Can I bitch for a second? It’s about animal welfare, so I apologize in advance for the lecture. I’ll keep it quick before moving on to stories about food and deliciousness. Actually, I’ll even highlight the part about animal rights so you can skip through if you aren’t interested. Anyway, Chris and I have been trying to be more food-responsible, and have (in the last few months) entirely eliminated:
Large, commercial dairies–I don’t understand how militant vegetarians are able to slug back eggs and milk and cheese and ice cream and other dairy from commercial dairies, when those animals are treated every bit as badly as slaughter animals, not to mention that dairies are basically where veal comes from. So we’ve had to be mindful of sticking to companies that support small family farms, or humane practices. Organic Valley, Ben and Jerry, Humane Harvest eggs…it’s really not too difficult if you know what to look for. Even Borden Organic (a pretty big brand) is a humane option.
Basically the whole pork industry– For animals who are as smart or smarter than dogs, pigs are treated incredibly poorly in the meat industry. Beatings and immobile gestation and cutting off the tails without anesthesia–not okay in my book. Plus, these commercial pork farms are responsible for major disease spreading (h1n1 anyone?). So we’re sticking to Whole Foods butchered pork or Niman Ranch. Heritage pork is almost always humanely raised, but is pretty pricey, so we’re doing that in moderation. Anyway, Target carries Niman Ranch, or you can buy it in bulk online.
Any and all grocery store chicken– The conditions that regular chickens are raised in are disgusting, filthy, and horrifically mean. So we double check the sources of any chicken before we buy it. Takes about five minutes, and is the right thing to do. Also, things like chicken stock, chicken burritos, etc can be hidden sources of the “bad kind” of meat production, so we keep an eye on that, too.
So with the new guidelines on food sourcing, I only have one complaint. Why is it so hard to find the things I want? Why is the “norm” feedlot crap? How can people justify bitching about vaccinations for their children when they’ll cheerfully feed them Tyson chicken nuggets or McDonalds, which are full of hormones and fillers and other abortions? With all the hormones floating around in our food, it’s no wonder we have 8 year old girls with breasts trotting around in their My Little Pony bootie shorts.
Shouldn’t I be able to walk into a grocery store and make a choice between eating meat that came from hell-on-earth environments, and meat that comes from family farms, responsible animal stewards, and sustainability-oriented practices? It shouldn’t take an act of congress to find a pork chop that I can feel good about. I just don’t understand.
While I think it’s reprehensible that people knowingly buy the “cheap” stuff to save a couple bucks, even though many of them know it was produced in a way that violates common human decency, I think it’s even worse that grocery stores don’t give people the clear option to do the right thing. And I think it’s terrible that the “cheap” option is the one that’s loaded with chemicals and cruelty and pollutants.
I really, really wish the government would start taxing the everloving crap out of shit foods. I’d still eat Doritos and Twix bars and Ramen noodles (Oriental flavah), but I’d be more conscious that what I was eating was a crime against nature. Also, my ass would be significantly smaller, because mass-produced foods make people FAT. Cheap ground beef, from feedlot animals, means people can eat twice as much. And that’s why I believe poverty and obesity are so closely interlinked. When chicken is $5 a pound, I’m not going to eat as much as if it’s $2 a pound because it was factory-produced. Doy-hickey.
Sometimes junk food is what hits the spot. Sometimes I just want a friggin’ chili dog. And when mama wants something, but mama doesn’t want to feel like an asshole for eating it, mama makes it her OWN SELF out of a series of ingredients.
Spicy Beer Chili
1 lb ground, pastured beef (80/20)
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 (14 oz) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 bottle dark beer
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 poblano or anaheim chile, diced (more to taste)
4 T chili powder
1 T smoked paprika
1.5 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1 T ground cumin
1/2 t oregano (preferably mexican)
salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste
-Brown beef in a large, hot soup pot. When it’s brown, drain it and set it aside. -Put one T of the drippings back in the pot and sweat the onions, garlic, celery, and chiles. When the onions are mostly translucent (about 5 minutes), add the ground beef back to the pot.
-Stir in your chili powder, paprika, chocolate, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, and about 1 T salt. When the chocolate has melted, add the beer. Stir for one minute, then add the tomato products and the beans.
-Stir well, then simmer over medium-low heat for an hour, adding more beer or water as necessary to keep it from getting too thick. Check periodically to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom.
– After an hour, if there is too much liquid, simmer on medium heat until the mixture is slightly thickened (a good chili consistency).
-Taste and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne to achieve desired salt and heat levels.
This makes a shitload of chili, and it freezes well, as well as making great chili-cheese dip when mixed with a pound or so of fresh (organic!) sharp cheddar or jack.
To assemble your chili-dog, make or purchase some basic white buns. Shred some cheddar cheese, and warm some hot dogs in water (we use Coleman Natural, which are pastured and delicious, and don’t have ingredients like “Now with more anus!”)
The order is bun, hot dog, chili, and then cheese. Eat it up and think about how, with a few simple shopping choices, you’ve become a version of white trash that can be respected and admired, both within the white trash community, but also as good human beings!