In Praise of Pink Slime (Sort Of)
By Laura Hogg
From the FitChatter Blog Series
Welcome back to FitChatter! This week in the news: Consumer concerns have so-called “pink slime” on the way out. But is this really the good news that it seems?
In the wake of consumer outcry against so-called “pink slime” – what producers call “lean finely textured beef,” or LFTB – the beef industry has had to step in and do some serious damage control. And it’s no wonder; with a moniker like “pink slime,” who would want it in their food supply? Who in their right mind would defend it? (Besides the beef bigwigs, of course. They’ve created a website defending LFTB.)
If you’ve been reading my blogs for any length of time, you know that I’m a vegetarian; I haven’t exactly kept it a secret. I think meat is gross and pink slime even grosser. So what I’m about to tell you might blow your mind:
I think pink slime might just be better than the alternative.
Yes, you read me right.
Of course, slime or not, I wouldn’t eat beef either way. But for the meat-eating public at large, I think it might be better to have pink slime in the food supply. Oh, sure, I was absolutely against pink slime when I first heard about it – I even wrote a grossed-out blog entry about it. But I hadn’t really considered the alternative.
So what is that alternative? Let’s look at some of the ramifications of getting rid of the slime:
You’re going to pay for it.
Ditching pink slime is going to reduce supply by 2 to 3 percent – and, for those of you who snoozed in economics class, that means that the price is going to have to go up. Now, depending on your perspective, this may not necessarily be a bad thing. (Of course from my perspective, anything that could potentially lower meat consumption is a good thing…but I know not everyone is on board with that.) After all, we’re usually more willing to pay a bit extra if we know that we’re getting a higher-quality product. But don’t be surprised if you have to start shelling out a bit more for your burger.
But far more importantly:
The animals (and the planet) are going to pay for it – big time.
Think about it. From the pink slime process, producers were able to glean 12 to 15 extra pounds of meat per animal. Removing pink slime from the food supply won’t mean that each cow will miraculously gain 15 extra pounds to make up the difference – or that people are suddenly going to eat less beef. More cows are going to be needed to fill the gap.
So how many is “more”? Try 1.5 million – by the beef industry’s own estimates.
More cows means more death per burger, and more suffering in life. Cows raised for slaughter on factory farms are, as summed up by blogger Robin Shreeves, “kept in inhumane conditions, fed food that they wouldn’t naturally eat, and pumped full of antibiotics” – and are responsible for numerous environmental problems.
There is much more I could say on the topic, but my feelings are basically this: the fewer cows have to die for our food supply, the better. And if that means pink slime is necessary, then so be it.
But, of course, I say all this as someone without much of a stake (pun very much intended) in the outcome. Meat-eaters, what do you think?
Would you rather eat: beef containing “pink slime” – overprocessed, ammonia-treated meat scraps – knowing that far fewer animals had to suffer?
Beef that contains no pink slime – a product that, though it sounds unappetizing, has been declared safe, is cheaper, and is 100% lean – but which caused the death of over one million more animals than necessary?
Sound off in the comments!