Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Peek Into "The Jungle"

It has been 106 years since Upton Sinclair wrote about the disgusting conditions in Chicago meatpacking plants and the overall corruption in the industry. In those 106 years since "The Jungle" was first published, the industry and how its regulated has come more than along way.

The industry is so trusted that the safety and ingredients of the foods we eat are afterthought to most. Therefore, when consumers discover that it's standard practice for restaurants and butchers to use a beef filler affectionately known in the industry as "lean finely textured beef," it's seen as a significant breach of the public's trust. Add to this the nauseatingly gross details of how this so-called "lean finely textured beef" it's enough to shock any appetite for beef.

For obvious reasons, the meatpacking industry and the companies who profited from the existence of this manufactured filler didn't exactly advertise that they were using it. It's wrong, cheap and takes full advantage of the ignorance of the consumer. Of course they knew this. Around the age of kindergarten everyone learns that if you're not proud enough to have actions publicized, it's something you shouldn't be doing.

Obviously, no one likes surprises in their food. For the last 106 years, most people have been polite enough to not ask many questions of the meatpacking industry but I'm wondering if this incident will change that.

An extra thought: Interesting how the perfect name "pink slime" got consumers to take notice after years of ignorance to the practice. Perfect example of how critical branding and idea is.

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