Tuesday, June 13, 2006

My Beef Is...

Today I would like to talk about food and ask why people think it is OK to eat food that they have no idea where it came from. One lesson in our early lives is never take candy from strangers, yet it is OK to let the kids go door to door Trick-or-Treating. People who go to the market to buy their food roll the dice with the Trick-or-Treat game every week. Most times they get what they want, and sometimes they don’t.

I was speaking with friends last week about how you rarely ever hear about mad cow disease from the regular media news sources, however if you read the Capital Press there are sometimes three articles a week about mad cow, (except last weeks paper did not). By the way, it is rarely ever called “Mad Cow Disease,” it is almost always referred to as BSE, bovine spongiform encephalopathy. To most people this is a cow problem, not a people problem. This is why no one even batted an eye when two deaths attributed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) were reported in the county in the last five years. One elderly woman in Gearhart, and one elderly woman in Knappa, oddly they were both Master Gardeners.

CJD is what happens to people who eat beef that had BSE. One might wonder what the chances of them eating a piece of meat from an infected cow. The chances are actually higher than you might expect, especially if you eat hamburger. The reason hamburger is a risk meat is that if you eat a stake you are eating the meat of one animal, but ground beef is made in massive bunches from several cows. If you go to an upscale place for an $8 burger, there is a good chance that you are purchasing a much better quality meat, but if you are buying from a fast food place you can just imagine them getting their meat from a factory that grinds up the entire cow. The way they make a profit is by buying very inexpensive meat.

So how does one protect them selves other than giving up red meat all together? There is a great meat resource right here in Clatsop County; the County Fair. On the last day of the Fair there is a live stock auction. If you are the average person who has beef once a week you will want to find three other people to go in as partners. We got a quarter beef last September and we still have enough to last through the summer. We also purchased a small freezer to hold the meat, and the quarter beef didn’t fill it. We still had room several other frozen items. You can expect to pay around $500 for your share after it is butchered, and wrapped.

When you buy your beef this way, not only do you support a kid in 4-H or FFA who has worked hard all year to bring this cow to show and to market, but you are buying meat that was grown locally. It wasn’t treated poorly and it wasn’t stuck with thousands of other cows in a feed lot. It will have more flavor that what you are used to eating.

OK, if you only want an occasional piece of local beef and you don’t want to commit to $500 worth, you can still find local beef at the Sunday Market. There is a fellow named Brian who sells grass fed beef and lamb grown on his farm in Nehalem. It is excellent. His booth is usually set up in the first row where Safeway parking lot was. If you like to eat beef, please make it safe beef. CJD isn’t a good way to go.


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