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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Farmers' Market Share: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Posted By on Wed, Jan 6, 2010 at 3:15 PM

So hopefully the omnivores in the audience haven't given up on me yet. I know I burst onto the Gut Check scene in 2009 promising to explore the full spectrum of local foods, yet I've barely glanced at foods with faces.

To the patient among you, rejoice!

click to enlarge ALISSA NELSON
  • Alissa Nelson
The reason for the absence of meat in this column is twofold: First, it's basically seasonless. Most of the local farmers have their wares frozen before hitting the market, so I have yet to notice a difference in what they're selling from month to month. Second, I was a vegetarian for a decade (nearly to the month), so it's been tough for me to expand my repertoire in my mere four years back on the dark side. Besides, vegetables are really just so damn good.

Once I started eating meat, I binged a little on the few dishes that I'd missed, but I quickly came to the realization that most of the time it just wasn't worth it to me to eat meat. The times it was actually worth it? When I could get high-quality meat. My tastes steered me toward grass-fed varieties since I find those the most flavorful. I've heard some folks complain about the gaminess of grass-fed meat, but since I'd gone so long without, I didn't know the difference.

Thankfully, we have plenty of antibiotic-free, naturally raised meats in the St. Louis area, from lamb to pork to beef to bison (and supposedly goat, if you can get your hands on it). It's not horrifically expensive, and I just feel better about having the option of driving out to the farms to see how my food is raised. In fact, I'm hoping for some field trips this summer.

I found this recipe a few months back. First, I need to confess that I knew nothing of Ina Garten prior to some awesome chocolate-orange cake at a party, so all I knew was that she was a former nuclear-weapons analyst for the Johnson administration. I have dreams of being fabulously successful in multiple fields, so she is basically living the dream -- my dream, anyway. But apparently she is also the Barefoot Contessa? And kind of annoying? I wouldn't know, but I will say that she makes one tasty meatball.

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