Where's the Beef?
week I read two ads that reminded me of how basic commodities can
change and how we simply adjust to what becomes available. The first
was a family promoting their organic grass fed bison. The second was
an email offering half of a grass fed steer.
Growing up in America, almost every meal was
centered around a healthy serving of delicious corn fed beef. In the
‘70’s, during a period of rapidly rising food prices, beef was
becoming unaffordable. We stretched our ground beef with Plus Meat
(textured soy protein). Hamburger Helper was introduced at this
time. Some speculated that we could import Mexican grass fed beef.
The consensus was that American taste would never accept range fed
Prices stabilized and we resumed our old
eating habits. I once marveled at how perfect, in flavor and texture,
an almost raw, quality cut of beef could be. Over the years, for some
reason, cow meat began, for me, to lose its appeal. I began to
fantasize about eating nothing but Prime beef. I visualized, at that
time, of raising our youngest son on a diet of only Prime. I told
him that one day he would be married and his new bride would prepare
him a nice Choice steak to which he would respond, “This tastes like
crap!” Alas, the prime adventure never materialized. My
dissatisfaction grew and I would spend long moments gazing at the
Prestige Meats section of the Winn Dixie butcher counter. Was this
my only salvation?
In the late ‘90’s, on a visit to President
Lyndon Johnson’s ranch in Texas, I discovered the cause of my lost
desire. While touring LBJ’s boyhood home, adult home, and final
resting place, we were guided through the working portion of the
ranch. The guide told us that the breed of cattle raised there were
the same that Johnson had raised, but were no longer raised
commercially in America. The country had abandoned this breed in
favor of leaner cattle. The root of my dissatisfaction lie not in
me, but in the cows!
To add insult to injury, in
Choice beef began to disappear from the shelf. In its place was a
grade called Select. Not listed as a grade of meat, this tasteless
Select classification remains a mystery to me.
By the time the threat of Mad Cow Disease (BSE)
appeared, we were raising M&E. To be prudent, we discontinued
eating beef. This was no great sacrifice since the meat already
tasted like crap.
Now I find that corn fed beef is no longer
corn fed. Corn (maize) is now much too valuable to feed to cows. Corn
is now used to fatten humans in lieu of the more expensive cane
sugar in processed foods. Corn is also used to produce bio fuels.
Cattle are now fattened with whatever is cheap, as in used cooking
The days of a good rare steak are gone. Beef
has to be overcooked (like pork) to prevent one from dying of e-coli
Dairy products are much the same. Milk,
loaded with female hormones, is likely the cause (other than
non-related adult males living in the home) of rampant precocious
puberty in the little girls of America. Our daughters had to be
raised on, the more pricey, organic milk to ensure they would not
become the all too common eight year olds with breasts.
Even though I now live in Montana where the
beef is Choice and looks appealing, I still have not regained my
desire for it.
I can only wonder if others have noticed or
if it is only me.