Friday, March 30, 2012

Pink slime and me

OK. Here's what lean finely textured beef (aka pink slime) really looks like. The previous photo here was chicken. Drat. Now I'm off processed chicken products for a few days, too.

I was anticipating meatloaf --- freshly ground beef plus other stuff, topped with slices of bacon, slathered in Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce and baked to a satisfying brown. A vegetarian's nightmare. But after yesterday's pink slime tour by Gov. Terry Branstad and others: Just can't do it. Re-envisioning the pink slime as "lean, finely textured beef" didn't help.

And, yes, I know --- fresh ground beef does not contain "lean, finely textured beef." But it is pink and when you drive in there with both (immaculately clean) hands to blend in the breadcrumbs, egg, etc., it's decidedly slimey. The thought that counts, you know. Yuk --- for today at least.

This, too, shall pass --- but some days the vegetarian lifestyle seems to be gaining in appeal.

My friends at Wikipedia, who I suspect don't care that pink slime generates jobs in Iowa, describe it as "disinfected beef gristle puree." It's manufactured by Beef Products Inc. (BPI), headquartered across the Missouri River from Sioux City in tax-advantaged Dakota Dunes, S.D., and until it started getting a bad rap publicity-wise was widely used as a filler in lower-grade hamburger, usually frozen, of the type sold  in bulk and also used by fast-food restaurants, school lunch programs, institutions and the like.

To make it, beef trimmings are warmed and put through a centrifuge to remove fat and then treated with ammonia to kill bacteria before being pureed. Nearly everyone agrees the result is safe --- providing you're willing to live with a little ammonia; on the other hand, it's not at all appetizing.

As more and more big consumers pulled out of the pink slime market, BPI started cutting jobs, some 650 so far (at least temporarily), 220 of them at the BPI plant in Waterloo. That was the reason for Thursday's tour, involving among others Branstad, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (remember Rick?) and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, plus the lieutenant governors of Nebraska and South Dakota. They were visiting BPI's South Sioux City (South Dakota) plant, the only one still producing.

The governors, kind of a holy trinity of right-wing politics, want us to learn to love pink slime. It's all the media's fault, Branstad says, adding that he wants to end the "smear campaign and stop the use of inaccurate, inappropriate and charged words designed to scare people."

"I believe the national media have permeated this discussion with a poisonous tone that's detrimental to the beef industry and the jobs that support it," he said --- before declining to taste-test the product, adding that he'd be sure to eat a burger contining it over the weekend. Hmm.

So I'm going to go into fall-back position today --- bought a half pound of my favorite pickle and pimento loaf freshly sliced right off the loaf yesterday. Little bits of pickles and pimentos suspended in pink --- well, who knows? Actually, I'm afraid I do. But it tastes good --- and until that danged elitist liberal media gets around to exposing bologna and its cousins, I plan to enjoy. Ground beef will take a day or two.


Anonymous said...

Hi Frank!

I am so NOT commenting on this issue, except to point out that the photo accompanying this post is not a photo of the Lean Finely Textured Beef that has been the subject of so much controversy. The "pink slime" stuff pictured here is actually chicken, used in the manufacture of many frozen chicken products.

Love your blog. Have a great weekend!

Ruth Comer

Anonymous said...

Hey Frank - learned today that your Governor got 150K toward his campaign from BPI, and became enraged when asked about it from one of them liberal media gotcha types. Crazy, eh?

Frank D. Myers said...

Thanks Ruth (can't imagine why you wouldn't want to comment) --- I'll go pink slime shopping via Google image again and hope not to be misled this time.