One nugget that comes to mind is her warning of how to survive if there ever was “another Great Depression.” Her advice was simple. “Buy a goat, plant lots of beans and raise rabbits.”

Cooper david
Managing Editor / Progressive Cattle

Goats, she said, are the cheap source of milk, and they feed on anything. Rabbits reproduce quickly, a healthy protein source even small kids can manage. And beans are loaded with nutrients and vitamins, and grow rich in supply – although maybe that was just the North Carolina soil that did the job.

For that generation of Americans, survival was an entirely different struggle than what we know today. Today’s necessities, such as a car, a washing machine or a health insurance plan, were luxuries in that generation.

Heck, my kids today probably label “surviving the Great Depression” as what they do in a week without their digital devices.

The generational divide has also widened among standard consumers in how they spend. New studies show an economic crisis does trigger conservative spending for a while, but only temporarily.


From the energy crisis of the ’70s to the most recent recession of 2007-09, we’ve seen the consumer base become quickly converted to the church of austerity – and then just as quickly leave the pews.

Consumers are returning to their known buying patterns, but they’re also balancing value purchases with their high-end tastes for quality.

This trend has been seen recently with beef purchases as prices have continued to set record highs. Yet somehow the beef demand index holds steady, and premium beef brands keep performing well.

Research from Certified Angus Beef explains this buying trend as “hedonic consumption,” where the urge to buy quality persists in a bad economy, even if the purchase is occasional.

Even in economic downturns, today’s consumers seek different consumption options when approached with a tough budget decision.

One option is to use a substitute purchase, where a bargain purchase is made in addition to a premium product. This way, the buyer exhibits some cost control but still purchases some form of a luxury item.

Early in the most recent recession, this was seen by consumers opting against restaurants and instead eating at home. But they balanced that by purchasing a choice-grade or CAB steak to cook on their own grill.

We’ve come a long way from Grandma’s goats and rabbits, when our notion of tighter budget spending still had a measure of affluence to it. Today’s beef producer knows high prices aren’t welcoming all consumers. But the popularity of beef shows it has quality we don’t want to go without.  end mark

David Cooper