I’ve been watching the drama of “pink slime” unfold in the news over the last week. If you’ve missed it, here’s the short version – “pink slime” is a meat additive that contains connective tissues instead of muscles. It is added to much of the ground beef for sale in grocery stores, in processed meat foods, and in restaurants including many large chains. There is no requirement to label ground meat or processed meat products that contain “Lean Beef Trimmings” which is the official USDA name for pink slime. This stuff is gross. It does not have anywhere near the same nutritional value as actual ground beef and is heavily processed.
While the major chain burger joints have announced that they are discontinuing purchase of beef patties with pink slime in them, the USDA has confirmed that they plan to purchase 7 million pounds of pink slime this year for school lunches. Yuck! I was never a fan of school lunches but this is gross. MacDonald’s won’t buy it but the USDA will? Well… for further information, updates, and the opportunity to sign a petition against the USDA purchase of pink slime check out http://www.thelunchtray.com.
Meanwhile, the whole controversy has left me thinking about the joy of knowing where your food comes from. In addition to eating a Paleo diet, I’ve been focusing on purchasing as much of my food as possible locally. I purchase meats from farmer’s markets, a meat CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and direct from the producers. I know the people raising the chickens and ducks that provide eggs for my family. I know the person raising our 2012 1/2 pig and the ranch that raises our 1/4-1/2 cow each year. In addition to fueling the local economy, I also have the joy of knowing what my animals (or portions thereof) were fed, where they were slaughtered, and exactly what goes into my ground meat.
These seem to me to be significant advantages over purchasing meats from chain grocery stores. I highly recommend anyone wanting a whole foods and healthy diet look toward their local producers for meat, produce, etc. Consider this really succinct definition of the local food movement from Wikipedia: ”a collaborative effort to build more locally based, self-reliant food economies – one in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution, and consumption is integrated to enhance the economic, environmental and social health of a particular place.” How can food purchasing get better than that?