Meat Counter Time Travel

I am the sole vegetarian in a house full of meat eaters. While I don't care for meat for several reasons for myself, I want my kids to make their own decision about eating meat when they are older. So there I was at the meat counter last night, waiting for my ground sirloin and staring at a case full of meat. Our market is known for it's great meat selection and even I was kind of in awe of all the different kinds of meat they had and just how fresh they looked. Then I wondered just how fresh it really was, so I asked. I kind of figured the teenager helping me wouldn't know, and he didn't. So he asked his superior, and she didn't know either. "Can you give me a ballpark figure? Like a few days? Or a few weeks? Months?" She said she had no idea. "No one has asked me that before," she said, like I was totally nuts for wondering.

She suggested I call the next day and talk to the butcher. So today I did just that. And guess what, he didn't know either. No idea. "Back in the days it could be weeks or months," he told me. But today? He didn't have the slightest idea. When I came home last night I searched online for the answer. You guessed it, I couldn't find it there either. What the heck do I have to Google to find out what I'm feeding my family?

I did find out that meat has to age before it is sold, this can take a week or two. That is about all I could find in my twenty minute search. And all I kept asking myself was, how did we become so disconnected from the food we eat? How can we put food into our bodies without the slightest idea of where it comes from? These questions actually started last year when I read The Omnivore's Dilemma, but they have been resurfacing a lot lately. And it isn't just meat.

I opened a package of strawberries today that boasted that they were from California. Hmm. California is really far. How long were these sitting on a truck? Who grew them? How different would they taste in California, right off the plant? Suddenly I was taken back 10 years: driving with my best friend through Pauma Valley, a little town about 40 miles inland from the coast in Northern San Diego. It was summer and we were driving with the windows down. We came around a bend and were enveloped with the smell of strawberries. There were a few small strawberry farms in the valley and my mouth watered as we drove though them. That is what strawberries are like in California. These packaged berries, sitting under these specially designed fluorescent lights, however sweet and ripe, have nothing on them.

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