I have mixed feelings about the "pink slime" controversy, especially after learning of last week's bankruptcy filing of AFA foods, which will probably kill 850 jobs in Pennsylvania. I suspect there will be more job losses in the coming months from other meat processors.
For me, yes, the concept of producing meat in this way is profoundly unappetizing to say the least. And certainly the phrase "pink slime" itself has been manufactured to sound as vile as possible. Well-played.
In fact, Laura and I had a gigantic conversation over the past several days about whether we should finally fully embrace vegetarianism. The pink slime controversy was what got us talking, and quite frankly it almost pushed us over the edge.
But just to be devil's advocate for a moment: You could also argue--if you've made a commitment to eat meat in the first place--that getting every last bit of usable meat from an animal is more respectful, more environmentally sound, and less wasteful than simply throwing away all the trimmings and cuttings. Even Marion Nestle, one of the food industry's fiercest critics, argues that the use of these trimmings recovers 10 to 12 pounds of edible lean beef from every animal, and saves some 1.5 million animals from slaughter each year.
So let's ask the question in a different way: Are we needlessly wasting animal parts in order to protect our sensibilities? In other words, is it narcissistic of us to waste meat merely because a particular process for not wasting it appears gross to us? They say if you like sausage you should never set foot inside a sausage factory. Are we making the same shallow argument with pink slime? These are incredibly difficult questions.
Readers, I don't have the pink slime story figured out by any stretch. But one thing I almost always find with controversial issues like this is things are not always as they seem. I'm just trying to think through the issue, and I'm hoping I can get some feedback from the always insightful readers here at Casual Kitchen.
So readers, what do you think? Is there another side to the pink slime controversy? Or is it a black and white story with no gray areas?
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