19 June 2008

put down that sandwich!

so there i was at my local Kroger grocery store, buying some innocent sandwich meat from the deli counter. maybe i'm the only one, but i've always assumed that buying lunch meat from the deli-counter as opposed to pre-packaged stuff in the lunch meat aisle meant i was getting something "fresh" or at least "fresher" for my family.

always with one eye on the dollar and one eye on health (or so i thought), i requested 1/3 pound of low-sodium turkey breast from Boars Head, 1/3 pound of baby swiss, and 1/4 pound of Private Selection (store-brand) smoked ham because it was on sale. the man behind the counter who was taking my order happened to be wearing a Boars Head outfit (shirt and matching cap) so I think it's safe to assume he represents them somehow and therefore has a bias, but still, his response caught me by surprise:

"do you realize that you just asked for low-sodium turkey and then a brand of ham that has four times as much sodium?"

he then proceeded to tell me that the store brand of lunch meats are actually not 100% meat. In fact, in order to be approved, they only have to contain 60% actual meat (and some of that "meat" can come in the form of lips, organs, and hooves!) while the other 40% is comprised of various fillers, gelatins, high sodium chicken broth, and other meat by-products.

before he handed me my Boars Head turkey & ham (which he claimed were both taken from actual cuts of meat rather than pieces of meat pressed together to form a ham shape), he said, "you should look up 'processed lunch meat' on the internet sometime."

and so i did. truly, i don't think i will be eating processed lunch meat (Boars Head included), hot dogs and the like again, or feeding them to my family after what i just observed. most of these processed meats are filled with cancer-causing sodium nitrates and other dangerous chemicals.

according to a USA Today article i found:

"...forget eating bacon, sausage and lunchmeat. No amount is considered completely safe, according to the analysis from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund. •Every 1.7 ounces of processed meat consumed a day increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 21%."

perhaps this is common knowledge to most and i have been cluelessly living under a salami sandwich all these years but i really had no idea. sure, i've heard people say: "do you know what's actually in a hot dog?" but i preferred to remain blissfully ignorant with my ball park frank and squeezy bottle of ketchup. one in each fist.

i will let you do the research for yourself. there's a lot of it out there...most of it is both disturbing and exceedingly gross. i always struggle with what to make for lunch, which is why turkey and cheese sandwiches ends up on the menu at least twice a week. but i think i can be more creative now that i know the facts...


(*warning: stomach-turning images) http://www.naturalnews.com/phototour_mystery_meat_1.html




jenni said...

YOU are not going to eat ball park hot dogs anymore?? Whoa.

Well, I suggest the natural hot dogs & deli meat we buy at Whole Foods - Applegate Farms. The beef hot dogs are esp. yummy.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...its all coming back to me now...imagine a Girl Scout field trip in 5th grade to a meat packing plant (owned by one of the girls' uncles). Yes, this truly happened.
After seeing vats of gross stuff get squeezed into hotdog casings, I swore off hot-dogs for life. Period.

Ps. just because it says organic doesn't mean it doesn't have all those parts in it!

Julie Rodda

Connie Brooks said...

Hey, thanks for the link love to Thrifty Mamas. I was really sad to give up lunch meat. I always said hot dogs were my favorite food! But, in light of the research, I went cold turkey (lol.)

I have heard many positive things about Applegate Farms, though I have yet to try it. Does anyone know what percentage "meat" they are?

lisa said...

The pictures of the lunch meat seriously made me almost gag...i couldn't look at all of them. this is why i don't eat lunch meat [or lately any meat for that matter!] yay! for that lunch meat man who helped you want to research this! :)

lisa said...

btw...try an avocado, tomato, and cheese sandwich...they are delish! :) yum.

The Morginskys said...

wow. that really disturbs me. we eat kosher hot dogs, does that make a difference? i kinda dont want to look it up. what about meat from places like wild oats?

jenni said...

Connie, I found this link:


If the link cuts off, just Google Applegate Farms, click "Our Story", then "Our Promises."

david, kelly & sam said...

WOW. i hate lunch meat so i'm ok but david LOVES jimmy johns. scary.

we have a friend in our church here in MN that got cancer at age 11 and he swears it came from his 5 year diet of only eating hot dogs. luckily he lived and is cancer free but the chemo left him unable to have kids so he and his wife have adopted two awesome little boys (i suppose the only blessing from getting cancer???)

Connie Brooks said...

Thanks Jenni! I'll check it out.

Lauren said...

nodding my head. i was once caught by surprise in much the same way. yick. that sort of research/realization is what led to my conversion to pescatarian-ism (vegetarian plus fish), with an inkling that i will one day be a straight up veggie. it's funny though...now that i'm cooking minus the meat, i am enjoying both the process and the finished product SO. MUCH. MORE.

clairestrebeck said...

Oh my gosh. So gross. I will never be able to get those pictures out of my head when I grocery shop, which I guess is a good thing.