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Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Freeze it First!
The other day, I was sitting at dinner with a bunch of farmwives, most of whom grew up on a farm. We were discussing this blog post from Suzanne, and I admitted that I’ve never eaten a “farm fresh egg.”
For most of my life, I didn’t understand how an egg that hadn’t immediately been put into refrigeration could possibly be safe to eat. I knew that people did it, but honestly, the thought grossed me out. I was even MORE grossed out when I found out that the turkey load-out crew takes the eggs they find in our barn home to eat. I mean, seriously, who knows how long they’ve been sitting in the oat-hull bedding!
I think my apprehension over eating any extremely “fresh” animal products comes from the fact that I didn’t grow up on a farm. Even though I grew up in a rural area and had visited farms, I still hadn’t ever experienced real farm fresh food. And I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m guessing that many of my readers, whether they’re local or not, have the same (lack of) experience that I did.
I’ll never forget the first time Bart brought home “fresh” turkey for us. We were newlyweds, and he’d just spent a Saturday helping his dad. They took fat samples from his turkeys, just like we do with ours before they go to market, and the rest of the turkey was cleaned by Grandma O. When he arrived home that evening, I was doing dishes in the kitchen, and the conversation went something like this.
Bart: (holding up a large ziploc baggie with a gigantic turkey breast in it.) We had to take fat samples today so I brought home some turkey breast.
Katie: Okay. Put it in the freezer. (still washing dishes)
Bart: I thought maybe we could have it tonight for dinner.
Katie: (washing stops, turning around and making a disgusted face) Seriously? You just killed it today!
Katie: Nope. Can’t cook it tonight. I can’t eat it. It needs to be frozen first. It’s not dead enough.
Bart: (laughs) Katie, freezing keeps it from becoming more dead. Freezing it actually stops it from decaying. You know that, right?
Katie: I don’t care. It’s too fresh. Freeze it first. (returns to washing dishes.)
As the number of farmers decreases, and more and more people live in cities, there is a growing disconnect between where food comes from and where it’s eaten; between the people who grow it and the people who buy it. Fewer people have first-hand knowledge of farms and there are many myths and misconceptions circulating about. I’ve been on both sides of this divide, and now that I’m on the farmer side, I’m proud to work with other CommonGround volunteers to narrow that gap.
But I’m still not sure I’d eat a turkey egg from our barns!