Full disclosure: Rocky Ford is my hometown. And now my hometown’s name is being tarnished as media claim the cantaloupe that tested positive for listeria comes from this agriculture community blessed with just the right ingredients – soil, temperature – to produce the sweetest melons anywhere.
Thing is, the farm in question – Jensen Farms – is located in Holly, Colo., a good 90 miles east of Rocky Ford.
Outsiders (and yes, Holly is considered outside by those who live in my hometown) laying claim to the Rocky Ford brand has long been a thorn in the side of Rocky Ford farmers. In fact, I’ve never heard southeastern Colorado ever being referred to as the “the Rocky Ford region.” Lower Arkansas Valley, yes, Rocky Ford region, no.
Unfortunately, true Rocky Ford farmers now have to figure out how many acres of cantaloupe to plant next spring – a decision that must be made this fall. And the bigger question is: Will consumers think twice before purchasing Rocky Ford cantaloupe again or, when given the “all clear” will they resume enjoying this favorite late-summer treat?
How have you handled issues arising around your brand?