(pic from here)I gave up Shark Fin Soup last year. That was for the sharks. This year, I’m giving up ground beef. This is for me, not the cows. I suggest that everyone else give up ground beef too. If you’re wondering why, check out this article: Woman’s Shattered Life Shows Ground Beef Inspection Flaws (watch the video feature too). The story: Stephanie Smith went to her mom’s house for a hamburger, and because the ground beef patty was contaminated with E Coli, it left her sick and paralyzed ten days later. Doctors say she’ll never walk again.
The very first time I heard rumors of the disgusting waste that comprises ground beef was on a Jamie Oliver’s cooking show. Jamie was teaching people to make hamburgers, and he said that he bought whole cuts of meat and ground them in a food processor rather than buying ground beef. He explained by saying that with whole cuts, at least you know what you’re getting. I bought a food processor and ground my own meat the first few times, then I got lazy and started buying ground beef. I figured that Jamie was British, and perhaps things were different in Britain. Ground beef couldn’t be that bad.
It turns out Jamie was right, and I was wrong. Check out all the interesting contributors to the hamburger that paralyzed Stephanie Smith. Her burger came from four different sources, one of which is a plant in Uruguay. Most of it comes from trimmings that are not fit to be included as whole cuts. These big beef companies artificially alter the percentage of fat by selectively mixing trimmings–that’s why they’re able to put a percentage fat grade on each package of ground beef. As for pathogens, because the FDA hasn’t done much enforcing of the industry, only certain players test for E Coli. In the meat industry, testing is almost entirely voluntary.
Jamie Oliver was right. Cleaning your food processor is a pain, but it’s worth it to avoid eating all the nasties that go into ground beef. If you absolutely can’t spare the time to clean or fine chop the meat yourself, buy your ground beef from Costco–even though Costco also has nasty trimmings in their ground beef, they’re one of the few big retailers that tests all trimmings for E Coli before grounding. Costco–you never fail me.
But if you can ground it yourself, do so. It’s really easy. Just buy the cheapest whole cut you can get, cut it into chunks, stick it into the food processor, and hit the chopping button for just a few seconds, several times. Remove the ground meat from the food processor,and move on to the next pile of meat. Keep doing this until you’re done. Then use the meat to cook your burger, meatloaf, or whatever it is that you’re cooking. It won’t have the consistency of the prebought ground beef, but it’ll be better for you.
Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.