Having traveled all across North America during my professional career, I would guess that I’ve been in more supermarkets in more states then the average consumer. While I’m usually stopping in for a snack or some office supplies, I take a quick walk past the meat cases to see what companies are represented.
Most often, I see the same names again and again, no matter where the store is. It’s like that across every store aisle, of course. Probably 90 percent of what is in my neighborhood supermarket in Georgia is identical to a similar store in California or Minnesota. The same holds true for restaurants, where local places are outpaced by chain restaurants.
In one sense, there is comfort in the familiarity. If I find something at a store here that I like, I can tell my mom about it, and she can find the same product in Chicago. There is, however, something to be said about originality in the grocery store, where shoppers can find a local or regional favorite along with the national brands.
Cincinnati, where I traveled to cover this month’s cover story, seems to get it. Whether it’s ice cream (Graeter’s), chili (Gold Star or Skyline, depending on your preference) or pizza (LaRosa’s), they have plenty of local favorites. I can sometimes find Graeter’s ice cream or Montgomery Inn BBQ sauce at my stores, but if I want the real thing, I have to head north, and I’m alright with that. I’m glad there is still room for variety in our country’s food supply. After all, a little local spice is an important ingredient.
Processor of the Year
This issue features our first-ever Independent Processor of the Year, Queen City Sausage. This is a project I’ve wanted to do for some time — find a company that exemplifies all the best qualities of small and mid-sized meat processors and give it some special recognition. I think we found a great company this year, and I think it sets a good precedent for future awards.
We were fortunate to have some great companies enter this year, and the judges, including members of our editorial board and regular contributors, were extremely helpful in deciding a winner.
I am looking forward to this award becoming an annual event. If you would like your company to be considered for next year, please contact me.