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· Why I’m 'Freaking Out' Over Fake Meat
· The beef industry is freaking out over plant-based meat? Too bad | Editorial
Why I’m 'Freaking Out' Over Fake Meat
Greg Henderson, FarmJournal's Pork
January 8, 2020
Are you “freaking out” over fake meat? The editorial board at The Los Angeles Times thinks so.
On Tuesday The Times published an editorial championing the rise of plant-based burger alternatives such as those from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. The Times suggests the plant-based burgers have evolved “so far from the card-board tasting alternatives of yore that they have triggered a backlash from the beef industry.”
Well, yeah, I guess cowboys are a little concerned about the rise of fake meats, especially when news organizations such as The Los Angeles Times publish blatantly biased and factually erroneous material. Much of The Times’ editorial is devoted to an attempt to minimize the fact plant-based fake foods are highly processed.
For instance, The Times notes that plant-based burgers contain some ingredients like titanium dioxide and methylcellulose that may sound scary, but, well, eating a plant-based burger is not as healthy as “a pile of raw vegetables.” As reassurance, The Times says, “the truth is that additives such as those listed …are regularly used in all sorts of packaged foods.”
Yes, they are, and I’m sure we’ve all eaten our share of such ingredients. But The Times was just getting warmed up.
“And if methylcellulose, a food thickener, sounds unappetizing, it’s really nothing compared with the E. coli or salmonella poisoning you can get from regular meat. The truth is that beef and other industrial meats are often packaged with things a lot more dangerous to human health than food additives.”
That’s a jab below the belt, and without any context, written only as a scare tactic in an effort to damage an industry upon which many Americans depend for a living.
Here's the context needed: E. coli and salmonella can also be found on plant foods such as lettuce and other vegetables. Indeed, plant-based burgers – or other foods for that matter – are not immune to food safety issues. Since Jan. 1, for instance, USDA and the Food and Drug Administration have already issued eight food recalls for products such as granola, ice cream, cashews, soup, string cheese, brownies and eggs. None for meat or poultry.
But, The Times says, the “bigger point” of their endorsement for fake meat is you won’t suffer “the bitter aftertaste of guilt,” and you’ll help stop climate change.
Yes, you should feel guilt for being at the top of the food chain, The Times' editors believe. “Humans also know full well that many animals live short, brutal lives in appalling conditions for the sole purpose of becoming … foods for humans to enjoy at dinner.”
No. No, we don’t know that at all. Believing such nonsense ignores the most basic of animal husbandry principles – that comfortable, well-fed and cared for animals are the most profitable.
But the most appalling statement in The Times' editorial was...
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The beef industry is freaking out over plant-based meat? Too bad | Editorial
By Los Angeles Times Editorial Board
via South Florida Sun Sentinel - Jan 08, 2020
The Impossible Burger, which first appeared in grocery stores in September, is made entirely of plant-based ingredients. But it looks, smells, feels and — most importantly — tastes so much like real hamburger beef that it's hard to tell the difference between, say, the Impossible Whopper now available at Burger King and the original charred flesh version that the fast food chain has been selling for decades.
In fact, plant-based burger alternatives from companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have evolved so far from the cardboard-tasting alternatives of yore that they have triggered a backlash from the beef industry.
The Center for Consumer Freedom, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of the fast food and meat industries, among others, has launched an "informational" campaign targeting plant-based meats. The campaign has included TV and online ads, as well as print ads in newspapers. The ads seem to imply that not only is a faux burger an "ultra-processed" patty, but that it might be junk food that is even junkier than the average beef burger.
While it's true that a plant-based meat alternative is processed — meaning altered in the preparation process, like just about everything else at the grocery store — and it's true that eating one is not as healthy as say, a pile of raw vegetables, it's best to take the ads with a generous pinch of salt. (Or sodium, which the ads correctly note is higher in precooked plant patties than in the beef kind.)
For instance, the additives and preservatives in plant-based meat highlighted in one ad sure sound scary. Who wants something called titanium dioxide in their meal? But the truth is that additives such as those listed in the ads are regularly used in all sorts of packaged foods.
And if methylcellulose, a food thickener, sounds unappetizing, it's really nothing compared with the E. coli or salmonella poisoning you can get from regular meat.
The truth is that beef and other industrial meats are often packaged with things a lot more dangerous to human health than food additives.
You want to talk about a public health threat? The widespread prophylactic use of human grade antibiotics in cows and other livestock has contributed greatly to the rise of lethal antibiotic-resistant organisms.
Besides, the ad campaign misses the bigger point. Choosing an Impossible or Beyond burger at one of the growing number of fast food and sit-down restaurants that offer them isn't just about eating healthy, though they typically have less fat and cholesterol than beef hamburgers. Burgers, be they made from processed pea protein or processed slaughtered mammal, will never be as healthy as organic raw vegetables.
What's appealing is the prospect of enjoying a juicy burger without the bitter aftertaste of guilt.
Because, let's face it, there are tremendous environmental costs to eating cows...