Meat Glue? Are you serious?

OK, this is another random rant and public announcement for those of you who do care about what you eat….

What is this world coming to?  All in the name of chasing the money!  Or is this a question of butchers not wanting to waste food?  Whatever the case, it’s not good!

A friend sent me this clip this afternoon asking if anyone had ever heard of “meat glue”… this was a first to me and now that I know, I’m telling whoever wants to listen.  Here’s the clip…

So they use a toxic (when breathed in) powdered “glue” (made of the plasma found in pigs and cows blood), to stick bits of meat together to form a “prime cut” looking piece of meat and you can’t taste the difference!

So what they’re telling me is that a premium cut of meat tastes the same as the off cuts from that premium cut of meat…

Well duh! Of course it does!! It’s the same bit of meat from the same cow!

BUT…. because people want their food to look perfect, they will buy the beautiful cut piece of meat and leave the offcuts… that are too good to mince (because we have pink slime for that) and too ugly and small to sell as prime cuts!

What do we do with that?  Well, seems the butchers have decided to glue the bits of meat together and make it look like the perfect piece of meat and since it tastes the same… what does it matter?  That, my dear consumers is our faults.  If we weren’t so concerned about the way the food “looked” then they wouldn’t be genetically engineered to look that way… and butchers wouldn’t be coming up with ways to make undesirable looking (but just as tasty) bits of meat into desirable looking (just as tasty but now potentially hazardous) bits of meat!

Now we’ve got a problem of potentially getting food poisoning from too much  bacteria OR we’re eating bits of an animal we may have purposefully chosen to avoid!  So, if people don’t eat pork or beef for religious or other reasons, they’ve made that choice yet they will still end up eating it in their chicken and they wouldn’t even know it!

What you don’t know won’t hurt you right? I’m sure food poisoning is a world of hurt!

Although inconvenient for the butcher, I reckon a food-conscious consumer would be best getting them to cut the carcass in front of them and mince the meat in front of them.

This makes me think back to when I was in the Philippines about 15 years ago.  I went to the markets with my grandmother.  It was a stinking hot day and I went with her because I’d never been to a little Filipino market before and I had to help her carry home some veggies and pork to cook for all of us for dinner.

Coming from Australia, the market I was expecting was slightly different to the one I encountered!!  The markets were cramped and there were live chickens running around.  The ground was dirty (a lot of muddy soil over dark cement) rather than cleaned white tiles or cleaned, easily hosed, light grey cement that I was used to).  My grandma and I browsed several stands and she bought various vegetables.  The vegetables were of OK quality and quite small compared to what I was used to but I put this down to lack of nutrients in Filipino soil!  Yes, yes, naive girl not knowing that the food I ate was genetically modified to look plump and round rather than the organic veggies grown in people’s backyards that I was looking at that day.

We then reached an opening in the middle of the market where there stood a blood splattered tree stump with a cleaver wedged into it.  A man sat in a fold up chair beside the tree stump, reading a newspaper.

Very close to this tree stump, was a huge pig’s head hanging by its ear on a meat hook (indicating the stall owned by the butcher) staring down at the entire scene.

I cringed, I thought it was the most disgusting thing I’d ever seen!  There were flies everywhere as well, flying and hovering from the pig’s head to the bloody stump.  My grandma asks the man for a piece of pork, he shows us what’s left of the pig’s carcass and we choose (my grandma does, I just watch with a horrified look on my face) which bit we want and how much.  He chops it up on the tree stump, hands it to us (By us I mean my grandma.  I just keep staring at the largest pig’s head I’ve ever seen and thinking back to scenes of Lord of the Flies).

As we walk home, I’m still cringing and gagging… “Lola, that is disgusting! How are we going to eat this?  It had flies all over it!  What if they laid their eggs in the meat?!?! And the pig!!! It was staring down at itself getting chopped up! OMG I actually saw the face of the pig I’m going to be eating! AND THERE WAS NO FRIDGE!! It’s a stinking hot day!! Surely that meat would rot sitting out there all day!! Urgh!  I think I’m going to be sick!”

My grandma replied, “This is why you wash and cook your meat thoroughly, to kill all the germs.  At least you know that it’s fresh.  If you want fresher, you get here early in the morning when he kills the pig and it’s still cool enough for there to be no flies but we got here a little bit late.  There’s no need for a fridge, he only kills one pig each day and by the end of the day, it’s all gone.”

I used to think back to that memory and cringe at how gross that was and even how backwards.. I mean, no fridge and he cut it up on a tree stump! How unhygienic!  But now, I realise, that’s actually a better way to be!  There’s no waste – the entire pig gets bought and eaten, you pay for what you choose.  You get to see exactly what’s available and choose the section you want.  If you don’t like what’s there, you don’t eat meat  for the day (or you go eat chicken or fish instead) and someone else will buy that bit of pork.  He won’t kill another pig just so you can also have that pork shoulder that someone else bought.  There are no offcuts except for the ones you make and use or discard of at home!

The best part is, you’ve seen exactly what conditions it was kept so you know how to treat it when you get home (you know if you can eat it slightly pink, if you need to wash it, scrub it, cut off bits or if you need to cook it all the way through).  It’s perfect… for a small provincial town.

Or so you would think!  In Hong Kong, when we visited back at the end of 2009, they were still keeping chickens live at the markets.  You choose one, pay for it and they will kill it, bleed it, gut it and pluck it for you there and then.  You can stay there and watch or you can leave them to it, come back and pick it up later.  They will only kill as many chickens for the day as there are bought.

I asked Tones “What if the person doesn’t come back because they’ve changed their mind?  Then they’ve killed that chicken for no reason!”

He answered, “That’s why you have to pay first before they kill it”.  No need for a fridge and no need for waste!  Can’t get any fresher than that and they’ve made it work within a bustling city!

People in the Western World will probably think that is all a little bit backwards but seriously, meat glue and pink slime?

Kill it and cut it in front of me I say, otherwise, vegetarianism here I come!

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