Jamie Oliver has to be a little pissed off these days, and rightly so.
Oliver demonstrated how pink slime is produced, and did all of this on U.S. broadcast television … in April 2011.
Okay, so most Americans weren't paying attention. And Oliver wasn't even the first person who has brought this up. Oliver, though, is famous and showed us on TV, where we get most of our news.
In the premiere episode of Season 2, Oliver demonstrated the process in Jamie's Kitchen, washing machine and all. My take at the time?
"The bits and trimmings of the inedible meat, then separated in a washing machine, and mixed with water and ammonia — boy that was hard to watch, even if you are an omnivore."
Jamie's words got lost due to poor ratings, a key reason for the gap between the first two episodes and the rest of the show. By the time the momentum kicked in for the series during Friday airings in June, Oliver's pink slime demonstration was lost in the shuffle.
The recent push of events that has had so many companies run screaming away from "pink slime" demonstrates why getting better food quality has to be an ongoing battle.
Previous coverage: USDA needs better reasons to avoid telling us that we're eating pink slime
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" took on the topic last week, coming late to the party. But as often happens, Stewart put what we were eating in perspective, and why we'll eat whatever is in front of us.
"McDonald's walked away from it? McDonald's doesn't think it's an appropriate thing to eat? These are the people that molded a pork disk into a rib-shaped sandwich that contains no ribs. But this stuff, pink slime, that's too fake for McDonald's."
Ask any of the school systems, chain restaurants, and grocery stores whether they thought pink slime was a big deal, they know the key issue is public relations. Companies ran away from high-fructose corn syrup not because of the nuances of sweeteners, but as a way to stand out in the marketplace and pressure from the public.
The beef industry isn't thrilled with this change of events, because it was winning the Orwellian war. Calling ammonia-treated bits and trimmings of inedible meat "lean, finely textured beef" instead of "pink slime" — PR genius, unless you have to eat it.
Iowa State Sen. Brad Zaun (R) tried to get the PR advantage in writing a letter to the editor in the Des Moines Register. However, Zaun was unscrupulous in disparaging BalanceofFood.com friend Michelle Simon. You be the judge.
Simon: "So let’s hope this week’s groundswell of interest in pink slime inspires Americans to demand labeling, buy organic, or stop eating ground beef all together."
Zaun: "So let’s hope this week’s groundswell of interest in pink slime inspires Americans to … stop eating ground beef all together."
Simon's point is that consumers should know what they're eating. Zaun's point was to be deceptive to try and discredit legitimate concern over what we're eating.
Despite what we think sometimes, the Daily Show is about comedy first. So in search of a punchline, Stewart admitted what we all fear. If it's in front of us, we will eat it.
"Pink slime. Face it. It's probably no worse than the shit you already eat."
Let's hope from now on, we'll be eating less pink slime and less of the other … er, well, crap.