Pink slime isn’t the only gross thing we’re eating.

I’m sure you’ve heard of pink slime by now. There’s not a media source out there that hasn’t capitalized on this moniker, souring our appetites with images of goopy, pink meat. I try not buy into fear mongering trends, but I do try to understand them. Pink slime is the name that has been given to a meat, that on the surface actually seems like the green movement should be happy about. So here’s the scoop.

It used to be that only certain part of the cow were allowed to be used and sold for human consumption. Although one can’t help, but wonder if that’s true, considering hot dogs have always been known to contain “lips and a**holes”. The “trimmings”, as far as I can find, include the bits of gristle, and meat attached to the skeleton, which are left when the “primal cuts” of beef have been removed. The problem with these bits of meat hasn’t been that they aren’t edible. The issue is that meat closer to the hide of the animal has a higher bacterial concentration of E.Coli or Salmonela, and other potential life threatening bacteria.

Last year, Oliver Russel aired an episode of Food Nation where he toured a meat plant where they make “pink slime”. What they do is take the “trimmings” and put them through a centrifuge, which spins the meat around and ejects the parts with the protein. Then they send those bits through a grinder, and pass it through a tube, the thickness of a pencil. Here’s the spot where people get grossed out. While passing through this tube the meat is blasted by ammonium hydroxide. This chemical raises the Ph of the meat, and kills the bacteria. The end result gets mixed in with the more acceptably non ammonia-ed ground beef and that’s what we get from the store. Rarely, I read, is there more than 25% of this stuff in our food.

Okay, so onto the implications. First of all, the imagery is gross. The thought of my food going through play-doh fun factory tubes is disgusting, but the visual of it is even worse. Then there is the whole ammonia in my food thing that is really freaky. To top it all off, there’s the fact that McDonalds–purveyors of the cheapest food around–has declared it won’t be using pink slime products. That’s the real mind blowing part, right? If it’s not good enough for McDonalds, how can it be good for anyone. The Department of Education, however, thinks the food is good…for our kids! Whoa nelly! That’s more than I can bear.

So I did a little more reading. The government agencies are all saying that the food is safe for consumption, and the ammonia in it is well regulated by the FDA and not a danger. Sorry government, I can’t say you’re the most trustworthy lot. I mean, the FDA is also responsible for regulating drugs, and in the last five years alone there have been laundry lists of drugs who have been found to kill people, despite the regulations. That stamp of approval doesn’t help me sleep at night.

This reminded me of an article I’d read recently, where researches in Japan have found a way to reconstitute feces, mix it with soy, add some red food coloring, and make an “edible” shit burger. Safe or not–I don’t want to be fed shit.

I don’t know about you, but this whole thing has my head spinning about what I CAN eat. So I decided to get my butt on the internet and find out for myself.

My first thought was that I can always eat chicken. Then I found this tasty tidbit of information in a 2006 New York Times article.

“70% of chickens raised for human consumption in the US are given the FDA approved food additive arsenic. The arsenic is used as an antibiotic. Unfortunately, it gets worse. Much of the arsenic ends up in the chicken poop, which is then generally used as fertilizer on fields for growing other foods.”

Gross! With chicken ruled out, and all of the Mercury in fish, it feels like it’s time to switch to being a vegetarian, but even our produce isn’t safe.

“Citrus Red 2 is a cancer causing dye that is banned in the US – except for orange growers. Orange growers are allowed, by law, to stain their oranges with Citrus Red 2 to make them look more appetizing. ”

In fact, unless you skip the sweetener, even our coffee is turning against us. Turns out the burnt cow bone is used to whiten our sugar.  If you’re thinking of reaching for your favorite glass of Cabernet for comfort, think again.

” When grapes are harvested by machine for wine making, the machine shakes the grapes off the vine. But this also means that insects, birds and basically anything else in the vine comes off too. Cheap wine makers don’t generally sort the grapes before pressing, so all of that extra stuff goes into the wine. Expensive makers (fortunately?) have sorting tables, and can remove up to 99% of the MOG (material other than grapes). That means that 1% or more of the juice in the wine is probably dead animals.”

Even organic foods aren’t off the hook, since many of the approved organic pesticides contain commonly known poisons like arsenic and belladonna which are more harmful than their synthetic counterparts. One of the biggest problems with organic farming is that they use animal manure, which contains much higher levels of harmful bacterias, like E.Coli, than synthetic fertilizers. Actually, something I was surprised by, studies show that organically fed animals pass more gas, which is one of the leading contributions to the methane gas in our air.

I think the worst part of this scandal is that these chemicals, processes, and additives are being hidden from the public. I shouldn’t have to do three hours of research to know what I’m eating. If it’s safe, then explain why and how it’s safe and tell us what measures you’re taking to make sure we aren’t going to die of arsenic poisoning. I’d rather know what I’m putting into my body then be blindsided by the news reports. If it isn’t something we should be worried about, then don’t lie about it. I can’t say I’m particularly hungry right now, but the fact is there are chemicals everywhere, and in everything. The “organic” solutions aren’t the best alternatives either. So it seems we have nowhere to turn for actual healthy eating. I guess it’s “do the best we can” time.

What are your thoughts? How do you stay healthy with the lack of healthy food available?

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1 Comment

  1. I think the problem can be summed up pretty well by: there are just too many people on the planet, and they all need to eat.

    I guess the most basic way I attempt to eat a more healthy diet is by eating very little meat. I never add salt to meals I make for myself as well.


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