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Holy cow — it’s beef

Country Roads

April 9, 2012
Arvid Huisman ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

Early in our marriage my wife and I went through a particularly difficult financial stretch. Our budget was extremely tight and we looked for bargains wherever we could find them.

Shopping for groceries one week we discovered a lower priced ground beef. A sign indicated the beef contained textured vegetable protein (TVP,) which was made from soybeans and used as a meat "extender."

We purchased a couple of pounds of the blended beef only to discover that the TVP did ground beef no favors in the taste department. Nothing against soybeans but I swore I'd rather go without meat than to eat ground beef that had been "extended" with TVP.

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Fast forward 40 years and now there is ruckus over another meat extender. The difference is that Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB) really is beef and doesn't alter the taste of ground beef.

The folks protesting the use of LFTB in ground beef have created an "ick" factor by calling it "pink slime."

Where I come from, you didn't waste food and that's what the beef industry is doing with the LFTP - not wasting food. Everything I have read indicates that the product is safe and nutritious. Would that all food additives today be so healthful and tasty.

Beyond the fact that there are folks out there who prefer that we don't eat meat at all, some of the problem is that many Americans have moved too far from the source of their food.

It wasn't so long ago that we grew our own food. Our family always had a large garden and we kids were expected to help with planting, weeding and harvesting. I recall helping Mom can and freeze the produce we grew so we could eat during the cold months ahead.

We picked (or picked up) apples for immediate consumption as well as to can or freeze. Unlike the shiny applies on display at the supermarket today, homegrown apples sometimes have worms and we learned to simply cut them out.

We knew where eggs come from and that the shells of freshly gathered eggs often bore traces of chicken poop. Enjoy your omelet, ma'am.

Back then we sometimes personally knew the meat we ate. When I was 12 years old Dad decided I was old enough to raise a flock of roosters for Sunday dinners. The young roosters plumped up quickly on feed mill sweepings and cracked corn as well as bugs and whatever else they could find to eat. They weren't fussy.

When Mom said it was time to start butchering the spring fries I had no trouble decapitating the ornery birds. Plucking feathers and eviscerating the chickens wasn't much fun but, oh, did they taste good after Mom did her frying pan magic.

When I was a teenager, my parents and an uncle and aunt sometimes shared a hog. Uncle Stoffer and his father-in-law butchered the hog on the farm and brought us our half which my mother and I cut up, wrapped and placed in the freezer.

There was little waste in the butchering process. Aunt Vianna ground up bits of meat and fat from the hog's head, cooked it with selected spices and made a tasty sandwich meat called headcheese.

At our house we also ate beef liver, heart and tongue. Mmm mmm good.

We purchased our milk from Uncle Stoffer who had a small herd of dairy cows. The milk was neither pasteurized nor homogenized and in the spring it had a "grassy" taste for a few days after the cows went back to the pasture. I can't remember the names of Uncle Stoffer's cows, but I knew where our milk came from. Even as a youngster I laughed at our neighbor kids who refused to drink milk at our house because "it comes from cows!"

In retrospect, the beef industry should have been more forthcoming about the use of LFTB. No one likes surprises. The Midwestern governors who quickly came to the rescue of pink slime could have done better than the "Dude, it's beef!" slogan and t-shirts.

In front of all the news cameras, I would have chomped into a half-pound cheeseburger - extended with lean finely textured beef, of course - wiped the grease and ketchup from my chin and exclaimed, "Holy cow! It's beef!"



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