Photos and videos of a substance ominously named "pink slime" have been making the rounds on social networks and in headlines for a few months now. Most of these videos depict a bright pink colored paste that is comprised of mechanically separated meat. Sometimes it's chicken, sometimes beef, pork or turkey, but it is all destined for processed food products, some of which might end up in you or, more likely, your kids' bellies.
Don't believe it? I don't want to either, but here it is, the grisly truth:
If you or your family are eating processed foods that contain this gunk, you are not only eating "cuts" of meat that aren't fit for most dog foods, but you're also consuming a product that has been "cleaned" (aka - soaked in) ammonium hydroxide.
This aspect of the meat processing protocol is obviously not something that fast food restaurants or the USDA think that you need to know about, because they consider it a process, not an ingredient. Are they asking us to believe that no trace of the ammonia remains in the meat after it has been marinated in the stuff? Seriously?
Apparently so, because the USDA has not required any special labeling for processed meat products that have been treated thusly, and it is estimated that up to 70% of the ground beef on the market has been processed this way. The beef and chicken products in your child's school lunch have almost certainly been through this process and the people who choose to purchase this chemical drenched food on behalf of you and your kids have the nerve to refer to it as "safe" and "wholesome". !!!
Why would they put caustic chemicals in your food? Because the folks in charge of food safety at the USDA have decided that the minuscule chance that there could be E. coli or Salmonella contamination in your meat products necessitates carpet-bombing it with caustic sterilizers. If meat is raised, slaughtered and handled with care and common sense cleanliness practices instead of living it's life knee deep in sewage in a CAFO and then cranked through a rendering plant, the odds of it ever needing such extreme treatments are virtually none. Fear has brought us here, but isn't this "food" what we should be afraid of?
My very favorite food crusader, Jamie Oliver, breaks it down in the video below. Please watch, and better yet - show it to your kids. I'm very conscious of the food my kids eat, but watching this has made me want to redouble my efforts to keep these "foods" out of my kids' mouths and bellies.
I became a farmer in part to ensure that I knew exactly what was going into my family's mouths. Obviously, not everyone can take that route. The steps that anyone can take to avoid and reject this notion of food are these-
Stay informed! Read labels, ask hard questions. You have every right to know the story behind your food.
Advocate! Let the people who are making these food choices on behalf of us all know that these are unacceptable practices. Make your preference for truly wholesome, recognizable food known!
Reject! Refuse to eat or serve foods made with these highly processed ingredients. For me, this will mean packing my kids' lunches everyday. A great pass/fail test for food - if your Grandma wouldn't recognize the ingredients, don't eat it!