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Ignorance Is Bliss And I’m No Better

Ignorance Is Bliss And I’m No Better

Last night a little after five PM Pacific Daylight Time, I checked Twitter and saw a lot of talk going on about Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. I saw phrases like “dog food” and “ammonia in beef” and I realized that the show premier had started airing on the East Coast. But as quickly as I got swept up in the compelling stream of information, I just as quickly forgot.

Three hours later, I was bored and turned on the TV. As it so happened, the Food Revolution was just starting. There was Jamie, showing America how nearly 70 percent of ground beef is made. All the tweets I’d read were spot on: it was disgusting.

Apparently the butcher pays someone to come and take away the leftover bits of cow that can’t be consumed by humans due to E-coli and salmonella. Traditionally it would be turned into dog food or animal chow for example, but modern science has found a way to make it clean. Literally. The leftover meat bits are washed with ammonia and then packaged up for our enjoyment.

Why didn’t I know this before? I started researching it online and there are plenty of educated consumers who have known this for years. Of course it took a mainstream television show to get me to listen.

To make matters worse, I had just come home from the grocery store with a package of ground beef and planned on taco salad for dinner. Here is where it gets embarrassing. I actually had to have an inner debate with myself as to whether or not I should still eat it.

There I was, totally disgusted at how ignorant I’ve been, yet I’m rationalizing why it will be okay to eat it anyway. “I’ve been eating it all my life, what’s one more time?” Part of me wanted to throw it out, and part of me didn’t want to waste the five whole dollars I spent on it earlier this afternoon. So what did I do?

I started preparing dinner. I cooked the beef, grossed out the entire time. I tried to taste it, but after what I’d learned it even tasted bad. But I couldn’t stop. I just kept cooking it, in total disbelief at my actions. It was almost like an out-of-body experience.

Am I ashamed to admit this in front of the world? You bet. But it’s an important issue that faces many of us, and I wonder what it will take for me to retrain myself and see my body as more sacred than I have so far. Some say ignorance is bliss, but I want to break the cycle.

I even considered hiding it from my husband. I knew he would be pleased that I made dinner for once, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to tell him what I’d learned and ruin his dinner too. I contemplated the thought of letting him eat in peace and then telling him later. But even though I wanted to eat ammonia-soaked dog food, I had to let him make his own decision.

“I learned something gross about ground beef tonight. I’ll probably still eat it this time, but I don’t think I’ll buy it again.”

For some reason what I proceeded to tell him didn’t really turn him off to the meal. He agreed that we didn’t need to buy this kind of meat anymore, but also told me he didn’t feel bad about eating it. Am I overreacting?

How could I feel so sick to my stomach while simultaneously continuing to prepare dinner as planned? Change has to start with me, and it’s sad how numb I’ve become.


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Photo from: Suat Eman

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4:27PM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

Everyone going vegan would destroy this country's economy. Period. Major industries across the country would be destroyed while no new industries would really be created. The amount of grain that would be saved from feeding cattle and livestock would more than be able to compensate our increased need and with most people probably opting to plant their own produce, there would probably be a marginal increase in the demand for produce. Fisheries across the US would be closed, costing countless jobs and destroying many of our humble costal towns. Did I miss somewhere where going vegan made you blind to all cultural and especially economic ramifications?

7:44AM PDT on May 16, 2011

I'm sure the honesty in this article strikes many people who find themselves in the same position. None of us make perfect decisions and choices all the time...we learn as we go, tastes are hard to change. Someone willing to talk about the kind of conflicts that food and diet bring up is adding to the conversation in a very important way.

12:49PM PDT on May 15, 2011

Ground meat has nothing good in it.
To know exactly what you put in your month, gives you options, and power to decide what is best for you.
Thanks Tracy for posting!

3:17PM PDT on May 14, 2011

Ignorance is never a bliss!

2:20PM PDT on May 13, 2011

This just might really put a dent in my freezer....the idea of this is just nasty....

12:24PM PDT on May 12, 2011

sickening! love vegan!

10:16AM PDT on May 12, 2011

noted thx.

6:56AM PDT on May 12, 2011

"Why didn't I know this before?"

Because the meat/dairy/egg industries do EVERYTHING in their power to make sure you don't know. If you did know, you would either 1) demand change that would cut into their almighty profits, or 2) completely refrain from consuming animals once you learn of the moral and ecological issues inherent.

That's why ranchers and slaughterhouses and you name it tries to hide what they are doing, they want laws to punish investigative reporters for filming on and reporting about the animal abuse they detect, and we have animal product commercials up to our eyeballs everywhere we turn. Abusing and executing other creatures for the profit of some is big business and they will do ANYTHING to ensure they can continue doing so and push it on you to buy it to deliver those profits to them.

To me, that is equally as disgusting as the discovery you made, Tracy. Thanks for the post, folks need to know the truth!

7:46PM PDT on May 6, 2011

Sounds terrible, but I'll still eat it. You can always buy a roast and grind it into burger yourself. I might do this.

7:34PM PDT on May 4, 2011

PS: If people like or want to eat meat go free range organic. Give the animals a chance to live a decent life and do your health a favour at the same time.

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