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.
Photo from: Suat Eman
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