As I was doing my regular check of the news and social media this morning, I came across an article on “Pink Slime.” This is has been a viral topic in the news and social media which has been scaring consumers into boycotting beef, even though it is perfectly safe and we have been consuming it for over 20 years with no problems to anyone’s health or safety.
But that’s a whole separate topic… what I was most concerned about was a comment below the article from some reader which read:
“…The next thing that should be looked at is the red dye that is put on meat products either sent to grocery stores or put on by the grocery store to make the meat appear fresh. Real beef steak is not “red” it is grey. It is time to start providing consumers with the “real products” instead of “doctored” products…”
GREY! SERIOUSLY? I was instantly flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe that this person legitimately thought that steak meat was grey.
With all due respect sir, it’s called “red meat” for a reason.
WHY IS BEEF CALLED A “RED” MEAT?
Oxygen is delivered to muscles by the red cells in the blood. One of the proteins in meat, myoglobin, holds the oxygen in the muscle. The amount of myoglobin in animal muscles determines the color of meat. Beef is called a “red” meat because it contains more myoglobin than chicken or fish. Other “red” meats are veal, lamb, and pork.
There is no “dye” which is used to make meat red. They only way it can look grey is if it sits out for a few days, is cooked, or is vacuum sealed which removes the oxygen. But even then, when you re-expose the meat to oxygen, it will return to its red color within a few minutes.
But this blog isn’t even about that “red vs. grey” subject. Most importantly, I’m using this as an example to highlight the serious DISCONNECT that most consumers have with the agricultural industry.
A large percentage of the public doesn’t even know where their food comes from. They just assume that it shows up magically in their grocery store. That is why they get so scared when media or anti-industry groups come out with dramatic or falsified articles regarding food or agriculture.
Being that I am an agricultural communications graduate, this is one of my most passionate topics. As an industry, we need to continue working to increase the public’s awareness of how things are produced. There have been a lot of programs started to help fix this disconnect such as agri-tourism businesses, farm to fork tours and Ag In the Classroom, but we still need to work harder to share our stories.
We need to work to create a clear line of communication and understanding between the public and our industry so that they can be informed to make educated choices about the food they eat.
How do you help share your agricultural story?
Send me a link to your “Ag-Story” and I will put a list together to post in a future blog.