January 24, 2012 by themommahen
I don’t write a ton about it but the past several years of being a mom, coupled with some exposure to the business of food through my PR career, have made me more mindful when it comes to food. I can hold my own in conversations about BPA, the Dirty Dozen, the Clean Fifteen, CSAs, food labeling, sustainable farming, pros and cons of organics, HFCS, chemical and other food additives, balanced nutrition, egg labeling, dairy facts and myths, sodium, food deserts…are you still awake? I think I just dozed off there for a minute. Sorry.
Point is, I know enough to freak out make informed choices of what we eat. And yes, I still have an unfortunate weakness for burgers and fries that I have tried to shield my children from, but it’s no use. They got the taste early, through the umbilical cord. But, I do try to practice, or at least teach, moderation and balance. And so far, so good. The Hatchlings are what those in the online parenting world like to call “good eaters,” which like all things in the online parenting world is completely relative and subjective. In our house that means H #1 and #2 eat their veggies like broccoli and spinach, alongside their pizza and french fries, (also known as our government’s veggies), while H#3 tries any number of foods before spitting them back out or throwing them on the floor. (Relative and subjective, remember?)
One of my food goals is an obvious one – buy and eat more local foods. The produce is easy. Find a local Farmer’s Market or CSA and voila! Fresh veggies! Fruit can be a little tougher in the off-season, but I can drive a few miles to Whole Foods for a decent selection of local fruit (though the Hatchlings have developed quite a taste for mango) to get by for the winter. And since I haven’t figured out how to grow mangos in NC, we do buy some conventional as well as bigger-farm-organics, which have their own issues.
What I’m having trouble with is the meat, and I’m beginning to wonder if it’s because I’ve gotten so spoiled by the mainstream grocery and restaurant meat. You know, the kinds that are gassed, sprayed, painted, injected, plumped, medicated. Who could be spoiled by that? Unfortunately, a lot of us because we’ve gotten used to these modified foods, how they look and the resulting tastes. Which makes the real thing seem, well, different. Even, dare I say it? Disappointing.
Mmmmmmm, yum. Lovely photo courtesy of many Facebook and Twitter friends, but actually borrowed from Snopes.com
The local grass-fed beef I’ve tried has been tougher than conventional store-bought meat, with a more “gamey” smell and taste. Steaks come off the grill dried out, hamburgers are crumbly and the leftovers have been pushed to the back of the fridge more than I’d like to admit, especially considering we pay more than conventional prices for these products. Local chicken breasts have been darker than conventional ones, so much so that the white meat looks like dark meat, and when I made some chicken nuggets from a few of the breasts, The Husband and I both thought they looked like fried chicken livers. That was hard for us to get over but they tasted fine once we closed our eyes and tried them.
So what am I missing? What am I doing wrong? I need some foodies, farmers or locavores out there to step up my meat-cooking skills (which I might add, are usually pretty darn good). Or is this just the way real meat tastes? If so, I’m also beginning to see why, in addition to price, generations before us may not have consumed as much meat as often as we do. Somewhere, The Meat-and-Potatoes-Husband just shuddered at the thought.