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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Beef, To Eat Or Not To Eat

There has been a lot of bad publicity for the beef industry in the last week and if you missed it, I'm here to fill you in.  First, Diane Sawyer exposed that as much as 70% of ground beef in the U.S. contains pink slime, a filler once used only for dog food.  Hamburger patties contain as much as 25% of pink slime.  Pink slime is made from the waste trimmings from the cow, fat and connective tissue, which is simmered at a low temperature, spun in a centrifuge and then mixed with ground beef.  Oh, I left out the part where they spray it with ammonia to kill the bacteria.  I don't know about you, but I use ammonia to clean with, not spray on my food for that bit of extra flavor.

The USDA has said that pink slime is "meat" so it doesn't have to appear on the label.  The only way to be sure you aren't serving up slime and ammonia to your children is to buy USDA organic beef which is pure meat, no fillers.  Interestingly enough, the USDA official who approved pink slime later took a job with the beef industry and made a hefty salary.  The former USDA scientist who exposed pink slime to the world says that pink slime is not nutritious and does not buy beef at any store.  The beef industry uses pink slime to increase their bottom line and doesn't have your health in mind at this point.

Then just last night, Diane Sawyer again hammered the beef industry with further bad news.  A new study shows that eating a serving a day of red meat greatly shortens your life span.  Eating red meat can raise your risk of premature death by 12%, your risk of heart disease by 16 % and your risk of certain cancers by 10 %.  Keep in mind that a serving is about the size of a deck of cards and that the average serving of beef is several times that size.  In fact, Americans eat an average of 120 pounds of beef each year.  Processed meats such as hot dogs, lunch meat and bacon are even worse.

I hope this makes you think.  Our family eats very little red meat.  I substitute ground turkey in almost everything such as spaghetti and meatloaf.  My family has never complained and guests never seem to notice.  Before I knew of the health risks of beef, I didn't really like the taste and few people can make beef inedible like I can.  So we have long since eaten a healthier diet of chicken, fish and some pork and I encourage you to do the same.

Dr. Richard Besser of ABC news encourages people to eat no more than two servings of beef a week.  If President Clinton, once famous for his love of hamburgers and other "bad" food can turn into a vegan, you can learn to eat better too.  He became a vegan after his experience with heart disease and a quadruple bypass.  He says he feels better on a diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  I bet he does.  I know I feel better now that I eat more salads and less heavy meals myself.  So do soul searching.  Do you really want that steak now or that hamburger?

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