POCATELLO, ID – I have little patience with food fads. I’m aware of genuine allergies and their seriousness, but so many of the fads of late appear like thinly disguised advertising adventures designed to turn our attentions away from one food or product in favor of another a corporation is marketing as the latest “super food or fiber.”
All sorts of vague “studies” hail the magical properties of blueberries, pomegranates, edamame, red wine, turmeric, ginger, etc. One week eggs are bad for us; a month later they are important additions to the diet. Chocolate is a superfluous calorie-ridden exploitive product; now somehow dark chocolate has become an important carrier of essential minerals, especially when coupled with red wine. How much bubbily has been sold this week because another “study” suggests champagne prevents dementia? Until recently, “studies” suggested alcohol causes dementia.
Red meat is bad for us, but bacteria-ridden chicken or turkey parts are good. No, no, chicken and turkey are riddled with antibiotics and salmonella. They’re also bad for us.
Photographs of battery raised birds, cattle and pigs knee-deep in muck make the rounds on the Internet and TV news programs to raise our disgust for animal products while ads for peculiar dietary supplements abound in late night “paid programs.” These supplements purport to take the place of what traditional meats have provided mankind since the species appeared on this planet.
One wonders what a present day vegan would eat when lost and trapped in a wintery wood. Bark and twigs don’t sound particularly appealing. I’m told porcupines are easy prey because they’re slow, a rock could easily turn them into a meaty meal.
Oddly, these food fads and taboos haven’t landed on lamb, sheep. Perhaps it’s because a good leg of lamb is so damned expensive these days being a ceremonial animal eaten at Easter and Passover as well as Muslim holidays. Locally, for their annual festival, the Greek Orthodox church roasts a whole lamb on a spit every summer with olive oil, lemon and rosemary. Delicious.
My stepfather, a cattle rancher, would have nothing to do with lamb or garlic because he was “hooked up with Montgomery’s army” in WWII and all there was to eat was mutton laced with garlic. I can sympathize, but I’d have trouble living in a household in which garlic is forbidden.
Sheep are a wonderfully useful animal. Not only does the animal provide meat, but milk that can be turned into a feta cheese, and then there’s the luxurious wool that grows back annually and can be felted, spun, woven and knitted into countless warm sweaters, mittens, blankets . . . but of course, there are the weenies who insist they’re allergic to wool and don’t miss a moment to whine about it. Never mind that it’s one of the few ecologically renewable fibers, as well as the only fiber that will keep you warm while it is wet. Sadly, wool production in the US is miniscule having turned the industry over to New Zealand and other imports. Idaho sheep producers report that it’s not worth the cost of shearing for what the market pays for wool.
Hence lamb in our supermarkets is the most expensive meat.
And now suddenly, due to another “scientific study” there is a “war” on bacon, sausage and smoked meats. I use the term “war” because media seem to like the word: War on Drugs, War on Poverty, war war everywhere and not a drop of peace.
I know there are problems in the American food industry, crowding and caging of animals, but the economics that have driven producers into those situations are more complex than simple greed. The farmer is at the bottom of the production chain. He doesn’t “charge” what he needs for his product; he is “told” what the market will bear by a raft of cagey middle men/women.
Hence, small farms with happy animals are becoming scarce. Bottom lines and dangerous words like “fast” and “efficient” rule our world in order to squeeze pennies out of production at every level.
Advertisers advocate getting milk from “contented cows,” but we also need contented farmers.
Bulletin just in: Turns out Fat is good for us. Wow, there’s a 180 degree turn around I can support. For now, there’s bacon frying in my private Pocatello.