Re: The meat mush pot.

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Not many people are getting very sick, but it sounds like a fair number pick up something. As I said to you in my e-mail, I want the option to buy irradiated ground beef.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 11:20 AM
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Seriously though, try to imagine just how many hamburgers get eaten in the US every single day (not to mention ground beef in all its other forms). Millions, probably? The illness risk from ground meat is way smaller than the injury risk of going down stairs or riding in a car or a bus.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 11:30 AM
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Especially in that, once it comes time to track down the tainted item, it's been so sliced and diced and reconfigured that you are forced to assume that pieces of it are everywhere.

It isn't just that they're using the lips and assholes, they're using the parts no anywhere eats. You'd expect hamburgers to be made of meat (from somewhere, yes, even the tougue) and fat - you don't expect it to be full of bone chips.

3. That said, not that many people are getting very sick from e. coli. This doesn't actually make me particularly worried.

The e.coli risk is just icing.

max
['So to speak.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 11:38 AM
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Will ground beef become more expensive if it's rendered safe(r)? I should read the article.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 11:43 AM
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It isn't just that they're using the lips and assholes, they're using the parts no anywhere eats. You'd expect hamburgers to be made of meat (from somewhere, yes, even the tougue) and fat - you don't expect it to be full of bone chips.

Also feces, where the E.coli and Shigella lives.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 11:44 AM
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Seriously though, try to imagine just how many hamburgers get eaten in the US every single day (not to mention ground beef in all its other forms). Millions, probably? The illness risk from ground meat is way smaller than the injury risk of going down stairs or riding in a car or a bus.

I agree.

I also think that the use of meat from multiple sources is probably a good idea. It makes the meat cheaper and reduces waste. If it wasn't for the practice of using meat from multiple sources, what other use would they have for the 50/50.


Posted by: Lemmy Caution | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 11:46 AM
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I realize it's a radical suggestion, but how about just cooking the meat all the way through? If you insist on pink and/or bloody meat you takes your chances. Better not to have deadly stuff in the meat in the first place, but since that's a bit of a crapshoot, might as well develop a taste for meat that's well done.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 11:48 AM
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I was sort of (naively) stunned by the apparently common practice of refusing to sell one's meat slurries to people who will test it for bacteria.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 11:48 AM
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The illness risk from eating beef is way smaller than the injury risk of [...] riding in a car or a bus and colliding with it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 11:49 AM
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I'm surprised by the Wal-Mart style reactionary attitude here. How much more would it cost to have meat without deadly fecal coliform bacteria that didn't have to be fully irradiated before eating? 10% more?

Probably comes from a basic distaste with the whole concept of ground meat.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 11:50 AM
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I haven't had ground beef since that article ran. I'm sure I'll break down and have a burger eventually, but I'd happily pay more for a burger that was made from freshly ground beef from an edible cut of a single animal.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 11:51 AM
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That's why you should grind your own from whole cuts. If you've got a Kitchenaid or a hand grinder, it's a ten minute job including cleanup.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 11:54 AM
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Or learn to chew.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 11:56 AM
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I went to a cookout shortly after this article appeared. I was perplexed for a little while because burgers were pretty much the only food there, but at some point I saw that they were from Costco and rationalized my way into thinking that they were okay.

The test-forbidding and ammonia-treating bits did surprise me, though I had read about enhanced-recovery techniques back when mad cow was getting all the press.

It's not too hard to find places around here that grind their own or have a trustworthy supplier when I do decide I want a burger.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 11:59 AM
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10: The Wal-Mart style reactionary attitude here? The Wal-Mart style stance is what's in place in American society in general with respect to food. People want it to be cheap, then freak out if cheap production methods wind up being less than savory.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 11:59 AM
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I was sort of (naively) stunned by the apparently common practice of refusing to sell one's meat slurries to people who will test it for bacteria.

I'm stunned from the cynical and jaded side of things. Not testing and having solid records of testing is just plain stupid from a risk management angle. Refusing to sell your meat to someone who wants to test it? (1), you are the one trying to sell a product and (b) you could just come right out and say, "oh, our meat is blended with primes select grade feces" because that's what such a position seem pretty clearly to convey.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:13 PM
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Oh, I can go to the butcher for ground beef from a whole cut. But then I'd have to grill the burgers, and I don't have a grill, and I'd have to make my own french fries, which is messy.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:13 PM
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The illness risk from ground meat is way smaller than the injury risk of going down stairs or riding in a car or a bus.

I don't know about going down stairs, but I will here reiterate my belief that one of the problems with car culture is that it systematically distorts our notion of acceptable risk. I swear, for any damn fool activity out there, you can always say, "Well, its no more dangerous than riding in a car!"

"What you think I'm foolish for wanting to be shot out of a catapult? For jumping off a bridge with a bunch of bungie cords tied together? For running naked at the south pole? Its no more dangerous than riding in a car!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:22 PM
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The refusal to allow people to test disturbed me quite a bit. Treating food with ammonia sounds like a bad idea to me.

I'd much prefer to be able to buy an irradiated product.

There's also a risk of e.coli in unpasteurized apple juice, because the apples they use for cider have frequently fallen on the ground and have feces in them.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:22 PM
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Irradiation squicks me out. As does the idea that there might be feces in my conglomerate scrap ground beef. But they're about equal, actually, in my internal, beholden-to-no-fact riskomometer.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:26 PM
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17: there's this Shake Shack joint the internet burger nerds go on about, but I'm going to go ahead and guess that it's mobbed at all times, yeah?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:30 PM
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one of the problems with car culture is that it systematically distorts our notion of acceptable risk

You want us to be more risk adverse?


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:33 PM
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21: Shake Shack was delicious. But mobbed. The Upper East Side was less so (there's actually a Shake Cam for the Madison Square Garden one), and there's indoor seating if you can fight with the families for it. Look at me, talking like I know stuff, even though I only recently went to NYC for all of four days. But they have crispy crinkle cut fries that are as nostalgic as the Ore Ida frozen ones you ate as a kid but much tastier. And their frozen custard shakes are delicious.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:36 PM
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There's also a risk of e.coli in unpasteurized apple juice,

Having been involved in some e.coli litigation, I can assure you that the potential sources are many, including bad handwashing by people who handle food.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:38 PM
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CJB: I suppose that follows from what I said. Really, though the problem with the car comparison is that you are comparing a risk that is basically forced on you with one that is optional, when the two really need different standards.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:39 PM
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Shake Shack is seriously delicious and about four blocks from my office, but yeah, the line is insane. I'm willing to wait about 45 minutes when I've got the time, but the last time I went there, around 2:30 on the Friday before Labor Day, the line looked like a good two hours.

In the fall they have pumpkin-pie concretes, which are made from an actual slice of pumpkin pie blended with vanilla custard and topped with two inches of whipped cream and a bit of nutmeg powder sprinkled on top. It's like an orgy in your mouth.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:40 PM
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Madison Square GardenPark


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:41 PM
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http://www.about-ecoli.com/ecoli_sources


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:42 PM
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I must get some pumpkin pie, NOW.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:42 PM
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Also, I meant Upper West Side, not East. I am so NOT from NY. I can make a couple of recommendations for burgers in the Bay Area, though.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:43 PM
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||

If police officers show up at your classroom looking for a student who happens to be absent that day, and then later the student emails you with an excuse for his absence, are you supposed to tell him the police were looking for him in your reply?

|>


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:48 PM
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31: Yes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:53 PM
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31: he'd probably appreciate it.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 12:54 PM
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though the problem with the car comparison is that you are comparing a risk that is basically forced on you with one that is optional, when the two really need different standards

If anything, it seems like the standard for optional things should be laxer. If I can choose not to do something I generally care less about how normally safe it is.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 1:02 PM
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Irradiation squicks me out.

Why?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 1:04 PM
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Just look what it did to Bruce Banner.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 1:06 PM
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the point is that the cost of not riding in cars is very high--for many people in many places it is unacceptable even at very great levels of risk. On the other hand if something is optional because it has low payoffs that are easily substituted for it really doesn't take much risk to make you not do it.

So you can say "hey eating undercooked meat is no riskier than driving," but the argument doesn't actually get you anywhere, because there are easy alternatives to eating undercooked meat (or meat in general.)


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 1:07 PM
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31: I assume yes. Could well be he or she was a witness to something, or a victim of a crime. Or a criminal. Or just someone Obama wants shipped to a FEMA concentration camp. Who knows?


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 1:10 PM
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there are easy alternatives to eating undercooked meat

YOU'VE RUINED IT!


Posted by: OPINIONATED GOLLUM | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 1:11 PM
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35: For absolutely no rational reason. Just a knee-jerk, you did what to my food? I wouldn't not buy it, but then again, I just don't buy ground beef so it's not really a huge concern.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 1:15 PM
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This is actually one of the reasons that I dislike the easy habit of constantly eating out. One more step removed from the actual food, someone else has sprinkled it with adjectives and flavorings.

On the other hand, I love love love good salami, which I know is no better unless insanely expensive and found only in a fussy shop.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 1:24 PM
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someone else has sprinkled it with adjectives

There's nothing grosser than an overdescribed meal.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 1:27 PM
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Wegmans sells irradiated ground beef. I went out and bought some just after this article came out, in case of emergency hamburger craving.

Shake Shack is good, but I prefer the all-out insanity of Ray's Hellburger, the meat for which is ground on-site from some fancy-ass cut of beef.


Posted by: Amber | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 1:31 PM
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31: Depends. Does "at your classroom" mean "during class"? Like, kids were sitting in desks and you were talking to them about whatever it is you teach when uniformed officers walked in the door and interrupted? If so, then the question is easy. In that case, you should definitely mention it. It's the civil thing to do if you're in correspondence with him anyway, and there's no reason not to, because he could find out soon enough via one of the other students.

If "at your classroom" doesn't mean "in the middle of a class", though, then I don't know. It depends. Exactly what are the chances of word reaching him by other means, is the kid more likely to be a suspect or one of togolosh's innocuous examples, etc.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 1:36 PM
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So you can say "hey eating undercooked meat is no riskier than driving," but the argument doesn't actually get you anywhere, because there are easy alternatives to eating undercooked meat (or meat in general.)

For me, it gets me to safe enough that I don't think it is worth spending a lot of time or energy changing.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 1:37 PM
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I'm shocked by how little food poisoning happens at fast food chains. They must be cooking the shit out of their burgers (literally.) All these problems are from people who buy meat and cook it themselves- there's rarely an outbreak associated with a burger chain, the last I remember was Taco Bell a few years ago and before that Jack in the Box in the 90s. (I also remember the weekend update joke about Jack Kevorkian that went with the story- holy shit, that was 16 years ago.)


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 1:44 PM
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The right way to mix meats for ground beef. I'll talk myself into buying a stand mixer yet.

Barring that (or having a butcher grind it from whole cuts, as suggested above), it's hard to imagine wanting ground beef that much, especially if you have to cook all the pink out. I'd rather eat adjectives than gray meat.

I'd have to make my own french fries, which is messy

I made fries for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Surprisingly not messy!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 1:48 PM
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Thinly sliced potatoes, sprinkle with coarse salt and dill, fry in olive oil. Between chips and fries, cook chooses how crispy. Prone to spatter.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 1:51 PM
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how little food poisoning happens at fast food chains

I think the issue is that most food poisoning amounts to no more than a quick bout of diarrhea. As a species, we've been eating spoiled food for thousands of years; we're pretty good at dealing with it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 1:55 PM
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I went ahead and mentioned the police to the student in the email. I hesitated because it somehow felt like I was conspiring with him--"dude, hide!"--even though all I know was that he was "involved" with an "incident" on campus. The hesitation was irrational, though.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:02 PM
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The hesitation was irrational, though. commendable, Citizen Helpy-Chalk!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:06 PM
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I think that's a natural reaction, but if the police didn't ask you to keep it under your hat, there's absolutely no reason not to tell him. (Even if the police had asked you not to talk, I'd say it'd be a judgment call.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:07 PM
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So how does that work? Uniforms at the front door lead to running out the back door unless McNulty and Hutch are guarding it-- more generically, obviously sniffing around will lead to flight+hiding the evidence or whatever, right? Is this ever a consideration, or is the asumption that criminals, like most people, are immobilized by habits and social ties, apathetic (OK, except for the moment of commiting the crime), and inept?

The police in general wouldn't know whether the person of interest was unstable and a flight risk or violent or whatever, right?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:16 PM
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I thought this post on how mixing things turns them into garbage was absolutely brilliant. I hadn't thought of it that way before, but like Bostoniangirl says, it applies to both mortgages and ground meat.

On a personal level, my engineer's soul was horrified nearly unto tears by the thought of intentionally adding entropy. It is the work of all my days to fight entropy, right? Entropy is already ahead and we all know it is going to win, but it is the enemy that eats my back porch and erodes my sidewalks. Traitors amongst us adding entropy to the system was a terrible, terrible thought.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:26 PM
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but like Bostoniangirl says, it applies to both mortgages and ground meat.

Hey!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:27 PM
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Mixing bloggers turns ideas to garbage.

Entropy!


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:30 PM
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Is this ever a consideration, or is the asumption that criminals, like most people, are immobilized by habits and social ties, apathetic (OK, except for the moment of commiting the crime), and inept?

As I've mentioned before, "rational man" is about as useful in law enforcement as it is in economics. People are unpredictable, especially under stress. Pays to be thorough.

The police in general wouldn't know whether the person of interest was unstable and a flight risk or violent or whatever, right?

Kind of a toss up. If he's got history with them, they might have a pretty good idea of what he's about. Or maybe this came totally out of the blue and it's anybody's guess how this guy is going to react.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:32 PM
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Oh, sorry HG.

I meant, ...just like Heebie-Geebie's brilliant comparison...


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:35 PM
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There's an episode in Lush Life (recommended to all Wire enthusiasts) where the police need to bring in a murder suspect. Even though they know who it is, they wait a couple of days after them murder, figuring he'll have relaxed back into his usual routine. And sure enough, he's sitting in his apartment watching TV or something when they come by, with the gun on the table.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:36 PM
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he last I remember was Taco Bell a few years ago

Which was contaminated produce - probably shredded lettuce - not ground meat. Of course, there's a good chance that the contamination originated from factory-farmed animals, and I keep hearing that the O157:H7 strain basically wouldn't exist if not for such practices.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:37 PM
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If you have a closed system of meat production, is it a Carnocycle?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:37 PM
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And of course, the fact that the cops want to talk to this guy doesn't mean either that he's done anything wrong, or that they think he's done anything wrong. If they wanted to arrest him by surprising him, I'm sure they would have made that clear.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:38 PM
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Right, and the most recent big scare was spinach because it was grown in areas contaminated by farm runoff. So why bother being vegetarian, it's just as risky.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:38 PM
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It's less dangerous than eating a car!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:40 PM
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Then: The Jungle

Now: ZOMG! THIS LARD HAS PEOPLE IN IT!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:44 PM
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63: You fool! You've walked right into the locavores' trap!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:45 PM
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The locavores won't eat me, I'm not from around here.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:47 PM
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61 is great.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 2:56 PM
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A pun cannot be great.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 3:00 PM
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I'm with the 'who cares' camp. I've gotten nasty food poisoning a bunch of times and it's never been from any sort of beef, mostly veggies (yummy salmonella laced gazpacho was the worst) or dairy (Polish milk in old days was a russian roulette experience). I also like to eat raw milk cheeses, my pork chops are cooked so there's plenty of pink, I often don't wash veggies, etc. The only 'ground' meat I ever do at home is for steak tartare, and that's because it's better chopped than ground. So I'm not really a good food safety guy. That said, if you've got access to a real butcher you can get it ground there, no extra charge.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 3:00 PM
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Combining mortgages into mortgage bonds does not actually increase entropy. That's like arguing that single-payer health insurance increases entropy because it combines everyone into the same risk pool.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 3:09 PM
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my pork chops are cooked so there's plenty of pink

This is where Emerson is supposed to appear and remind you that trichinosis in farmed pigs is no longer anything to worry about, but he's too busy writing facebook posts about his new vole.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 3:09 PM
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What do they call Russian roulette in Poland? Wikipedia tells me it's "Русская рулетка" in Russian. Seems like it should be жаренная картошка or something like that.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 3:12 PM
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72: Suddenly, Emerson has become a supporting character from Cold Comfort Farm.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 3:14 PM
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73 rosyjska ruletka


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 3:30 PM
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69: Megan is working today to dampen my FB-stalking crush. But 54 undoes her efforts.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 3:30 PM
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The thought of Emerson on Facebook is freaking me out. Next you'll tell me that McManus spends all his time there.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 3:57 PM
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Why does Max@3 say "even the tongue" as if eating this were weirder than lips and assholes? The tongue is the best bit!

The dish I always laugh at if I'm looking through Mrs Beeton is "Pig's Face".


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 4:29 PM
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My butcher can't tranche worth shit.


Posted by: Econolicious single malt | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 4:35 PM
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73: I had a dream last night set in Tirana, and it was only when I went to the convenience store to buy a snack that I realized I didn't speak any Albanian, and all I could think of to say in Russian was "I understand a little bit of Russian."


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 5:02 PM
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77:Facebook or twitter:never

I am a little freaked by my Firefox spellchecker:I guess
it goes online to check words?

Dog had excellent surgery, is conscious, and will come home a day earlier than expected with very good prognosis.

1.2 million canine ligament surgeries performed every year, in proportion many more than done to humans. There are many resources online.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 6:28 PM
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I am a little freaked by my Firefox spellchecker:I guess
it goes online to check words?

No, it just has its own dictionary.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 6:33 PM
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81: Dog had excellent surgery, is conscious, and will come home a day earlier than expected with very good prognosis.

Outstanding bob!

78: Why does Max@3 say "even the tongue" as if eating this were weirder than lips and assholes? The tongue is the best bit!

I like tongue. Sorry. It's good with vinagar and green beans. But it is actually, you know, a tongue.

I was reaching to for some kind of parallel: ground meat is ground meat. If you cut a cow into steaks, chops and ribs, there are meat and fat scraps leftover. The scraps are perfectly good; if you had half a side of cow and you saved the scraps, you could make perfectly good stock with them.

It's when you start introducing things no one would use (in effect redefining not-meat things as meat) that you are in trouble. Unwashed intestines! The unwashed colon! Bone chunks and hard cartiledge. (Do I need to keep going? No. I do not.)

At that point, you had best hope they're treating their 'ground 'meat' product' with ammonia. And hopefully also bombarding it with neutrons. And maybe getting Superman to break out x-ray vision. Because otherwise, oh my.

max
['Would you like a side of lead with your e.coli?']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 6:55 PM
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Dog had excellent surgery, is conscious, and will come home a day earlier than expected with very good prognosis.

So did my mom! Except she is not yet conscious, and will not be home for ten days or so.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 6:57 PM
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That's good news, for everybody's surgeries.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 7:01 PM
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I'm glad they didn't have to put your mom down, Heebie.

I still love the Far Side at the horse hospital, with the doctor with the shotgun over his arm.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 7:01 PM
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How much meat is in an asshole 3 inches in diameter?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-27-09 8:39 PM
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Irradiation is potentially a *lot* like car-driving in that it introduces risks to people who don't get the benefit. I can't tell what the current standard technology is -- and I find that annoying; the policy papers should specify because it matters -- but the original tech used cesium, as for medical irradiations, and there were some horrible deaths caused by insufficiently vigilant use and disposal of medical irradiation machinery.

Possibly, we're doing something a lot more like microwaving the stuff until it's half-cooked.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-28-09 12:29 PM
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