Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Death of the Food Specialists?

Quick update on the Primal Challenge.
Diet wise I’ve been right on course eating plenty of vegetables, meats, and healthy fats. The only real snag here is I really got walloped by withdrawal symptoms of transitioning from burning glucose to burning ketones and really felt like only 2/3s of my brain was online during the day. My sleep sadly isn’t up to where it needs to be and that also has kept me from exercising because I’ve just been too tired. My hope is going into the weekend will allow me a bit more flexibility to fix my sleep schedule.

The Death of the Food Specialists ?
I’m someone who really likes to plan and strategize so when I decided to throw myself headlong into this Primal Challenge I started looking at ways to improve not just my dietary choices but also the quality of the ones I did make.  One biggie is the quality of the meat and fish I purchase – now by that I mean where is it from, how is it raised, and what did it subsist on?

In this country we’ve seen a massive consolidation of not just food shopping but all shopping. Unless you need something really specific all the weekly shopping can be knocked out in one trip to a Super Target or Walmart Supercenter. I remember for many years when my parents went shopping it was always to the grocery store then either Wal-Mart or Target and that was it. Then around the late 90s a Walmart Supercenter opened nearby and it turned into our one stop shop for potatoes to paper towels.
The unfortunate side effect of this consolidation is a real lack of specialization and personally I think this speeding up of the buying process has also hurt quality. If you want to buy a steak, first off the odds of it being pasture raised and grass fed is very unlikely, and rather than talking to a butcher you just grab a pre-wrapped steak out of the fridge case. I used Bing and Google to try to search for butcher shops in this area and sadly wasn’t able to find much of anything. Going back not even all the way to my grandparent’s time but early in my parent’s there was a lot more specialization – they went to butcher shops, fish markets, etc. Then Supermarkets kind of took over and the trade skills of butchers and fishmongers turned into dying arts. An equally scary statistic is that the average age of most farmers in the US is the late 50s and there just aren’t many new ones up and coming.
All this said it appears there are some regions, the Northeast comes to mind, who still appear to embrace the concept of the specialist. It would be interesting to see why that is, or am I mistaken? What is also interesting is I talk to people who live in Europe and other countries and they appear to have seen less of this consolidation, I am definitely curious why that is. Is it because they place a higher value on quality and that specialized experience that we do here in the US? It often seems like we Americans only care about cost and everything else is trivial to us.

I am going to keep up my search for a butcher in this area, I have been able to find farmer and fish markets here and there are meat markets which might be what I have to settle for in the end.
Do you patronize local food specialists like butchers, fish markets, and farmer’s markets? Why? It is harder to find these types of establishments now?

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