and with inspiration about their profession.”
This conversation helped the James Beard Foundation develop its knowledge base for the sustainable meat focus area of its Impact Programs. JBF, through its Impact Programs, and KK&P, through its two decades of work in sustainable supply chains, hope to continue the dialogue around localized meat production with chefs, food and beverage companies, farmers, meat processors, government agencies, and food manufacturers.