Monday, April 29, 2013

How Safe Is Your Meat?

A March 17th report from the USDA showed our meat is teaming with superbugs. What this means is animals in overcrowded food lots and barns are having their food heavily laced with antibiotics because living in such conditions is unhealthy without this steady diet of drugs most would die. Along with the antibiotics the animals are given growth hormones to grow faster and bigger to get to market sooner. This impacts us by making our bodies immune to antibiotics when we get sick. The growth hormones also have girls as young as nine years old starting their period.

Another issue with meat is the preservatives and pink slime that is packed into pre-packaged meat. How do you know your meat has additives in it besides meat. Ingredients are posted on the package. Anything besides meat shouldn’t be there. These additives are added to make sure the meat had a long shelf life and make it pretty.

If it is in a tube, then  your meat has traveled far to reach you. It also has the opportunity to mingle with the thousands of animals in the feed lot. Major meat processor will ground hamburger in the tons. It only takes one diseased cow to contaminate all the meat ground that day, which explains recalls. This tainted meat is also made up into preformed patties too, which explains the recall on those too. The more obvious answer is not to butcher sick cows. It sounds good in theory.

  My son used to work at a meat processor. When he started his job, four years ago, a government inspector would show up every month causing the owner to always push for extra cleanliness as to not be fined. He didn’t get closed down, just fined. With government cutbacks, the inspectors came less and less. More like every eight months, and a few would just glance through the area because their work load was too heavy to do a thorough inspection.

An employee at a well known soup factory confessed that they used sick chickens because they were too skinny to be sold for frying or roasting.  Besides, he explained you couldn’t get the tuberculosis from eating chicken noodle soup or thousands of people would have it. Put me off eating chicken noodle soup.

Recently, my husband became sick on three consecutive occasions from eating ground turkey. I googled this and found out he wasn’t the only one. It goes back to an additive to give the turkey long shelf life that often does a number on people’s stomach. It isn’t in all turkey, that’s why you read labels.

My former brother-in-law, a licensed meat cutter, warned me off meat loaf mix, stuffed pepper, and meat skewers. He explained that the meat can only be in the case so long, but if you take it out and reprocess it with spices or veggies, you can re-date it and raise the price on it. If you feel the need to buy anything like that, cook it right of way. Now that I scared you, what can you do about your meat?

Do not buy tube meat or brand meat, this means it already has additives in it. Big grocery chains usually have butchers, you want what was cut up in the backroom as opposed to what was shipped five states or even five countries away. Even groceries stores use pink slime because it makes the meat look redder thus fresher. My butcher explained when meat touches meat it turns brown that is why the additive is added. You can find a butcher who doesn’t use slime. It is possible.

You can buy a part of a cow, pig, or lamb and have it butchered. You can buy your meat at farmer’s markets, direct from the farmer, or from organic groceries such as EarthFare and Whole Foods. I used to work at an organic dairy, which also sold grass fed pork and beef. If you were willing to drive to the farm you received much better prices than you would at the farmer’s market.

Often the plump meat we buy at the grocery cooks away to nothing. That is because it is injected with water. A grass-fed beef roast tends to stay the size you bought it. At first, it is more expensive, but you get more meat in the end. Hamburger is mixed with fat and additives. The pound of hamburger you purchased may only end up being  12 ounces of meat. It is better for your health to go with ground sirloin at a reputable butcher and get about 15.5 ounces from your pound.

Eating healthy takes more effort than just throwing whatever is cheapest into your cart. Sometimes it is more expensive. To get around this use less meat in your dishes, consider vegetarian meals occasionally, and going in with a friend to get a side or quarter of beef. Know where your food comes from. Talk to your butcher. Stay away from premade prepackaged foods.

It takes effort. It also makes you understand why your granny or great granny often shopped every day to have fresh food. Then again, she probably didn’t have a freezer to put her food in either. When you think about it, food is a major element as far as your health goes.  It’s surprising people pay so little attention what goes into their mouths. It will eventually show up in how they feel,  frequent illnesses and weight gain.

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