With apologies for our brief hiatus, we're back with the remainder of Bob Bauer's series of posts. Follow Bob through the end of the month.
By Bob Bauer
“There’s an association for that?” I get that a lot! Yes, there’s an association for imported foods. Yes, within that association there are sub-associations, including one focused on honey and one on olive oil.
“You went to India for a conference about cashews? You’ve been to Singapore, Australia and Turkey for an annual convention about nuts and dried fruits?” The list goes on.
Most people seem to latch on to one item. There’s one guy who I’m certain after knowing me for many years thinks everything I do is about nuts. He can’t seem to figure out why there needs to be an association to deal with that. After reminding him the association covers all kinds of imported foods, I give him examples about nuts anyway just to drive home some of the reasons the association’s work is important. I’ll ask him, “do you like cashews?” When he says he does, I’ll say that our association has helped educate the producers (most in lesser-developed countries than ours) about ways to improve quality and yield, so he and others can get enough cashews of good quality at a good price.
I’ve had a couple of people make it sound un-American of me to work for an association centered on imports. Of course, there’s a whole U.S. industry of companies employing thousands of people and supporting thousands of other jobs such as trucking and retail stores carrying the products. And do you think the industry imports products that are produced in great numbers or at all here in the U.S.? There wouldn’t be a lot of money in that.
Olive oil has been another conversation starter. Some folks think they know more about olive oil than I do. Others want me to tell them what brands to buy. In case you’re wondering, I don’t tell them what to buy. There are hundreds of varieties of olive oil and they’re grown in many different climates and in various types of soil, so there’s a wide variety of tastes. In the end, it comes down to personal preference. Our friends certainly seem to enjoy when we bring or put out a few different oils when we get together. With olive oil, some ask me about things they’ve read online that say negative things about imported olive oil. When I explain the faulty conclusions in those “articles”, they get a first-hand example of why it’s important to have an association for the industry.
When I tell people I belong to two associations (MASAE and ASAE) for people who run associations, there are often smirks. But when they think about it, they seem to get the picture.
Yes, there’s an association for that. As we’ve all heard or said before, “there’s an association for everything!” And that’s a good thing.