First, allow me to make some-thing perfectly clear: I love meat. I generally eat it five, if not six, days weekly (I have taken up the penance of fasting there-from on Fridays.), usually in the form of steak. However, I sympathize, completely, with the culinarily conservative, earth-friendly, crunchy attitude toward raising (rather than manufacturing) natural, organic meat (even if my buying habits rarely, presently, reflect this). Not only do I dis-dain factory farming practices; I, also, have a problem with wasting food, because I love food, sicken a bit at the thought of an animal’s dying, only for its death to be de-meaned in such a sad way, and recognize that food that could be feeding the millions, if not billions, of severely hungry and starving people across the world, ends up in a land-fill some-where. Finally, I rather loathe the nanny state and any attempts to curtail, say, health problems, that rely on methods other than encouraging personal responsibility.
All of this being so, that this article in to-day’s Washington Post frustrates me ought not to surprise the reader.
LA PLATA, Argentina — The quest for the perfect hamburger, as any ambitious barbecuer knows, is an exact science. And science is all about trial and error.
“How many hamburgers have we made?” says Noemi Zaritzky, head of Argentina’s Center for Research and Development in Food Cryotechnology. “In total, you mean?”
She’s stumped. . .
[. . .]
They explain the basics: 40 hamburgers for each formulation. Hundreds of formulations to test microbiological reactions, oxidation, texture, taste . . .
“A lot of burgers,” summarizes Silvina Andrés, a biochemist who helped lead the project.
The result is a lean beef burger that is low-fat, low-sodium and juicy, without saturated fat, and that tastes — according to limited consumer tests — as though it probably shouldn’t be good for you.
Essentially, what the scientists have done is take the beef fat out of the meat and replace it with a combination of substitutes less likely to clog arteries. Those substitutes include high oleic sunflower oil and fats from seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which many studies suggest benefit cardiovascular health. They also added phytosterols to the mix — a byproduct of soybeans that can lower the body’s cholesterol absorption.
[. . .]
The average Argentine in 2006 consumed more than 140 pounds of beef, according to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. None of the other nationalities studied consumed even half that amount, with the exception of Americans, who consumed an average of 97 pounds.
Argentines have one of the highest levels of heart disease in the world, according to the American Heart Association.
[. . .]
In a boxy building about an hour outside of Buenos Aires, more than 100 researchers in white coats mill around test tubes, big-bellied flasks and centrifuges, working on food-related science projects that are funded in part by the Argentine government.
Really, why not tell Argentines to eat less hamburger and to exercise more, stop wasting their tax dollars, stop messing with this delicious, perfect every-man’s cut of meat, and halt the need-less slaughter of the number of cows sufficient to supply forty hamburgers for each of hundreds of formulations? Long live paternalism, eh?