26 Comments on DumbMeat

It’s amazing what you find while unpacking after a cross-country move.  In the boxes that contained the contents of my desk drawers, for example, I found random post-it notes with phone numbers written on them … no names, no idea whose numbers they were.  It’s been years since I staggered home from a bar, so the numbers might have even belonged to people I intended to call.  I was tempted to dial a few of them, but my curiosity was overridden by the potential for embarrassment.

“Hi, this is Tom Naughton.  Was I supposed to call you, say, six years ago?  Oh, the casting workshop!  Right.  No, no, no … I’m sure you would’ve made a fine scene partner.  It’s just … uh … I was so intimidated by your acting talent, I was afraid I’d drag you down.  What?  Well, of course I’m not very convincing!  That’s exactly my point.  Hello?  Hello?”

Among other assorted and mysterious junk, I also found one side of a cardboard package for something called “SmartMeat.”  I vaguely remember buying SmartMeat at the Costco in Burbank, but that was years ago.  For the life of me, I don’t know why I saved part of the package.  We only tried the stuff once and didn’t care for it, which means it’s unlikely I thought to myself, “I must keep this package so I’ll never forget the brand name, even if we someday decide we can’t stand California and move 2,000 miles away.”

And the fact that I tried SmartMeat at all means I still believed it was smart to cut the fat from my diet, so obviously I wasn’t thinking, “Hey … some years from now I might produce a documentary called Fat Head and then start a blog.  I should keep this as a reminder of SmartMeat so I can make fun of it.”

But I did keep it, for whatever reason.  And I’m certainly going to make fun of SmartMeat, and of myself for buying it.  Take a look at the pitch on the package:

Yup … for 30 years, Americans have been hoping for low-fat steaks that taste great.  That’s because for more than 30 years, Americans have been bamboozled into thinking fatty, juicy steaks will kill them.  SmartMeat steaks to the rescue!

But I’m using the word steaks rather loosely here.  SmartMeat looked like a steak, it was shaped like a steak, we grilled it like a steak, and it even tasted a wee bit like a steak.  But as I read the package again today, I realized the manufacturer (and that’s the correct term, as you’ll see shortly) never actually labeled it as a steak.  That’s because SmartMeat is a beef product … probably in the same way Cheez-Wiz is a cheese product.

In fact, as you can see from the label, SmartMeat is a whole new grade of beef.  It was even developed that way, by gosh.  Sadly, it didn’t occur to me during that particular shopping trip that beef should never be developed.  Film should be developed.  Ideas should be developed.  But beef should be raised, preferably as part of a cow.

The whole purpose of all that SmartMeat R&D was apparently to produce these bragging rights:

Okay, so I ate a low-fat steak … I mean, beef product.  No big deal, right?  But there’s a problem with low-fat beef:  take away the fat, and most of the flavor goes with it.  Clearly the SmartMeat people needed to find a way to enhance the taste.  And that’s where the horror show begins:

Now keep in mind, these looked like marbled steaks.  And yet 63 percent of the fat was removed and replaced with “marbling ingredients.”  I’m not sure I even want to know how they did this.  I picture the steaks (soon to be beef products) spending a leisurely afternoon soaking in a vat of chemicals formulated to dissolve away most of the naturally-occurring animal fat, then taking a ride down a conveyer belt so a piece of industrial equipment can inject them with marbling ingredients.  And what lovely ingredients they are.

I can’t figure out why water was listed twice, but at least I understand the word.  I also recognize partially hydrogenated soybean oil.  That’s trans fat … the stuff that knocks down your HDL and weakens the walls of your cells.

(Yes, Mr. Naughton, but the Guy From CSPI assured us trans fats were safe, and surely it’s a small price to pay to avoid all that icky animal fat, don’t you think?)

Hydrolyzed soy protein means the product contains MSG.  The idea is to add some taste, but if you read up on the stuff, it’ll make you lose your appetite … and I found this description on site that’s actually pro-soybean:

The extraction process of hydrolysis involves boiling in a vat of acid (e.g., sulfuric acid) and then neutralizing the solution with a caustic soda.

The resultant sludge is scraped off the top and allowed to dry. In addition to soy protein it contains free-form excitotoxic amino acids (e.g., MSG) and other potentially harmful chemicals including cancer-causing chemicals in many cases. A newer method of hydrolysis involves the use of bacteria by itself or in addition to the chemical processes described above. There is a possibility that genetically-manipulated bacteria may be used.

In almost all cases, hydrolyzed soy protein contains a significant amount of genetically-manipulated soy. The hydrolyzed protein products currently added to foods should be considered a detriment to one’s health.

Yuuuuummy, eh?  I remember how my grandma used to always boil her chickens in sulfuric acid.  Those were some awesome Sunday dinners.

(But monosodium glutamate IS yummy, Mr. Naughton!  Since we felt compelled to remove the icky animal fat from our steaks … excuse me, from our “beef products,” we had to find a substitute.  You wouldn’t want to eat a tasteless st– er, beef product, would you?)

The other ingredients were a mystery to me, so I had to look them up.  Here’s what I found on vegetable mono- and diglycerides:

These not-quite-whole fats are common food additives used to blend ingredients together that don’t naturally blend well, such as oil and water. Think of processed peanut butter like Jif. It contains mono- and diglycerides to give it a creamy consistency, and to prevent the oil from separating and sitting on the top. Just like hydrogenated oils, mono- and diglycerides increase the shelf life of foods, but they are on the Generally Recognized As Safe list according to the FDA.

See, that’s the problem with skinny cows.  You can’t just squirt water into them to make them juicier, because the stuff will separate.  So if you use a chemical process to produce a skinny beef product that needs some artificial marbling, you have to mix up some trans fats and water, then bind them togther with not-quite-whole fats.  Otherwise the water will just squirt out during grilling and douse your charcoals.  But hey, anything approved by the FDA has to be okay.

(Mr. Naughton, you tried one of our st– beef products.  It was juicy, wasn’t it?  Let’s see you try making a juicy product after removing the icky animal fat, SmartGuy!)

Of course, it’s not enough to support the soy industry with hydrogenated soybean oil and hydrolyzed soy protein.  We should also toss in some soy lecithin.  The pro-soy web site had this to say about the stuff:

Soy lecithin (E322) is extracted from soybeans either mechanically or chemically. It’s actually a byproduct of the soybean’s oil. Some people use it as a supplement, because it has a high value of the nutrient choline. Choline is good for heart health and brain development. But that’s not the reason soy lecithin is used as an additive in foods. It possesses emulsification properties. This means it can keep a candy bar “together” by making sure that the cocoa and the cocoa butter don’t separate. It is also used in bakery items to keep the dough from sticking and to improve its ability to rise.

Since soybean are one of the cheapest crops in the US (thanks in part to federal subsidies to growers), it makes sense to use a cheap, natural soy derived emulsifier in food processing.

Cool … the next time someone tells me to keep it together, I’ll roll myself in some soy lecithin.  And I really appreciated the reminder that my tax dollars are making Archer Daniels Midland rich.  I didn’t see anything online to indicate soy lecithin is a toxin and it may even be good, but I generally avoid soy, and I certainly don’t expect to find it in my st–  beef product.

(Trust us, Mr. Naughton, it’s good for your heart!  The soy people wouldn’t lie to us about something that important.)

My favorite ingredient is the sodium benzoate, because of what I found on it.  Apparently, Coca-Cola has promised to remove the stuff from Diet Coke.  Here’s part of that story:

Coca-Cola is phasing out the use of the controversial additive sodium benzoate in Diet Coke on the back of consumer demand for more natural products…. However, the additive removal is only currently planned for products sold in Britain. The Coca-Cola Company could not confirm if any other countries would follow suit.

Sodium benzoate is used as a preservative in drinks, providing safety and stability for the product. It has proved a controversial additive, as recent studies have highlighted health concerns from its use… Last year, research linked the product to cell damage. The study was conducted by professor Peter Piper from Sheffield University, an expert in molecular biology and biotechnology… Benzoate appeared to attack cells’ mitochondria, damaging their ability to prevent oxygen leaks that create free radicals. Yeast cells were used because of their similarity to human ones, but no research on humans has been done.

I’d say research on humans has been done, at least informally.  I’m glad I stopped drinking diet sodas.

(Mr. Naughton, for pete’s sake!  You don’t expect us to sell a beef product that could actually spoil someday, do you?  What if you need to leave town for a couple of months with some SmartMeat sitting in your refrigerator?)

But my favorite nugget about sodium benzoate was this one:

It is also used in fireworks as a fuel in whistle mix, a powder which emits a whistling noise when compressed into a tube and ignited.

And to think I compressed SmartMeat into my own tube.  There was probably some whistling and fireworks afterwards, but I don’t remember.  I just know I feel dumb for ever buying this chemical concoction.  The steaks I buy now have one ingredient:  grass-fed beef.

Now that’s actually smart.

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26 thoughts on “DumbMeat

  1. Kennedy

    SmartMeat sounds delicious! Not.

    It’s hard to believe Lecithin is good for the brain, coming from Soy and all. It’s probably not. Lindt chocolate seemed to have phased out using Soya Lecithin as their emulsifier and instead use Natural Vanilla Bourbon, which I swear makes it taste better.

    Funny I got ill after drinking too many Diet Cokes over the Christmas period. That damned Sodium Benzoate probably didn’t help.

    I certainly wouldn’t seek out a soy product; I just couldn’t determine if there’s anything wrong with soy lecithin. I believe there may be a bit of it in my protein shake mix.

    My naturopathic doctor back in California suggested some changes in my diet — including switching to goat cheese or raw milk cheese — but ended with, “If you only follow one piece of advice I’m giving you today, it’s this: stop drinking the diet sodas.”

  2. CFS

    I feel sick from reading that list of ‘marbling ingredients’.

    I don’t remember if I felt sick after eating it, but I probably should have.

  3. gallier2

    You should read the entry on “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzene_in_soft_drinks” in wikipedia. Quite entertaining!

    That is entertaining. Kind of funny and frightening at the same time.

  4. Bruce

    This looks similar to the lovely ingredients that theu put into IQF (individually quick frozen) chicken and some pork products as a “brine” or marinade. My sister thinks that the pork from Sams club is GREAT. I think the texture is slimy on these type of products. Plus, I keep trying to explain to her that when you factor in the up to 10% of the weight you are paying for is the delicious brine (water, salt, some type of sugar, other cr@p as needed and whatever else we have laying around) the price is not that cheap compared to real meat.

    A few months ago we bought some frozen hamburger patties from a big-box store. First time I grilled one and ate it, I thought something didn’t taste quite right. So I read the fine print on the bag … yup, it was beef mixed all kinds of soy garbage. Always check the label.

  5. mrfreddy

    so… how did it taste?

    Sort of like a steak, juicy enough to be edible. But it’s a bit like when you fry chicken in canola oil instead of lard … it’s still fried, but something doesn’t taste quite right.

  6. SamMac

    …professor Peter Piper from Sheffield … Mr. Naughton, for pete’s sake! …

    Peter Piper? Funny stuff!

    I know … I elected not to get into references about picking a peck of pickled peppers.

  7. Wanda

    Hey Tom,
    Very funny post. On the subject of soy lecithin, I just read a really great book titled “the Whole Soy Story” by Kaayla T. Daniel, in which she goes through a very detailed history of the soybean, its processing, and use in virtually every processed food in the grocery store.

    Seems the lecithin was originally from a waste product that the industry just couldn’t bear to throw away, gosh darn it! So instead of going to the trash, decided to further process it and feed it to humans. Did I mention that the extraction process includes a bath in hexane, a known carcinogen used in explosives?

    Anyhow, its an interesting read, and sort of reminds me of Taubes’ GCBC in the investigative style. Lots on the health issues related to soy, also. And about the choline-heart health issue, Daniel claims the studies linking the choline in soy lecithin to helath benefits are inconsistent and even contradictory. Yup, sounds like a sure thing to the AHA!

    P.S. Rats in grain storage warehouses, given the choice of different grains, will only eat the soybean when there’s nothing else around.


    I believe the guy who sells me raw-milk cheese was reading that book last time I stopped by his booth. Sounds like a good one. I can’t say everything in soy is bad, but I’m sure there’s nothing in soybeans we actually need.

  8. Ben P

    Lecithin is used in many things, baking especially. In non-industrial baking, recipes just call for eggs, or egg yolks. Soy lecithin is also in almost all powdered protein products, like whey. The protein doesn’t dissolve without it. I’m assuming egg derived lecithin isn’t manufactured because I can’t find mention of it online. The Protein Factory, which sells lots of different powdered protein products, recently came out with a casein protein that contains lecithin derived from sunflowers, called Heliogen, FWIW.

    Your body produces glutamate. It’s a by-product of normal glutamine metabolism, among other things. You eat glutamate, as glutamic acid. It’s a normal part of whole proteins, including beef. The idea that the tiny amount of MSG added to food could have a more harmful affect than the other glutamate you eat or the glutamate your body already produces is ridiculous, IMO.


    I don’t think a tiny bit of lecithin or MSG is going to kill me, either. But I’d rather not have commercially-produced MSG injected into my st– uh, beef products, especially given how it’s made.

    The biggest problem with the “marbling ingredients” list is the partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

  9. Tracee

    Let’s not forget the estrogen you get when you consume unfermented soy products. Instead of “smart” we can call it “boobs for boobs”. And for the “Meat” product, that kinda sums up our whole health system. It’s not Health, it’s a “health” product with a pricey tag, caused by the “food” products we eat instead of real food.

    As usual inforamtive yet very entertaining. I guess there’s not much else we can do but laugh at it all!

    And now they’re serving soy in prisons. That’s probably not a good place to develop boobs.

  10. Ailu

    Interesting about the sodium benzoate. My husband had skin allergies for years – well “lip allergies” would be more accurate. His lips would swell up unexpectedly after eating, and he would look like Alley Oop. (Very embarrassing, poor fellow wouldn’t want to leave the house!)

    While investigating the preservatives in our favorite salad dressing, I just happened to stumble upon the most common side effect of sodium benzoate: Angioedema. What was that, I wondered? Bingo! Swelling of the skin.

    I went through our entire fridge and cupboard – must have thrown away over a dozen different mixes, sauces and dressings. Since we’ve eliminated the sodium benzoate, he’s never had another Alley Oop episode. I take that back – he did have two, but we traced it to the Foster Farms chicken we bought at our local grocery store. They must put the stuff in it, without telling us. (The label on the packaging did say in wee little letters “This is not a sodium free food”). So just to be on the safe side, we only buy organic chicken now.

    On the good side, the whole experience has led my husband to come a sort of a gourmet cook – he makes all our dressings and sauces from scratch now, and boy are they delicious!

    Sounds like quite an adventure. Glad you figured it out eventually.

  11. Laurie

    For MSG, as with most things chemistry, it is the dose (concentration) of the compound that is important. And with MSG, also its form. There is a di-sodium glutamate in biochemistry. Glutamate is not to be confused with glutamine which you may have heard of recently as an important neurotransmitter.
    MSG may be ‘natural’, but so is cyanide (HCN). It’s the dose of Hydrogen Cyanide that causes problems, and a very low dose at that. Sucrose is also natural and I call it plant antifreeze. I read somewhere that you would have to chew on something like 5 pounds of sugar cane to extract the one teaspoon of sucrose you get in a tsp of table sugar. That teaspoon can be consumed in milliseconds, with many more teaspoon chasers and it would all take much less time than chewing on 5 pounds of the hard stuff (the cane). You might even give up on the sugar cane, or never start. ‘Natural’ is an okay term, but I prefer to apply it to naturally raised beef grazing on their natural substrate, grass than to the ‘natural’ overly concentrated food-additives, MSG and sucrose. I also steer clear of nature’s HCN. I live in the ‘happy valley’ (earthy crunchy touchy feely) of Western Ma so I know natural; and as a chemist, don’t get me started on ‘organic’.

    That makes perfect sense. I certainly don’t expect to ingest MSG when eating a piece of meat, no matter what the dose.

  12. Cathryn

    I’m highly allergic to MSG in all forms, including some of the food industry’s hidden garbage like “natural flavorings.” Yes, we produce glutamate acid naturally from the foods we eat, but I’ve had to limit my intake of foods that are high in glutamate acid because of my allergy to MSG. So I haven’t had anything soy, potatoes, spinach, squash, or other high-glutamate foods for over 3 years. I also avoid medications that are preserved with MSG–like the seasonal flu shot.

    If you aren’t highly allergic to MSG, you don’t realize the agony one goes through.

    In short, I avoid lots of processed foods. If I want salad dressing, I make my own. If I need tortillas for enchiladas, I make my own. If I would like broth for soups, I make my own. I avoid meats that have any seasoning, keeping my meats to minimally processed only.

    In short, I found this piece entertaining, and scary because of it reminded me of the vegetarian “meats” I used to consume. Good Post Tom and thank you!

    I’ve read the labels on vegetarian meat substitutes. Talk about a horror show …

  13. Jeff

    Hey Tom,

    My friends and I just finished watching “Fat Head” this morning. It was totally awesome. I have been blogging about health and fitness for almost 2 years and was blown away, as were my friends. I told my parents to go get a copy and they ordered it on Amazon right away. My mom and dad have done great on a Paleo/Low Carb diet since the summer of 2008, but my mom is still clinging to her statins. I hope the movie will finally get her to drop that crap and enjoy higher cholesterol levels!

    Thanks again for the fantastic movie. It should be viewed in High School health classes.


    Glad you enjoyed it, and I really hope your mom gets off those statins. They’re worse than worthless for women.

  14. Lynda

    Regarding your comments about beef. I did the “what is your real age test” on Dr Oz’s website yesterday (You on a diet) and found that because I eat more than one tiny serving of beef a week I am in the ‘at risk of cholesterol and heart disease’ category. What a total load of bollocks! The questions asked did not even give an option for how many times a week I actually eat red meat – just the fact that I eat it at all is enough to kill me apparently.

    Well heck, I live in New Zealand the land of beef and lamb – looks like I’m screwed.

    The red meat will probably kill you at around age 95.

  15. Ailu

    @Lynda: It’s deplorable that someone as ignorant as Dr. Oz is the one getting all the media limelight these days. Yet you’ll barely hear Taubes anywhere but on the blogosphere. Makes me soo thankful for the internet! Otherwise I’d still be believing all that low-fat-whole-grain-statins-are-wonderful-vegan-is-the-ultimate-diet propaganda I so faithfully adhered to for so many years. (Absolutely LOVE New Zealand Lamb, btw.)

    I suppose it’s petty, but it also annoys me that Dr. Oz always seems to show up on Oprah wearing scrubs. What, like he just left surgery?

  16. Jared Bond

    I have to clear up a few things said here about MSG.

    Quoting Ben P.:
    “Your body produces glutamate. It’s a by-product of normal glutamine metabolism, among other things. You eat glutamate, as glutamic acid. It’s a normal part of whole proteins, including beef. The idea that the tiny amount of MSG added to food could have a more harmful affect than the other glutamate you eat or the glutamate your body already produces is ridiculous, IMO.”

    Yes glutamate exists in common proteins, and yes we also make it. But it makes a big difference when and where the glutamate is in our bodies. First off, glutamate exists in nature as part of proteins– not by itself, as with MSG or “free glutamate”. Amino acids in proteins are bound together by peptide bonds, which can only be separated by hydrolyzing them. Cooking and stomach acid may denature a protein, but the peptide bonds will not be broken until digestion occurs with specific enzymes. According to Russell Blaylock, the breakdown and transport of glutamate is handled in a very careful and specific manner. On the contrary, when you add free glutamate to foods, it will flood the bloodstream unregulated, raising it to as much as 20 times the normal level, and it will stay elevated, for several hours or even a few days.

    It is a neurotransmitter, and that’s why they call it an “excitotoxin”– because too much of it will cause a nerve cell to fire uncontrollably and kill itself. We do have stores of glutamate in our nerve cells– and they are carefully guarded and regulated, because of this danger. In fact, the excitotoxic process caused by glutamate and other neurotransmitters is being actively studied in medicine, not because people are interested in MSG, but because the process is so often seen as the actual cause of damage in many diseases and injuries. According to Blaylock, released stores of glutamate is what causes the damage in head injuries– and because excitotoxins have a delayed effect, that’s why the damage usually occurs an hour or two AFTER the actual injury. Blaylock claims the same is true with strokes and even heart attacks (glutamate receptors are found in the heart, lungs, intestines, and so on). That’s why glutamate receptor blocking drugs are now found to drastically reduce the damage when administered after a head injury, stroke, heart attack, etc. I hope the message I’m getting across is that glutamate is not a “safe” substance just because the body makes it.

    Now, glutamate usually cannot get through your blood-brain barrier, although there are parts of your brain that are exposed and not protected. But most alarming to me is that glutamate can cause birth defects. Glutamate has been shown to travel through the placenta and into a fetus’s brain, which has no blood-brain barrier. On top of this, glutamate is a known signal used to regulate the building of the fetus’s brain. Glutamate levels are systematically lowered to promote growth, and raised to stop growth in various parts of the brain at various times. Too much or too little glutamate at any given time will in theory distort the development and broad connections in the brain. Evidence of brain defects have been shown in test animals. The animals, which were exposed to excess glutamate ONLY in the womb, appeared to be fully functional at first, but failed at more complex thinking tasks later in life.

    I’ve gotten all of these details from Russell Blaylock’s book “Excitotoxins”, and his hour long presentation which can be seen here: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2384105525501310962&ei=uxZUS8SMFZrwqAPtpdGTDg&q=russell+blaylock+excitotoxins&hl=en&client=firefox-a# . He is the only reputable doctor I’ve found that is saying these things, but it was enough to scare me into avoiding MSG like the plague. (Besides, as Tom points out, stuff with MSG in it is usually not stuff you should be eating anyways. But be careful- they often baste meats in this stuff.) But, I don’t know the complex mechanisms of digestion and physiology, so I can’t absolutely vouch for what I’ve said here. I’m just reporting what he’s said. I know it seems like, if it were true, people would be dropping like flies and babies would all be born retarded. Also, I’ve heard that there IS in fact naturally occurring glutamate in foods such as tomatoes. So I don’t know what the truth is. Maybe Blaylock has overblown things a little, but I have to believe there is some truth to it all. He is a former neurosurgeon of 25 years, and his book is amazingly detailed.

    Quoting Laurie:
    “it is the dose (concentration) of the compound that is important.”

    From what I have said above, it is not the dose that is dangerous, but the fact that the glutamate in MSG is free and therefore will transfer to the bloodstream unregulated.

    “Glutamate is not to be confused with glutamine which you may have heard of recently as an important neurotransmitter.”

    It is glutamate that is the neurotransmitter. I have not heard of glutamine as a neurotransmitter, though it has been described as food for your intestinal cells. For the record, glutamine is harmless. It is chemically different from glutamate, and can safely be consumed in large amounts. To answer something Ben P. said, yes, your body can make glutamate from glutamine, but as I’ve said, it does this in a very regulated manner, and in specific, controlled places.

    Blaylock has also written a very comprehensive book about mercury, fluoride, lead, soy, etc. seen here: http://www.amazon.com/Health-Nutrition-Secrets-Russell-Blaylock/dp/0929173481/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263802460&sr=8-1
    You can check it out if you want to judge his credibility. (Unfortunately, the only thing he misses is the truth about saturated fat, cholesterol, and hyperinsulinemia).

    P.S. Regarding soy lecithin, you can read a detailed article about it here: http://www.trit.us/soy/lecithin.html
    It is by Kaayla Daniel, author of The Whole Soy Story. (It was originally featured on westonaprice.org, but their new site design makes things hard to read, unfortunately.)

    Thanks for the links. I’ll check them out.

  17. Jared Bond

    *I meant to say “naturally occurring FREE glutamate in tomatoes”. Which would appear to make tomatoes as dangerous as MSG, if true.

  18. Matt

    @Lynda, now that you have registered with RealAge, you ought to expect some nice spam about how to lower your risk for whatever you incorrectly diagnosed as being at risk for.

    “Pharmaceutical companies pay RealAge to compile test results of RealAge members and send them marketing messages by e-mail. The drug companies can even use RealAge answers to find people who show symptoms of a disease — and begin sending them messages about it even before the people have received a diagnosis from their doctors.”


  19. Lynda

    @Matt – thanks for that. I have actually been on Realage for a couple of years and never had spam. I think this is because I said no to all the boxes that ask if you’d like to receive info. Hopefully that is the case anyway. I did notice that when I did the questionnaire that every couple of pages was one that read “do you want to live a healthier life” or something like that… then the catch was if you said yes, you were saying yes to spam.

    Fingers crossed it won’t start now 🙂

  20. dlm

    Recently became a member at Costco in Canada.
    The only ground beef they sell is lean.

    Will have to read labels to avoid “smart” meat.

    Definitely read the labels. Or better yet, buy from a farm. We do that now, and it’s certainly more expensive, but worth.

  21. Katy

    Back in the sixties, food alteration seemed to be the hobby of all modern homemakers as well as food chemists. My mother was onboard and we consumed all manner of chemicalized food products. Faux foods were popular too, and my sister and I both recall the hoopla over the Ritz cracker apple pie, made of who-knows-what, lemon juice and sugar in part, and a whole pie shell full of the crackers. Ick. When baked, it looked like a bonafide apple pie with very thinly sliced apples. The frightening part for me at the time was that my grandfather was fooled, and shocked, that no apples were used in its making. My grandmother weakly objected, “What’s wrong with real apples?…” Yeah, fake marbling… double ick.

    I remember eating some kind of textured-protein ham substitute as a teenager. It was awful.

  22. Ramona Denton

    Great post, Tom!!! I’m laughing and fearing, as appropriate.

    As kids we were very excited the astronaut frankenfoods TANG and Pilsbury SPACE FOOD STICKS. I didn’t see any comments about these, so I couldn’t resist a quick mention: I found a Space Food Sticks website, where they sell the “original” product:


    Holy moly, the space sticks! I forgot all about those. I do remember Tang, though. Can’t bellieve I drank that swill.

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