Reading “The Longest Ride” on National Ag Day

Today is National Agriculture Day. Thank a farmer or rancher. Working every day of the year is a lot of work; they love their job, but receiving gratitude from the public is appreciated.

I am currently reading The Longest Ride, like every other fan of Nicholas Sparks before the movie comes out, and was really excited that a popular author was writing with a bull riding rancher as the main male character. Although a fictional love story, and I don’t know if Nicholas’s background includes working in agriculture, to have agriculture be brought into the people’s novels all over the US was promising to give people more insight into agriculture.

Luke lives on his family’s ranch as a fourth generation rancher in North Carolina. The family has owned the land since the 1920’s and spans over 800 acres. He runs 200 pairs (cow and calves, so 400 total) with his mom.

This is all sounding fabulous until I read the sentence “…we’re known for our grass-fed, organic beef.”

I do not have anything against grass-fed or organic beef. If a ranch believes that is the way they want to produce beef, there should be nothing holding them back. The grass-fed, organic beef is a niche market that is very successful right now. If a ranch is able to invest in grass-fed need with the slower return rate, then more power to them.

However, The Longest Ride is a popular book with the movie coming out next month. When people who do not know all the factors of grass-fed versus corn-fed need, or commercial cattle treated with vaccinations versus all natural or organic beef, and read that Luke only raises the grass-fed, organic beef, the reader may jump to conclusion in the future to only buy the grass-fed, organic beef. It may be the best choice as it was mentioned in the book.

What about commercial beef? Why didn’t Nicholas Sparks have Luke raise commercial cattle that may be vaccinated if necessary or grain-fed? This was an opportunity for beef to be promoted on a national level to customers who may not have been normally reached by normal beef advertising. Maybe Nicholas Sparks personally prefers grass-fed, organic beef. His book, his choice to choose the details of Luke’s family ranch. But the potential beef advertising was narrowed.

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