Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Chef Knows

I saw the floppy Chef's hat and couldn't resist.  Sure enough, he was the Chef for a major downtown hotel.

"What do you think about the situation of Canadian poultry?", I asked.

He smiled, cautious not to offend a hotel guest.  As the Concierge listened in, he said, "In what way do you mean?"

I shared with him a few of the facts I had slowly learned over the last 2 years about the inner workings of poultry in Canada. For most citizens, their eyebrows start to raise after a few seconds, then they go bug-eyed, then their jaws start to drop as I tell my tale of woe.  Occasionally, I get a silent mouthed "Oh my God!" or "That's crazy!", or "You're kidding !?!".

Not today.  Chef stayed calm.  He listened politely, like a kind Grade 3 teacher while his favorite student carefully read his latest composition out loud to the class.  Smiling, nodding encouragement, no shock could be discerned on his face.

I missed the shocked part.  I stopped talking.

"Yes", he said.  "That certainly is a problem.  Those are some of the reasons I don't buy any Canadian poultry.  I can buy whatever I need for the hotel, but I have a budget.  I can't afford Canadian poultry.  We order our poultry from our suppliers.  I can't tell you who they are, but it all comes in from either the US or Chile.  Chile has some excellent poultry, and seafood as well."

"Yes, I said.  "I noticed that in Statistics Canada's most recent import data, Chilean poultry imports exceeded even the US imports.  I was kind of surprised to see that."

"It's good stuff", he repeated.

I thanked him, smiled at the Concierge, and went down the hallway towards my hotel room.

He knew.  Unlike the typical consumer, he knew.  Nothing I had said surprised him.  I wondered if most or all of the other Chefs in Canada also know?  Had all of them long ago given up on Canadian poultry?  They buy enough, they can order whatever they want from around the world.

Most Canadians are chained to their neighbourhood grocery store.  Only the wrinkly, over 70 generation go all over the city picking up a few specials at this store, and a few different items at the other store across town.  They think it makes a difference.  They blow any savings on tuna fish by the added cost of gas and wear on their vehicle.  However, they'd rather operate at a net loss on tuna, so as to gain the opportunity to teach and re-teach the grocers that people will go out of their way for a bargain.  They think it keeps the grocers on their toes. However, even the wrinklies don't do it as much as they used to.

The food monopolies have us right where they want us.

Trapped, with no real alternative.

That's where Small Flockers, as Canadian's friendly neighbourhood source of fresh meats, comes in.

The market is primed for an alternative.

The Chefs already know it.

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