This is part one of a four-part series, which explores the passion people have for meat. Considered a hero by some and a villain by others, meat has a unique ability to unite people around a common interest, both positive and negative. We will look at these varied interests and provide readers with tips on how to have meaningful conversations regardless of what side of the issue they are on.
Meat lovers. Meat-centric advocates celebrate the taste and enjoyment that comes from the bounty food animals provide. From award-winning competition barbecue teams to artisanal chefs featuring whole animal service at fine restaurants, enthusiasts do not shy away from sharing their passion with others, and they can be found in all corners of the country.
Consider that bacon is among the hottest items of the past decade. Bacon as an ingredient is in everything from ice cream to scratch-and-sniff lottery tickets. Chicken is ubiquitous on America’s dinner tables and is the most consumed meat in the United States. Beef is still celebrated, with barbecue, steakhouses and hamburger concepts dominating the foodservice landscape.
Who are these advocates? Some are obvious. Restaurant chains such as Arby’s with its “We have the meats” campaign, exemplify how meat is being used as a point of differentiation to lure customers. Pizza Hut recently debuted a bacon-stuffed pizza crust. These efforts tend to highlight meat as the center of the plate. Home cooks are experimenting with a broader variety of meat cuts, and chefs are inspiring innovative ways to use these proteins.
However, growing interest by consumers in understanding how food is grown and produced is drawing farming practices into the conversation. This shift in dialogue has certainly inspired lesser-known enthusiasts and propelled other innovative ideas. Zingerman’s, a specialty foods company, hosts Camp Bacon®, where attendees can “talk, taste and toast the terrific flavors and cultural iconography of all things bacon-related,” according to the website. Frontier in Chicago pays tribute to early American settlers and features whole animal service to give customers a unique culinary experience. Every summer, backyard grill enthusiasts fire up their grills (and smokers) in a time-honored tradition celebrating the outdoors.
There is much to be learned from these meat lovers. Share your passion for what you do. Celebrate the food you help produce and tell the story behind your livelihood. While not everyone may share this same passion, they can appreciate the care and concern you bring to your job every day.
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