I was just sitting here, at my desk, thinking about meat. Not something I do often. We are having dinner with my parents and during discussion of what to serve, my mother asked me how I felt about meatloaf. I am not a big meatloaf fan personally, because I do not care for the texture of ground beef. My husband loves it, and so does our oldest son. My 10 month old, however, has never had ground beef. When I told her that it would be his first exposure to ground beef, and she asked me why I had not previously given him any, I began to explain all the reasons I have been uncomfortable letting him try it. Turns out, there are even more reasons than I realized.
First, there are what I would consider run-of-the-mill, regular “mommy/daddy” concerns………..
- Being of a larger crumblier texture, I wanted to see some progress in the ‘toofie’ department before I introduced it, to be sure he would not choke. No problems there, he has 4 now and bites through everything he is given like a piranha.
- Whether we realize it or not, I believe we have a tendency to introduce the foods that we, ourselves, like to our children. It’s probably fair to say most folks don’t like beets and don’t make it an early food, whereas bananas are fairly universally liked and often given quite early on.
- Because of the dangers of Escherichia Coli with undercooked red meat, I have hesitated to give very much of it, other than the small amount I have thoroughly steamed and finely ground or pureed. Subsequently, he tends to prefer chicken, fish, or turkey, since those are most familiar to him.
- I have made almost all of the solid foods he has eaten, by the combined use of a high-grade steamer and the baby bullet system. As a result, I have been able to offer him food without preservatives, additives, unknown chemicals, and with no added salt or sugar.
That leads into the slightly scarier worries I have about ground beef nowadays………….
- Pink slime. Slaughterhouse scraps that have been mechanically separated, then treated with ammonia, used as filler in ground beef. Eeewww. That doesn’t sound the least bit appetizing to me, why would I want to feed it to my son? The kicker to this is that there do not seem to be any sort of restrictions on the selling of meat with this filler added in. It can be sold unlabeled, and is currently being pushed into our schools for our children to eat. So the USDA declares it safe, right? I do not personally care to gamble my health on the assurances of faceless officials from the government, or indeed any agency. Numbers always seem to take precedence over individuals, and I have no desire to become an unfortunate statistic. The best I have been able to determine, the only way to be sure this filler is NOT present in your beef is to purchase meat labeled USDA Organic.
- Antibiotics & hormones administered to the animals prior to slaughter. If it’s in the animal, it’s going to be in the meat, to some extent.
- The use of Bacteriophages on processed meat ‘products’ has become common. As with the many other things we, as consumers, are often uninformed about, if and when it becomes the standard to treat beef products…..will we know? There can be no 100% assurances that the viruses in use to curb Listeria will not mutate into something harmful to us. If this happens, will we be informed? How quickly? It may just be me, but folks…..if someone set a beautiful burger or good cut of steak in front of me and said “Hang on while I spray a virus on this. It’s for your safety.” I would probably not want it afterwards, regardless of their assurances.
Let’s be honest. Like a lot of concerned people out there, I don’t have any good suggestions for the USDA. I am sure they do the best they can, within their means. I will not stop eating meat, or even processed meat products. I will try, however, as much as I can, to protect my sons from exposure to things that creep me out, the way that ground beef does now. They will eventually have plenty of it, if they want. Maybe tonight, though, we’ll skip it and my Connor-boo can have some veggies from our garden. We know where they have been, how they were grown, what they have been exposed to, and how they were prepared.