Iâ€™m not so into the whole beef culture in America. When I was swimming in college I noticed that during longer meets like Nationals (5 day)or our conference meet (3 day), I would feel sluggish on days following red meat consumption. At the time I just stopped eating beef before competitions (a rule I still follow), but then I acquired a fear of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).
It happened when I was driving home from swim practice (I remember the practice, it was in Issaquah and I had just told my coach, Kyle, that I wanted to keep competing post-college and was thinking of buying a bike for triathlon) and listening to NPR. The interview was with a guy who had run a beef processing plant. He was talking about the methods used by big cattle companies, and how beef is processed. He basically said thereâ€™s not way to avoid BSE without completely removing beef from your diet. He went on to talk about how Organic and Grass Fed and the other forms of hippy beef are a safer bet but still not a safe bet. I went home and told my family not to include me in the dinner count if they were buying beef. This, justifiably, took some getting used to. For instance my dad decided to have beef for Christmas that year, which was one of three days I had been able to travel home from Hawaii. I didnâ€™t eat it, yelling ensued, my determination became apparent, the next time I was home we had ham.
I also took a lot of crap from my friends. Including my roommate/teammate/friend/occasional reader of this blog, Mark, who â€“ rumor has it â€“ no longer eats beef. Consider me a pioneer, a trend setter, a forward-thinker!
That lasted for about 2 and a half years. One night during a hard training cycle I had a dream about a juicy rare steak, and I decided that I should have my hormones checked because obviously I was having my first period. I ignored the dream and it started reoccurring until I eventually gave in and told my mom (who I was again living with) that I wanted steak for dinner. She went to this little butcher shop in Seattle, A&Jâ€™s on Queen Anne Hill, and bought me a 6oz steak that cost $20. She reasoned, â€œIf youâ€™re only going to eat red meet once in a while, you might as well eat the best quality beef you can find.â€ And Iâ€™ve tried to stick to that logic. I still get the dream during hard training cycles. Typically it happens after hard run workouts, but pretty much any training that really breaks me down. My body will fight back and ask for a nice natural does of zinc, magnesium, iron, and B-12. I find 6-8 ounces is plenty â€“ Iâ€™d rather have a small steak of superb quality than a 16 ounce heap of cholesterol and mad-cow from Outback.
As for hamburger â€“ grind it yourself or give it up. Call me paranoid, itâ€™s just not worth the risk.