History of Favorite American Food Meat Part 3

About the favorite American food meat, history and information about cattle and beef production.


Vegetarians may avoid some of the risks of today's meat eater but they must be sure that they are getting not only sufficient protein but also vitamin B12' which is supplied mostly by animal products such as eggs and cheese (and, of course, meat). Deficiencies lead to sore mouth and tongue, nervousness, neuritis, menstrual disturbances, and back pain. If in addition there is a lack of folic acid, anemia will result. However, since green vegetables supply folic acid, this is not usually the vegetarian's dilemma.

Fish present less of an adulteration problem and are a good protein source. But the pollution of oceans, lakes, and rivers makes it difficult to get pure food from these sources. Even so, things are not so bad today as they have been historically. In the Middle Ages in Europe, all street-cleaning was performed by washing everything into the nearest river.

Cooked-food counters, in existence since ancient times, have been another source of sanitary hazards. The Black Plague was largely the result of the open-air cooked-food establishments where rats bred and left their fleas and lice behind. In New York City in recent years, public television has been used to list names of restaurants with dirty kitchens. At the other extreme, Americans patronize institutional places which are totally automated.

The McDonald's hamburger chain spends about $50 million a year on advertising alone to convince Americans that they should indulge, if you can call it that, at the "golden arches." The hamburger is one of the standard items of the typical Americal meal purchased at such places, and it can contain almost anything. Often sodium sulfite, which destroys vitamin B, has been added to mask the smell of spoiled meat. Other cultures have also figured out palatable ways of masking undesired tastes, such as the preparation of curries in India, which originally were intended as antispoilage preparations. Today we are more likely to find that our meats are getting spoiled intentionally and that we are paying for it. Frankfurters often contain cochineal, a dye from insect scales, which produces a red color but also carries the dangerous salmonella. Worn-out pullets which are at the end of their artificial egglaying days may be thrown into franks too. We can thank the Industrial Revolution for the railroads, canning, and preservation techniques that have led to the large-scale transportation of meat products across great distances; we should be aware that some of these advances are no blessing at all.


FOR FURTHER READING: The most authoritative books about the U.S. food industry are those distributed by Ari Publishing Co., Inc., P. O. Box 831, Westport, Conn. o688o.

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