Mystery Meat / Meet My Neighbor
The meat industry never ceases to amaze me. Perusing baloghblog today, I learned that beef is now being treated and packaged with carbon monoxide to maintain its color and texture. According to Don Berdahl, vice president of Kalsec Inc., a maker of natural food extracts in Kalamazoo, Michigan, carbon monoxide-treated meat could be left on the kitchen counter for five days and would still look bright red and fresh. Kalsec filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration seeking a ban on the use of carbon monoxide in meat packaging. He noted that carbon monoxide "also suppresses bad odors and the presence of slime, other telltale signs that meat is spoiled." The FDA has approved the use of carbon monoxide for this purpose, but it is interesting to note that the European Union does not allow it.
It's reasonable to assume that folks will consider the expiration date when purchasing meat, but I remember an expose a few years back on grocery stores' commonplace practice of covering true expiration dates with later ones to improve sales. [Although, I can't find any information on this. If anyone does, please send me a link!] Considering this and the false red meat treated with carbon monoxide, or the false pink salmon treated with dyes, or abnormally large, genetically altered chickens and turkeys that suffer painful disorders ... how much sicker will this industry get? I am a former meat eater, and I miss it at times. But I am sickened by the horrific industrial method of providing meat to the public. There is nothing they won't do for profit ... public health and even the slightest compassion for the suffering be damned.
The Mad Cowboy would agree, and I'm certain he could tell stories that would turn us green. Former Montana cattle rancher Howard Lyman and Oprah Winfrey were sued for libel by Texas cattlemen in 1998, under the "Food Disparagement Act." Lyman had written The Mad Cowboy to expose the practices of factory farming and explain why this fourth-generation family farmer and meat-industry supporter became a vegetarian and activist. He appeared on Oprah's show in 1996 to discuss Mad Cow disease and other aspects of meat production. Meat sales dropped significantly after the show aired, and a chain of events began that finally ended in 2002 when after several appeals a Federal judge dismissed the case. Howard travels around the country and the world as an activist and speaker, and has a new book entitled No More Bull! and a documentary which should air on PBS this year. His non-profit educational organization is Voice for a Viable Future, which promotes "organic family farming, biodiversity, vegetarianism, environmentally friendly practices, and enlightened trade."
He's also our neighbor. Howard and his wife discovered and fell in love with Ellensburg during their travels, and left their home in Virginia to settle here. They are renting the house right next door to ours. They're very nice folks, involved in the community, and from what I hear, they cook a mean vegan spread.