What, ol’ Chef Roy is only vegetarian about 95% of the time. Why? Okay, let’s talk about meat. I really don’t have anything against meat itself, I do eat meat from time to time. I just have a thing against modern meat. Supermarket meat, the stuff that in reality has as little nutritionally to do with real meat as Cheeto's does to cheese. Supermarket meat is pretty cheap, all things considered. Really it is, when you consider the alternative, it is really cheap. Take a look at free range organic chicken: whole, 4.59/lb; breasts, boneless, skin on, 9.49/lb; grass fed organic beef, rib eye, 8.00/lb, ground chuck, 4.50/lb. Stuff like that, good stuff, costs more to raise, and in actuality, the farmers that raise those products are not making tons of money. I had a chance to buy a forequarter of a organic hog back in Austin, approximately 90 lbs, in whole form, 380 bucks. And I know for a fact that the price was not enough to cover the cost of raising the pig.
So what is going on, why is good meat so much more expensive than supermarket meat, and is it really any better? Well, that is a tough one. I could tell you all about the Consumer Reports findings about how 69% of all pork in the coolers of supermarkets is contaminated with a strain of bacteria called
Yersinia enterocolitica, which causes fever and gastrointestinal illness with diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. A full 70% of supermarket chicken is contaminated with Salmonella of various species. All of those are just as bad in this area, causing many of the same symptoms, and in many many cases, death. The worst part of the findings, a large percentage of the bacterial contamination were of strains that are now antibiotic resistant. Yes, cooking to proper temperatures does kill the bacteria, but improperly handled and stored meats in fact allow the bacteria to grow and their waste products are toxic, and are what in reality cause the illnesses when you consume the live bacteria. And of course when you eat the live bacteria now, modern medicine (remember, those guys are just practicing) are hampered in their efforts to help you since the live bacteria are resistant now. If the meats were improperly stored, then there could be enough toxins present to cause similar reactions.
That's not so bad right? Well, sure, a little of the Hershey squirts after eating a chicken sandwich is okay. However, let's look at some of the real reasons that supermarket meat is cheaper. Ractopamine. When fed to pigs and cows, the animals put on lean muscle faster than similarly fed animals not given the drug. It's cheap, and makes the animals bigger, thus, more profit. There is that rather nasty side effect where the cows and pigs become so disoriented and sick that they are unable to walk after being dosed with the stuff. California passed a law that stated that it would be illegal for slaughterhouses to kill animals to process for human consumption if the animals were too sick to walk. I mean, makes sense to me, bse, some nasty other cns problems, bacterial infections, and just a whole host of problems can make livestock so ill that they can't walk. Many of those problems can be transmitted to humans. So, made sense, right? Except to ranchers and big agribusinesses, they went to the Supreme Court and got the law declared unconstitutional. Those ranchers have the right to slaughter sick and diseased animals for you to consume. It's their right! The Ractopamine that is fed to all of these animals, is destined to remain in animals to be consumed here in the US. The rest of the world doesn't want the stuff in their food, and have outlawed it and banned any imports of meats from the US with any Ractopamine residue in it. The rest of the world it seems has RIGHTS as well! More than Americans it seems.
Lastly, and most ghastly, is feed. And feed lots. Supermarket meat is raised in CAFO's. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, and that is a polite way of saying that they raise livestock to live on their own shit, lie and sleep in their own shit, and be subjected to the HORRIFIC bacteriological maelstrom of deadly microbial life that they are literally living on. So, to combat the problem, antibiotics. That is one of the reasons we have so many antibiotic resistant bacteria strains out in the real world now. Then there is the food that is fed to the animals. Cheap agricultural byproducts mixed with Genetically Modified corn, soy and canola meal. Ground bones and offal from slaughterhouses and chicken feathers and chicken parts from chicken processors, and byproducts from....... you don't want the whole list do you? It gets even more disgusting than that stuff. Hey, I am adamantly opposed to ANY Genetically Modified foods in any way being fed to animals, or to humans, so I am against the mainstay of foods for animal husbandry. I wish that was the only problem with the whole thing, but it isn't.
I don't know if you have ever eaten at a high end restaurant and ordered chicken. If you did, and it was free range, then you probably wouldn't even recognize it as chicken if the only stuff you have ever had was production chicken from high output processors. I ate some grass fed beef a couple years ago, and then some supermarket stuff. It tasted metallic to me. Nasty. There is a difference, and it does in fact go beyond taste, it is the basic makeup of the meat itself. So, I don't eat it much. If most of us did the same, then perhaps the agribusinesses would get the hint and provide us healthy meats that are welcome in the rest of the world.