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Grocery Confession Number One

April 25, 2013

First, if it’s before noon on Thursday and if you haven’t voted in the Times Union Best of the Capital Region poll, please click here to get the slate of FLB-endorsed local restaurants, and help us elevate some of our truly great but lesser known establishments.

Seriously. Today’s post can wait. And voting shouldn’t take you much more than five minutes. You are even allowed to skip all the categories that require you to write in an answer. So don’t worry if you are reading this on your phone. It will still be easy.

No excuses.

I don’t make excuses. I just confess my sins. It’s good for the soul, plus it’s a great way of expunging guilt. And I’ve got a lot of guilt. Amazingly, it seems to have been a while since I’ve written one of these confession posts. But today I’ve got a doozy. It’s about meat.

Really, I thought I turned a corner on this. Not too long ago I saw some conventional chicken on sale at Price Chopper and was horrified that some living thing that had to be raised from an egg, fed and cared for, slaughtered, processed, and shipped could be pennies per pound.

Because before then, despite some moderately strong ethical underpinnings, when meat went below a certain price threshold I couldn’t resist taking advantage of the bargain.

Old habits die hard.

Earlier this month I couldn’t say no to a $2.99 per pound leg of lamb from Price Chopper. But there were really two things that helped this purchase along. The first was that it seemed to be a one time opportunistic purchase by a market that is in an intense competitive battle on its home turf. The second was that the lamb hailed from Australia.

Okay, sure. Meat from Australia has higher shipping costs and a greater carbon footprint. But I also vaguely recall from the past something about all their meat being raised on grass. And I just couldn’t picture all these little lambs in a feedlot.

Our family does a lot to minimize our carbon footprint, so I’m not going to sweat one lamb leg.

And the meat was delicious. I made some into lamb steaks. The rest I braised in olive oil. I even rendered the fat and trimmings. Plus I made stock out of the roasted leg bone and drippings.

So this week I couldn’t say no to a $1.99 leg of Australian lamb from ShopRite.

But the significant drop of the already ridiculously low price on this cut of meat from around the world made me start to wonder. And I decided to check out some of my impossibly optimistic preconceptions about Australian lamb. Sure, I could believe the Australian lamb council. Why would they possibly want to mislead me into thinking their animals led anything less than a idyllic existence? Or I could give consideration to this crazy sounding person who insists that there has been a recent move in Australia to put sheep in feedlots.

I tell you, it’s not easy being a conscientious eater these days. Especially when lamb is so delicious. And one’s powers of imagination are so great, that it’s easy to convince oneself that the inexpensive supermarket lamb is probably fine.

Yeah. I’ve got my doubts. But I bought it anyway. Although maybe for the last time.

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Hey. Did you read this whole thing and still not vote in the TU poll? Check your watch. If it’s after noon on Thursday, you are in luck. But if it’s not quite noon yet, please click here to grab the slate. Then go vote. It should only take five minutes. You’ve already wasted more time than that reading about lamb. We’re in the 11th hour and could use every vote we can get. Thanks for your consideration.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2013 9:24 am

    Voting “Kurger Bing” for all categories is the only way to ensure a safe, democratic future for our children. Think of the children. Vote Kurger Bing!

  2. Michaeline permalink
    April 25, 2013 9:28 am

    No! I refuse! I am not going to participate in any more “Best Of’s.” Enough already! Once a year is plenty. Seems like every other week we have to vote on this. I’m taking a stand. I’ve cast my last vote.

  3. April 25, 2013 9:35 am

    I did my part. I just voted. Although, once we got beyond the food voting, making the right choice became more complex. For example: I truly love the quaintness and atmosphere of The Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza. Yet, I can’t deny the enjoyment of having a gazillion books right at my fingertips in Barnes and Noble, and their ability to special order a book and get it to me almost instantly.

    Although, what truly frustrated me (and will become the day long topic of discussion with friends) was that Wendy’s is in the lineup as an option for best burger. :(

    • April 25, 2013 9:42 am

      How could I have forgotten to mention this one:

      Category: “The Best Place in The Region to Gamble” And the choices were several OTB locations throughout the capital region.


      I wrote in my answer “That Warehouse on Railroad Ave. . . where the police had that crack down on illegal gambling a while back”

      • April 25, 2013 11:11 am

        I bet they had gambling in the place the police raided on Grand Ave in Saratoga… apparently everything else was going on there. That’s got my write-in vote. Profusser, what are you putting down for gambling? I didn’t see a pick on your slate?

  4. April 25, 2013 11:18 am

    About the lamb… when I was working with Bill Niman he told me you shouldn’t feel guilty about eating supermarket lamb because natural or not, they’re raised pretty much the same way… grass fed or on mother’s milk and pastured because there’s not another practical way to do it.

    As for the angst about importing lamb and the carbon footprint, there was a nice piece in the New Yorker some years ago which established it took a bigger carbon footprint to raise lamb in the UK than in NZ because so much more effort was required to grow the grass the lamb needed to eat. May be better in upstate NY, but it’s something to think about.

    The chicken, though, shame on you if you did buy that PC bird on sale. (I can’t tell from your writeup whether you did or didn’t.) Chickens are incredibly dumb (they don’t even know when they are dead, hence the expression “running around like a chicken with its head cut off”) but that’s not the problem. Cheap chicken tastes like fish.

  5. rabbidpc permalink
    April 25, 2013 11:20 am

    Kosher meat: Last night’s lamp chops were 11.99 a pound, grilled to perfection. The 80% ground beef is 6.49 in 3 lb lots. The chicken wings are 2.49 lb.

  6. April 25, 2013 12:12 pm

    Go with New Zealand lamb.

  7. April 25, 2013 1:07 pm

    It’s after noon on Wednesday, but the poll appears to be closed.

    • April 25, 2013 1:08 pm

      Crap, I don’t know what day it is. Sorry. The good people of the Capital Region probably shouldn’t be relying on my culinary judgements today, anyway.

  8. Stevo permalink
    April 25, 2013 3:13 pm

    First, I’m thankful that I am completely unencumbered by the concern of what my carbon footprint might be.

    Second, in honor of this post, I’m going to start my car and let it idle for 15 minutes in the driveway to emit some carbon. That will have the effect of also enriching an oil company. And that will make me feel good because I know I’m helping the hundreds of thousands of people they employ.

    Then, I’m going to go get some of that cheap yummy Australian lamb! And of course, I couldn’t eat that lamb if a big ship couldn’t ship it here. And we all know what those big ships run on.

    Ah, the circle of life.

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