As I entered the Meat department with my typical ‘I need to buy something, perhaps it can be meat, but what kind of meat?’ look on my face, I noticed something disturbing. In the open refrigerated meat case with other pre-sliced cold cuts I read the following: Pre-Sliced Roast Beef “ONLY $7.89 A POUND”. Okay, on the whole that wasn’t too disturbing (but I’m pretty sure a pound of gasoline still costs less than this). The thing that caught my eye was a circa-1970’s fluorescent orange sunburst sticker pasted on the front of the package featuring the words “NATURAL BEEF” in bold print. I know I’m not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree but, help me here, what would you make of this? Since when does a store label food, beef no less, as “Natural”? Did the cow only eat organically grown Cow Chow? Did the cow actually spend some time outside, actively participating in NATURE?
I want to know what makes this pre-sliced roast beef in the clear plastic caskets able to be labeled as, “Natural Beef”? What other labels could they be keeping behind the butcher’s counter? Do they have a supply of stickers describing the following ‘Beef’ types?
- Un-Natural Beef = Beef from a cow that ate nothing but the stuff men eat when their moms, wives, or girlfriends aren't around
- Primordial Beef = Really old beef. "It's not just aged -- it's petrified!"
- Super Natural Beef = Beef from a cow that had an uncanny ability to predict the future, but was tragically inept at avoiding its own demise
- Free Range Beef = Beef from a cow that 'got around'
- Chipped Beef = Beef I remember from numerous Boy Scout camping trips that consisted of white pasty goo with beef sporting an un-natural brick-red color. Also known as 'S.O.S.', but I'll say no more on this...
- Tipped Beef = Bruised beef from a cow located too close to a college almost anywhere in the U.S. (If you have to ask you didn't go to a real college...)
So the next time your mom, wife, or girlfriend asks you to go to the store, or you have a momentary lapse of reason and volunteer to run to the store for a few things; be prepared. Be calm and don’t let grocery store employees see the fear that inevitably steals into the part of the brain that controls the ‘fight or flight’ response. Repeat the following to yourself, ‘It is only a grocery store -- it’s only a grocery store. I made it through showers after high school gym class; I can make it through this.’
Next time you have to shop -- take command! Upon entering the store, walk boldly up the butcher in the Meat Department and ask him to direct you to the ‘Natural Beef’ section. If nothing else, you’ll appear to know what you’re doing – unless, of course your store only features regular ‘Beef’. At this point my friend, you are on your own.
Avert your eyes, turn away and leave the store quickly. And for goodness sake, don’t look at the Head Cheese in the deli counter – it has nothing to do with cheese; but everything to do with head.
And, um, you might want to find the 'Beer' aisle just so the trip isn't a complete waste...