The buzz of tour day was in the air this past spring at the University of Arizona’s Maricopa Extension. The buzzing people were 24 culinary students and Chef Chris Wolf, who serves as their instructor at the Arizona Culinary Institute. “At the Arizona Culinary Institute we cover the full spectrum of culinary education, including meat fabrication, so our students are definitely being exposed to various beef, pork, lamb, and poultry cuts already during their time here at school. Our students are generally very excited to broaden their culinary education in any way possible, and the interest in attending this event was amazing. I actually had a WAITING LIST of students to come on the tour. They all had a great time,” reported Chef Wolf when asked about the Institute and their interest in the tour. These students all voluntarily signed up to spend a day learning about the beef lifecycle from a firsthand perspective.
As the day unfolded, with an introduction and high-level overview of the entire beef lifecycle from staff, it was clear there were striking similarities between these students and Arizona beef farmers and ranchers. Both groups are incredibly passionate about what they do. Common ground was easily found after that realization.
The group toured the JBS – Tolleson plant with Bill Munns, Director of Marketing and Product Management, which gave the students a much better understanding of how a large beef plant works and the high level of safety and science which goes into it. A visit with Paul Heiden at Heiden Land and Cattle was next, providing a better look at the live side of the producing beef. Important discussions continued on many subjects including animal handling and care, water issues, and the controversial topics of antibiotic and growth-promoting technologies.
“I think the value of this tour is obvious: It gives the average person a REAL opportunity to see where their meat is coming from. It’s not a-he said/she said issue, or what they saw online, or what they read somewhere…it’s an actual real-life chance to see the industry in action so that they are educated and can make their own decisions about how they feel about the meat industry,” shared Chef Wolf. “There is no question that this is a worthwhile use of time. The entire tour from start to finish was well managed, educational, and exceeded expectations. I feel that EVERYONE left the tour knowing more than when they began.”
The Arizona Beef Council’s Gate to Plate tour series for nutrition and culinary influencers is made possible by the Federation of State Beef Council’s Federation Initiative Fund.