Recently in Meat Category

Pink Slime and human nature

Once again, this story is going around. And once again, all I see is meat eaters freaking out about eating meat.

For those of you unfamiliar: When all the meat possible is removed by hand from an animal post-slaughter, the bones, along with other parts that edible meat is sticking to, go through a process of mechanical separation, separating the very small leftover meat from the non-edibles. This mechanically separated meat is then used as a filler in other meat products. 

Sounds kinda disgusting, but no worse than the rest of the slaughtering process. And generally, I feel that anything that produces less waste is a good thing (and so do the meat processors, I imagine). But seeing the above photo, masses of internet citizens (vegetarians and meat eaters both, though I've seen more from the meat eaters) have collectively freaked out about it.

I really don't see it as being much different from most other ground meat preparations, honestly. The beef version typically has ammonium hydroxide (an USDA-approved antimicrobial) added to kill e. coli, while the pork and chicken versions don't. This is also freaking people out, generally those who don't know about the hundreds of chemicals already fed to and used in the slaughter of animals. Hint: You don't want to know.

There are, of course, other processes out there for dealing with leftover bits of meat. After you kill an animal and remove all the meat you can, many processors boil the bones to extract tiny bits of meat. This also serves to de-marrow the bones, break down the skin and connective tissue, etc. This process converts natural collagen into a type of gelatin, thickening the mixture as well. Sounds disgusting too, yes? Well, I've just described the horrible process that your grandmother used to make chicken or beef stock in her own kitchen. That monster!

We have a weird tendency in our society to freak out about meat if it doesn't look like what we think meat should look like (a steak, a cooked chicken breast, etc). Once it's dead animal flesh, we should use all we can. The truly horrible parts of the process exist mainly in the treatment and slaughter of the animals, but that part doesn't seem to phase people. As long as the muscle tissue looks like what we expect the muscle tissue to look like on our plate, it's delicious. But when we get a glimpse into the process, we're forced to think about it. 

Maybe that's for the best.

Meat's kinda bad for you

Not that I had to tell all of you this, but...

Study: Lots of red meat increases mortality risk

By CARLA K. JOHNSON, AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson, Ap Medical Writer

CHICAGO - The largest study of its kind finds that older Americans who eat large amounts of red meat and processed meats face a greater risk of death from heart disease and cancer. The federal study of more than half a million men and women bolsters prior evidence of the health risks of diets laden with red meat like hamburger and processed meats like hot dogs, bacon and cold cuts.

The surprising parts of of this study for me were all the numbers involved:

Over 10 years, eating the equivalent of a quarter-pound hamburger daily gave men in the study a 22 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 27 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease. That's compared to those who ate the least red meat, just 5 ounces per week.

Women who ate large amounts of red meat had a 20 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 50 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease than women who ate less.

Those numbers, of course, are kinda scary. I don't blame the meat entirely - I'm sure most people that have meat as a major component of every meal probably aren't skimping on the rest of the high fat menu. Also amazing to me is that more than half a million people were involved in the study - that's huge.

The story also has the obligatory comment from the meat industry denying the connection, but also throws in a couple sentences about the positive environmental aspects of eating less meat. I wish they'd throw around less "global warming" and maybe add some "increased energy usage" and "damaging to the water table", but it'll do.

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