Keeping it Simple on St. Patrick’s Day

One of the things I love most about St. Patrick’s Day is that it doesn’t take much planning – at least not in my family. What should we have for dinner? Corned beef and cabbage, maybe some potatoes. Should people bring beverages? Yes, beer. What should we do all day? Eat and talk politics.

Simplest holiday ever. But even simple meals require thoughtful preparation.

Non-GMO and Grass-Fed Beef

Beef is the centerpiece of this meal and thus deserves the most attention. If I’m going to be eating a simple, healthy meal, I want to make sure that the cow also had a simple, healthy meal. For that reason I look for Non-GMO Project Verified meats from companies that have met the rigors of the Non-GMO Project Standard to show that their cows are not eating GMOs. Unless an animal is grass-fed, the large majority of their feed contains high-risk GMO crops. (Genetically modified alfalfa, corn, cottonseed and soy are commonly used in animal feed.)

While it’s always nice to buy corned beef that is already cured, it’s not difficult to make on your own. Simply find a one to two-pound brisket and soak it in brine with spices of your choice for a few days. (Though the concept is simple, I recommend following a recipe, as it is very important to get the brine right.)

Non-GMO and Organic Beer

I like to have a lot of horseradish with my corned beef and cabbage, so I usually need a good beer to balance out the flavors. Unfortunately most popular beers are known to contain genetically modified ingredients. The mistaken notion is that you need to watch out for genetically modified wheat. While wheat is on the list of crops monitored for GMO contamination, genetically modified corn is the real culprit when it comes to beer.

Wolaver's Non-GMO Project Verified BeerLuckily, more breweries are getting their brews Verified to let you know their beer is non-GMO. If you’re located in the upper East Coast, you have access to Non-GMO Project Verified beers made by Peak Organic Brewing and Wolaver’s Fine Organic Ales. These frosty brews were made with organic grains and do not include genetically modified ingredients.

For the rest of us, the craft beer boom has given rise to a lot more organic breweries, many of which have regional and national distribution. For a list of great organic brews, check out this top 10 list from Food Republic. And, in keeping with the spirit of the occasion, cue up some Chieftains or Flogging Molly and offer up a traditional Irish toast.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig Oraibh!

(Ban-ick-tee na fay-lah pwad-rig or-iv)

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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