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Of pink slime, lower food costs & longevity
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Get ready for higher beef prices and enjoying more fat in your diet if you eat hamburger.

You can thank the hysteria whipped up by social media over beef filler made from scraps remaining after cattle are butchered that ABC News dubbed “pink slime”.

Much of America is repulsed by what they’ve been consuming for nearly 20 years in most of the hamburger that is sold. Note that the United States Department of Agriculture that routinely - and rightfully so - errors on the side of caution says it is completely safe. Even so, supermarkets have been stampeding to pull hamburger products containing the lean filler from their stores due to the firestorm created by social media.

To replace the volume of meat lost, experts say an additional 1.5 million head of cattle will have to be butchered every year. And even then the hamburger sold will be significantly fatter than it is today.

Slaughtering more cattle is a bit problematic. The grain shortage caused by the federal government subsidizing ethanol gas that consumes large quantities of corn have sent prices soaring for cattle feed. That- combined with drought conditions - have clashed the size of herds.

That means beef prices will increase even more thanks to the “pink slime” scare.

And this is all because the hamburger people are eating isn’t a natural cut of meat but instead has been ground up with scraps that have been trimmed of fat.

This - along with a catchy name hung on the process - repulses many Americans.

One must assume they must also be part of the market for such “natural products” as Twinkies and Diet Pepsi-Cola.

Diet Pepsi contains water, caramel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, caffeine, citric acid, natural flavors, and phenylalanine. Compared to Diet Pepsi “pink slime” is virtually organic.

Then there are Twinkies that use monoglycerides and diglycerides to replace eggs, hydrogenated shortening to replace butter, and artificial flavorings that provide the taste of “butter” and “vanilla”. Compared to Twinkies, “pink slime” doesn’t seem repulsive at all.

While you might turn your nose up at the process that has been dubbed “pink slime”, you need to keep in mind two things that modern food processes such as the recycling of beef scraps into hamburger has provided you with - a longer life and more discretionary income.

For those born in the United States in 1930, the average life expectancy was 59.12 years. A typical family was spending 24.2 percent of everything they earned on food. For those born in 1990, the average life expectancy was 79.4 years. A typical family was spending 11.1 percent of everything they earned on food. For those born in 2004, the average life expectancy was 80.8 years. A typical family was spending 9.5 percent of everything they earned on food.

Notice the trend? We’re living longer and it is costing us less to eat.

Could it have anything to do with innovations in the growing and processing of our food?

You can bet that celebrity chef Jamie Oliver didn’t make the trend possible nor did anyone on social media.

One shouldn’t blindly pop anything into your mouth. But rest assured that anything that is grown and processed as food - including organics - can repulse you if you examine the entire food chain from “natural” fertilizer to the creation of hot dogs.

It’s nice that well-off celebrities like Oliver can afford to only consume the best of everything. But before anyone starts doing a Chicken Little act they might want to stop and really think about how things are inter-connected and just exactly why we are living longer and eating for less. It certainly isn’t because we can afford to dine on expensive dishes day in and day out created with filet mignon quality of meats by the likes of Jamie Oliver.

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.