It's generally not common for shoppers to thank grocers for carrying certain products - we just expect them to be there and take for granted the different options available to us. There's usually two or three different brands/varieties of each product on our grocery list, which allows us to be selective based on price, brand loyalty and taste.
Unless you shop at Wal-Mart, Kroger, Safeway or Target and henceforth your ground beef options will have been slashed. Those retailers have chosen to cease utilizing lean, finely textured beef (LFTB) in their ground beef products which drastically reduces the options available to we, the shoppers. Even though the USDA, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and one of the producers of LFTB, Beef Products Inc., have affirmed its safety time and again. In fact just yesterday three governors (Iowa, Kansas, Texas) toured a BPI plant and chowed down on burgers made from LFTB after their tour. Governor Branstad (Iowa) stated in a press conference that boycotting LFB is bad for the econom and the public's health:
”The problem is, we take this off the market, then we end up with a fatter product that’s going to cost more and it’s going to increase the obesity problem in this country,” he said at the news conference. “It doesn’t make any sense, and it’s not caused any problems in terms of health — that’s the most important thing here, is protecting the health of the citizens of this country and making sure that they have product that’s safe.”
He also scolded the national media for permeating the ongoing discussion with a “poisonous tone,” which he warned was “detrimental to the beef industry and the jobs that support it.”
“It’s time to end the smear campaign and to stop the use of inaccurate, inappropriate and charged words designed to scare people,” he said.
To read more about the Governors' visit - check out these sources.
However, there is one grocery chain who has chosen to not jump on the uneducated bandwagon and will continue to offer LFTB choices. Know why? From the Hyvee website:
"Hy-Vee takes great pride in listening to the voices of our customers and offering them outstanding values on the quality products they want to buy," the company said in a statement published on its website. "Following our recent decision to stop purchasing ground beef containing Lean Finely Textured Beef, we heard from many customers who asked us to continue carrying this product.
"They've sent us a clear message: They want a choice when it comes to ground beef, and they want to support companies that provide thousands of jobs in our Midwest trade area. In response to this feedback, Hy-Vee has made a decision to offer both kinds of ground beef -- both with and without Lean Finely Textured Beef."
Bravo! It's so refreshing that our voices were actually heard and Hyvee responded. This is what agriculturalists and agvocates work for - empowering people to voice their need for choices and search out correct information. This is a superb example of a company standing up for what is right and making decisions based on facts and consumer demands.
Unfortunately, not all grocers are created equal and the aforementioned stores that have chosen to cease offering LFTB have, with the help of horrible reporting by ABC news, caused BPI to close its plants in Kansas, Texas and Iowa. This cease of production has left about 800 people out of work, which is a travesty since LFTB is safe for consumption and is comprised of 100% beef and only 95% lean. Thankfully, and contributing to the stand up values of BPI, the company will continue paying employees full salary until the situation has been resolved. Wow.
Oh by the way, did you know that since the bottom has fallen out of LFTB demand - DUE TO ATROCIOUS REPORTING BY ABC - beef producers will need to supply processing plants with an additional 1.5 million head of cattle in order to meet demand. This comes on the heels of one of the worst droughts in recent history this past summer which caused the national cow herd to drop to the lowest numbers since 1952. This is becoming the perfect storm for through the roof beef prices and a lot of additional stress on the cattle industry.
On the topic of poor ABC reporting - I know that getting people to read articles is sometimes difficult. Gold mines are found in sensational headlines with buzz words however, a biased slandering piece about a 100% safe process that provides millions of people with healthy, safe and affordable beef does not fall under responsible journalism. There will be likely be another post about journalism on this blog and how not to do it - I don't have a communications, English or journalism degree but I know how to check the facts.
This post has ended up a lot longer than I intended but the consequences of turning our backs on an economical, safe and healthy product are far reaching and sombering. If you appreciate choices, low-cost high-quality food, please please please call the renegade grocery stores that have suspended LFTB and let them know how you feel.
Look for more on this topic later because it's not going anywhere.
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~
Labels: agriculture, agvocacy, beef, cattle, food, food choices, food safety, Hyvee, lean beef, lean finely textured ground beef, pink slime, policy, reporting, WalMart