Monday, April 09, 2012

Pink slime and salmonella

You've heard by now about "pink slime", the ammonia-treated meat trimmings that make what goes into a wiener look wholesome. The whole point of treating meat trimmings with ammonia (thereby turning it into a pink slimy substance) was to reduce the bacterial count and thus hopefully reduce the incidence of food poisoning. And it apparently worked -- during the time that hamburger meat was adulterated with this "pink slime", incidents of food poisoning went down by almost half.

But it's wise to remember why we have this problem with food poisoning to begin with. It occurs because meat from dozens of cows is mixed together and ground together, meaning that it takes only a single contaminated bit of cow meat to contaminate thousands of pounds of hamburger meat. Industrial food production, in other words, is responsible for the food poisoning problem.

I'm thinking, now, about a novel new idea. What if entire dressed cows were sent to some place local to you, and when you wanted a cut of beef, or just wanted some less expensive cuts ground into hamburger meat, some guy cut it off the haunch of beef right there in front of you and packaged or ground it right there in front of you? Then you'd be able to inspect the beef to see whether it's clean *before* it gets ground into hamburger meat, and if some other cow is contaminated, well, so what, the cow you're looking at isn't contaminated so that's of no concern to you. What could we call this place and the person who does this strange and innovative thing of, well, cutting meat up in front of you instead of getting it pre-packaged from some industrial facility? Hmm...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

21 comments:

  1. What?!? You mean a butcher is someone other than a person who "kills brutally or indiscriminately"? What will they think of next!

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  2. Sure if'n ya want to pay $20 a pound we can do it that way...

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  3. Only if this job can be outsourced to a third world hellhole. Other than the USA, that is.

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  4. That's the way I remember it. Wanted a round steak Paul or Harold would turn around and go into the cooler a few feet behind the counter and come out with and flop down what there was of a rear quarter and ask you how thick.

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  5. Jerry, ya, I'm old enough to remember when this was how it was done. Even in a supermarket, they had big dressed carcasses of meat delivered to a giant walkin cooler, and if you wanted something they didn't have out, they'd go back there and slice what you wanted off the carcass.

    And no, Spud, it wasn't $20 a pound.

    Nangleator, exactly. The job of "butcher" was a respectable one, that paid a union wage. So of course it had to be done away with and the job outsourced to a third world hellhole like, say, Tennessee or Bakersfield.

    One Fly, and if you wanted it ground into hamburger meat right there to make meat loaf or burgers, he'd turn around and feed it into this hopper and out from the bottom would come hamburger meat. Ya, I remember that. I also remember that our family income didn't break five figures for a family of four and we still managed to put meat on the table every day, despite paying Paul or Harold's union wages.

    - Badtux the Prehistoric Penguin

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  6. Play one more verse of the way it used to be for me! I do shop, occasionally, at a shop about 45 minutes from here where they cut it like that. Beef and pork prices are about the same as the normal grocers; they grind all the ground stuff on premises as well. The prices on stuff like bison (my preferred red meat when I can afford it) is, of course, higher. But still not $20 per pound.

    Most of the time, if I want ground beef? I buy the cheapest cut I can find and grind it myself.

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    1. I really like buffalo and when I first came to Colorado there was an old market just off of downtown Denver and one of the businesses still left sold exotic meat and buffalo was one. Rolled roasts that were put on the spit for $3.50 a pound. Sooo good. Now they want 9smacks for burger in grocery stores. Not happening and now I'm hungry.

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    2. There's a burger place locally (as in, a couple of miles from my house) that sells bison burgers. I prefer it to the beef burgers because it tastes just as good as beef, but it doesn't leave me feel bloated afterwards from all the fat.

      Dayum, you're makin' me hungry too :).

      I only eat hamburgers a couple times a month, so it's actually cheaper to eat out when I want hamburgers than to cook it myself, 'cause you can't buy just one buffalo burger patty...

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  7. I'm old enough to remember the butcher too. When I was growing up, we had one down at the corner grocery store..another institution the has just about disappeared.

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  8. I'm old enough to remember the butcher too. When I was growing up, we had one down at the corner grocery store..another institution the has just about disappeared.

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  9. As to price we sell 1/2 Beef for $3.00/lb (dressed weight) and you can meet what you eat if you want.

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  10. I used to buy cuts of intact beef and grind it myself for hamburger to get it extra-lean. But we eat relatively little red meat now, and when we do eat it it's usually in the form of steak or roast. Most of the stuff I used to use ground meat for, I've adapted to be vegetarian. But I like my cholesterol report more than I miss my hamburgers.

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  11. For Tux and other Silicon Valley readers, there was a butcher shop called Dittmers in Mountain View, http://www.dittmers.com. Temporarily closed due to fire, they're reopening in Los Altos. They specialize in sausages, but they do everything, and may well grind their own meat.

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  12. Dang, I think a PETA activist would have a nervous breakdown on this blog post. Not politically correct, are we? ;).

    - Badtux the Carnivore Penguin

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    1. Oh, PETA can bite me. I wear leather and fur, I eat meat and even occasionally kill it myself. With an axe. So yeah, PETA can bite me. And I bite back.

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    2. PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals. Or as my son asked once, "if we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?"

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  13. I'm old enough to remember grocery-store butchers, but only because I lived in France for a while. First time I asked for ground beef, the butcher asked me which cut I'd like to have ground up. I didn't know any of the words for that, so I just pointed at my butt, just below the wallet. Universal language.

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  14. Why is it that the animals that we eat are vegetarians?

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  15. I know of two butcher shops - one where you can get genuine Hungarian foodstuffs, some of which I will not eat - and a corner grocery that will cut or grind meat for you.

    http://www.houseofmeats.com/

    http://www.takacsgroceryandmeats.com/index.html

    Now I have to get some Dutch loaf, next time I'm in town. But not the Abalt Sazlona - a slab of bacon fat boiled with garlic and coated with paprika.

    Plus Stanley's.

    http://www.stanleysmarket.com/about_us.php

    and a corner grocery that will cut or grind meat for you.

    http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/Milos.Food.Market.419-476-4327

    All is not lost.

    Yum!
    JzB (omnivore)

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  16. We have a Pakistani grocer down the street for me that claims to have halal meat. I'll need to take a look at that and see whether he's buying prepackaged, or doing it old-school.

    Jerry, aligator meat is good eatin', and I ain't ever heard that 'gators are vegetarians ;).

    JzB, why am I not surprised you know where to find a Hungarian grocer?

    Labrys, 618: Exactly :).

    - Badtux the Carnivorous Penguin

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  17. I should have said "most".

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