Snozzcumbers Bug Guts & Pink Slime

I recently re-read one of my favorite books of all time: The BFG, by Roald Dahl.  If you’ve ever read any of his books, you know what a colorful array of imaginary foods Dahl creates.  Everything from fizzy lifting drinks, glumptious globgobblers, and snozzcumbers,  to devils drenchers, frobscottle, pishlets and scorchdroppers.  I don’t know about you but every time I watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory I envy those children walking around a life-size Candyland.

Dahl was a mastermind at inventing new foods.  And reading about the imaginative frobscottle and snozzcumbers spurred a train of thought, which has led to this post: the imaginative foods of our day.

PINK SLIME has been getting a lot of media facetime lately.  This slime is composed of inedible meat product trimmings, which are then mixed with ammonia, squished out of a tube and married to ground beef to make hamburger patties.   Jamie Oliver did a fantastic bit about the making of Pink Slime:

pink-slime-beef-with-ammonia

Have you eaten at McDonalds, Taco Bell, or Burger King in the last 8 years?  Have you purchased ground beef from the supermarket?  If so, consider yourself slimed.  You have been fortunate to taste the pink slime.  But did you know you were eating it?  Was it listed in the ingredients on your package of ground beef?

BUG GUTS  are another common ingredient found in many chain-store foods.  This South American bug is “harvested” for the rosy color it secretes when squished.  Starbucks has recently been taking the heat for using the crushed bug carcasses as substitution for the standard petroleum red dye #40 in their popular strawberry-flavored items.  As you can imagine, this has made vegans, and people who generally don’t like eating bugs, vomit around the globe.  These bugs, deemed safe by the USDA were never listed on ingredient lists.

GROSS!!! I dont’ know about you but I don’t like meat slime or bug secretion.  But that’s not the point. What companies choose to put in their food is their decision and their right.  THE POINT IS:  we as customers/consumers have a RIGHT to know what is in our food. 

Inspected for Wholesomeness. Hearing these types of stories kind of cheapens the USDA's definition of Wholesomeness.

The USDA approves a lot of iffy things, like crushed bugs and dirty laundry meat.  And somehow these foods get around having to be listed in the List of Ingredients.  Specifically in the case of Pink Slime, it doesn’t have to be listed as a separate ingredient because it’s composed of beef, therefore it is a beef product.  Tricky, tricky.

Sadly, when we eat out or buy meat from supermarkets we are probably eating slime. And maybe bug guts too.  Because of the negative publicity, slime and guts are being phased out of many stores.  But they will just be substituted with other questionable products to keep the price of food artificially low.  There is really no way to avoid questionable foods like these, except by preparing our own foods, or eating at organic restaurants.   I realize in today’s world it is considered extreme to eat at home for every meal of the day. But perhaps that shouldn’t seem like such a anomaly.  It’s a sneaky, dirty, dog-eat-dog world in the food business.  And our modern day food inventors keep getting more and more creative.  So lets all try to stick to organic!  Or better yet, homemade!  Afterall, homemade food is scrumdidilyumptious!!!!

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New Food Icon!

I must interrupt my promised slew of summer-themed blog posts to report some very exciting news: THE USDA HAS UNVEILED ITS NEW FOOD ICON!  No, no, no I’m not talking about the next Tony the Tiger or adorable talking doughboy.  Something MUCH more hip: a plate!
The USDA has been doing some spring cleaning and announced today it will be throwing out the myriads of different food pyramid variations we’ve all been raised on, and will replace it with a cool new icon: a dinner plate.  It  is designed to help us easily visualize what and how much we should be eating.
MyPlate is an uncomplicated symbol to help remind people to think about their food choices in order to lead healthier lifestyles. This effort is about more than just giving information, it is a matter of making people understand there are options and practical ways to apply them to their daily lives.”  USDA Press Release, June 2, 2011
To help buoy up their new icon, the USDA has launched a multi-year campaign to offer Americans one nutritional guideline at a time. The idea behind this, is that we are bombarded with so many nutritional messages, it’s hard to know what to focus on.  Instead, this campaign will give us one thing at a time to focus on.  Right now, the tidbit of information is:  “Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables”.
So is the new nutritional icon we’re about to be inundated with, a sound nutritional guideline?  It’s definitely a good start.  The American Institute for Cancer Research has been using a similar model for some time now. 

 

American Institute for Cancer Research Guideline

 

Canada has as well.  Only difference is they stress more veggies, which I would concur with…in my humble opinion.
Canada Guideline

Another cool thing the USDA is trying this time around: feedback.  We are all invited to take pictures of our plates and share them on Twitter: http://www.flickr.com/people/usdagov/Now’s  your chance to show off that fancy healthy meal of kale you’ve worked so hard to prepare! 

For a fun slideshow of how our dietary guidelines have changed throughout the years, check out this websiteOur nutritional guidelines have definitely evolved.  Whether or not it’s based on politics, expert opinion, or unbiased scientific research is a topic for another blog.  But for now, let us enjoy our plates half full of fruits and veggies. Happy eating.

Next Blog: Summer event –Farmers Markets and local eating