Tag Archives: veggie burger

Field Roast might be the worst vegan food company ever, also known as The Mystery of the Fake Fake Meat Booth

19 May

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The Field Roast booth with the giant Field Roast sign.

2nd UPDATE: The person who ran this booth without Field Roast’s knowledge has responded in the comments under the name “Walter.”

UPDATE: The owner of Field Roast has responded to me with the following comment:

“Hi…this is the doofus owner of Field Roast.  It wasn’t a Field Roast booth and we had no idea that he was going to register as Field Roast.  Walter May has been selling Field Roast for years at World Fest….i’m sorry for the confusion.  We will certainly talk to Walter, we had no idea that he was registering the booth at Field Roast.  We have never met him but wish him well…as he is putting out the vegan food for all.  Peace – David.”

Frankly I find this to now be an even more shocking story. Someone registered this booth as Field Roast, it was listed on the WorldFest website as a Field Roast booth, it had a giant Field Roast sign on the booth, and they were selling stuff as Field Roast (for example: “Our corn dogs”) that weren’t actually Field Roast, and yet the owner of Field Roast wishes the mysterious Walter May well? A little research shows that this booth was also registered as Field Roast last year! Why would WorldFest allow this to happen? Could I have registered a booth as, let’s say, Odwalla, hung a giant Odwalla sign, and then sold a different company’s juices with signs that said “Our famous carrot juice” and this would have been fine with WorldFest? This is something the Attorney General’s office will need to look into, as well as the Department of Recreation and Parks. The vegan community has been scammed. I think I will find a class action lawyer to get involved.

ORIGINAL POST:

I was really excited. I looked at the website for WorldFest, which bills itself as “L.A.’s Largest Veg Festival” featuring a “Vegan Food Court” and I saw that Field Roast was going to be one of the exhibitors. I thought this might be a chance to try some of their foodservice items that aren’t available in stores. I was even hoping they might have the Field Roast burgers, which as far as I knew were only available at Safeco Field, the Mariners’ ballpark in Field Roast’s hometown of Seattle.

In fact, I was so excited about trying these items that I decided it was worth a pretty far drive, a $9 admission fee, and $5 to park. I tweeted @FieldRoast to see if they’d be selling their burgers but of course they didn’t respond since their social media is awful and they rarely respond to questions and comments. But I did see on their twitter that they were also at the National Restaurant Association show in Chicago today. That’s impressive, I thought, that they could handle two events in two different cities in one weekend.

Well, it turns out they can’t, or they didn’t, I’m not sure which. You see, @VeganEvents, which if you’re not following them on Twitter and you live in Southern California what are you waiting for?!, was nice enough to see my tweet and let me know that the Field Roast booth at Worldfest was selling corn dogs. Okay, I decided, they’re there and selling Field Roast items I can’t get in stores, so I’m going.

I drove out, paid to park, paid to get in, found the Field Roast booth with the big Field Roast sign, and waited on a long line to order.

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When I got to the front of the line I was really excited to see a whole bunch of items I’d never seen before. Meatball subs! Corn dogs! And yes, Veggie Burgers! Score! I didn’t know what to get so I was prepared to order a whole bunch of things. “I’ll take a meatball sub,” I said, when it was my turn to order. “And a corn dog! Oh, and a veggie burger, too! And I suppose I should get some fries to go with it all!” Man, was I psyched for a feast.

Then the thought occurred to me: are these the Field Roast veggie burgers from Safeco Field or the Field Roast coconut cutlets foodservice item I’d seen on their website. So I asked that question. “Uh…” the woman replied, they’re these,” at which point she picked up a bag and handed it to me: Gardenburger Flame Grilled veggie burgers, a frozen pack like the kind you’d get at Costco, full of hydrogenated oil and other garbage. The kind of stuff that’s not even allowed to be sold at Whole Foods because of the junk ingredients they contain. And yet here was Field Roast passing them off as their own, to unsuspecting customers who didn’t think to ask what they were buying.

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I was stunned. So of course I didn’t order one. I just got the meatball sub and the corn dog and the fries and paid. And I was overcharged by five dollars by the way, an error I only realized because the price seemed way too high, but I think this was probably just an honest mistake, and they corrected it. Anyway, while I was waiting, the thought occurred to me: Is it possible that these meatballs aren’t a Field Roast item? Now keep in mind, the Field Roast classic meatloaf is my favorite Field Roast item as well as my favorite vegan meatloaf, so I just assumed it was made of something like that. But now I decided to ask. “Excuse me, what are the meatballs in the meatball sub?” The woman was very nice and went and got the bag to show me. “Whole Foods 365 Meatless Meatballs.”

Meatballs

Are they kidding me? Look, I knew Field Roast was not the best-run company, because I’d spoken with the owner at the Natural Products Expo and frankly, I found the guy to be a total doofus, but I had no idea he was capable of something like this. So then I had to know more: “Uh, and that corn dog I ordered, is that Field Roast?” She didn’t know and couldn’t find a bag, so she went behind the tent and asked one of the guys cooking the food. He came out and told me he’d check and then returned to tell me they were Cedar Lake brand corn dogs. Okay, I’ve eaten Cedar Lake products before. You can get them at Viva La Vegan or at some of the Seventh Day Adventist stores, like the one I sometimes go to in Glendale. They’re pretty good actually. But they’re frozen food! And they’re NOT FIELD ROAST! (And note that the sign in the photo of the menu above says they are “our” corn dogs.)

So after asking some more questions it turned out that the only thing Field Roast at the entire Field Roast booth, of the six different items they were selling, was the sausage! How the hell was this a Field Roast booth at all? Which raises the question: Was it? It sure says clearly on the WorldFest website that it was. There sure was a big sign up at the booth saying that it was. And there was even this sign taped to the inside wall of the booth saying clearly that it was, with this name, whoever the hell that might be.

Inside sign

But was someone pulling a fast one on Field Roast? Or did Field Roast, in their endless idiocy, authorize someone to falsely sell other companies’ cheap frozen products as their own gourmet items? Because while I’m not a lawyer, I have to wonder if that counts as criminal fraud. In fact, I am going to write a letter to the California Attorney General’s office, as well as the state of Washington’s Attorney General’s office and the FDA, and submit my evidence and photos, and let them decide if Field Roast was victimizing the vegan community here, or was itself perhaps the victim of a fraud.

And I didn’t even get into the customer service, which was abysmal. Now look, I get it, it was a fair, with long lines, so I’m not going to dwell on it, but even by those standards what was going on at this booth was horrific. I waited half an hour for those french fries, only to watch them finally arrive, be put onto two separate plates, and given to two other customers who supposedly were waiting even longer than I was. And that was it, that was all the french fries that were made. But I, and about five or six other people, were also waiting for fries. Sorry, we were told, the fryer also has to be used for the corn dogs, so we can’t cook too many french fries at once. Really? You can only cook enough for two orders? After I waited 30 minutes for them? Well, how long till more come out? Twenty to thirty minutes, I was told. At which point I asked for my money back and was given it. And by the way, while I was waiting, there were several people waiting for all kinds of food that they hadn’t received, including some people who’d been waiting since before I ordered. And then they announced that they were out of meatballs, prompting people who’d been waiting for their meatball subs to react with anger. Like I said, a complete and utter disaster.

But lame service is one thing. Like I said, it’s a fair. But falsely passing off cheap supermarket items as their own gourmet products is another matter altogether. One for which Field Roast owes the vegan community an explanation. We’re waiting.

Farmer Boys: Victuals for Vegas-bound vegans in Victorville, and 24/7 in L.A.

18 Dec

Farmer Boys
726 S. Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA 90021
213.228.8999
(and throughout SoCal,
CentralCal, and Vegas)

Not Victorville.

Okay, I didn’t go to the Victorville location of Farmer Boys. Of which there are three. I went to the one in downtown Los Angeles. Not fancy loft in what once was a bank downtown — gritty truck-trafficked potholed downtown. Which isn’t all that far from the other one.

But the menus are the same in Victorville, and I thought it might be more useful to know that this option exists when you’re 15ing it to Vegas than to know there’s a fast food joint that awaits you with open vegan-friendly arms on Alameda.

And they’re not just on the road to Vegas, they’re all over the 99 to Yosemite too, though sadly not the dreaded 5 to San Fran. (cisco.)

My FAQ touches on the hold that fast food has on me. I’m not the only one, of course. Many other Americans patronize fast food even though they know it’s not good for them. Do they like the food? Do they like the convenience? Or like me, have associations been made with family, childhood and safety.

But there was no Farmers Boy when I was a kid. So what am I relating to? What still provides that feeling? Is it merely the concept? Vinyl and plastic booths, a big metal counter, some backlit signage, and ordering standing up?

The downtown Los Angeles location is open 24/7! (Or 7/24 if Eur from Europe.)

Pulling out of the fast food world may be the best thing that veganing has done for me. There’s no way the vegan crap I eat is crappier than the non-vegan crap I ate, right? (Please say right.) I actually hadn’t eaten much fast food for a good decade before going V last year. But once in a while I still did. And even though I hardly went any more, I often felt the pull, drawing me toward its location on the corner of Drive-thru Drive and Memory Lane.

But there are times when convenience is needed. When something/anything to eat is needed. Like that drive to Las Vegas. (Which btw I don’t do very often, because I don’t like Las Vegas —  because I don’t like cigarette smoke, odds stacked against me, or cowboy hats.) You probably know this, but the people in Las Vegas are Las Vegans. And sometimes even call themselves Vegans. And those Vegans do a pretty good job feeding us vegans, so I hear.

But let’s talk tofurky. Or at least veggie burgers. Because that’s what you can get at Farmer Boys. Or a veggie sandwich. That’s right. They’ve got two choices. Two on-the-menu choices that require but scant modification. No dressing on the veggie burger, and no cheese on the veggie sandwich. And swap out the wheat bread on the veggie sandwich for rye or sourdough, cuz the wheat’s got honey.

How do I know this? I called the Farmer Boys toll-free number and spoke to a friendly person who was eager to help. In fact, I didn’t feel a single eye-roll the entire time. And she even emailed me later to verify that the wheat bread had honey and that the veggie burger bun was egg, dairy and honey-free.

© Ansel Adams

Now to the basics. The veggie burger, which I photographed, and the veggie sandwich, which I did not (*sigh*), are pretty different. The veggie burger is the kind that’s a patty of stuff smooshed together. While smooshed might not be a verb that’s usually used to connote tastal satisfaction, in this case it’s doing just that. I much prefer this kind of big flat fall-apart patty to the kind of styrofoamy hockey puck veggie burger you’re often served when you dare to go meatless at a cathedral of meat. It came with iceberg lettuce, tomato, and onions, all of which seemed unusually fresh for a fast food joint, and there’s ketchup on the table to make up for the mandatory dressing removal. I combo’d it with some good hot fries and a Mug root beer. I can’t guarantee that all locations are Muggly since the menu on the website doesn’t show it, but for this caffeine-after-3-keeps-me-up-all-night loser, it was a sight for sore-if-I-had-Barq’s-the-day-before eyes.

The veggie sandwich, which comes on toast, has no burgery patty. But what it does have post-cheese is lettuce, tomato, mustard, pickles and avocado. (You can add avocado to the veggie burger, too, but it’ll cost you — $1.50 I think.)

And there’s calorie info on the website, too. The veggie burger weighs in at 581 (that’s some accurate lab they must use!) but that’s with the dressing, so I figure you’re saving at least a hundred calories by going ketchup or mustard or dry.  And the veggie sandwich says 398 but that’s with ewwy milk-of-another-animal cheese.

So there. Now you know about another fast food option. At least if you find yourself in SoCal, Central Cal, or Vegas Cal. If you’re in a different Cal, check out this great website if you don’t already know about it, which makes a pretty good effort to document what’s available to us eaters-of-the-future at the various fast food joints and other chains across this great American fastfoodjointandotherchainscape.

Oh. And if you liked this review, ring my bell.

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