Turkey Vultures, Commodities Markets, and Where’s the Beef?

Turkey Vulture flying in Miami, Florida, USA.
Turkey Vulture …..the Ugly Crow!

Last week, I was riding in the car with my husband and a friend, when all of as sudden a giant black bird landed on the road in front of us. My husband and my friend both asked, “what kind of bird is that?” I immediately responded, that it was a turkey vulture, but that turkey vultures aren’t really vultures, but are actually part of the crow family and the reason they don’t have feathers on their face and neck was because they eat carrion and if they did have feathers on their face and neck and carrion got stuck in their feathers….They both announced simultaneously, “that is too much information!” Dejected, I sat back in my seat and kept my mouth shut for the rest of the ride home, while they referred to me as Cliff, from the TV show, Cheers.

I enjoy learning and all kinds of fun facts or Cliff-Facts as my husband affectionately refers to them. Learning and understanding about the world around us, helps us make educated decisions. Which, is one of the reasons I love following the commodities markets. Being that I don’t buy or sell consumable goods or even own a restaurant, I still enjoy understanding why certain things are priced the way the are.

Last year, most of the United States suffered from a severe drought. Even the areas that were not directly affected by it, still felt the effects as farmers from all over the USA bought up all the hay that was being grown. Hay was at an all time high through out the end of 2012. As a result, farmers that had access to any sort of land began to grow hay in the most unusual places, which now helps me understand, why my family saw farmers harvesting grasses in the ditches on the sides of major highways as we drove through South Dakota last year.

This year, After pouring over the commodities reports and pairing it with the last two weeks head lining articles and both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press, about beef, I now understand why hamburgers in most restaurants in the Twin Cities are priced at an astronomical $14.99!

All of the meat prices are still at an all time high and are even up a few cents from last year. To my understanding, beef will continue to be high, because on average most beef cattle are butchered at 18 months of age. If that is true, then we still have another 18 months of recovery from last year’s drought. That being said, how about those chickens Burgers?

Chickens grow very fast and corn, chicken’s main source of feed, is at a 21 year low. I have many more thoughts on why corn is at an all time low, but I will save that for another column.

Well, hello chicken! Chickens mature at 7-10 weeks, making chicken a perfect next choice after beef. In fact, chicken burgers, if cooked right can be quite tasty. Granted, you cannot have a rare chicken burger, you can add things to chicken burgers to make them moist and tender. If you find that ground chicken is hard to find or just as expensive, you can substitute with turkey or beef. I have even made these with venison and they taste fabulous!

Chicken Burgers
Adapted from Kraft

Ingredients:
1 cup mayonnaise mixed with 1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground chicken
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 sandwich rolls or burger buns
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup romain lettuce, divided
4 tomato slices

For the burgers: Preheat a gas or charcoal grill or place a grill pan over medium-high heat. In a large bowl, add the ground chicken, 1/2 cup mayonnaise mixture, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 cup of the chives. Using clean hands, gently combine the ingredients and form the chicken mixture into 4 patties. Place the burgers on the grill and cook for about 7 minutes on each side. Transfer to paper towels and let rest for a few minutes.

Brush the cut side of each bun with the olive oil and 1 teaspoon of the remaining mayonnaise mixture. Grill for 1 to 2 minutes until slightly golden.

To assemble the burgers: Spread a dollop of the remaining mayonnaise mixture on the tops and bottoms of the toasted buns. Place the chicken burgers on the bottom halves of the buns. Top each with 1/4 cup of romaine lettuce, tomato slice and finish with the top half of the bun.

"Excuse me, is that Turkey Vulture still hanging around?"
“Excuse me, is that Turkey Vulture still hanging around?”
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