Jessica Serdikoff, store dietitian

BBQ season is upon us – one of America’s favorite past-times. Meal planning for guests, and within families, is no simple meat and potatoes thing anymore, with all the health and environmental concerns. Fortunately, Brookdale Shoprite has a quality meat department focused on superior selection, quality products and service.

In today’s world, there’s a lot of discussion surrounding meat related to health, environmental sustainability, and animal welfare.

Store dietitian Jessica Serdikoff acknowledges the health benefits of the plant-forward diet, but that it is not incompatible for people who need to meet protein needs through meat. Smaller portions of meat combined with salad or a plate full of veggies, or ground meat extenders such as spinach, mushroom, and avocado are some of her suggestions.

ShopRite carries an incredible selection of grass fed, humanely raised meat sourced from family farms. In addition, I was happy to see a full range of delicious meat alternatives available – most notably Beyond Burger and Beyond Sausage (whose recent IPO rocked Wall Street). “We try to accommodate all food preferences, and if we don’t have what you want, come see me. I will make my best attempt to get what our customers need,” says Jessica.

With endless grilling possibilities for both meat eaters and vegetarians, Jessica took this vegetarian on a walk through the aisles. “What people may not know is that we are set up as a traditional butcher shop. Tom Vonoczky, head butcher for 20 years, and his staff are on hand to advise on selection, trim, custom cut, and even grind burger meat fresh daily.”

On the shelves by the butcher, you’ll find a section clearly identified as “Grass Fed, No Antibiotics, Natural and Organic” which include many cuts of beef, lamb, pork, sausage, lamb and turkey. Bonus: many of these are humanely certified. Clayton’s Farm Grass Fed meat is raised humanely in Australia – exclusively for ShopRite. Applegate Organics feature humanely raised poultry and pork. Nature’s Reserve is all natural free range, minimally processed and livestock is raised in open pastures. Laura’s Beef, Empire Kosher, and Wholesome Pantry (store brand) labels state no hormones, antibiotics, only a vegetarian (no grain) diet.

Burger lovers are well catered to at ShopRite: Local purveyor of specialty meats Pat LaFrieda offerings include Italian sausage and their custom blend burger patties, competing with shelf space for deluxe patties from Schweid & Sons, and Wahlbugers – from the celebrity bros.

As far as protein packed meat alternatives, there are many in the freezer section, including some newcomers to the market: No Evil “Chorizo”, “pulled pork” and “beef patties”. Veggie Burgers of every persuasion abound – from beef, chicken and turkey to exotic bean and veggie blends. Good Seed’s “Paleo-Friendly, grain free wild mushroom cauliflower hempseed burgers” grabbed my interest and imagination. Beyond Burger, Bubba Burgers, and traditional burgers are displayed in a burger station with packs of fries. Lightlife, Franklin Farms, Amy’s, Morningstar, Boca, Gardein, Quorn, and signature label Wholesome Pantry all offer a wide range of grillable specialties.

This Father’s Day, and throughout your summer, grill to your heart’s content, and plan your all-access menu at Brookdale ShopRite.