Well, You Know What They Say About Pink Slime…

5 Apr

What?  That it’s 100% natural?  That it’s all beef and utilizes parts of the animal that would otherwise go to waste?  OK, OK, I know I’m ripping off the corn syrup advocacy commercials, but I couldn’t help it.  Recently, the United States has been riveted by the news that we have been consuming this so called “pink slime”/finely textured beef in ground beef mixes for years, much to the dismay of many people.  Ewww!  It’s gross looking and pink!  So?  The reasons people are shying away from ground meat at the store now are all the wrong ones.  For years, I have been telling my parents we have to grind our own–but that’s for other reasons.  The real reasons why pink slime–and all other factory produced beef–is wrong.  The truth is, though, that if we could choose to raise beef and other animals humanely and feed them properly, we could actually feel good about using every last ounce of pink slime we could eek out of our animals: the practice, in theory, is just plain efficient and sustainable.

I guess this is one of those events some people will remember like the death of Michael Jackson or the verdict of the OJ Simpson trial: “where were you when they debunked the pink slime caper on the news?”, people will ask.  If anyone asks me, I will tell them I knew about the inner workings of commercially raised, butchered, and processed meats long before this slime’s red carpet debut.  This information has been available to the masses in books and documentaries such as “Food, Inc.” for a long time.  Why hasn’t anyone fussed until now?  I guess the pictures of this awkwardly extruded meat substance bothered people.  But why?

Let me straighten the situation out simply: using as much as we can from an animal–good.  Needing to spray the meat with ammonia because we fed it things that killed its digestive tract, leaving it susceptible to E. coli and other diseases and because we don’t keep the meat from every slaughtered animal separate–bad.

No one wants to hear that their meat is sprayed with ammonia.  But no one wants to die or know someone who died from E. coli either.  So we’re stuck, right?  Not really.  Research shows that feeding cattle their natural diet of grass allows them to fight off harmful diseases.  Feeding them corn disrupts this harmony in their gut, allowing the E. coli to fester and ultimately endanger us beef consumers.  Meanwhile, corn is a crop that is cheap for farmers/producers to feed their cows in order to bulk them up and get them all fatty and tasty–qualities we Americans demand.  Our government subsidizes the growth of corn, and many beef farmers find it cheaper and easier to feed it to their cattle than pasturing them on grass.

This modern way of producing beef is sort of something that mirrors the way people from my generation behave: we want things quick, easy, and convenient.  And lots of adults and older people shake their heads.  Well, all of us say it’s OK for the commercial beef farmers to take the easy way out and neglect to raise their cattle in healthy, natural, happy ways.  And it’s coming out in the meat.  E. coli incidence would be down on its own if cattle were pastured on grasses and herbs instead of corn, and that would reduce or eliminate the need to use ammonia on the beef!

Of course it’s more complicated than that–how can we be sure one animal won’t contaminate the rest of the beef in a slaughterhouse in the chance that grass feeding didn’t do away with disease altogether?  It would be neither practical nor economical to process each cow and not get any cross contamination whatsoever.  But we need to figure out something here!

So you see: factory beef is pretty wrong right now.  I’m digging buying beef or other meats from small farmers who raise their animals naturally on pastures and slaughter them humanely.  And I grind my own meat, so there’s never a question of ammonia being sprayed (which should not be an issue with the small farmers anyway).

The problem lies in the way we allow our beef and other meats to be manufactured.  Not pink slime.  I was just talking about this issue with a friend the other day, and I could not say it any better than she did: using every extractable part of an animal reduces the number of animals we need to kill to sustain our consumption.  If all this pink slime we get makes up a fair amount of our meat, we’re making it possible to slaughter fewer animals.  And that means it’s a more sustainable practice than the alternative.  So thanks to the gross-out factor, even McDonalds “stopped using it.”  What?  So we’re going to kill more animals and waste more of this source of energy now.  Awesome.

America.  Come on!  Don’t succumb to being treated like a bunch of idiots.  Corn fed beef raised in poor conditions and processed in such ways that we have to spray the meat with ammonia: bad.  Using every edible part of the animal: what do you think?  Think.  Think.  Don’t just accept what you’re told.  Think and make choices and force the meat production methods to change based on your educated decision.  We can do this.

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3 Responses to “Well, You Know What They Say About Pink Slime…”

  1. Bullshit and Blasphemy April 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    I totally agree, great post! I’ve switched to locally and humanely raised meat products and I’m never going back. Yeah, it’s expensive but no one should be eating meat every day anyway for the sake of their health and the environment. There are horrifying, nasty conditions at all of the major slaughterhouses and it’s surprising how much outrage there is about this. How did anyone not know this meat was full of nasty chemicals? Growth hormone, antibiotics, pesticides, and of course inedible cleaning products.

  2. Judy Loew April 5, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    Way to go Shaina!!!!

  3. Yosef July 4, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    On full utilization: we can make an extremely rich bio-char supplement from the skeleton, skin, hair etc. left over from the animal which contains a high amount of unbound calcium, phosphorous, and other minerals and metals which would remain in the soil and supply crops for hundreds of years.

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