Author Topic: Should you eat that bacon?  (Read 8139 times)

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Offline TXCraig1

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Should you eat that bacon?
« on: July 15, 2012, 12:44:24 PM »
Decision model:
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Offline Ev

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2012, 02:48:11 PM »
 Eat it!

Phar Lap

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2012, 07:46:28 PM »
Craig,

Given the hilarious decision tree, this may be a stupid question, but I ask it with sincerity: having worked in the industry, does commercial processed animal food--(i.e. bacon, hot dogs, etc.)--give you any pause health-wise, other than egregious over-indulgence?  

I have definitely enjoyed my fair share of bacon et al. in my 36 years, but now that I have to figure out what to feed a 5-year old and 2-year old, there is so much contradictory info out there about the products from large commercial animal producers--(Smithfield, Tyson, Hormel, etc.).

Thanks...Adam      

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2012, 08:07:59 PM »
Craig,

Given the hilarious decision tree, this may be a stupid question, but I ask it with sincerity: having worked in the industry, does commercial processed animal food--(i.e. bacon, hot dogs, etc.)--give you any pause health-wise, other than egregious over-indulgence?  


Thanks...Adam      

No. Not at all. I've spent time in Hormel, Tyson, and IBP beef, pork, and chicken plants, and everything I've seen is unbelievably clean. Entire shifts are devoted to cleaning and sanitation every day. Nothing strange goes into the hot-dogs. Is there anything specific you are curious about?

CL
Pizza is not bread.

Phar Lap

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2012, 09:28:28 PM »
Craig,

I guess it is the driving motivations of the commercial meat industry that I am curious about.  I fully understand that a business has to profitable to exist--(government bailouts notwithstanding); but it is very popular right now in the "local food movement"--(not that there is anything wrong with supporting the local food economy)--to paint the commercial meat industry as solely concerned with maximizing profit...so much so that the health of the consumers and animals be damned, all in the name of profit. 

At an intellectual level, that viewpoint makes little sense to me, because if you inherently sacrifice your business inputs and the outputs utilized by customers, you are dooming the business to eventual failure.  However, I have also been exposed to the contrarian emotional-side of the argument--("all commercial animal products are evil because of the big, bad corporations")--and thus, I am intrigued by your experience in the industry: was there a singular focus on maximizing profit; or was there a more balanced approach, integrating profit goals with consumer health, animal husbandry, etc.       

Thanks...Adam

Offline PowerWagonPete

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2012, 09:53:54 PM »
MMMMM, smoked bacon!!!...   ;D

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2012, 11:20:36 PM »
Does turkey bacon count?

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2012, 11:30:28 PM »
Does turkey bacon count?
Yes. But you will not become a true warrior.....warrioress,maybe.   ;)
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Offline Don K

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2012, 11:57:38 PM »
Does turkey bacon count?
Yes...

As long as it's this kind:
The member formerly known as Colonel_Klink

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2012, 12:00:34 AM »
Damn Don...does that morphodite have a name?   :o

Saweet basket weaving skills!
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Offline SinoChef

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2012, 02:13:58 AM »
Need some of the after shots of that bird!

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2012, 10:55:08 AM »
Need some of the after shots of that bird!
Mummy bird!   ;D
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Offline Don K

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2012, 11:52:05 AM »
I don't have any after pictures. It's not actually my picture.

My sister is always nagging me about eating healthier, and once she suggested turkey bacon because she knows that I love bacon. Just to mess with her, I sent her an e-mail to thank her for the turkey bacon suggestion. I found the picture on the Internet. The e-mail read "The turkey bacon was delicious. Here is a picture."

That is exactly how my grandmother used to make turkey (minus the fancy weave). It is very tasty that way. Of course it is...everything is better with bacon!
The member formerly known as Colonel_Klink

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2012, 12:14:58 PM »
Craig,

I guess it is the driving motivations of the commercial meat industry that I am curious about.  I fully understand that a business has to profitable to exist--(government bailouts notwithstanding); but it is very popular right now in the "local food movement"--(not that there is anything wrong with supporting the local food economy)--to paint the commercial meat industry as solely concerned with maximizing profit...so much so that the health of the consumers and animals be damned, all in the name of profit.  

At an intellectual level, that viewpoint makes little sense to me, because if you inherently sacrifice your business inputs and the outputs utilized by customers, you are dooming the business to eventual failure.  However, I have also been exposed to the contrarian emotional-side of the argument--("all commercial animal products are evil because of the big, bad corporations")--and thus, I am intrigued by your experience in the industry: was there a singular focus on maximizing profit; or was there a more balanced approach, integrating profit goals with consumer health, animal husbandry, etc.        

Thanks...Adam

Like most things I guess, the truth is somewhere in the middle. I don't think it is as much the local food movement as it is more radical groups that are trying to paint the big-food industry in a bad light. Itís an environmentalist/animal rights issue falsely sold as a food quality issue because they know their real agenda wonít sell with the American people.

That being said, yes, big-food is driven by profit, but it has to be or it doesn't exist. Capital seeks a return. If there is no return, the capital goes elsewhere. When profit is the goal, things are going to happen that might not at smaller/local scale. Animals are farmed more densely. Feed might not be as good Ė though this point is probably debatable. Local/artisan producers will use natural smoke where big food will make much more use of liquid smoke or smoked casings. And, so on. However, when it comes to physical processing, I would argue that big-food likely has a quality advantage that stems from scale.

Where we often lose out on quality is when we insert the big box/supermarket retailers. In many cases, they donít want to have knives (and butchers) for safety and cost reasons. Now in steps big food to take the local butcherís place. Instead of shipping primal and sub-primal cuts, they now ship final cuts Ė in some cases ready for the shelf. Weíve come up with all kinds of clever ways to ways to do this: for example, Cryovac, Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) and oxygen barrier packaging with an outer wrap that is removed just before putting on the shelf that exposes an oxygen permeable inner wrap that lets the meat bloom up nice and pink (and speeding up the shelf-life clock). None of this will ever be as good as fresh cut.

Retailers have also pushed for lower cost to fight it out on the street and big food has responded with things such as ďenhancedĒ meats that are injected with water and chemicals designed to hold in that water. I canít stand this Ė not because it isnít healthy but rather because it is just awful tasting and ruins the texture. We do this with fresh meat and also processed Ė look at cooked ham at you store and youíll find everything from no water added to at least 39% - maybe more.

For the sake of price, you will see turkey in many sausages, bologna, hot dogs, etc. Ė but some people prefer this flavor. It makes it less expensive, but the impact on quality is debatable and a matter of individual taste.

One advantage a local producer would have is not having to deal with the USDA. If he does not ship over state lines, no USDA. Is this a good thing? Like I noted above, big food probably has an advantage when it comes to sanitization and processing technology. Not that a local producer canít match them, certainly they can on the sanitization at least, but they might not have the oversight. They also donít have $billions to lose if they make a mistake. That is a strong motivation to get things right which brings up another factor: lawyers.

Lawyers would love nothing more than to sue big food because big food has big pockets. How does this translate into lower quality? It forces big food to put chemicals into food that are not needed Ė extra preservatives and extra chemicals to cover up the flavor of the extra preservatives. They have to do this because if they didnít and someone does get sick, the lawyers will go to sue and claim that big food did not use the extra preservatives because they are greedy and wanted to save money. Big food is damned if they do and damned if they donít.

Bottom line, local producers may make better tasting food in many cases, but it is doubtful that it is more wholesome. Local food is great, but it is limited in what is available and it is expensive, and if there was no big food, it would be REALLY expensive. You would probably not eat much meat. A simple and often overlooked truth is that many people only have food on the table because of big food. You think there are a lot of hungry kids out there today? Try it without big food.

CL
« Last Edit: July 16, 2012, 12:27:18 PM by TXCraig1 »
Pizza is not bread.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2012, 12:25:58 PM »
Need some of the after shots of that bird!

This is they.

Found them here along with the pre-bake photos:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/echoforsberg/4136837358/in/photostream/
Pizza is not bread.

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2012, 12:31:36 PM »
The processing plants are generally very clean, as Craig has mentioned first hand.

The areas where the animals are raised/"live" on the other hand can often be horror shows on multiple levels. It is important to realize that not all, but a great amount of the meat sold in most commercial locations does not spend a healthy, or clean life before going to the processing plant to be killed and packaged.

It is not uncommon for pigs to suffer from all sorts of respiratory issues including pneumonia and other maladies from being constained to a life in a small, confined pen and having to constantly breathe in the gasses created from the S*^t of the multitude of pigs in the immediate vicinity.

Regardless to whether someone wants to eat meat or not, I simply cannot believe that if a person was presented two pigs to eat before being sent to processing: Pig A was stained ankle deep with feces and was sick and infirmed and Pig B was healthy, not sick and clean. I find it hard to fathom that someone would pick Pig A to put into your body. And yet because we cannot "see" what is going on inside of CAFOs, most Americans unknowingly are choosing Pig A (or Cow A or Chicken A) on a daily basis. --K
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2012, 12:33:55 PM »
That's a nice looking bird! --K
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2012, 12:39:31 PM »
Dry Mummy..yuk!!

Craig, very nice writing,thanks. I always enjoy it, and everyone here benefits when TXCraig gets on a roll!   ;)
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Phar Lap

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2012, 12:46:22 PM »
Craig,

Great response...thank you! 

Your point about the litigious nature of our society having a direct effect on the chemical load in commercial meat is really excellent, and not something I had previously considered.  Did you ever teach in college/grad school?...I am betting yes  ;)

Thanks again...Adam

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Should you eat that bacon?
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2012, 12:57:05 PM »
The processing plants are generally very clean, as Craig has mentioned first hand.

The areas where the animals are raised/"live" on the other hand can often be horror shows on multiple levels. It is important to realize that not all, but a great amount of the meat sold in most commercial locations does not spend a healthy, or clean life before going to the processing plant to be killed and packaged.

It is not uncommon for pigs to suffer from all sorts of respiratory issues including pneumonia and other maladies from being constained to a life in a small, confined pen and having to constantly breathe in the gasses created from the S*^t of the multitude of pigs in the immediate vicinity.

Regardless to whether someone wants to eat meat or not, I simply cannot believe that if a person was presented two pigs to eat before being sent to processing: Pig A was stained ankle deep with feces and was sick and infirmed and Pig B was healthy, not sick and clean. I find it hard to fathom that someone would pick Pig A to put into your body. And yet because we cannot "see" what is going on inside of CAFOs, most Americans unknowingly are choosing Pig A (or Cow A or Chicken A) on a daily basis. --K

Iíd have to take some exception to this. Iím not saying it doesnít happen, but it doesnít happen often in my experience. Iíve been to many pig farms, and Iíve never seen it. In most of the places Iíve been, pig feet never touch dirt. They live on a cement grate and the waste falls through the grate, and they are washed regularly. Visibly sick animals do not get processed into food for humans.

It is absolutely not accurate to say that most Americans are eating sick animals on a daily basis. I also doubt it is accurate to say that animal B is necessarily cleaner than animal B (we donít eat cows, by the way, we eat steers and heifers).

CL
Pizza is not bread.


 

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