Recently, The Vermont Packinghouse made headlines as news of their public viewing window circulated the internet. Consumers were amazed that a slaughterhouse would open their doors – and their walls – to allow the public to see inside the secret world of meat processing. Unfortunately, my facility was not designed with this level of transparency; however, that doesn’t mean we are any less open about the inner-workings of our business.
Since I first opened Micro Summit in 2013, over 500 men, women, and students have toured the facility. These individuals have witnessed every area of my operation…from the knock-box to the loading dock, we take them through every step of the slaughter and processing industry. Town representatives, state agricultural leaders, and national legislators have all walked the halls of Micro Summit and heard my unique ag story. However, in an attempt to build common ground, members of the Humane Society of the United Sates (HSUS) and local animal welfare advocates have also toured MSP and participated in respectful conversation about what improvements are needed in the meat industry. While I definitely assume personal risk when allowing these people to tour my building, I believe the societal risk is far-greater when we attempt to build a secretive food system. Consumers want to know where their food comes from, and, as a food producer, I feel it is my responsibility to tell them.
Today, I was blessed to spend my afternoon with an animal science class from a near-by community college. While it’s always a pleasure to talk with these future industry leaders, one of these students sent me a follow-up email that totally made my day.
“Hello! I visited your facility today with Jennifer and I felt I had to email you guys. I can honestly say I am a major animal lover and with this being the beginning of my schooling for animal sciences I was very nervous about going to a slaughter house. Not having knowledge about such a field can really make people believe the negative side of it. After learning and actually seeing the process I was so pleasantly surprised. The fact that almost everything taken from the animal can be sold and used is incredible. Your professionalism, success and communication really is inspiring. I have always planned to take a more business route for my career and it was a great insight to see options available.”
I am so thankful for the young lady who sent this email. She may have learned about the slaughter industry today, but I learned that you don’t need glass walls in order to be transparent…or to make a difference!