Monday, November 1, 2010

SPAM and Other Mystery Meats

I no longer eat meat or chicken. But as a child, I ate all kinds of meat products. And I mean, all kinds. Since my mom worked her ass off to provide a decent living for us, there were days that she was not “inspired” to make dinner from scratch. So, one of the meals she’d serve was fried Spam. Yes, spam, the “mystery meat.” For those of you who don’t know what Spam’s a canned, pre-cooked meat product. It comes in a metal tin, covered by a thin layer of gelatinous glaze.  Basically, it’s chopped pork shoulder meat, ham, salt and water. I also ate Vienna Sausages straight from the can while my mother food shopped. Vienna sausages are mini little “hot dogs” also covered in a gelatinous glaze. I would somehow wipe all that guck off and nibble on each mini sausage. Did you know that to keep the “meat” from spoiling and preventing the growth of the bacteria that causes botulism, sodium nitrate is added? Here's an interesting high amounts, sodium nitrate is toxic to humans...the sodium nitrate used to prevent spoilage has been linked to certain cancers.  I also found out that sodium nitrate in a different chemical formulation is used in “photography; a corrosion inhibitor; and in the manufacture of rubber chemicals.” Really?

Eventually, I realized that there was something wrong with eating “meat” that came in a can. So, I stopped eating it and I completely forgot about it. But recently, I was curious to find out what was in my favorite childhood food. And then I grossed myself out. I found out that vienna sausages are a combination of pre-cooked chicken, beef, turkey and pork (or blends thereof) finely ground to a paste consistency and mixed with salt and spices, notably mustard, then stuffed into a long casing, always thoroughly cooked, after which the casings are removed as with hot dogs. Nasty! Do you really think they are choosing the best quality meats? And what are the blends?

All these pre-cooked meats are sold as a convenient and inexpensive alternative to purchasing real meat. If I was stuck in a bunker or nuclear shelter and there was nothing else to eat, spam would be my best friend. But I’m not. I'm lucky to live in a time and place where fresh whole food is available. I have plenty of options like farmer’s markets, food Co-Ops, supermarkets like Whole foods and even Publix, the local supermarket which has an organic section.
Now let’s look at our beloved fast food hamburger. Just look at the video below the McDonald’s hamburger doesn’t decompose at all...after years! So, what is in the “meat and buns?” Is that even meat between those two fake buns. And if that doesn’t alarm you, why do you think eating it twice a week, makes you gain 10 pounds? The body does not know what all those “ingredients” that are combined together to produce a McDonald's hamburger are. Therefore, the body can not properly digest them, break them down and move them along your system for proper absorption and disposal. So, naturally, it’s going to “sit” somewhere in your body as an accumulation. What do you think that accumulation turns into?...I’m not asking you to stop eating hamburgers. I’m asking you to choose actual beef, preferably organic, hormone free or farm raised beef. I’m asking you to eat real bread, bread that will get moldy in a few days. I'm asking you to eat more whole foods, foods that actually come from nature, rather than highly processed ones.

Why would anyone willingly put toxic chemicals in their body? They wouldn’t! But like with everything, we “trust” people in authority to protect us and we blindly believe what we are told. It sort of makes sense, since it’s one less thing to have to think about in our hectic lives. But it’s our job to take care of our bodies and what we put into them. It’s our right as consumers to question what goes into our food. If you are not an advocate for yourself, then who will be? If you are not an advocate for your child, then who will be? Do we want to leave the decision about our food and our health completely in the hands of the government, the FDA, corporations and the physicians? I don' scary as it may be to speak up for yourself, it's scarier to live in ignorant bliss, giving away your power to those who do not have your best interest in mind... Who are you giving your power away to?

in love and pleasure,

Nutrition Counselor

References: Wikipedia