Friday, June 30, 2006

Friday Randomness: 20 Things I Never Knew About Meat

From the age of 12 till about 21 I was a vegetarian. I'm not anymore, but I take pains to buy a lot of our meat at places like Whole Foods or Giant Eagle Nature's Basket so that I know I am only eating animals that had a reasonably decent life. Now, I am not someone who thinks that eating any animal is wrong. I have no problem with that. It's the factory farming and the electrocuting and all that which gets to me. So I'm voting with my dollars and taking my business someplace where they've treated the animals fairly. Unfortunately this is very expensive ($6/lb chicken breasts, $3/lb wings, etc.) But I feel this is a good use of my money, and we also eat less meat in general.

Once upon a time I was a veritable encyclopedia of disgusting facts about how badly most animals are treated at the average farm. However, since developing iron-deficiency anemia (which is not fun and caused me to sleep all day) I've started eating meat and taking iron supplements. I used to eat meat like it was a medicine - my usual intake before living with my boyfriend was to buy a pot roast, cut it up into chunks with kitchen shears, cook it in a pan, and eat a small bowl of it every day. Sometimes, I would put ranch dressing or egg noodles on it. Aren't you glad you don't have to live with me? Boyfriend mostly does the cooking now in order to prevent me from inflicting that kind of treatment on poor, undeserving cuts of meat.

I think this whole learning-to-eat-meat experience has been instructive in a way. It's interesting to see how much knowledge other people take for granted about the world, when you've been brought up in a life where certain things are common. I remember reading a story a long time ago about late-teenaged orphans from the Sudan who were brought to Minnesota and given an apartment full of food and clothes and a TV, but who had no idea how to operate any of it. The kindly Americans who put them there didn't fully realize that if you didn't grow up in a house with food that came in cans, you wouldn't know how to get it out. Or that you eat soup with a spoon instead of putting it in a cup and drinking it, even though it's a liquid. There's a lot that we take for granted that we learn almost through osmosis as we grow up.

Anyway, here's some of the things that I did not know about meat.

1. Even non-vegetarians will get sick if they eat a pound of ground-beefy tomato sauce on their spaghetti. (This is what I did the first day I began eating meat again, and yes, I was sick.)
2. It is sometimes OK for beef to be rare; it is NOT okay for chicken to be rare.
3. Prime rib isn't ribs.
4. Most people have no idea what part of the cow they are eating. (I frequently ask, out of curiosity.)
5. Canadian bacon isn't bacon.
6. Ham is really salty (at least to my taste.)
7. You shouldn't leave uncooked meat in the refrigerator for several days.
8. If the bacon in the pan looks the way it does in the Denny's commercial, it is already too late.
9. Pepperoni is made from pigs.
10. Fully cooked chicken is supposed to run clear when you cut it, not pink.
11. Marrow melts.
12. Uncooked chicken always smells a little off.
13. Chicken breast is the only white meat on the chicken.
14. You shouldn't try to cook all meat by frying it in a pan.
15. The only fish I like is the salmon my mom made with orange juice and ketchup when I was a kid.
16. I actually still like hot dogs (as long as I know what's in them.)
17. There is no point to buying lean beef.
18. You are going to get crap all over your shirt when making bacon.
19. There is still blood in uncooked meat.
20. Raw chicken wings sometimes have teeny feathers on them. These don't come off just by cooking the wings.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

I've worked with people who used to have to inspect those chicken factories (not a fun place). I agree that I wish people knew more about where there food came from. I read Fast Food Nation and couldn't eat meat for 2 weeks, which is very long time for me!

Did you know Mad Cow Disease spread because they used to feed cows.... other cows?

Guess what the solution is? They feed cows.... chickens. Now guess what they feed the chickens for protein? Anyways, I gotta stop writing about this. :)