Almost twenty years ago, when I was a bright-eyed free range farmer, I loved getting this kind of call: “Hello, this is Chef Smith from Restaurant Brioche. Our restaurant is planning to be 100% local and farm-sourced. We’d love to have your food on our menu.” My pulse would quicken. A chef? Calling me? The thought was almost unimaginable. Our family farm, on the brink of bankruptcy, needed customers and needed them fast. Decades of selling corn, apples and cattle on the commodity market had nearly sunk our operation. Now that we had transitioned to an organic, free-range model, chefs were starting to notice. “Absolutely,” I replied. “What do you have in mind?” “I’d like to feature beef tenderloins,” he said. In the background, I could hear pots clinking, and food orders shouted above the din of kitchen noises. “We’ll need fifty pounds a week.” My heart sank. Not because I didn’t desperately want the business. But because —for several very practical reasons— this type of order would be impossible for our farm to accommodate. “Well… as I’m sure you understand, it takes almost two years to raise a steer on grass. Even though we butcher over a hundred steers per year, we only get about 20 pounds of tenderloin each time. So, at that rate…” Before I could finish this thought process, the chef cut in.