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Mad Cow and Bullsh*t Go Hand In Hand

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So I am sure that you along with everyone else in the world have been watching this Mad Cow scare that is going on in the United States.. ( I swear we need to come up with a schedule for these things now so we can have the appropriate party favors… I mean one week it’s “SCARED OF WMDs” week, the next its “SCARED OF POSSIBLE TUNISIANS ON AIRPLANES IN FRANCE WEEK”, the week it’s “SCARED OF MAD COWS WEEK”.) I think the United States just likes to be scared these days. ;/

Anyway, if you have been living under a rock (seen Osama or some WMDs there, btw? *wink*), you can look at this article to get the low down. My favorite part that keeps being pounded into our brains is this statement:

“The recalled meat represents essentially zero risk to consumers,” said Petersen, of the USDA’s food safety agency.

He said the parts most likely to carry infection — the brain, spinal cord and lower intestine — were removed before the meat from the infected cow was cut and processed for human consumption.

Okay people, those of you who have ever been to a butcher or meat market, hands up! Okay… for the rest of you, let me tell you something:

Beef Brain is a food that is eaten by some people in the United States. Yes, it features in some ethnic cooking. In case you don’t believe me:

3 eggs
1 tbsp. flour
1/4 c. minced parsley
1/2 c. butter
1 tbsp. white vinegar
1 1/2 lbs. beef, lamb, pork or veal brains
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Rinse brains well under cold running water. Combine 1 quart water, the vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt in saucepan and bring to boil. Add brains, and boil briskly, uncovered, 10 minutes. Drain and plunge into very cold water. When cool, drain well on paper towels.

With small sharp knife remove any membrane and veins. Cut and sprinkle flour, add seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, add eggs, saute in butter in large skillet until eggs are done, or until lightly brown.

Or, if you prefer…

Beef Brain Curry – {Gulai Otak}

Ingredients :

1 lb beef brains
1/4 cup thinly-sliced onion
2 x garlic cloves sliced thin
1 x green hot chili sliced open,
and seeds removed
1 tbl peanut or corn oil
2 tsp curry powder
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 x salam leaves
2 x pieces jeruk purut
(or a 2″ square of lemon peel)
1 tsp tamarind dissolved in
1 tbl water
1/2 x green sweet bell pepper sliced long strips

Method :
Steam the brains in a Chinese-style steamer over hot water for ten minutes. Drain and cool. Cut into 8 to 10 slices, and set aside.

Fry the onion, garlic and the whole chili in the oil for two minutes. Add the curry powder, and stir well. Then add the coconut milk, salt, sugar, salam, jeruk purut and tamarind liquid, and stir for two minutes to blend the flavors.

Now add the brain slices and the sweet pepper strips. Cook, basting frequently, for ten minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.

This recipe yields 6 servings, with other dishes.

Not sure on the Beef Brain curry… that seems very un-Indian but hey! Doesn’t it all seem so yum? I remember as a child being taken to the store in upstate New York and seeing every part of the animal being sold for consumption. If anyone has ever read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (and excellent book I might add… save for when he starts on his pro-socialist rant in the latter third of the book), you will remember the phase “The packing house uses every part of the pig but it’s oink!” Substitute pig for cow and advance by almost a hundred years since that book was written… things have not changed that much. Sure, there is the USDA but everyone knows they are really understaffed and with the way that meat is produced here in the States, it’s all about the profit! Have you ever looked on the side of a can of cheap store chili? You will find beef heart as one of the ingredients. Do you really think that every slaughterhouse out there is really being careful to make sure that the American public is not getting brains in their sausage or any other kind of processed food?

Let me make it simple for you… If people are still getting e.coli infections, what do you think the answer really is?

Now, to be fair, is the risk of getting infected meat in the store high? No, I don’t believe so. I just don’t think anyone needs to get into delusions that things are perfectly safe however.

There are a few ways you can make sure that your meat is safer than what you get in the store. You can always choose free range or organic meat. You can also always become a vegetarian.

This post wasn’t made to encourage vegetarianism. It was made to jar the logic centers in your brain. The one thing you should do is not be a sheep. Be smart and logical. There is always a danger in this world- best be prepared.

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  • BB

    Brains, brains.. me want more brains – ‘Night of the Living Dead’.

    Well written and informative MD. Keep up the good work.

  • Natalie, I have two blog entries at the bigger one on the topic, partly because this is a Pacific Northwest story. The cow, dairy, renderer and processor are all from this area. (Bad news for this lover of eggnog.) From what I’ve learned, area meat eaters have largely not responded to the situation. A story in the Oregonian said that folks are even still buying beef brain tacos from food carts and bodegas.

    We’re thoroughly snowed in in Portland, so I intend to do some more reading on BSE and its human variant.

    Vic, I’m going to check the label on Tom’s. Maybe it doesn’t contain gelatin.

  • If you look online or go to a health food store, you can get toohpaste and candies and other such things that don’t have animal by-product.

    It costs a bit more, and you have to make more effort but it is possible.

  • Speaking of which, AF&O is running a poll on this very subject. The question is: “Will you stop eating US and/or Canadian beef because of the mad-cow scare?” Drop by and register your opinion. The poll can be found in the tall yellow box in the sidebar at the right side of the page. I would really like to know how folks are reacting to the BSE situation.

  • Goodness, this newly minted vegetarian never considered that.

  • And toothpaste. So, if it contains gelatin, we are putting a cow byproduct right into our bloodstreams whenever we brush.

    So, as I said at Mac-a-ro-nies, even those of us who are veggies are exposed to the stuff.

  • My big concern is where beef byproducts end up in the food chain.

    Just about anything can go into “all beef” hotdogs and historically this included the high risk brains.

    But gelatin comes from cows and is widely used in many other food products and in the majority of candies.

  • also worth check out is Spoiled…if you can find a copy of it.

  • And excellent book to read is “Fast Food Nation”. Look it up on Amazon.

    Now maybe I might be making this up somewhere but I seem to recall reading that if you have a truck of swine and one doesn’t get up, you cannot process it’s meat because it might have some sort of swine disease that can be easily passed to humans. Cattle on the other hand, unless they are acting crazy, you can process even if they are “downed”. With the way they transport cattle, its expected that some will break their leg or something and not get off that trailer easily. Who care if it is humane or not… they are all going to be killed to be eaten anyway.

    I’m going on a bit of a tangent here but I am not against eating meat if that is your thing, however I do think the way most food animals are raised is very inhumane. Why put their short lives through such pain? Sure you are going to kill them anyway, but why make them miserable? That’s what makes me sad. I like animals.

    Off on even another tangent, I used to have dealings with the Amish in Indiana quite a bit when I used to work for a carriage company. I remember going to an auction once and seeing a horse in a pen that just kept spinning in circles. You knew something was very wrong with her. Same this this summer when I went to a sheep farm up in the highland of Scotland. There was a pen and in one of them was a sheep that just kept spinning, spinning in circles. It was scary to watch. =(

    And yes… it is all about greed. I spoke about this before… its when the profit comes before the soul that problems come. I have read reports that to implement changed to our food supply to make it more humane and safe would be upwards of 7 to 10 cents per pound. To me, when you think of what you gain, is that really that expensive?

  • Hey, I remember folks eating the traditional Southern breakfast of brains and eggs. Already picky as a child, I stuck with grits.

    Partly because the mad cow at issue turned out to be from my current neck of the woods, the Pacific Northwest, I will be blogging the mad cow issue today. I found myself getting a bit nauseous sipping eggnog while I wrote the entry last night. There is all sorts of gruesome stuff involved in what animals are fed, folks.

    Jim, the answer to your question is greed. The entire body of that cow should have been destroyed instead of having the meat made into hamburger. But, then, the dairy farmer, a veterinarian incidentally, would have lost a few hundred dollars. Now, because of that bad decision, he is likely to lose a heck of a lot more — his other 399 cows.

  • Amid all the furour and blame-throwing over where the cow came from, I keep missing anyone asking the question:
    “Why was an obviously diseased bovine (it was falling down and couldn’t get to its feet) sent to a meat processing plant?”

    Remember kids, brains are for zombies. Must eat bbrrraaiiiinnnnnnssssssss!