By: Eric Mittenthal
This week the American Meat Institute (AMI) and the AMI Foundation were well represented at the Reciprocal Meat Conference (RMC) at North Dakota State University in Fargo. The RMC is the premier event bringing together scientists from the American Meat Science Association (AMSA) to discuss the latest trends in meat science. Topics range from the complex such as water retention properties in processed meats to the less scientific like consumer attitudes and trends. AMI and the AMI Foundation are at intersection of the science and the consumer and one of our most significant takeaways from this year’s RMC is how many scientists want to join us.
In 2010, AMI recognized a need to begin addressing the many myths advanced by bloggers, books and some movies that demonized modern food production. We proposed to AMSA members that we interview experts about key myths at the 2010 Reciprocal Meat Conference. At that time, the program was merely an idea. But today, Meat Mythcrushers is a valued program that has clearly come to be viewed as a resource by many, including the meat science community.
In our first two years of the campaign we’ve produced 18 videos and we shot several more this year on topics including the use of machines to recover meat and how ground beef is made.
Their frustration with the inaccurate information that is swirling around livestock and meat production is palpable and these experts are motivated to help create change. What stands out most about the mythcrushers campaign is the enthusiasm of the scientists to participate in it. While scientists in some fields shy away from the camera, the meat mythcrusher campaign has become a badge of honor for AMSA members.
Beyond participation, we heard from many of those at the conference who say they use the mythcrusher videos in their classrooms, communities and even with their families. Young students approached us time after time to shake our hands and ask what they could do to amplify our messages. This enthusiasm to spread the word on meat science and bust common myths will hopefully help foster a clearer public understanding of meat production from farm to fork.
BBQ Boot Camp
One of the other impressive programs we came across at RMC was the work that the meat science department at North Dakota State University is doing in their community. Through their program called BBQ Boot Camp, department members travel the state putting on workshops focused on topics such as how to use a grill and using rubs and marinades. Within this consumer friendly approach, they weave in information on meat production and food safety. The program has been a hit in North Dakota with communities asking for “seconds” on the workshop. Participants also spread the word beyond the state by sharing tips with their families around the country.
North Dakota State has set the bar high for those in the meat industry to emulate and we encourage scientists and others within the industry to take their knowledge out into their communities. In a time when people are generations removed from the farm, connecting with them in unique ways is the best way to help spread the good work the meat industry is doing.