Pink Slime: Tip of the Iceberg for Food Police

There’s a group of people out there, let’s call them the “Food Elite,” who want to control what food we eat and how that food is produced. 

Most recently, they ran a dishonest, misleading campaign against lean finely textured beef (“LFTB” pejoratively known as “pink slime”) that lead to the manufacturer of that product shutting down operations in 3 of 4 plants and filing for bankruptcy, putting yet more Americans out of work.

The Food Elite isn’t letting the momentum from their victory fighting LFTB come to a halt. After joyfully declaring victory, the Food Elite doubled down on their efforts, ominously announcing that “Pink Slime” was “the tip of the iceberg.”

Reading through the numerous articles about “pink slime” alongside articles about general meat consumption published conspicuously close to the “pink slime” controversy, one can only come to the conclusion that the hysteria over “pink slime” was ginned up to make consumers focus on meat production.

Once everyone was focused on meat production, the Food Elite started telling everyone that not only is meat treated with lethal chemicals, but meat is bad for human consumption even if it weren’t treated with chemicals (note to small cattle ranchers celebrating the success of driving BPI into bankruptcy: You’re pawns! The Food Elite are not your friends, and you’re digging your own graves).

The Food Elite doesn’t just want to ban “pink slime.” They don’t want to curtail only red meat consumption. The Food Elite wants to curb the consumption of all meat. There is an explanation for why the Food Elite wants us all to consume less meat, but that’s a discussion for another day. For now, it’s enough to focus on the fact that the Food Elite doesn’t want us eating meat.

The tactics employed by the Food Elite in the fight against “pink slime” made people believe they were making a “choice” themselves by using everyone’s ignorance of food production paired with a little misinformation and scary-sounding chemicals to make everyone believe that “pink slime” was poisonous.

That strategy seems to have worked quite well. However, had that tactic failed or should that tactic fail in the future, the Food Elite would have no problem using the federal government to compel people to make the “right” choices by taxing the “bad” food and subsidizing the “good” food, or perhaps just flat out banning “bad” products a la NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who recently banned food donations to the homeless lest the homeless consume too much salt or fat.

A brief timeline of events:

4/12/2011 Jamie Oliver, on his television show Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, airs a completely misleading demonstration about how “pink slime” is made. In this demonstration, he douses beef with household ammonia (ammonium hydroxide) and claims that this is how “pink slime” is made. The absolute absurdity of this demonstration and the demonization of “pink slime” because of the use of ammonia requires an article of its own. I have already written on the subject, as have many others.

7/23/2011 Mark Bittman, writing for The New York Times, pens his article “Bad Food? Tax It, and Subsidize Vegetables” which lays out the Food Elite’s underlying principle that they know better than each individual, and, furthermore,  that it is the Food Elite’s responsibility, via the compulsory powers of the federal government, to regulate our food choices by taxing the “bad” foods and subsidizing the “good” foods. It is critical to understand that this is the mindset of the Food Elite. Bittman writes:

…[the food industry will] continue to sell the health-damaging food that’s most profitable, until the market or another force skews things otherwise. That “other force” should be the federal government, fulfilling its role as an agent of the public good and establishing a bold national fix.

Rather than subsidizing the production of unhealthful foods, we should turn the tables and tax things like soda, French fries, doughnuts and hyperprocessed snacks. The resulting income should be earmarked for a program that encourages a sound diet for Americans by making healthy food more affordable and widely available.

3/6/2012 Bettina Siegel launches a change.org petition to “STOP the use of ‘pink slime’ in our children’s school food.” Reading through the “reasons” on this petition is better than Churchill’s famous “five minute conversation” as the best argument against democracy.

3/12/2012 The LA Times publishes an article about dubious research claiming that any amount of red meat is bad for you.

3/13/2012 Andy Bellatti, writing for the Huffington Post, lays out – in black and white – the argument that abolishing chemically-treated meat only makes meat “less bad” because meat is “bad” to start with. Read his article “Beyond Pink Slime” for yourself. He cites the same study discussed by the LA Times from the day before.

3/19/2012 Tom Lakaway, writing for Grist, explains that “pink slime” is “the tip of the iceberg.” He explains that all meat is chemically treated to help prevent foodborne illness. In other words, all meat is treated with chemicals, and the battle just fought against “pink slime” needs to extend much further.

3/20/2012 The New York Times baits meat eaters with a contest, “Calling All Carnivores: Tell Us Why It’s Ethical To Eat Meat: A Contest.” The implication is that not only is meat bad for us and full of chemicals, but it’s morally and ethically wrong.

3/22/2012 Frank Bruni, writing for The New York Times, discusses his struggle with gout. While admitting that the scientific community doesn’t know what causes gout, Bruni discusses how eating less red meat seems to help control the symptoms thereof. He opines that living a life without red meat isn’t so bad, even though he used eat lavish meals, gorging on beef. In fact, life is better: he’s lost a little weight and his workouts have improved. (Scientific evidence, indeed!) He insinuates that if others would just try a meatless diet, they would learn to appreciate what they’ve been missing by consuming primarily meat.

4/5/2012 Mark Bittman retweets that “Arsenic is secretly fed to poultry.”

4/6/2010 Mark Bittman retweets an article titled  “Tired of hearing about beef processing? Try chicken.” Taking the success from the misinformation smear campaign against LFTB, he offers up a supposedly analogous situation to make chicken the next “pink slime” in consumers’ minds. The fact that the very researchers who published the results stated that it “did not pose a significant public health safety risk” doesn’t keep Bittman and Marion Nestle of Food Politics (the author of the article) from using a little innuendo to smear yet another meat product in an attempt to create another public outcry over a non-issue.

4/11/2012 The chatter about the research in chicken continues to pick up steam. Stacey Delikat, a non Food Elite reporter for 3TV in Arizona, runs a piece discussing the research related to chicken, probably because of the Arizona tie-in given that the study involved ASU researchers. The headline is sensationalistic, pointing to the fact that “Banned antibiotics” were found in chicken feed, while the article itself is far more balanced, discussing that there is no immediate concern. However, the story has begun to creep into the non Food Elite media sources and the innuendo in the headline that helps to “sell” 3TV also helps further the agenda of the Food Elite. There is surely more to come.

This doesn’t even come close to the full timeline nor does it connect all the dots that could be connected. The movement to control what Americans eat is real, and it’s larger than one can imagine. The Food Elite believe they know better than you what you should eat, and they’re ready to use the full force of the federal government to impose their beliefs on you. They also have no problem using you as an unwitting pawn in their fight, and you have probably been duped by them at least once.

The Food Elite are smart to start at the periphery with things like LFTB. Once linked to children and given a pejorative like “pink slime,” LFTB is a perfect vehicle to start the battle because those opposing the ban look like they support lethal chemicals in food fed to children. It’s diabolical. It’s pernicious.

The Food Elite have already begun using the “pink slime” smear tactic on poultry. They’re using a similar tactic with sugar by comparing sugar to drugs and alcohol, as demonstrated by the recent 60 Minutes segment interviewing Robert Lustig, a UCSF professor who believes that there should be a sin tax on sugar. Lustig’s argument is basically Bittman’s argument: the federal government needs to tax “bad” food.

However, Lustig builds on that argument, explaining that because sugar causes health problems later in life, those who consume sugar should be taxed to defray increased future health care costs to society, tying the battle to control what we eat to Health Care.

How far will the Food Elite go before people rise up in opposition? How many products will already have been banned? How many producers will people have viciously attacked, forcing those producers out of business by “choice” based on ignorance and misinformation? How many products won’t families be able to afford to eat anymore?

How far will the government go? Mark Bittman once pointed to the fact that China was considering the death penalty in food poisoning cases. He specifically said that he’d never seriously suggest that the US government institute the death penalty, but why even bring it up then? Should we be grateful that at least the Food Elite don’t want to put “criminals” in their war on food to death?  

This nonsense knows no end, and the only way to stop it is for each and every one of us to educate ourselves about what we’re eating and fight the Food Elite. The talons of this movement are firmly gripping Climate Change and Health Care as reasons why the government should intervene, and the stakes in this battle are far greater than the Food Elite will let on. 

You must bring an end to this madness. If you don’t take a stand against the Food Elite, you’ll end up eating however they want you to eat at any given moment (don’t kid yourself into believing it will remain constant). But, hey, take it from Frank Bruni: it ain’t all that bad, and you might even kind of like it. Pass the twigs and berries, please.