Here's the scoop: June 4, 2013

The thrill of the grill
It’s nearly (if you ignore last week’s below-freezing nights) summer, so that means it’s time for hot dogs. Or not dogs.

Actually, Not Dogs are a brand name for an a vegetarian hot dog made with organic tofu and other items not generally association with mouthwatering goodness. Maybe they taste great, but that’s for others to judge.

Of course, good old regular hot dogs generally don’t fall under the “health food” category. Quite the opposite, as they contain lots of nitrates that studies show are bad for us. I’m not sure what else goes into hot dogs, but I think puppy dog tails may be a primary ingredient. In fact, it’s possible that hot dogs are just puppy dog tails — minus the fur and with some yummy spices added.

So, I usually limit my hot dog consumption to my trips to major league ballgames. Since I don’t attend games all that often, my hot dog intake occurs every couple of years.
Until now.

My wife recently discovered some natural hot dogs from a local vendor. Same great taste (even better) and reportedly none of the “bad stuff” associated with the common variety. However, these hot dogs cost more — naturally.

In my book, it’s better to spend the extra money to buy food that’s good for us, because it’s cheaper in the long run.

Good and good for you!
With a pack of these “better for you” hot dogs on hand, we enjoyed these items for several meals in a now. Minus breakfast. I felt like I was making up for years of hot dog deprivation.

After my 11th meal in a row involving hot dogs, I began to realize what I like about this food. First, there’s the irresistible smell of this meat on the grill — close your eyes and you can almost hear bat meeting ball in the background. It’s a good thing.

Then — and this is really important to me — there’s the fact that eating utensils are not needed when devouring hot dogs. I’m not a fan of cutting food and I love anything I can eat with my hands, so hot dogs just make perfect sense for my dining style. An added bonus is that cooking hot dogs falls into my culinary skills level.

I was feeling pretty good about this whole natural hot dog discovery — until I researched a bit too much on the topic. It seems that there’s a scientific school of evidence suggesting that even “natural” hot dogs may contain enough nitrates (a very bad ingredient) to keep them in the “foods you probably should eat very infrequently (if ever)” category.

A story in The New York Times on the topic quoted the chief executive of an organic meat processor explaining his company’s decision to keep nitrates in its hot dog products.
“We tried the non-anything,” he said. “It just didn’t work for the customer.”
Apparently, America has no appetite for bad-tasting hot dogs that are good for you.
— Brian Sweeney