Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mystery Meat, Veggie Style.

Maybe we didn't plan our Memorial Day around getting spicy black bean gardenburgers, fries and berry smoothies at Burgerville, but when my sister and I pulled up to the drive-thru and the crackly intercom voice told us that the burgers had been "pulled" from the menu, it's safe to say we were flummoxed. Later the 10'clock news mentioned that both Fred Meyer and Burgerville had recalled Gardenburgers from their stores. Then there was this post on the Oregonian blog, Oregonlive.com, which quoted a concerned (but also, apparently, clueless) Seattle-based FDA rep. who said he'd like to know what was wrong with the 'burgers. The post ended saying one could read more about it in the next day's Oregonian. That would've been May 24th. For all my advanced google-skills and sleuthing, I can't uncover any updates since the story broke (this seems to happen a lot in Portland news - the girl who was found floating in Laurelhurst Park, the sea lion massacre-turned-natural-disaster... stories that monopolize news time, and then fall off the face of the media earth). Does anyone know what the "abnormalities in the look and texture of the patties" that the Burgerville employees found turned out to be? I'm a bit queasy being in the dark about this...

The Case of the Allegedly Funky Gardenburger is interesting because of the greater corporate politics at work. Burgerville is a lovely local chain that does it right: buys local, encourages sustainability and composts in their kitchens (...doesn't just say "good enough" if a shipment of veggie burgers look amiss). Gardenburger used to be a lovely local hippie brand based in Hood River, OR. Now it's owned by Kellogg's, along with all these other veggie brands: Morningstar, Worthington, Loma Linda and Natural Touch (Boca Burger, in case you thought they escaped the corporate blob, is owned by Kraft). When you go to the Gardenburger website, which is cute as a button, and search "RECALL" you get nothing (ditto for the Kellogg's corporate site). Since Gardenburger's have flown the local business coup, maybe the pinch-hitter veggie burgers that are currently being served at Burgerville (from the local company Chez Gourmet, whose purpose, according to their website is "life and community") will become Burgerville's permanent source. Wouldn't that be a happy ending to this sordid little tale?

[Thanks to The ZehnKatzen Times for identifying Chez Gourmet as the new temp BV supplier]


4 comments:

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Returning the hat tip ... thank you, Eden.

As a native Oregonian, Burgerville is one of the things that I believe passionately in because of all the things you said. Yes, they do it right, and they do it every day, day in and day out.

Not a BV shill ... just a satisfied repeat customer.

Sarah said...

What kind of burger joint is this? I always assumed that any self-respecting fast food place would just pile on the ketchup in the face of "abnormalities."

Tai said...

Canela will be heading the campaign to bring back the amazing Black-Bean Burger. She hasn't been the same since it left the menu.

janet said...

So what ever did cause all the ruckus? Did you ever find out?