A few days ago, for reasons I don’t need to get into so as not to alienate even more people, AEJ and I joined the Austin food co-op, Wheatsville. By joining, we’re now “part owners” of this grocery store (probably 1/10,000th), and it means that there’s now more than one John Mackey in Austin who owns a grocery store. It also means that this John Mackey just became even a little more of a pinko commie.

Wheatsville is awesome. AWESOME, I tell you! It would never work as our only grocery store (they don’t sell Fritos or Barefoot Contessa cookie mix — and did I mention they don’t sell Fritos?), but when they stock what we’re looking for, the quality is great, and the prices are totally reasonable. Being a co-op, and being supportive of the whole environmentalist mindset, they buy from local farmers and suppliers as much as possible. We bought an onion that was organic and grown just a few miles from the store, and it was the nicest onion we’ve ever bought. I hate it when onions are all bruised and dented by the time they reach the grocery store, but if they’re just coming a few miles, they do much better. We also bought organic free range eggs, also raised on a fully sustainable farm here in Austin — 6 miles from the co-op. The chickens at this farm never see cages, and they only eat what grows in the field. The result is a crazy delicious egg, and it’s really not much more expensive than standard eggs, since they’re being sold by a non-profit co-op.

Not everything is locally raised, of course. Our best discovery at Wheatsville was the Niman Ranch Beef. This beef is raised on sustainable farms and the cows are given no antibiotics (unless they get sick), no hormones, grass fed, and, compared to most beef ranches, is relatively humane. (Reportedly, “Farmers are asked to accompany cattle to the slaughterhouse so that the animals are not unduly stressed, and cattle that appear to be under stress are pulled from line until they can be calmed.”) Hippy-dippy? Yes, but I’m all for it. I’m never going to stop eating meat (me man, me like meat), but I feel a little better knowing the cows are raised and slaughtered as humanely as possible.

So we had Niman Ranch beef, and we had this damn fine onion. We considered making the best sloppy joes ever, but opted to make burgers instead so we could really taste the meat.

We’re old school when we cook out. It’s charcoal all the way.

The coals are ready!

Yeah, that’s gonna be good.

AEJ caramelized the onion, following Ina Garten’s recipe. (Sherry wine vinegar! Who would have thought?)

This was the juiciest beef we’ve ever grilled. If I slid the patty even a little, the juices poured into the fire and nearly caused me to nearly lose my eyebrows.

The burger was soooo juicy, and tasted really beefy. It was an awesome dinner. (And no, not everything is homemade. Those fries are Ore-Ida “Fast Food” fries.)

And now, back to the co-op. There’s probably a petition or something we can sign there. Pinkos unite!


Kevin Howlett says

Them burgers look tasty, John. And it looks as though you can tell Other John Mackey that while you couldn't beat his prices, you finally beat his meat.

Will Mego says

Hardwood charcoal...no little compressed bricks of chemicals. Seriously. Hardwood charcoal. It just tastes better.

John says

Will - We have hardwood charcoal, too. I tried these briquettes because I was having a tough time getting the hardwood to stay lit, even with the chimney starter, but I had the same problem with the briquettes. (I think the charcoal, stored outside, might just get too damn or something.)
I do think the briquettes, once they're burning, burn hotter than the hardwood, but I do like the hardwood better.

David Norris says

John your photos are making me hunger and I do not even eat beef.
I use your photos on the website for my photo class.

George Hester says

John - those look amazing. I just grilled some burgers the other day and they were great... but didn't look as good as this. (love the onions, by the way) :) I use the ol' George Foreman grill, cuz we don't have any space for an outside grill here. I wish I had just a little patio to store one though.

Abby Rahn says

Those burgers look fantastic!
And I love that you're the only one who has anything nice to say about those Barefoot Contessa mixes on Amazon.

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