These included cattle (mostly Black Angus and polled, or hornless, Hereford), swine (mostly Hampshire and Yorkshire breeds that we just called “hawgs”), and poultry (mostly Rhode Island Red chickens, but also a few turkeys). Most all of these were raised for sale at auction. But some were for personal consumption.
I still have vivid memories of my father, grandfather, and two uncles butchering a steer each spring, to be divided equally among our families over the summer. The same was true for four hogs in the fall of each year in anticipation of winter. In short, we always had meat to eat. So much so that the phrase “Unless it has piece of meat, a meal will never be complete!” was not just a saying, but a way of life.
Fast forward a few years to when I first started dating my wife, whose parents had been raised in east Tennessee, and who grew up on a diet consisting largely of “pinto beans, fried tators, and cornbread”, but little meat. When I came over for Sunday dinner, my wife’s mother would prepare a couple of hot dogs for me to eat with my meal, just so I could have my portion of meat.
Consequently, when around this time, a certain hamburger chain scored big with its nationwide “Where’s the Beef?!” advertising campaign, I had the answer. It was in our freezer at the farm where I grew up. We had the beef!
Of course, in that day, with a freezer full of home-grown beef, we hardly ever ate hamburgers from fast food franchises. Not so today. While gardening is currently purported to be all the rage among millennials, statistics still indicate that only a small percentage of our society actually grows and processes its own food. This is no doubt due to our increasingly urbanized culture. Nowadays, the more metropolitan the setting, the less likely its residents are to produce their own food.
These things and others have all been on my mind during the recent coronavirus pandemic. Arguments rage over whether the virus has passed, has yet to peak, and/or will return with an even more devastating second wave. I do not know which is true.
But, even if it is now behind us, the one thing the coronavirus did is to illustrate to us how fragile our supply chain can be. No one foresaw the toilet tissue shortage that started it all. This was followed by a scarcity of hand sanitizers, as well as masks of most any kind. And now, we are being told that there is a nationwide meat shortage.
The shortage has become so acute that the same hamburger franchise mentioned above has once again left people asking a familiar question. According to a recent article over at Fox Business news, “Wendy's Customers Ask 'Where's The Beef?' As Restaurants Remove Menu Items”.
It seems that Wendy's, which is known for its claim of fresh, never-frozen beef, is taking burgers off the menu in some locations as the U.S. deals with a meat shortage traced back to the coronavirus. Wendy's officials gave the following statement to FOX Business News:
"As you've likely heard, beef suppliers across North America are currently facing production challenges. Because of this, some of our menu items may be in short supply from time to time at some restaurants in this current environment."
The article also reported that some social media users said the Wendy's locations they visited only allowed them to order single-patty burgers. For now, it seems, double and triple burgers are off the menu. Apparently, there’s just not enough beef!
In fairness, Wendy’s is not alone here. Costco, Kroger, and other major grocery store chains are rationing the amount of meat customers can buy at any one time as processing at U.S. meat plants has slowed down or stopped completely. Even Wendy’s chief competition, McDonald’s, has recently had to change its menu selection due to a shortage of burger meat.
These days, I no longer live on a farm, and no longer process my own meat. But given that my sons are both chips off the ol’ block, and, like me, are “hardcore carnivores”, we have now talked about splitting a side of beef and filling up our respective freezers. When we do, I will once again have the answer to the question: “Where’s the beef?!”
But while I may not yet have a freezer full of meat, neither am I expected to. That’s because I do not promise to provide a product that consists of “two all-beef patties, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun”. Nor do I assert that my competitor has an inferior product by asking “Where’s the beef?!”
Most of all, unlike the slogan currently put forth by yet another fast food franchise, I do not boldly assert that “I have the meat!” If I did any of these things, it would be of crucial importance for me to make certain that I did indeed have the meat!
But as a follower of Jesus Christ, I do make other assertions. I do claim to have peace, joy, and love! As well as faith and hope! And if I do claim to have these things, is it not crucial that I make them readily visible and accessible to others who might desire to sample them?! Indeed, it is!
The Apostle Paul tells us that all who follow Jesus Christ will exhibit certain fruits of the Spirit. In the New Testament Letter to the Galatians (chapter 5, verses 22,23, and 25), he writes: “The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”
In light of this, as a born again follower of Jesus Christ in whom the Holy Spirit of God now dwells, I hope no one ever looks at my life and says: “Where’s the fruit?!”