I read this article written by Steve Shenk, food expert, a few months back . . . I thought it was an interesting and helpful read . . . He is a brilliant writer with experience we can trust. Here is his article, re-posted with permission, of course.
Recently McDonald’s, one of our largest fast-food restaurants in America, issued the following statement:
“For a number of years prior to 2011, to assist with supply, McDonald’s USA used some lean beef trimmings treated with ammonia in our burgers. We were among other food retailers who used this safe product.”
Let that sink in for a moment—“beef trimmings treated with ammonia.” That can’t be right can it? What does that actually mean?
The beef trimmings referred to here are what is left over once all the cuts of beef have been removed from the cow. (These trimmings were once deemed unfit for human consumption and used for dog food). The trimmings are spun in a centrifuge to separate the “meat” from the fat and then the meat is treated with ammonium hydroxide in an attempt to kill all the harmful forms of bacteria present. You may have heard people refer to this “meat” as pink slime, a term coined by the British chef Jamie Oliver. Pink Slime is a name as appetizing as the process it went through to get on your table.
Now, look at McDonald’s statement again. Does anything else standout to you? What about “[w]e were among other food retailers…”? In October 2011 it was reported that 68 people in 10 states were sickened by an outbreak of salmonella toed to a “Mexican-style fast food restaurant chain”. It was later determined that the chain was Taco Bell. Burger King also came out with a statement similar to the McDonald’s announcement.
From this statement, one can safely assume that the use of pink slime is a widely accepted practice in the fast-food industry. It is estimated that 70% of fast-food hamburger could have included pink slime. Think back over the last year. How often have you eaten at a fast-food restaurant? Do you go out regularly with your co-workers for lunch? Do you stop by on the way home because you’re too tired to cook dinner? Or do you take the kids there for a reward or a family night out? The “why” isn’t as important as is knowing how many times you may have been fed pink slime. How do you feel about a trip through the drive-thru now?
It is also interesting that pink slime is referred to as a “safe product.” It makes you wonder what other “safe products” they are feeding us. if it’s truly safe, why did McDonald’s and Burger King both come out with statements that they were no longer using the pink slime products AFTER the contamination at Taco Bell was revealed?
The USDA has approved the use of ammoniated beef trimmings for human consumption. They argue that the beef’s ammonia treatment will kill any bacteria lingering in the beef. But, how much can we trust this process—or the government—when we hear of outbreaks of E. Coli and other harmful bacteria on a regular basis.
So what can you do to protect you and your family? You’ve already taken the first step by beginning to educate yourself on where your food comes from and how it is made. Please continue to do so. With knowledge comes power and the ability to make informed decisions that ultimately lead to peace of mind. It is for this very reason that I am committed to providing you with this type of information on an ongoing basis.
This is truly a frightening revelation that we here in the United States, as individuals and families, have to careful to protect ourselves from our own food. It is unfortunate indeed that agencies responsible for our protection can only be trusted to sell out our best interest to the economic pressures of special interest groups. If your personally held food supplies are dried or dehydrated, you are safe and can be fearless of these food-born contaminates. Very simply, these dangerous little critters can’t exist in a moisture-free environment.
Remember, if you are apathetic and passive about your food choices, you leave not only your health but also your well-being in the hands of others. Stop playing “Russian roulette” with your future and take control.
The cost of food has been rising dramatically over the last year and while the obvious doesn’t need to be pointed out, a voice of warning needs to be raised so we can understand the contributing factors to the problem. By becoming aware of the different “levers” that affect the price of food, one can read the news with a more discerning eye and understand the real truth beneath the sanitized information given us in an attempt to lull and pacify us so we won’t do anything. By educating and preparing yourself, you empower yourself to predict your own future—a future that affords you peace of mind.
Right now, there are three main contributing factors to why the price of food has gotten out of control. While you may be able to do little about the factors themselves, when understood, you can create a strategy so as not to be held hostage by their effects.
The price of oil and fuel is a major cause of food price increases and one of the most volatile. Differing ideologies, terrorism, and just plain greed cause the price of oil to jump in an instant. In fact, Iran’s recent retaliation for recent U.S. and EU sanctions is driving an oil price increase that already has 2012 starting off with some of the highest gas prices we’ve seen for this time of year.
Due to the transportation costs associated with making and moving your food, it makes sense that as soon as gas prices rise, food prices will be close behind. In fact, if you chart food and oil prices together, you will see that they march in step with one another.
While you can’t control the price of oil, you can anticipate how turmoil on the other side of the world will impact your food budget.
Another contributing factor to rising food prices is the worldwide famine. Droughts and floods have decimated food crops the world over. China and India are buying up food and farm land at an alarming pace in the wake of their recent crop failures. Add to this the fact that commodities markets can manipulate global prices for their gain and you can see how a global food problem impacts what you buy at your corner grocery store.
Now you may think that U.S. farmers would benefit from their crops being sold for top dollar overseas, but as you’ll see in a moment, there is only so much land to farm with and if it is used for other purposes than growing food then the benefit of exporting isn’t fully realized. What else would farmers be using their land for? That brings us to our final factor.
Ethanol production takes away farmland that benefits food production and contributes to a vicious cycle that most of us are unaware.
Ethanol, which is made from agricultural feed stocks, is used as a biofuel additive for gasoline with the intent of holding rising gas prices at bay. At first take, addressing rising gas prices appears a noble endeavor, but by understanding the cause and effect relationship inherent in the overall process, one can easily see how quickly this program accelerates the food price problem.
Put quite simply, the government subsidizes farmers to grow corn for ethanol. These government subsides make it so it isn’t cost effective for farmers to grow corn for cattle feed. The reduction in supply of cattle feed pushes up the demand for feed not only raising the price of feed, but the cost of beef. With the price of feed rising, the government must then provide more subsidies to farmers to keep them from making the switch away from growing corn for ethanol production. This raises the cost of ethanol and by so doing the cost of gas. And as we’ve already stated, as the cost of fuel rises so does food. As you can see the government’s plan to solve one problem—fuel costs—has not only exacerbated it, but contributed to another ongoing problem—rising food costs. (Something that is on par for most government programs.)
So with rising fuel costs caused both at home and abroad and the world community pulling on our food production resources, it may feel as if our hands are tied. Fortunately, there is something you can do.
By buying food today at current prices, you are able to “freeze the market” in time. Price increases that will come won’t affect you because of your stock on hand. You are hedging against tomorrow’s food prices. You are also buying insurance for the “perfect storm” when all three factors explode at once. When this happens—once again, not a matter of “if” but, “when”—you will see a scenario where your grocery store will be limited to what is on hand. And once that supply is gone, it is gone. The food you have stored will enable you to be free of the effects of lack of supply and rising prices.
So be informed. Continue to educate yourself so you not only know, but understand what is happening in the world. As you can see, it really is a matter of life and death.
About Contributing Writer, Steve Shenk:
Steve Shenk, noted food expert, is an educator, corporate executive, and philosopher, with forty years as a successful entrepreneur in the food industry. His expertise and leadership on food safety issues have positively impacted the lives of thousands with a prevention-based strategy to ensure the availability, price and safety of food. Steve is also presently heard almost any day of the week across multiple radio networks as a guest of some of America’s most notable talk show programs. For more information please visit, www.gofoodsfoundation.org.