Independence Day is a time to celebrate the things that make our country great like liberty, diversity and, apparently, hamburgers. An average American eats three burgers a week and on the 4th of July, Americans are 117% more likely to go for a hamburger than on an average day. That’s a lot of meat. If you’re into burgers, beef is probably your first choice, but it’s not the only one. Whether you want a more earth-friendly option, you’re looking for something leaner or you’re just into trying something different, we can help.
I’ve eaten a lot of foods in my life and I can only think of one that I absolutely refuse to eat again. (It’s cottage cheese. Have you seen cottage cheese? Or smelled it or tasted it? I don’t even like to be in the same room as it. It’s not right.) I think the reason why I’ve had such success with liking new or atypical foods is the way they were presented to me as a child: my parents would just feed them to my brother and me and then later casually mention that we had eaten deer or frog or raw fish, so we weren’t horrified by the thought until we had already realized that those things were so delicious it didn’t matter what they were. I decided to try this approach on my co-workers and various other members of the Co-op crowd with burgers some may consider non-traditional. The following is a summary of what our Meat and Seafood Manager Jon cooked up for us and how people reacted.
Our Durham Ranch ground elk comes in frozen 1-lb. packages. It’s minimally processed, sustainably raised, has no added hormones and comes from animals fed a 100% vegetarian diet. A 4-oz. portion has 25 grams of protein and 15% of your recommended daily allowance of iron.
“That’s elk? Seriously? That’s not elk.”
“That tastes just like a regular burger.”
“Oh wow, that’s really good.”
“This is even less gamey than other elk I’ve had. It’s like… fresh. Like someone just went up a mountain and shot it and cooked it over a fire.”
“I thought this was beef! I might like it even better.
While elk seems to have a flavor and texture similar to beef, boar is described as having a uniquely strong, nutty and rich flavor. Our ground wild boar is also from Durham Ranch and comes from Texas. Since it’s actual feral swine, their diet varies, but it’s made mostly of brush and acorns. One serving has 4 grams of fat and 24 grams of protein.
“It’s delicious. It’s very juicy!”
“Well, that is delightful.”
“That’s realllllly good.”
“It’s boar? Oh yeah, it seems like boar. It tastes just like pig.”
“Boar? Really? It’s so good, I’m not even mad about it”
We offer local ground bison from KY Bison Co. at Woodland Farm in Glasgow. The company is committed to sustainability and allows their animals to graze in open pastures. Their meat is “rich in protein, high in iron and lower in fat and cholesterol than skinless chicken and turkey.”
“It’s good! I like it!”
“I think it’s delicious.”
“Is it sausage? It seems sausagy to me.”
“It’s good. It’s meaty.”
“You don’t like this? Really? Y’all are crazy. This is awesome.”
Not into ground meat? Not a problem. We tried two bonus “meats” that may fit in better with different diets or flavor preferences.
Shuckman’s Fish Company has been operating for nearly a hundred years in nearby Louisville. One of their specialties is their salmon Italian sausage. It has less saturated fat and more essential fatty acids than their pork or beef counterparts.
“That’s really good.”
“I like sausage and I like salmon. This is good.”
“That’s quite good.”
“I didn’t want to eat it, but I kind of want to eat all of it.”
“Ooh. Yeah. Yes”
These are actually vegan and claim to be “the revolutionary plant-based burger that looks, cooks and satisfies like beef.” Each patty has 20 grams of plant protein, is soy- and gluten-free and has no GMOs.
“Oh [expletive]! That’s good!”
“I kind of like this better than a real hamburger.”
“Are you sure this isn’t meat?”
“Why are other fake meats so gross when this one is so good?”
No matter how you feel about a classic beef burger, with so many amazing and easily-accessible options, it seems like a waste to not at least try something else every once in a while. After all, as the late, great Anthony Bourdain once said, “…without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, moribund.”