By Alex Forkner
Safe, healthy, traceable food free of harmful hormones: that’s the vision on display at the 28th annual Alltech Symposium’s World’s Market.
“The idea of the World’s Market is, imagine going into a grocery store where all the products have only been raised on all natural supplements that we’re using here at Alltech and the effect it can have,” said Veronica Goff, hospitality and events coordinator for Alltech.
Most of the food consumed daily by the American public has been chemically treated for a variety of reasons, but mostly to enhance taste and quantity, she says. However, these chemicals can do more harm than good.
“When people ask me what we do, I try to kind of give the idea that we are what our animals ate,” Goff said. “So, when we’re eating animals that have been given hormones and pharmaceuticals, we’re going to ingest that into our body, and it can have a much more negative effect on us.”
Booths displaying organic bread, coffee, beef, dairy, pork, poultry, seafood—even pet food and horse feed—offered a taste of what hormone-free food had to offer. The pork, provided by Ibérico Fresco, was boldly advertised as “The World’s Favorite Meat!”
At an average price of $3 to $4 an ounce and $1300 for the largest portion available for purchase, it is also some of the world’s most expensive meat. Raised free-range without any antibiotic or hormone treatments, such meat is a rarity. The beef booth offered examples of similarly raised cattle. Although costly, Goff believes the expense is worthwhile.
“The beef is much higher in nutritional value, the quality is much better, it maintains its color, it’s much easier to cut—you can actually cut it with a spoon, it’s so tender.”
The coffee display highlighted Alltech’s efforts to rebuild and support Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. Haiti, one of the world’s largest producers of coffee beans, struggled to harness its potential after the catastrophe, and Alltech’s mission is create a sustainable economic enterprise in that country.
For the past two years, Alltech has been purchasing coffee beans from existing coffee co-ops on the island and roasting them in Kentucky. Once Alltech’s brand of coffee, Café Citadelle, is sold, proceeds go towards Haitian recovery efforts. Since consumers are getting a quality product and contributing to a charitable cause, Linda Stephenson, sales and account representative for Alltech’s beverage division, called it “a win-win situation.”
“We’re buying the beans, and with the proceeds going back, we’re actually double- playing them, if you think about it,” she said. “When the money goes back, it’s getting used for schools, educations, hospitals—stuff like that. We bought them uniforms. All of that money, it’s all being reinvested in them.”
Alltech has also supported mission trips to Haiti, such as the trip taken by Lexington Catholic students last summer. Other charitable endeavors are available through Alltech’s Sustainable Haiti Project, and more information can be found at www.Alltech.com.
The World’s Market also featured a model “Farm of the Future,” designed to address the growing demand for food, feed and fuel. This concept farm featured a bio-refinery where ethanol production would not compete with food production, advanced algae technology harnessed to engineer biofuels and produce animal feed, as well as naturally convert carbon dioxide into clean oxygen.
A theme Alltech hoped to address was how to feed a growing population, estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050. One way of streamlining the grocery shopping process is the “virtual market.” Already in use in South Korea and other Asian nations, virtual markets appear in subway stations and other urban settings, but instead of picking up any physical objects, shoppers use a smart phone scan a QR code under a desired item. The item then appears in an online cart that can either be picked up or delivered to a home address.
This may seem futuristic, or in the case of hormone-free food, unrealistic, but Goff sees it as viable as long as companies and customers work together to encourage natural, healthy food production.
“Unless you’re able to get everybody on board with it, then it won’t be as realistic,” she said. “People are starting to be much more aware, and that’s why you do start to hear a lot more about beef that’s hormone-free or grain fed. So I definitely think, with the awareness of it, it could happen. I don’t know if every grocery store would be able to pick up on it, but I do think it’s a possibility.”
The World’s Market is part of the 28th Annual Alltech International Symposium which continues through today at the Lexington Convention Center.
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