Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Horrible Mistake

After cooking a terrific Lesser Cuts and Guts dinner last night, (which I'll tell you about later in the week) tonight I made a terrible mistake. Now I don't always eat the Lesser Cuts, nor should you. Here's a story about my dinner tonight that was not going to be a Lesser Cut. I wanted it to be fast, easy, and good. At least I got the first two right.

Personal commitments kept me busy during the day, so I went to the local megamart for some staples and to pick up something to cook for dinner. I wanted something quick and easy to cook, yet at the same time tasty. I thought “Gee, a steak and baked potato with some sauteed spinach would be nice.

So I grabbed some bagged spinach and a decent looking baking potato. Of course these things are hard to screw up. Then I looked for some fresh chives for my potato. The only fresh herbs available were those that come in the little plastic boxes. The one box of chives on the shelf was just disgusting to look at. Most of them were wilted and beginning to rot. I can only surmise that this was brought on by the frequent mist of water sprayed onto the produce. The water gets into the air holes of the box, trapped inside, and rapidly accelerates the rot process. Fortunately, at 6:30 on a Sunday evening, there was someone working in the produce section who found a fresh looking box of chives in the back. The sad thing is, even though I told him this last box of chives was rotting, he left it on the shelf. Someone, no doubt, will grab this box without looking carefully at the contents, only to come home with something inedible.

But my frustration didn't end there.

I had to find the steak I wanted. Being disappointed with the selection of steaks in Styrofoam trays wrapped in plastic, I asked the "butcher" what else they had. He showed me some decent, but not great, looking porterhouse steaks that were on sale. They were even labeled “All Natural” whatever that means. I picked the best looking one and off I went.

Now I'm not expecting some amazing eats here, and the price was certainly right. I thought “Wow, that was a great deal.” Forgetting that you get what you pay for.

I got home and made my dinner. The spinach and potato were good. Heck, even the chives weren't awful. But that steak? Ug! Just terrible. The texture was beyond bad and the flavor was just barely existent. Clearly this was beef that came from some feedlot somewhere. The quality was just so bad.

It got me to thinking. A lot of people out there gladly buy this garbage, take it home and cook it and think “Wow, what a great meal.” It's a shame. The people who run these megamarts are selling America a lie. They tell you, this a great, natural food that you can get cheap. Excuse my harsh words here but, BULLSHIT!

We need to demand better. People need to learn that the food these megamarts are selling us is generally crap, is raised in ways that produce foods that are unhealthy for us to eat, is raised in ways that are bad for the environment, and taste like stuff I wouldn't feed a dog. It's a sin!

I stopped buying chicken at megamarts over a year ago. It started when I wanted to roast a whole chicken for dinner one night. Now, I'm single, and a small chicken would feed me and leave plenty of left overs. I get to the megamart and I was stunned that the smallest chicken in the store was seven pounds. SEVEN POUNDS? What kind of hormone pumped chicken weights seven pounds when it's dressed? And that was the smallest bird I could find. I was disgusted. I haven't bought chicken from a megamart since. Nor should you. The chickens I buy now are certainly more expensive, but you know what? They're organic, raised humanely, are better for me, and taste really really good. So screw the corporate chicken giants that are Perdue and Tyson. These companies don't care about the well being of their animals, what their production methods do to the environment, the quality of their product, and worst of all they don't care if you die. All they care about is a good quarterly earnings report for their stock holders. Well they're not getting my money anymore, and they shouldn't get yours either.

So I guess I don't get to buy protein at the local megamart anymore. I'm fine with that. Actually I'm happy about it. You should do a bit of your own research, do some taste tests and I'll bet you come to the same conclusion.

Next time you buy some meat ask where it's from. Ask how it's raised. Ask if it's allowed any pasture time. If you're at the megamart I doubt the guy behind the counter can answer these questions. You might get some double talk corporate speak though. Heck, the guy I bought my steak from tonight couldn't even answer the simplest of questions like; How long should I cook this for? But, if you make the choice to pay a bit more and shop at a butcher shop or fish monger, you're likely to get straight answers and the guy behind the counter will sure as hell know how to cook the damned thing.


  1. This all goes back to the most serious issue today - how do we feed all of the people on the earth so that they're healthy, we don't destroy the earth doing so, and also make sure that everyone can make a decent living and live well?

  2. J- Unfortunately, in some parts of the country, the supermarkets are really the only option for many people. I love where I live, in the desert southwest, but try and find a decent butcher around here! I only just recently had a new butcher open up about a mile from my house. Before that, I had to drive over 20 miles to find one; and my supermarket is only half a mile away. Anyway, the new butcher looks promising (I haven't been yet) but it still remains that he's not near any of my other shopping, so I have to figure out a way to work him in when shopping. I have no doubt it will be worth it in terms of quality; but wonder whether what I'm giving up in terms fuel and mileage (and their associated ecological costs) in long run also make it worth it.

  3. The whole 'Black Angus' marketing plan has blinded us to flavor. I was at one of these megamarts and was looking for some steaks - like the post above - and when I asked the guy behind the butcher counter if these were choice or select (I knew they weren't prime and the price made even choice suspect). My timing must have been fated because the person next to me stuck out his hand and said he represented the Black Angus purveyor that supplied the store.

    He went on to say that Black Angus was subject to the grading system and considered all their beef to be choice...I smiled, nodded and continued my shopping.

    The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me that this branch of beef providers didn't submit to the grading system that many of us actually look for AND just 'consider themselves' to be the best consumers can usually hope to find (Prime being mostly soaked up by restaurants, etc)...

    As per John's description, I find most Black Angus to look nice, but lack flavor. Even the bone-in ribeye, well marbled, firm - still has more flavor from the seasonings & cooking. I T-Rex them on my BGE with an avacado oil & sea-salt & cracked pepper . . . they are actually pretty good...

    ...but as previously noted, even the cheapest cuts can be wonderful with the right preparation...