Colin, the chicken featured on the first episode of “Portlandia” that aired eight years ago, epitomizes today’s consumers’ desire for local, fresh and knowing the origins of their food. In this satirical comedy, restaurant patrons requested Colin’s paperwork in order to be assured that their pending dinner had a proper upbringing prior to martyrdom.

Though an extreme dramatization, retailers cannot discount the fact that many of today’s consumers want this information. It’s called traceability and it is increasingly a part of new product development initiatives.

New Nurture Ranch 1 Steer Ground Beef is the only packaged grass-fed ground beef to include meat from just one steer per pack and a code tracing the nurturing history from birth to harvest. It is now available in grocery stores across the Southeast United States.

The majority of other packaged ground beef in grocery stores is processed from multiple cows per package. As the name suggests, this product from Nurture Ranch, Frisco, Texas, is processed from one steer. Not only does the consumer get to “meet” the steer, this solo sourcing has been shown to provide a cleaner taste because the microbial composition is limited to just one steer.

4 farmer focus

“Pioneering the 1 Steer…process has helped us provide the cleanest and most transparently sourced beef available to consumers,” said Rodney Mason, founder of Nurture Ranch. “Our unmatched clean taste and transparency is bringing the true ranch-to-table concept to the grocery store.”

On the poultry side, Shenandoah Valley Organic (SVO), Harrisonburg, Virginia, offers Farmer Focus, a brand of retail packaged chicken that now provides a four-letter farm identification on every package. Consumers can enter the number on the company’s website to see the farm where that chicken was raised and the farmer behind it.

The company is also very transparent with its farmer-processor model and shares with consumers — and the chefs who purchase and serve SVO chickens — that the farmers who raise the chickens are paid a better price. In a couple of instances, it even saved family farms from bankruptcy, according to the company.