Last week, The Daily broke the news that the USDA planned to buy 7 million pounds of Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT) – otherwise known as “pink slime” – for school lunches. Some reports state that 70% of prepackaged grind on retailers' shelves contain it. The resulting backlash has had more effect than anyone expected. Following a public outcry and hundreds of thousands of signatories to petitions to try to get the product out of schools, Beef Products, Inc. (BPI), the world’s leading producer of BLBT, has launched a new counteroffensive website “pink slime is a myth.” So where does the truth lie? Obviously, Boneless Lean Meat Trimmings sounds a lot more appetizing than “pink slime.” But whatever you call it, what is it? And how is it produced? The “pink slime is a myth” website says that BLBT is the meat and fat that is trimmed away when beef is cut. This is true as far as it goes. But BLBT isn’t quite the same as the bits of meat that you or your butcher might cut off the edge of a steak or other piece of meat. BLBT is the fatty trimmings that even BPI agrees couldn’t be separated with the knife. In the past, these trimmings were used for pet food or converted into oil rather than being served as hamburgers to people.
Grassfed beef from two Animal Welfare Approved farmers has gone head-to-head with conventional beef in separate taste tests. The results are in and, well, to be modest, SMACKDOWN!
This past summer, AWA supporter Chef Bill Telepan issued a challenge to Mark and Dr. Patricia Whisnant of American Grass Fed Beef—bring him some grassfed beef that he deemed worthy of using in his famous burger and he would make the switch from the beef his customers had come to love. And so, on a muggy New York City afternoon, a small crowd gathered to see the gloves come off as 100% grassfed took on heavyweight conventional grain-fed. In a stunning upset, Chef Bill declared the 100% grassfed beef the winner, bestowing the crown of onion rings and French fries that top the famous Telepan burger on the Whisnant’s American Grass Fed Beef.
Kinderhook Farm, by way of Marlow and Daughters butcher shop, was the next to step in the ring, going up against a supermarket cut in the Village Voice’s Battle of the Dishes: Grass-fed Local Steak versus Supermarket Steak. The purpose of the taste-off was simple: while the animal welfare and environmental benefits of grassfed are clear, does it really taste better than conventional?
It was barely a contest as grassfed leveled a knock-out on its opponent. From the beginning, the Kinderhook steak was a stand-out: “It [conventional] had a grayish cast, while the steak from Marlow and Daughters was a rich brownish red, with a firm texture and cream-colored fat.” Kinderhook then went on to a swift and decisive finish, notably for practically cooking itself and developing a gorgeous brown sear, knocking the supermarket steak out of competition.
Chef Bill raves about 100% grassfed beef’s “great, deep beef flavor.”
The Village Voice’s Sarah DeGregorio enthuses, “This is probably how beef used to taste, before we all got used to flaccid, fatty, vaguely-tasty-but-characterless industrial meat.”
Don’t we all want a winner on our dinner plate?