On New Year’s Day morning, I wanted to make our breakfast special, so I pulled out the frozen package of pastured bacon I’d gotten in December at the Sassy Pea Market. Little did I know I was in for a surprise. Instead of the thin-sliced, salty, deliciousness I was accustomed to buying a the grocery store, I opened the defrosted package to find thick, bloody, not-very-salty meat — meat more akin to a pork chop than any bacon I’d ever had.
For someone more accustomed to the supermarket variety, the mini-pools of blood were a little off-putting. Had I made a mistake buying this?
One of the consequences, or perhaps the antecedents, of the food “movement” — the movement away from industrial farming and toward less processed food — is a romanticized view of the farmer, farm life, and its products. Hearing about about pastured pork, grass-fed beef, free-range eggs, pastured poultry, etc. it’s easy to imagine perfect, rich tasting, guilt-free versions of the items we’re accustomed to. This carries over to the things we make with these ingredients. I think my homemade yogurt should be as good or better than the store-bought version. My from-scratch bread should be sliceable and make fabulous sandwiches.
In fact, as we know, organic produce is sometimes funny looking. Free range eggs are often dirty and of non-uniform sizes. I have to admit that, growing up with Mrs. Butterworths, or the like, I find real maple syrup to be a bit strongly flavored. I’m not sure what I think of the taste of grass-fed beef, given I’ve grown accustomed to the taste of the corn-finished version. (Meanwhile, my kids don’t much like my yogurt, and prefer pre-sliced store-bought bread for their sandwiches.)
There’s nothing wrong with these differences, of course. They just take some getting used to, and, with time, I’m sure we can find these more ecologically-sustainable products just as delectable as the ones we grew up with. In some cases, it may mean learning new ways to prepare things and shifting our expectations.
That bacon? It turned out to be delicious, though completely different in taste and texture from the usual fare. We even used it to season a vegetable-rich split pea soup later in the day.