Olathe sweet corn, Palisade peaches, fresh oranges, Fireworks on the Fourth and Costco rotisserie chicken.
I grew up in Nebraska and thought we had pretty good sweet corn in August. Especially on Tuesday night Men’s Golf League in O’Neill, Neb., when a local, college-educated, young farmer friend brought in freshly picked sweet corn to go along with the post-golf league steaks. We gorged ourselves.
But you just cannot beat sweet corn from the Olathe, Colo., area. No, not Olathe, Kan.. I am sure they have good sweet corn, but there is something special about growing corn on the western slope of the Colorado Rockies.
They say it is the hot days, followed by cooler nights that force the sugar up into the kernels of corn, making them extra sticky and very sweet.
Same goes for the Palisade area peaches grown on the mountainsides of the western slopes. We put them on or in just about everything, from flank steak served on butter lettuce alongside the peaches and in our vodka tonics.
When I was growing up, we were not dirt poor, but neither were we comfortably “well off.” My Dad enjoyed providing simple pleasures for his family, even though they were expected and never, well, almost never, a surprise.
One of his treats to us was a case of fresh oranges shipped from Florida every Christmas season. For you youngsters, this was an era where the produce and fruit departments in small town grocery stores reflected growing seasons of major suppliers. No oranges or grapefruit in December in Nebraska.
Not only did we get a fresh orange every year in our stockings, but we squeezed them and a few more into freshly squeezed orange juice for a Christmas morning treat.
And the fireworks? Well, he ordered a box of assorted things that go boom and sparkle so we could light our own on the Fourth of July. The more cash he had, the bigger the box.
One year he was sitting on the picnic table, lighting sparklers for the littler kids from his cigar waiting for darkness to fall so we could proceed. One little sparkle lit in the big box and that was the surprise of all the Fourths put together. Two minutes to watch $50 dollars of boom and sparkle.
But the rotisserie chicken is where I need to go to get to the topic of food safety, etc.
A have a guy I golf with quite a bit. Charlie is his name and he is brilliant. He remembers every book he has ever read AND its author. He has led me to many a good read.
He was head of international sales for a major delivery service company and lived for several years in Hong Kong and Singapore. He is not your average food consumer who is often influenced by mass media, public media or coffee club and play date friends.
He asked why Costco rotisserie chickens were so big and juicy, asserting that they surely used steroids to pump up those breasts. I told him steroids were banned in poultry production. I assured him they did not use them. At least I thought I had assured him.
Last week I had a round of golf with a friend who has spent all his adult life in the animal protein industry, with several different companies in sales, one of which was JBS Swift, hence he used to live here and was back visiting old friends.
Charlie joined us.
Once he figured out this guy had been in the business a lot longer than I, he repeated his questioning of the possibility Costco was using steroids because his wife was refusing to eat that protein, insisting it was bad for their health.
Friend reiterated my position.
Charlie said maybe it was the antibiotics in the chicken. Friend said Costco had moved to antibiotic-free chicken.
So Charlie wanted to know why the chicken his wife bought at Store X was so small and dry then. Surely it was safer for us to eat.
We both replied almost in unison; they are both safe to eat if you just handle and cook them properly
Friend then explained that Store X only sold organically raised chicken, so animal husbandry issues were different, as were the ages of the broilers at slaughter.
My real point of today’s blog is that a “thing that I love” still has a lot of explaining and educating to do if it wants to sell to Joe Six Pack. Charlie is not a Joe Six Pack. Charlie is a smart man who simply does not trust animal ag to protect his health, even when his golfing partners assure him differently.
Or maybe it is his wife who needs the lecture.
But the point is they are still buying chicken from Store X, who maybe have a more widely spread marketing agenda that is easy for people to buy into and understand.
Oh yeah, before anybody criticizes my list, I also love Mom, God and apple pie.