Sunday, September 6, 2015

Tatum Knows the Beef Business

Parenthood is a never ending adventure into the unknown. We hope our kids are paying attention and that they follow our example (when it is a good example). Most of the time, as a parent, you never know if what you are telling them or showing them is sinking in. However, just when you think they aren’t paying attention they do something to make you proud.
Last weekend I had the privilege to serve as the coach for our county 4-H Livestock Sweepstakes team. The Kansas 4-H Livestock Sweepstakes is a weekend of four state competitions; livestock judging, meats judging, livestock Skillathon and livestock quiz bowl. Each of the four competitions determines who will represent Kansas at the national championship contest and team and individual awards are given. The counties and districts that have teams in all four competitions are eligible for the Sweepstakes award based on the cumulative finishes in all four contests. It is great weekend and one of my favorite of the year.
Saturday’s schedule is a grueling one. The day started at 7:30 with registration followed by the livestock judging contest, Skillathon and preliminary round of the quiz bowl. This meant no time for a break and outside of lunch, no food. When we finished with the preliminary round of quiz bowl it was 8:30 and most of my team was convinced that they might starve to death without immediate intervention. It was determined that we would go to Chili’s post haste.
We were seated at Chili’s at a long table and, of course, parents at one end and kids at the other with a couple of empty chairs in between. Soon both ends of the table were lost in conversation, waiting for the food to arrive. When the food arrived the near dead teens seemed revived and energized very quickly.
Toward the end of the meal I looked down to see the manager talking to my daughter and the rest of her teammates. I have coached youth for a long time and the appearance of a manager at your table is rarely a good sign and my attention immediately focused on the end of the table. Quickly I realized we were not going to be asked to leave so I watched from a distance. All I really heard was something about white spots in your meat. The manager left after a ten minute discussion with the 4-Hers and all returned to normal.
As soon as everyone was in the vehicle for the ride home I started to quiz them about what was going on. Tatum said that she had noticed that the special was a prime rib enchilada and this prompted her to wonder what quality grade the meat Chili’s served was so she asked their waitress. Of course the waitress had no clue and the manager was called in. The manager told Tatum that the meat was Grade A to which Tatum told her that Grade A was not an option.
This started a discussion of beef quality grades with the manager and all of my meats judging team joined in the lecture. Now the white spots in their meat comment made sense. The manager seemed to listen and take in the information put forth by the kids. I listened to what the kids told her with a great deal of pride. It is one thing to learn the information needed to judge meats but it is another thing to share that information and promote beef using it.
I would guess many of us adults would have never given a moment’s thought about what the quality grade of the meat we were eating in a restaurant was, let alone ask the wait staff. We probably would also not have taken the time to educate the manager about quality grades or why they were important. Shame on us, we should all be so proud of our beef that we want others to understand the product we produce and not waste the chance to provide that education.
I told the kids just how proud I was of them and how impressed I was that they had not only learned the information but were able to and willing to share it. They had seen an opportunity to promote the beef they all raised and seized that opportunity with gusto. Maybe they had paid attention all along. Later on Tatum told me she was going to start asking the same question at all the eating establishments that she ordered beef in. So if you or someone you know is a wait staff in a restaurant serving beef, you have been warned Tatum will put you on the spot and you will get educated.

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