So. Where does this leave us? With an uproar rooted in fear and emotion rather than in fact, and the possible bankruptcy of a family-owned business whose owners were devoted, and I do mean devoted, to food safety.
I need to be clear about something: I’m all for good food. I’m not a shill for “corporate” America or for “Big Ag,” as the critics call it. I don’t eat much meat and when I do, I buy “good” stuff. Is it expensive? Yes, it is. That’s why we don’t eat much of it. (At our house, meat is an accompaniment to a main dish, and almost never the main dish itself.) (*1)
I’m all for environmentally sound farming practices (and so are most farmers.) I’m all for “real” food: eat butter, not margarine. Eat real cheese, not the fake stuff. And for god’s sake, please don’t eat Twinkies. (Ugh! I’m not a nanny-type, but if it were up to me, Twinkies and other fake food would be off the shelves.) I’m also for cooking at home, for those who have the time, and for eating wisely rather than stupidly. (see *1 below)
But I’m also for smart shopping: If you want to buy some burger, it’s real simple: don’t buy pre-packaged stuff.
Or, more precisely, don’t buy pre-packaged stuff with a brand name. Don’t grab pre-formed, pre-packaged burgers from the freezer section. That stuff’s been mixed at a packing plant and yes, odds are it contains LFTB.
Instead, go to your meat department, and look for stuff packaged there in the store. Chances are it’s been ground in-store, using bits of meat left over from the other cuts of meat. Use common sense. Your stomach will thank you.
Finally, if we’re going to have a conversation about food, let’s discuss rather than shout. Let’s try to be factual and honest and focus on reason rather than fear-mongering.
Here’s one thing I’ve picked up on in the past few years: There are a lot of people on the web who are “reporting” on food. But they’re not reporters in any conventional sense of the word. They’re advocates and they have an agenda — and this is true on both “sides,” by which I mean the pro-food, locavore, “our food system is dangerous” side, and the “American farmers feed the world,” farmers-are-good-stewards side.
It’s in their best interest to persuade people and many of these “reporters” play fast/loose with the facts, employ emotional language, and rely on innuendo to make their point, assuming, apparently, that most people who read their work are gullible and won’t ask questions. These advocates present themselves as “reporters” but what they trade in is not accurate reporting, but polemic and sensationalism.
Bottom line: Read with care. When you read an outrageous statement or an assertion that feels like a bombshell, don’t take it at face value until you’ve verified its accuracy. Eventually you’ll be able to separate the crap from the substance.
You heard it here first.
*1: At my house, there are only two of us, and we’re not teenagers, if you know what I mean. And we both work at home, which means there’s time to plan and prepare meals. (MAJOR money saver.) So, yes, it’s “easy” for us to buy “good” meat. But I am well aware that for families pressed for time, and for those operating on marginal budgets (and I was both of those people for many many years), there’s not always time/money to investigate and then act on alternatives. That’s why my bottom line on all this is: don’t eat so much meat. I stopped eating meat for “political” reasons when I was in my 20s back in the 70s. But the political morphed into the pratical and not eating meat is how I stretched tiny dollars into very good, and healthy, food for years on end. I recommend it. Anyone who says food isn’t worth it (or too hard) just because there’s no meat involved is wrong. Period. And no you don’t have to become some fancy-schmancy “gourmet” (god but I hate that word) cook nor do you have to become a suffering vegetarian.