Most that know me know that when I travel to the U.S. I enjoy debating American politics, especially with Americans. There is a lot of speculation as to why I would engage in such potentially harmful behavior. Many, including the owner of Cardinal, believe I do it just to mix things up with our American brethren.

I have come to realize these animated conversations really originate in my love for America. Any Canadian that travels cannot help being somewhat amazed, given that our neighbors are the greatest military power in the world, and we… well, we have a boat. Yet, as North Americans, we are able to move nearly effortlessly back and forth across a peaceful, undefended border.

So, how did we build such trust and mutual respect between our two countries given the many challenges we are presented on a daily basis? More importantly, how could we have trusted a militaristic country driven by capitalism to do the right thing over these past two hundred years? Perhaps it’s our common value system, democracies, capitalism, and our shared approach to problem solving.

Maybe the same is true of our businesses?

How is it that we are all driven by the Capitalistic spirit, yet when I have the opportunity to speak to others in the food business, the first thing they share is the many, many sleepless nights trying to answer that one tough question we are all confronted with, how do we continue to feed people with beef that is bullet-proof, regardless of how it is handled by the consumer.

Over the past weekend I had an opportunity to go to the U.S. (at a NAMP — North American Meat Processors Association — meeting in Chicago) and meet with many of our friends in the industry and in our respective governments. Although as capitalists there were discussions around the beef markets labor and the cost of gas, what carried the day was our shared concern that, above all else, no one can come to harm by eating beef products.

I can say first-hand from observing others during presentations about past recalls that just the thought that products would cause harm to others elicited overwhelming emotion in the room. Food causing harm is an untenable situation and has focused the efforts of the entire group including the government to improving the system.

There is a willingness now for our collective industry to embrace the reality of our situation.

Speakers on both sides of the aisle concede looking for answers in ground beef is not the best deployment of limited resources when the robust testing for E. coli O157:H7 is already providing all the answers and industry is paying for it.

Yes, we know where the beef is and, more importantly, we know where the presumptive beef is, and although we capitalists have our collective goal of making a profit, I believe we also have our collective humanity that will trump all.

It is this collective humanity that is forging a new willingness on the farm to clean and vaccinate animals, and it is fueling harvesters and manufactures alike to seek and invest in new and scientifically proven microbiological interventions. It will ultimately compel us all to take what we already know and what the industry is providing us every day, then acting on it to produce a pasteurized raw material.