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You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

February 22, 2013

by Beth Rankin

When I entered The Greenbrier a couple weekends ago to attend the Cast Iron Cook-Off it felt like I was back at the movie I had entered partway in a year ago. Yup, it has been one year since my involvement began with local food in West Virginia. Someone said to me recently, how can you move away from West Virginia with all the connections you have?  My response is a basic truism: If I can get this involved in one year meeting so many people, ANYONE can.

My sardonic joke is that I am from the part of New Jersey that is NOT the Garden State.  Understand I started this year-long involvement knowing NOTHING about our food system. All anyone needs is some enthusiasm and a healthy dose of curiosity.

Like—–why does the meat sold at The Wild Ramp taste so much better than what the supermarket sells?  Of course, you wouldn’t know that if you have not bought any.

Before the market opened I had already been visiting the farms that would become suppliers, buying product and we were enjoying good food at home. About that time the Derecho came through and although we had not lost power for long, we decided to eat up what was in the freezer. So we ate our last supermarket purchased chicken and discovered it had no flavor.  We had to remind ourselves we used to enjoy chicken from the grocery store.

And yet, when we cooked one of those and a Wild Ramp chicken and offered a taste comparison at a well-attended event at The Wild Ramp, about half the people preferred the grocery chicken. They said it was “juicier” and when told that the industrial produced chickens are fed antibiotics, steroids and hormones as well as injected with fluid so they weigh more, I saw faces cringe. We don’t know what we don’t know.

Beef is another issue.  As mass produced chicken became less expensive in the past decade people have been buying less beef, so major beef producers and feedlots have decided to reduce costs by adding a new drug to induce rapid growth. The faster a steer grows, the less it eats and the less it costs to produce. They hesitated adding this drug because they knew it would reduce the flavor of the meat sold. However, meat sales have started to increase, showing the buying public are bigger dupes than they thought. They’d rather have inexpensive meat than tasty meatno steroids

Is buying inexpensive meat that has no flavor worth it? How about  is buying inexpensive meat that has no flavor and is full of chemicals worth it? What if those chemicals take a few years to start affecting you and your kids’ health. Was it still inexpensive when your health is involved?

You don’t know what you don’t know.  If steak is in your budget, buy some at The Wild Ramp to compare. Try the pork, chicken and lamb. Enjoy the ground beef and the sausage.

No antibiotics. No steroids. No hormones.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. stkappleto permalink*
    February 22, 2013 12:17 pm

    My oft repeated story to everyone is about the week we brought our first pigs back from the processor. We ate pork for a week solid. Not because we did have other meat, but because the pork tasted so wonderful. I had forgotten pork could be so good.

  2. February 22, 2013 12:20 pm

    Once again, the line “Know Your farmer” makes so much sense. As I have learned more and more this past year I am amazed at the people who continue to ignore the information that is right in front of them. Making a change is a thoughtful action.

  3. February 22, 2013 8:12 pm

    I’ve been hearing how prices of plain vegetables are rising in the supermarkets. Also, I friend recently complained how the frozen choices are shrinking. The processed choices (with sauces and butter or flavoring added) are pushing out what was usually the standard plain frozen corn or carrots, etc. Makes me even happier than ever to be buying local and in season.

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