So a cattle rancher said to me this past weekend, “Can you believe they’re trying to whitewash this pink slime thing?” My friend is one cattleman who doesn’t agree with putting pink slime in ground meat. That it passes under the moniker of “lean, finely textured beef,” makes informed people laugh. Anyone who reads the New York Times article that broke the news about this stuff back in 2009 will come up with a very clear picture of what is slimy about the whole process. This is a case of the USDA, Big Meat advocacy groups and politicians playing fast and loose with accepted definitions of animal parts. When “beef” is defined as just about anything that comes from a cow, you can say, “Beef is beef” and mean it. Me, I don’t want connective tissue, eyeballs, cow hooves, horns or hides mixed in with my burger. In fact, I don’t even want burger to come from the meat of dozens of different cows from untold numbers of different states or countries all mixed together. No, I prefer to get my beef from one single steer that was raised on one single farm by one single farmer and processed in one single, inspected small plant less than a hundred miles from where I live.

The pasty stuff called pink slime is from the dregs of the dregs of dead cows, the parts that can’t be used for anything else under the sun. These dregs are shipped hundreds of miles to plants around the country, blended and extruded together then permeated with ammonia to kill bacteria. ( Why? Because these dregs of the dregs are admittedly crawling with contamination. The politicians claim the process makes the stuff is safe. Local journalists have written that it is, too. Well, the New York Times says simply, “E. coli and salmonella pathogens have been found dozens of times in Beef Products meat, challenging claims by the company and the U.S.D.A. about the effectiveness of the treatment.” I simply say that if something is so bad off that it has to be drenched in ammonia to be the least bit edible, it’s not for me.

Pink slime manufacturers decry the potential loss of 650 jobs if the public vote against pink slime makes factories remain closed. Hey, no one wants to see people lose jobs. No one. But my farmer reminds me of the hundreds and hundreds of families on small farms across the country who have been leveraged out of business by big agriculture and the incursion of Big Beef.

Meanwhile, our governor, who promised last month to kick the asses of Nebraska’s members of the Humane Society of the United States and get them out of the state, sent his support for pink slime on a tour of the factory. Along with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, several politicians toured the plant. Branstad was described as becoming “combative” when asked about a $150,000 campaign donation he received from the pink slime manufacturer. Well, duh.

My cattleman friend wondered aloud why politicians need be involved at all. “If the product is so good, let the public decide,” he said. He’s right. And how many governors do you see stepping up to a microphone and urging the public to buy grass fed beef from a single-family farmer?

Links to more on pink slime at

Good news in the balance. Tai chi has been found to help with lowering blood pressure, risk of heart attack and improving balance. Estimates say up to 3 million people use tai chi in the United States. Studies show beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease, fall prevention, bone health, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis of the knee, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic heart failure, cancer survivors, depression in older people and symptoms of fibromyalgia. One study on the immune response to varicella-zoster virus (which causes shingles) suggested in 2007 that tai chi may enhance the immune system. Latest news is that a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that tai chi improved stability and the ability to walk for sufferers of Parkinson’s disease. The Omaha Tai Chi Association offers free classes Mondays and Thursdays. Visit for information.

The BPA Idiocy. Bisphenol-A or BPA has been linked with hormone disruption, cancers, obesity, thyroid disease and much more. It has been banned outright in some places and its use in plastic baby bottles is even banned in the United States. Last week the Food and Drug Administration rejected the notion of banning the controversial chemical BPA from canned foods. Some of the logic behind this decision was revealed by a guy on National Public Radio who was described as an expert scientist on the subject. He works for a government lab that is run by the Battelle Group, a major defense contractor. Justin Teeguarden is one of a team charged with investigating how much of the ever-present BPA gets into the human bloodstream. The NPR report stated that even when we consume large amounts of BPA, “the human body can actually inactivate dangerous chemicals like BPA in the intestine and liver.” Here is where it gets stupid and reductionist in my opinion. This supposed world-class scientist isn’t alarmed about BPA and health because the human body can “inactivate” it, letting only a small amount into the bloodstream. Again, the Western mind misses the big picture, the holistic overview, because it’s myopically focused on reductionist thinking.

What does Mr. Teeguarden thinks is going on in the body when this toxin is ingested? Sure, the body works its ass off to clear the poison, doing a damn good job, too, so that only a portion gets into the blood for detection by his crude science. But what about the toxic load on the body while having to metabolize this foreign chemical? Yes, our body “inactivates” this chemical, but at what cost in liver and body damage? Isn’t that the whole point? How did we get so dumb?

Be well.

Heartland Healing examines various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information, not as medical advice. It is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Access past columns at

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