Ever since I was a child, I have always enjoyed succulent, savory barbeque baby-back pork ribs. Eating ribs has always been a fun activity, tearing away the meat from its bone with my incisors and canines, chewing the tender meat, and feeling it slide down my esophagus afterwards. There are “dry” ribs and “wet” ribs. All ribs are great, but I prefer wet ribs because I like my rack slathered in sauce.
Given my love of saucy barbeque pork ribs, I fell in love with the McDonald’s McRib sandwich. I remember tasting one during my lunch break from work: The steamed bun comforted my fingertips like the touch of a pillow. Although I ordered my sandwich without pickles and onions, the slab of meat slathered in barbeque sauce felt heavy. I bit into the sandwich. I had expected the meat to be tough like an overcooked pork chop–but it wasn’t. I had bitten into something tender, like a meaty cloud.
From then on, I was addicted to the McRib.
Originally, I was going to write about the annoying temporary availability of the McRib sandwich after becoming an addict. It should be a permanent fixture on its menu. However, in my research, I came across a Yahoo! Finance article called “11 Amazing Facts about the McDonald’s McRib” which had links to other online articles. The article says the McRib is a “restructured meat product.” The process involves taking parts of the animal like tripe, heart, or stomach and mixing them with salt and water. As a result, the proteins extracted from the muscle fuse all the meat parts and can then be shaped into anything, such as a boneless rack of ribs.
My innocence was spoiled after reading about restructured meat products. I thought the McRib meat was something heavenly. In the “Ribwich” episode of “The Simpsons,” which satirized the McRib, Homer said he had “tasted the ribs of God!” So did every time I ate a McRib. But instead I had eaten either heart or stomach.
And the meat isn’t the only component that has shady ingredients. The McRib sandwich contains 70 ingredients. According to a Time Health and Family online article, the bun contains a flour-bleaching agent called azodicarbonamide, which is used to make foamed plastics like gym mats and shoe soles.
A video on the Humane Society of the United States’ website exposed a pork producer corporation use of “gestation crate confinement,” which involves the use imprisoning individual whole pigs in metal crates with bars. They have open wounds and bleeding gums from gnawing at their bars, and they squeal like crazy because they can’t move a centimeter in their crates.
As Americans, we love to consume. And we love to consume in a spirit of innocence. It is really annoying when left-leaning critics and organizations guilt-trip us and ruin our innocence, but they have a point–and a valid one.
Watching that pig video on HSUS’s website reminded me of sweatshops overseas. The factory workers, too, are exploited. Of course, they’re not animals, but conditions are still not ideal. The majority of our shoes and clothing are made overseas and the people making those clothes would have to work forever to afford their own goods.
If we saw what really goes on in a sweatshop, then we would feel guilty, just as a lover of pork would feel guilty if he witnesses gestation crate confinement. Yes, it’s annoying when we’re guilt-tripped, but it’s reality.