Rachel's Table

Pink Slime, Coasters and Personal Responsibility

While ordering coasters from my friend Julie’s Etsy shop, Maida Some Art, I discovered Etsy’s blog. I’m always up for reading a blog, so I perused the topics.

These are the coasters I ordered, and they make me happy every tiime I set my glass down.

Lo and behold, I found a post by Danielle Tsi called “How Pink Slime Can Make You a Better Eater.” My interest was piqued, of course, as pink slime is a topic that spurs me on to become a social activist, complete with picket sign and slogan. Danielle’s take on the whole thing is very close to my own. Change begins on an individual level, by interacting with food in a different (and purposeful) way. For me, being more purposeful with food means sourcing my food from local growers and farmers. I know where the spinach for my next salad comes from if it’s grown in John’s backyard. And you know what? It tastes better that way.

Be an advocate for change with every bite you take. As Danielle says, stopping pink slime in our food supply can be as simple as “Know[ing] the difference between an apple flown across thousands of miles and a fresh one harvested at its peak of ripeness.”

Read on for more of Danielle’s thoughts.

No one likes reading bad news about our food. From high-fructose corn syrup to genetically-modified ingredients and food safety recalls, each time a health scare makes the news the repercussions linger. We tweet, Facebook and blog, writing passionate status updates about how important it is that something, anything, be done. We start online petitions. Each tweet and hashtag fuels the fire of mass online disgust that lasts for about a week before the news cycle renews itself and all is forgotten. Until the next scare.

The recent uproar over “pink slime” in hamburgers and school lunches followed the same pattern. As Andy Bellatti put it, it’s a case of “same script, different cast.” For those unfamiliar with the issue, “pink slime” is a term coined in 2002 by former USDA microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein to describe a product developed by South Dakota-based Beef Products Inc. Its owner, Eldon Roth, developed a process that turns slaughterhouse scraps – the excess fat closest to the skin of a cow, and from other cuts of meat – into a lean beef filler free of E. coli and salmonella that burger makers could mix into patties. Those annoying pathogens would be taken care of once batches of Lean Finely Textured Beef (its official name) went through a bath of ammonia gas, which, we are assured, is actually food safe (it isn’t the same type of ammonia found in household cleaners). Not only did we discover last month that this ingredient is present in 70 percent of raw ground beef sold in America’s grocery stores, the public learnt of the USDA’s plans to buy seven million pounds of the product for the National School Lunch Program.

It is tempting to throw one’s hands up in despair; I did, when I read the news. I don’t even have kids, so I can only imagine the anxiety that parents of school-age children must feel.

See the rest of Danielle’s article here. Or read Danielle’s blog Beyond the Plate; it’s filled with insightful food thoughts and studded with her beautiful photography.

Oh, and while you’re at it, visit Julie’s shop on Etsy. She is a talented, full-time artist who loves imported olives, but also gets her eggs from the farmer down the street.

I own this stunning print.

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