Some say that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but this time it was the eyes that caught my attention. I admit they were under those hazelnut-brown bangs, and my missus was beside me with her quirky science dude friend. And there was also grass involved in the situation.
I was in the capital of Finland, in Helsinki, and those eyes in front of this Jersey boy were not that common of a sight for most city dwellers. Certainly not in Rahway.
The creature I was staring at belonged to a family of Bos taurus. So yes, I was at Haltiala Farm in northern Helsinki, looking at a beautiful specimen of Highland longhorn cattle. And a note to my thirsty readers, there's also a watering hole for the Homo sapiens kind in the area, Haltialan Wanha Pehtoori, where you can replenish Karhu beer and other beverages into your digestive system. The place is a tourist attraction definitively, with sheep and horses and everything.
To many people, me included, the animal husbandry is a rather distant field of life, not even a side note. But maybe organic farming could be a way of bringing back the connection to the food we eat. Everything doesn't have to be ultra-processed and in a carton.
This science dude my missus knows has visited more farms than I have. I'm not saying he's a total hillbilly, but he does know a thing or two about cows and bulls, among other things. He suggested a couple of places I could visit if I wanted to buy some organic beef and know what I'm eating.
One place that popped into conversation was Huljalan Tupala, a Kyyttö cattle farm near the town of Lahti, and another was Bosgård farm, a Charolais cattle place near Porvoo.
Come to think of it, it's a shame that a typical hipster, much like myself with my single-speed bike, can easily name a dozen beer hops, but can't tell one cow or bull from another. After all, the quality of meat you eat has more to do with your dietary balance and health than the beer hop cultivars.
My missus is a wannabe vegan, so she doesn't like that I eat red meat. But why it's so often like that. Women actually require more than twice as much iron than men do, but often eat only half as much as men, or even less.
Everybody knows that heme iron, the type in animal products, gets absorbed better than plant derived iron or iron pills. My missus has heard that from me, from her doctor, and from her science dude friend. At Haltiala the friend even explained the porphyrin structures of heme molecules while drawing in the sand. He also talked about vitamin B12 and why I should know at least something about it.
The link was the legendary medical research laboratory down in Rahway. The chemical mastermind Karl Folkers discovered vitamin B12 back in the days at Merck in Rahway, New Jersey. The vitamin has a structure much like heme with four pyrrole rings, but instead of iron it contains cobalt. Hence the chemical name cobalamin. This vitamin occurs only in animal kingdom, like heme. It's needed for example in fatty acid oxidation, another reason why obese people should eat more beef. Obviously I wouldn't ever say that my missus is fat, I'm not snarly nor looney, but you can make your own ostensible assumptions.
So my final point is this: I need information. We say we live in an information society, but we are often deprived of the most basic information of food, namely cultivars and breeds. I wanna know if I'm eating Charolais, Kyyttö, Limousin, Braunvieh, Simmental or something else. The only cultivar information I now find is in potato sacks. Not only do I wanna know where's the beef, I wanna know what's the beef.