I have purposely delayed making a blog post on the so called "pink slime" issue because I just didn't feel like I knew enough about it. Like it does for many of my friends, the words "pink" and "slime" do evoke certain images and negative thoughts, but I am not necessarily against using the product in consumer products. Initially I thought I was, but based on some further research my personal views have changed a little.
I think the words "Lean Finely Textured Beef" should appear on the label. I also think "treated with ammonium hydroxide" should appear on the label. If labeled properly, consumers can decide if they want to eat it, or if they want to spend a little more money on something else from another supplier that does not use those ingredients or processing methods.
I was at the local farmer's market yesterday and overheard a customer ask an apple farmer selling apple butter, "what's in your apple butter?". He replied, "apples and a little apple cider". The customer pressed the farmer for more information. The customer was convinced that there must be something else in the apple butter (i.e. corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, etc.). Like the customer I witnessed yesterday, many people are conditioned to assume that there are additives in our food that we don't necessarily know about and that don't seem to belong there. And that's why I believe labeling practices in beef processing and in all food production should be improved. I am in favor of labeling everything and letting the chips fall where they may.
During the past several years, our personal household purchasing practices have changed. We like to buy from local producers when possible. Sometimes buying local does cost more, but to us knowing where our food comes from and who produced it is worth paying a little extra money.
There is a movement to buy local in this country from people that you know. With a little research, you can find local producers who can provide what you might otherwise buy at the grocery store or retailer. You can visit the farm where it was grown and see for yourself how the animals are raised or how the vegetables are grown. I think this trend is going to continue picking up speed. And public relations issues like "Lean Finely Textured Beef" provide an additional catalyst for buying local (in my opinion).