A minor tragedy has befallen our weekend breakfast tradition.
As natives to the Cincinnati tristate area, we are almost expected to love goetta (pronounced GET-uh), which is a breakfast sausage made from pork, beef, pin head oats, and spices. Urban legend has it that goetta originated from the German settlers in Cincinnati who worked primarily in the pig slaughterhouses that the city was known for (hence the nickname ‘Porkopolis’). In retaliation against the new-wave of Irish settlers, the Germans would throw down pin oats on the slaughterhouse floor, mix it with the leftover bits of pork, scrape it all up and pack the concoction into a sausage roll, and sell it cheaply to the poor Irish immigrants. While it was totally disgusting and mean, the Irish immigrants loved it (without knowing how it was made, I’d assume). It’s rise in popularity dictated that the inventors stop shoveling it from the slaughterhouse floor and instead make it with quality pork fit for the general masses. It evolved into a traditional breakfast food specific to our area of Ohio/Indiana/Kentucky and continues to be very popular. We even have GoettaFest every August in Northern Kentucky.
On Saturdays, Justin and I enjoy making a breakfast of scrambled eggs, goetta, and coffee. Our local Kroger has been such a tease with not carrying goetta, then shelving it, then recently pulling it from the stock. So we are once again without and looking for a suitable alternative. This weekend, I bought the regular breakfast sausage roll but after cooking it, a puddle of fat was left in the pan. To me this is akin to venial sin- it won’t really stop me from eating it, but it’s disappointing. I grew up on a beef cattle farm and remember my mom boasting to customers on the phone that our cuts were very lean. People used to compliment us on the taste of our fresh beef and the fact that very little grease and fat was left over after browning. To this day, I can taste the difference between store-bought and fresh meats.
The taste isn’t the only difference – usually, the manner in which the animal is raised also varies. On our farm, cows roam in large pastures, eat the grain and hay grown on the adjacent field, and are slaughtered quickly and relatively painlessly. By contrast, commercial farms only consider the bottom line rather than the humane treatment of the cows, chickens, and pigs. If you have not seen the movie, Food, Inc., I really urge you to watch it and consider those living conditions next time you stop for a quick McDonald’s chicken sandwich or buy commercially-raised hamburger patties.
I’m not here to lecture anyone about buying meats from commercial farms- as exemplified above, I’m just as guilty as the next person. This is more of a PSA from someone who grew up on a small beef farm and was revolted by Food Inc. Awareness is key! As well as remembering that your dollar is your vote, and consumption results in continued demand for this style of farming.