The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has decided to weigh in today on whether or not organic foods are better for children than conventional foods. The AAP sifted through thousands of pages of studies and concluded that organic meat and produce is most likely more beneficial to children. Because children are more susceptible to pesticides, organic versions of produce and meat containing less pesticide may lower the risk of ADHD and behavior issues, as well as decreasing children’s exposure to harmful toxins. The AAP claims that children have a harder time metabolizing toxins in their bodies because of their body’s maturity and size.
Milk though — not so much.
The AAP found that organic milk vs. conventional milk made very little difference in exposure levels to chemicals and hormones. Although they recognized that there is a small increase in breast cancer for girls who eat conventional meat and produce, drinking conventional milk doesn’t seem to increase that risk at all. The AAP says they will be looking at additional studies to further confirm their findings.
According to the WSJ, the AAP said the evidence so far suggests there is no discernible difference in the amount of estrogen found in organic milk vs. conventional milk.
They did caution parents however, that conventional produce (and to some extent, conventional meat), far outweighs withholding those foods if you can’t afford organic varieties.
So, what do you think? Does this information change your mind on organic food?
While most can probably agree, the scraps of beef, less than desirable by most human standards (unless you’re the USDA) is pretty damn gross. It’s hard to defend anything so neon in color and so gooey in consistency. But if you take away the emotional trauma and resentment, the most important question is — is pink slime safe? The beefy blob has been around and used for nearly 20 years, but it wasn’t until a New York Times reporter outed the slime a few years ago, that people started to feel duped and wonder what else was in their food supply that they didn’t know about. People don’t want to feel like a fool. Even if ‘pink slime’ were to be found relatively safe, the fallout from the skepticism and paranoia is an insidious consequence of non-disclosure which perpetuates distrust.
Recently, it was discovered that upwards of 70% of our store bought meat, fast foods burgers and school lunches contain pink slime. Chances are, unless you’ve been a vegetarian since childhood, you’ve probably digested pink slime yourself. Even more emotively reactionary – your kids have probably consumed a significant amount of pink slime.
Pink Slime actually looks like it would be fun to play with or have a candy-like taste, until you find out that it’s actually extruded meat. Even if the wet looking cotton candy substance were found to be safe, I have to admit, I haven’t eaten a burger since this has been all over the interwebs, out of plain disgust, however, the skeptic in me prompted me to look for some sort of logical justification and safety guarantees to ease my mind. I mean, I am still in one piece, relatively healthy so what gives?
Before I go into the pros and cons of pink slime, let me first explain what and why it is. The reason it’s so slimy in the first place is because it’s part of the connective tissue and meat portions located closer to a cow’s hide or skin. When you take meat from this area, it’s much more susceptible to bacteria. To kill the bacteria, the ‘trimmings’ are ground up and zapped with ammonium gas. While it’s great to buy organic meat which is handled in small, manageable quantities, it’s impossible to sustain 7 billion people on backyard, hand packed butchering.
Ammonium Gas is naturally occurring in the earth’s atmosphere and inside the human body as well. The kidney’s expel ammonium gas to balance out acid levels and during extreme exercise, ammonia can be expelled from the body through sweat. Ammonium gas is indigenous in soil, water and even other planets within our solar system. In extremely high doses, ammonium gas inhalation can cause inflammation or respiratory distress, however, the amount used to zap pink slime leaves mere trace amounts — the same trace amounts found naturally in your body.
Lending discredit to the ambiguous slime — scientists who are experts in the industry are not the ones that the public typically trusts. I see this as a problem. Furthermore, I am always skeptical of celebrities, exposé reporters, media and ‘too quick to come to conclusions’ bloggers who decry OUTRAGE when they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. If pink slime is a clearly defined health risk, why can’t anybody tell me specifically what those risks are?
To help sort out the myths from the facts, I bring you pros and cons. Feel free to add any that I’ve missed.
Pink Slime Pros:
1) It is cost effective (organic beef is very costly)
2) It minimizes waste (Using up an entire animal is not only efficient, it’s actually environmentally sound. Without trimmings, an additional 1.5 millions cows would need to be slaughtered to make up the difference, according to the Meat Industry.)
3) There is no evidence or proof that ‘pink slime’ causes you to grow 3 heads (Well, maybe 2, but that could be advantageous!)
4) The trimmings of a cow, when separated from the fat, are extremely lean
5) Other fillers (Many fast food chains have sworn off pink slime but that doesn’t mean they won’t use fillers and those fillers may be far worse.)
Pink Slime Cons:
1) Using trimmings exposes itself to a higher level of contamination
2) Concern that cartilage and connective tissue byproducts could wind up in the slime, providing questionable nutrition, although the meat industry claims the beef is just as nutritious as other parts of the cow.
3) Its propensity of contamination requires greater measures to ensure its safety
4) It’s really ugly and it’s not really ugly enough to be cute, like a pug dog
Bottom line, nobody likes to see how the sausage is made. The meat industry is suffering from a huge PR nightmare right now. Pink slime has more of an image problem than a safety problem based on the information and evidence available today. Have you ever seen how they make all beef hotdogs? I wouldn’t dare, given my predilection towards the Chicago hot dog. Yum. (Don’t you dare ruin it for me.)
Food Safety News reported they emailed James Marsden, Regent’s Distinguished Professor of Food Safety and Security at Kansas State University and asked his opinion on the whole pink slime debacle. Here is his response:
However, even if pink slime is considered safe, I still feel it’s every consumer’s right to know what’s in their food and make a decision on whether or not to consume it, whether it’s based on fact or not. Sometimes I get the feeling that our government thinks we’re too stupid or emotional to handle such facts. To me, that’s more insulting that pink slime itself. It is our job, as consumers, to make educated choices, but we need to know the fundamentals first. We simply cannot afford to sacrifice our liberty to protect industries by holding back truths but the truth has to be based on facts not political grand-standing or special interests. People need to do a better job of critical thinking and separating the wheat from the chaff.
And if you’re looking for a non-pink slime alternative, you’ll either have to go with 100% organic beef (pricey) or have your local butcher grind up some chuck for you.
So, am I going to be eating ground beef anytime soon? Probably not, but that’s only because I’m being totally emotional and irrational about it, like most people.
I’ve long known that there was cyanide in apple seeds, however, when I was a small child I avoided the accidental consumption of apple seeds not because I thought they were poisonous but because I thought that an apple tree would grow in my stomach. When you think about it, the apple has always gotten a bum rap. From Adam tempting Eve to the evil queen offering up a poisoned fruit to Snow White. Now, Dr. Oz is doing very little to add street cred to the apple’s resume.
Last week, The Dr. Oz Show went and dissed not apple seeds, but rather alarmed parents that they should stay away — far, far away — from apple juice. If one is to believe the wise prophecy of Dr. Oz, apple juice is poisonous, saying tests showed levels of arsenic, not cyanide, in some products. Even U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer heeded the call of Dr. Oz and demanded the FDA implement higher standards for apple juice imported from China.
Dr. Oz claimed that people, especially children were at risk of arsenic poisoning which could make children very sick and possibly lead to death. But is this true or is Dr. Oz being a bad seed?
According to the FDA, Dr. Oz’s report was sensationalistic reporting used to gain viewers by rocking the apple cart. In fact, the FDA came out with a formal response to the show, saying that the reports Dr. Oz used to “warn” the public of potentially lethal apple juice made no distinction between the dangerous man-made arsenic and the organic form which is naturally occurring in many foods, water and soil.
The FDA further put their boxing gloves on and offered this smack-down to the Oz-man:
“It is inappropriate to draw conclusions about the safety of a food based on the total arsenic level since in most instances organic arsenic, which again is essentially harmless and not absorbed by the body, makes up the bulk of the total arsenic in foods like juice.”
The FDA also said they did their own testing on Dr. Oz’s lot and think he’s a big, fat liar and jerk-face. Okay, they didn’t say that, but they might as well have:
“On September 10-11, 2011, the FDA completed laboratory analysis of the same lot of Gerber apple juice that was tested by the Dr. Oz. Show, as well as several other lots produced in the same facility. The FDA’s testing detected very low levels of total arsenic in all samples tested. These new results were consistent with the FDA’s results obtained in the FDA’s routine monitoring program and are well below the results reported by the Dr. Oz Show. The FDA has concluded that the very low levels detected during our analysis are not a public health risk and the juice products are safe for consumption.”
Apparently Dr. Oz isn’t taking this sitting down and definitely not sitting down while downing a nice, cold glass of delicious apple juice. He takes his bow and shoots it off the head of the FDA with his response:
“Organic arsenic CAN be harmful. There are toxic forms of organic arsenic. The FDA also knows that our understanding of organic arsenic is evolving. We are learning more about how organic arsenic is converted into the more toxic inorganic arsenic.
“The FDA announced this summer that a company that makes chicken feed with ORGANIC arsenic was suspending sales because INORGANIC arsenic was turning up in the chicken.”
Problem is — if an organic foodstuff is just as dangerous as processed and GMO foods, then you might as well go into your bathroom, stick your head in the toilet and continue to flush.
I mean, really.
Food contamination wasn’t invented recently. In the 1600s, people couldn’t figure out why so many would fall ill and croak after eating food. They thought that living matter could appear from meat and produce as if it was giving birth to life while wallowing in its own death. It wasn’t until hundreds of years later that a scientist had an aha moment and concluded that parasites and insects attached themselves to dead matter.
And it wasn’t until the end of the nineteenth century when micro-organisms were discovered and people began to understand that contamination came from water, soil, air, and animals. So, we were kinda wingin’ it until the 1900s. We’re talking mass contamination of food was around when the average lifespan was around 45 and likely contributed to the young mortality rate of the time.
While I believe that mass production of food brings about its own set of problems and safety issues, I’m not swearing off apple juice just yet. If you swore off all organic matter, you might as well give up on life altogether. One of the reasons people think there are far more fatalities from food contamination these days is because recording of this data has been rather recent.
I’m not suggesting anyone be reckless with their food safety, I’m only suggesting one use logic and not always follow the shiny and glittery charms of competitive ratings. Make up your own mind and don’t trust the television to do it for you. Even the purest of all water can be fatal if one consumes too much. If you go looking for trouble, you’re sure to find it, even in your own, homegrown garden. My advice — don’t eat where you poop and don’t poop where you eat and use common sense. Dr. Oz is only human and likely eating organic matter that someone finds harmful, even if his diet consists of nothing more than water and organic celery.
We are an extremely gullible society, believing any health report and following any trend if an expert assures us it is valid.
Unfortunately, our standards of “expertness” aren’t really up to par. We tend to believe any news anchor, medical reporter, or lifestyle columnist that comes along. No good can possibly come of this. That lack of attention to detail is how the fitness movement, the theory of global warming, and the scourge that is decaffeinated coffee all got a foothold on us.
Global warming. In the case of global warming I suspect that the entire “theory” was actually invented by a couple of bored scientists who wanted to pull a fast one on their lab partners. Chuckling maniacally, they circulated a memo claiming that hair-spray or some such nonsense was going to bring about the end of the world through a bizarre chain reaction involving icebergs, the rain forest, and Aqua Net – and then sat back for some belly laughs when the other scientists stumbled onto their practical joke. continue reading…
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