Of Pink Slime and Pollen

Mm-mm good photo, courtesy of Uptown Magazine

I first heard of the pink slime controversy over a turkey sandwich lunch with a friend. When she described all the beef trimmings and by-products being ground up to--well--pink slime, my first reaction was, "how economical!" How almost Native American of us, using every last bit of the beef. Besides, despite the 85% grass-fed organic beef my family eats, there's still the 5% of God-knows-what-kind-of-beef-and-meat-products we consume in our beloved hot dogs and the 10% of close-your-eyes-and-hope-for-the-best beef we eat out in restaurants.

"But they soak it in ammonia or something, to clean off the e. Coli!" my friend added, since I didn't look properly grossed-out enough.

"They've been dipping chicken parts in chlorine baths forever, and we all keep eating chicken," I pointed out.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I'm a fan of pink slime in kids' school cafeteria meals, but I figure anytime I let my kids buy lunch, they're eating Downed-Cow Stroganoff or Chlorine-Bathed-Overbred-Chicken Nuggets. I know it's crap, but I still let them buy once a week. And pink slime is edible, as much as hot dogs are, so I'm not gonna get too bent out of shape. Once in a while is fine. Not ideal, but fine. Check out this Food Safety News article for more information on pink slime's general okayness.

For those in the pink slime biz, however, I would recommend they hire a good PR agency. Look what wonders it did orange roughy, after it changed its name from Slimehead. "Slimeheads" didn't exactly fly off the menu, but we're all happy to eat orange roughy nearly to the collapse of its fishing industry. Would we be more willing to stomach pink slime, if we knew it as "Dairy Delight" or "Strawberry Soft Serve"?

If you're of the mind that pink slime by any name would still reek, it might be time to switch to organic, pastured beef. At our Bellevue Farmers Market, several of our farmers sell top-quality beef, chicken and pork. No slime, no where. When the Market opens May 10, get the farmers' opinions on the slime controversy. Ask about their processing practices. What happens to their by-products? I'm curious myself.

Speaking of the Market, another friend came for tea, and I offered her some local honey I'd bought at the Market last fall to sweeten it. Turns out she'd been at Pike Place Market recently, where one of the honey vendors advertised honey's effectiveness in combating hay fever(!). I hadn't heard this tidbit, but being a hay fever sufferer, I'm perfectly willing to dose myself, even just for a placebo effect. There are no published studies yet--just anecdotal evidence--but the recommendation is for local honey (i.e., local pollens), two teaspoons per day. Easy peasy. Can't hurt, might help.

Have a great week!