Bone Broth: More Important Than a Passing Trend

At first glance, this is a trend easy to mock.
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Cold-pressed juice was one of 2014's hottest health trends. Bone broth is on track to be the next one for 2015. At first glance, this is a trend easy to mock. Paleo devotees and wellness gurus rebranding something that has been a basic kitchen ingredient for centuries and selling it for up to $9 a cup? Ridiculous, right?

Possibly. But consider premium bone broth from the perspective of a livestock farmer, who is always in need of ways to bring in more revenue. Having a 1,000-pound steer in the field doesn't mean the farmer will end up with 1,000 pounds of meat to sell. Devora Kimelman-Block, who runs a local, 100% grass-fed meat company in Pennsylvania called Good Fork Foods, breaks it down: "After slaughter, the 'hanging weight' of the animal is about 50% of the live weight, or 500 lbs. And only about 60 - 75% of the hanging weight will actually end up in the butcher shop as retail cuts. The rest is made up of bone, fat and trim. This means that at least 60% of the original animal weight ends up as unsellable parts." If consumers are now willing to spend more money on a broth made with premium, local, and/or organic ingredients, then that small farmer has a new market for pieces that would have otherwise been headed for the trash.

The effects of consumer purchasing decisions ripple through the entire food industry--what might appear as a fleeting food trend has the power to immediately benefit the local food and farm community. Since artisanal bone broth has begun bubbling up in the news and small broth entrepreneurs have started to set up shop, we at FarmersWeb receive multiple requests every week for bones--from cows, lambs, and even goats. Just a few months ago, the farms we work with weren't able to sell any of their bones unless they practically gave them away.

Not only does this trend have a positive effect on local businesses, but it is also a perfect example of how to cut back on unnecessary food waste by using the entire animal or plant. Cold-pressed juice, with its massive following, has been tremendously helpful for fruit and vegetable farmers needing a market for their 'seconds' (the visually imperfect pieces that are still fresh, tasty and nutritious). And France's Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables campaign, which encourages people to buy ugly produce at supermarkets, further proves that rebranding is often all that's needed to make an otherwise-undesirable product valuable.

With this in mind, let the ridiculousness continue! Let people buy all the green juices that their stomachs desire. Let them buy premium broth made from bones that would have otherwise gone to waste. We can only hope that using strange cuts or bruised produce isn't a trend in the true sense of the word but, rather, it's a new way of looking at food holistically that's here to stay.