The “Pink Slime” Debate

By Paula Detwiller

For the last two decades or so, our hamburger meat has been “beefed up” with filler made from ground-up, ammonia-treated beef scraps, sinew and connective tissue.  Formally known as boneless lean beef trimmings (BLBT), the food industry says it’s wholesome, safe and delicious. But recent media reports about this “pink slime” are making people take a closer look at what they’re eating.

The good news is that the sudden attention has caused supermarkets and fast food chains all over the U.S. to announce they will no longer use pink slime. In South Florida, the list includes Publix, Costco, Winn-Dixie, Target, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, and Sam’s Club, as well as McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, and Wendy’s (which said it never used pink slime in the first place).

Beef is Beef?

In an effort to fight the consumer backlash that erupted last month, BLBT mega-producer Beef Products, Inc. started a campaign called “Beef is Beef” in which they argue that their products are high quality, safe and NOT pink slime.

But even without pink slime, commercially produced beef may not be as wholesome as advertised. Because much of our beef in the U.S. comes from cattle raised in giant industrial feedlots, where the animals are fattened with corn, given growth hormones, and inoculated with antibiotics, many people are choosing grass-fed beef for their burgers and steaks.

Make the Switch

Look for the “Florida Grass-Fed Beef” booth at the Delray GreenMarket. The vendor is Arrowhead Beef based in Chipley, Florida, and their meat comes from free-range cattle that eat a natural grass and forage diet. No hormones or antibiotics are used.

“Cattle that are fed grass, not corn, produce meat that tastes the way it did 40 to 50 years ago,” says Tom Pellizzetti of Arrowhead Beef. “Not only is our beef healthier for you and more nutritious, it tastes better.”

Pellizzetti says grass-fed beef has saturated fat levels as low as chicken. He says it is also high in Omega 3 fatty acids (the “good” kind), while typical industrial beef has no Omega 3 and lots of “bad” Omega 6 fatty acid.

Beef is beef?  You decide.

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