Wanting an Impossible Burger

A year ago, my wife brought home a packet of Beyond Meat burgers. These are the plant-based protein patties that have been engineered to replicated ground beef, but contain no beef in them. They even go so far as to include runny red beet juice to simulate bleeding rare beef. I know, you’re saying “eww gross” but, I mean, isn’t that what the meat we’ve all grown up eating is?

I threw them on the grill and was instantly overwhelmed by a horrible odor that clung to me for the duration of the cooking process. I could not shake the smell and it really ruined the experience – I couldn’t taste the product for what it was, I was just stung by that nasty smell that stuck to me the entire time. Even now, a year later, my skin shakes a bit just recalling it.

I read this morning about the Impossible Burger, which uses not beet juice but soy heme – the stuff that makes our blood red – to duplicate that substantive maw of eating animal flesh. And hey, the tasters say it works! The protein patties are rolling out to White Castles and Burger King’s nation wide. Suddenly, it looks like we have a legitimate product hitting the market that folks can opt for that isn’t beef.

Why char grilled sandwich lovers want to do that? Because (we’ve all heard this a dozen times by now) making consumable protein from cows is terribly inefficient. It takes a relatively outsized portion of water, grain, land, and oil to churn out those industrialized red meat patties. And nothing says yum like knowing a corporate owned, robot-filled factory is slicing up fifteen hundred pound animals and mechanically reducing them into vats of an ammonium-treated slurry, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. When the marketing materials tells me to support my local cattle rancher, it is tugging on sentimental vestiges of a reality that no longer exists.

Industrialized meat processing is a victim of its own brutal efficiency. The endless production and processing of beef, poultry, and pork is a natural wonder in its own right. Unfortunately, there are negative repercussions related to the required massive consumption of clean water, grain and soy, oil, and grazing land. Not to mention the brutal economics pressuring those in animal husbandry to produce bigger, faster products more frequently, chaining them to a corporate process that has only one goal in sight: more, sooner.

People have been reacting against the consumption of animal protein for ecological reasons – because the planet simply can’t continue producing most of its grain to be used to feed the cows who are grown to make weekend barbque meat. In the US, more than 67% of crops are grown for animal feed. Worldwide, it is 36%. Some people react for safety reasons – people do not want to eat meat that was so full of bacteria that ammonia gas had to be injected into it to be safe to eat. And some react for humanitarian reasons – the more capable we are of creating fast, clean sources alternate protein consumables, the better chance we stand of addressing looming crises of trying to feed everyone as the world edges closer to topping 10 billion souls.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/foodfeatures/feeding-9-billion/

The least I can do while all of this invisibly unfolds in the world around me is to give that impossible burger a shot. Fork over my $14 bucks the next time I am at a burger joint for the plant-based option and see what it tastes like. My guess is it will taste like the jalepenos, sriracha mayo, pickles, greens, and fried egg I lay on top. And if a few bucks of that goes back to the companies trying to tackle some of the world’s global issues, it’ll be that much more savory to me.

Saint Raphael’s Annual Bazaar

I have to admit, I feel like it’s Christmas for adults. The Saint Raphael’s Annual Parish Bazaar starts tonight (thru Sunday). And that means I get to eat funnel cake and hot sausages and play bingo. My kids will be spending their whole evenings in the bouncy house castles. My wife and I will buy some raffle tickets for contests WE NEVER WIN.

There’s local rock bands, all kinds of junk for sale in the “indoor yard sale”, games of chance, and lots and lots of people getting out of the haus to soak up some of that humid, August-evenings elixer at the carnival.

It’s going to be great.

Chipotle Ad for an App is More Than Just an Ad for an App

I watched this ad from Chipotle the other day and couldn’t get it out of my head. It is such a striking message to come from a mass-production food company, especially one owned by McDonald’s (they are not owned by McDonald’s). I am not sure how to let the competing interests balance in my head, especially since I love going to Chipotle!  It could be, of course, that they are truly paving a new road in balancing the consumer demand for reasonably-priced, high quality convenience foods with a responsible approach to the living animals that are that food and the lands and resources and people that produce them.

I understand that, as our population continues to explode, mass consumption of beef is simply not sustainable.  As a Westerner, I am understandably hesitant about the potential future of an insect buffet instead of pulled pork or marinated beef.  And I hope you understand that I really, really, love burritos.  But canI I avoid Smithfield pork while I conveniently consume?  Can I expect more convenience dining to include tofu or simple black bean substitutes?

McDonald’s Presses Pig Farmers to Stop Using Gestation Stalls

It is too bad that it is “news” when a major animal harvester decides to be an iota more humane in the way it procures its product. Shouldn’t people demand that suppliers already behave in humane ways towards the treatment of the animals we eat? It should only be news if some restaurant fed us food that was horribly treated and processed instead of vice versa. It isn’t about animal welfare, necessarily. It is about our own humanity. Are we not a civilized society? Do we not have the world’s most technologically advanced resources at our disposal? Are we not living in an age of unprecedented knowledge sharing, idea-sourcing, and iterative circle-back thing-a-ma-jig consensus building? It only stands to reason that reason is not a driving force in McRib production. If the McDonald’s corporation was reasonable, it would ethically source its animal products (Wassup Chipotle! see CMG), staking a forward leaning position on the direction of food production and consumption in our nation and, via franchise, the world market. The incentive is there. Consumers are already going “green.” Michelle Obama wants us to eat healthy. The NFL wants us to Fuel up to Play 60. And McDonald’s throws pork offal slurry HFCS-rich BBQ sauce at us? For $2.99? Homer Simpson excepted, people will probably get sick after one McRib and stop eating them until they are reintroduced to the menu 12 or 18 months later. Is the degradation of our pork stock worth the semi-annual indigestion that the McRib causes? McDonald’s should take a cue from the international slow foods movement and others who don’t need movements – farmers, hunters, and smarty-pants researchers: grow and harvest livestock with dignity and respect. Food, like meetings, become nightmares when they are run from a corporate boardroom.