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“Do you have any of the Boar’s Head Natural line?” My question was really rhetorical since I was standing at the deli counter of my local Stop & Shop staring at a giant banner touting the stuff.  The guy in the white coat and cute paper hat groaned. “Yes, we do, but it’s going to take a lot of work.”

I watched the guy grumbling and groaning as he looked around for sanitizer and cloths, cleaned the slicer, and then peeled off his gloves, washed his hands, and donned a new pair before breaking out my roast beef. “I might as well be doing surgery,” he complained. “According to the directions we’ve got to be super-careful when slicing this stuff so that we don’t contaminate it.”

His co-worker, a pretty girl, told him to stop his whining, but when I gave her what I’d call an inquisitive look she confirmed what he was saying: There are different procedures for slicing Boar’s Head All Natural. I have a problem with that on several levels.

First off, it is sort of worrisome that, if people aren’t vigilant, I might be serving myself a case of botulism or listeria on my next sandwich. I am really, really weirded out by the idea that my deli guy was afraid to contaminate the All Natural stuff. Yes, I knew it was different in that it doesn’t have preservatives. Heck, the first time I bought it the guy warned me that it “doesn’t keep as long as regular deli meats.” However, I don’t want to think that by trying to do something good — buying healthy, more natural deli food — I am actually doing something really bad.

My other big issue is the idea that in showing how careful they were with my Boar’s Head Natural meat, they were inadvertently telling me that they are not as careful with other deli meats and cheeses. I mean, he cleaned and sanitized the slicer, washed his hands with special soap, and put on fresh gloves. You’d think that they would do some of the above whenever they cut any deli meats. But unfortunately, I know that just isn’t the case.

And now I’m faced with another what-to-do decision. Do I keep buying the Natural line and hope that the folks behind the counter are following the special rules or do I skip deli meat all together? Or maybe (just for me and not for my girls) I should just go back to the preservative-laden version? What to do, what to do? I guess the last option is buy [insert meat here], cook it, and slice it fresh here in my house when I want a French dip or a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. What would you do?

This post is how I am participating this week in Real Food Wednesdays and Fight Back Fridays — two awesome campaigns to get people eating real food again.

2 Responses to “Slicing Deli Meat or Doing Surgery?”

  1. Rebekah says:

    I skip the deli meats completely. :) They are always expensive– buying a beef roast or boneless chicken breast is much cheaper. Poached chicken is super easy, and I often turn to that for sandwiches.

  2. Shari G says:

    I think that there is a risk no matter where you buy your deli meats which is why I only go to select trusted places. If you are concerned why not buy the pre-packaged natural ones at Trader Joes. They are great because since they are sealed they can last for a few weeks before you open them, which means fewer trips to the store. Even better, roast a turkey breast and slice it up. I did that when I was pregnant with my first.

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