I read a truly outrageous statement on the Food page of the Huffington Post today, and it is all the more offensive because the person who said it represents a state of mind that is literally making millions of Americans sick.
In an excellent article by Joe Satran, called The Real Reason Fast Food Chains are Going Healthy, quotes a spokesman from a research marketing firm called Technomic, which I give here in context:
"Darren Tristiano of market research firm Technomic noted that only a quarter of all Americans say they ever order off a healthy menu. He added that, in most markets, only 1 to 2 percent of all burger orders are veggie, and fried chicken dishes generally outsell comparable grilled chicken dishes nine to one. 'The consumer is always going to gravitate towards flavor -- and that's never going to be healthier,' Tristiano said."
Well, he ain't never been wronger, as my brother once said to me on another subject (and he was referring to me, by the way). Tristiano may be a nice man, but he is so miserably uninformed that he is dangerous to you and your children. He will continue to tell this untruth to his clients for who-knows-how-long, influencing them to avoid healthy menus and, by extension, to disregard healthy food in the supermarket in favor of easier prepared foods. That is going to make our children fat and give their parents diabetes.
Tristiano has received his information about food from industry spokesmen, probably, or from some other source that was fact-free, and here's why: if you want food that tastes good, simply tastes good, what you need is the healthy food that a lot of older Americans like me grew up on.
I remember a famous feminist, Germaine Greer I think it was, who was originally from Australia, where meat is particularly good. She was quite put off by the hormone-laced meat of the Sixties and Seventies, and she described a "tenderized" steak that she had in New York thus: "That steak tasted like a block of mucus."
Not very appetizing, eh? Has improvement come about in American meat, in the food industry in general, do you think? Not really! The kind of meat that is being produced in America by the food industry may have fewer hormones in it (or not), but inhumane treatment of the beef cattle results in illness, and now your beef may be laced with antibiotics, which in turn are making Americans' immune systems less resistant to the super-bacteria that are emerging as part of the cycle of mutation due to over-treatment.
Now Americans are beginning to worry about whether their beef is in fact beef, rather than horsemeat (at least, some of them are worried about it). And what has been the response of the food industry to this? Just today on the HP Food page there was an article, accompanied by a repulsive photograph, telling us that the horsemeat slaughterhouses are getting ready for their anticipated influx of customers. Great! If you are not in the habit of reading labels, I would get into that habit if I were you.
I have written about the predominant flavors of salt and sugar in prepared food--if they have flavor at all. Good luck trying to find a brownie mix that actually tastes like chocolate--they now tend to include a few chocolate chips to stir in so that the salt flavor of the mix itself is masked. And then you could always turn the package around and check out the list of chemical ingredients that are in there along with flour, salt, sugar, cocoa and shortening.
So you'd like to find a steak that won't cook up like a block of mucus? Well, if you live in Tucson you can find one at Sprouts in their organic, clean meat selection. Then you want to have a grilling pan in your kitchen.
Of course outdoors grilling is coming right up, especially in the delightfully-early spring in the Southwest. Tucsonans are already out there grillin', but if you don't want to make a super production of it you can always stop by Kmart, where I got my grill pan, and pick up one for yourself--though they are found in most stores that feature good cooking tools.
My grilling pan is twelve inches across and is made of pure stainless steel with a "pancake" bottom composed of copper and aluminum that boosts heat retention. To make it a grilling pan, the inside is composed of ridges that make limited contact with the meat, providing the grill marks so dear to the hearts of outdoor cooks. Last week I dazzled my husband by grilling some salmon that we bought at Costco near Interstate 10, grill marks and all.
Costco has large side slabs of salmon and from them we got six salmon steaks that we grilled two by two for a few days. They could also have been frozen and stored, of course. And of course a couple of steaks from Sprouts will grill up just as nicely.
What you do is set your stove burner on high heat and get your grill pan quite hot. Prepare it with nonstick cooking spray if you like, but if the heat is high enough it will sear in the grill lines and not stick. Season your steaks with salt and pepper just an instant before you are ready to cook. Either way, when that baby is nice and hot you lay the steaks in and grill them once on each side, for the number of minutes required for your degree of doneness.
Most chefs advise us not to turn meat frequently when grilling, because juices will be lost. In the case of a grill pan, you don't want to start making ugly conflicting grill marks by frequent turning--or no marks at all if you turn it too often.
Once your steaks are done, salt and pepper them once more and serve. It doesn't get simpler--or better--than that. If you don't believe me about the clean meat in health-food stores, at least do yourself the favor of looking at the label to find things like "grain fed" or "grass fed" beef. You can also find assurance that the meat is hormone and antibiotic-free if you insist (I do). Some people swear by bison, which is said to be leaner than beef. There are also some brands that are marketed by beef producers who take particular pride in their tasty, clean meat. Just read your labels, get out your grill pan and take it from there.