Meaty matters

A dinner with Big Ag

By
May 29, 2012

Tom Philpott has been blogging about food politics long enough that he’s become one of the best-known voices in the field. As a result, he was recently invited to speak at a Big Ag policy conference:

Rather than investigate and critique these companies in print, I broke bread with some of their executives. And then, in a public forum live-cast on the Internet from DC’s Newseum, I told them bluntly what I thought of their industry. They seemed a bit stunned by the spectacle, rapt in attention but increasingly silent as my critique went on.

Philpott wasn’t shy, telling his audience exactly how their products — herbicides, pesticides, and GMO creations, bolstered by massive marketing and lobbying budgets — were devastating the planet.

But he also admitted that he’s no food-politics saint; despite having recently written a post about an industrial substance called "meat glue," he nevertheless ate the probably-glued-together filet mignon served to him at the conference.

After all, as Philpott pointed out recently, meat glue and the even more notorious “pink slime” aren’t nearly as bad as other common meat-industry practices, including the dangers of contamination from rodents, insects, antibiotics, hormones, sloppy slaughtering, and recycled feed.

Is anyone in the industry listening to him? At that policy conference, maybe yes. But as illustrated by a recent New York Times op-ed — in which editorial writer Philip M. Boffey declared that pink slime wasn't bad and was actually tasty – the mainstream still has plenty of defenders. Fortunately, Bettina Siegel, whose call to action on pink slime made it a household phrase, picked apart Boffey’s arguments in a rebuttal.

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