I am beyond concern now. It’s another dark day for Niagara’s food scene. If you’re a regular at the Good Shepherd in Vineland you know more than anyone, it’s about more than buying meat. Franz and Denise Gerber are Mennonite farmers who converted their barn into a retail space so customers like you and I can buy good, organic, safe meat.
In their coolers you’ll find various cuts of beef, pork and chicken. From these animals they also make cutlets, pies, rolls, pepperettes, kielbasa, sausages and cheese. There are lamb roaming in the pasture and turkeys to be ordered for holiday seasons.
When you arrive at the Good Shepherd, Franz and Denise know you by name – a remarkable feat considering the abundance of loyal customers they have. You can sit at the table (a welcoming site when you arrive), or shop the coolers and know that when something comes off the stove, it will be offered to you.
Some say it’s good marketing to have your customers taste your products, but to know Franz and Denise is to know that it’s about taking care of their friends. At the Good Shepherd they encourage you to eat as much as you want and stay as long as you like, believing it’s the least they can do to make your life a little bit better.
For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, it's about a connection to our food. It's about knowing and trusting people to provide good quality safe food. All of the animals are raised naturally, butchered carefully and sold lovingly. The meat is free of chemicals, hormones, nitrates or any unnatural ingredients. The fact that Denise and Franz are great people is just a bonus.
So why is it a dark day you ask? Because on May 1, the Good Shepherd is closing its doors – and it’s not by choice. It’s a complicated story but I think it’s safe to say our government regulations have become so blind, restrictive, obscure and expensive that they felt closing was the only option.
For a couple who’ve spent their entire business life cultivating loyalty and trust, this decision is a sad and painful one for them. For thousands of current customers and countless future customers, it means we are loosing our choice. In Niagara we cannot buy this great food any longer - this is a crisis.
We are loosing our right to shop and buy what we want and where we want – where will it end? Being stripped of our local food choices is not what safe food is all about and we need to send a message that we don’t like it. Enough is enough!
Let’s all dress in black and meet at the Good Shepherd on May 1. Black to represent the death of one more of our food choices. If you’re with me on this one, email back!