Bad and Good Food News

I experienced a dichotomy in the food world in the past week that I can't resist sharing. Not often do I use this blog to get on my foodie political soap box, today I mus. Last week while driving from the El Paso airport to my nephew's wedding in Las Cruces, New Mexico, I had the extreme displeasure of passing by an enormous CAFO. For those of you not familiar with the term, it stands for "concentrated animal feeding operation" and there were hundreds if not thousands of head of cattle lined up in rows with their heads wedged through the steel railing restraints hooked up to the feed troughs presumably being fed all the wrong things. Corn is not naturally in their diet - and it's what gives them gas and creates the huge methane problems. Since they aren't eating the right diet, they also need antibiotics to keep them from getting sick. This type of operation produces cheap meat - but it's not healthy meat, and it's certainly not a humane way to raise cattle.

It's important to understand where our food comes from. Sun Prairie All Natural Beef and alot more ranchers are raising fabulous grass-fed beef in humane ways as nature intended right here in Colorado. I hope you'll give them a try!

Which brings me to the good news in the food world: the opening of the new Southglenn Whole Foods store! I was invited to participate in a media tour of the store yesterday, and even if they didn't soften me up by feeding me samples of their in house dry aged beef (check out their new relationship with the Arapahoe Indian ranch for selling grass-fed beef in the store), I'd be singing their praises. They are a store committed to the food values I believe in.
The bakery was in full swing and like many of the other stations will feature the chefs, butchers, or whomever up front doing their work where customers can fully see the process.
Whole Foods is a bit unique in their quest to develop relationships with local producers. The new store will feature about 1800 local products, many with companies to whom they have provided small business loans. A great example of where those partnerships can lead is the new Chile Jack cheese by Haystack Mountain that is an exclusive product developed just for Whole Foods.
In fact, the cheese department will blow you away - like many of the other stores - and we had fun sampling a bunch of things, including their new Parmigiano crisps made from authentic Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Which brings up a good point - the store team lead made a point of saying that customers can always sample a product before buying it, whether it's produce, meat, cheese, or a packaged product. All you need to do is ask!
The prepared foods (of which I'm not usually a fan because I like to cook my own food, but I know is important to many of you) is impressive. they have four stations: burritos, sandwiches, Asian stir fry (the first of it's kind), and pizza. That's, of course, in addition to the large display cases of hot and cold ready to eat foods.
Just beyond the pizza is the new gelato bar - again a partnership with a small, artisinal producer - and I urge you to try their riff on a butter pecan made with pine nuts. Mmmmmmm......
The store is also on the cutting edge with it's environmental design, including the use of pine from beetle killed trees for the produce shelving, LED lighting throughout, and a bevy of energy savers. I know those things are high on the priority list for many of you.
Hosea, winner of Bravo's Top Chef this past year, will be there on June 27th for a special event. But I'm sure you won't want to wait that long to check out the new store!

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