Sunday, October 11, 2009

Garrison Keillor is a Putz. And a stupid putz at that.

Of all the stupid things the man has wrote, today's column in the Star Tribune contains maybe the stupidest thing yet. Here he describes the Snidely Whiplash Republicans at Cargill:

They are the ones who are dead-set against government regulation and do not mind manufacturing hamburger patties contaminated by E. coli, and if someone becomes terribly ill from eating one -- a young woman in Minnesota almost died from a Cargill hamburger and will likely never walk again -- nonetheless Republicans remain staunchly opposed to G-men snooping around the slaughterhouse, and so I should never eat another Big Mac or Whopper or any other ground meat other than that ground from whole sirloin by a butcher as I watch. Never.

This is uniquely stupid and mean-spirited. The young woman he references ate a burger that was not fully cooked. If the person at the grill had cooked the hamburger all the way through, she'd have been fine. Period. And if Keillor were to eat an undercooked hamburger from meat prepared by a butcher while he watched, he'd be at risk for e. Coli, too. And I also love to see Keillor's credentials as a meat inspector -- his watching the process wouldn't mean a damned thing. And I can promise you that the chances of getting e. Coli from a hamburger at McDonald's or Burger King is pretty much zero.

And if he thinks he can avoid potential e. Coli exposure by avoiding Cargill meat, I'd remind him that several cases of e. Coli in recent years have come from vegetables.

I know a number of people who work for Cargill. It is a tremendously successful company with wonderful ethics. Keillor's casual libel of them tells you much more about him than it does about Cargill.


  1. He doesn't have a brain. He has a gallon of diarrhea between his ears.

  2. Thanks for sticking up for us Cargillians, Mr. D.

    By saying we, "do not mind manufacturing hamburger patties contaminated by E. coli," Keillor is suggesting not merely incompetence or negligence, but rather an intent to harm the public.

    He seems to have an image of evil Republicans huddled in a smoke filled room, lamenting, "And we would've gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for those meddling government beaurocrats!"

    What's sad is that I'll bet Keillor secretly knows the extent to which Cargill has developed innovations over the last century and a half to feed the world safely. He doesn't care. If it pokes a Republican in the eye, he does not mind manufacturing columns contaminated by libel.

  3. My pleasure, Dan. That column was particularly despicable.

  4. The Cargill burger was assembled from a mish mash of low-quality meat from locations around the Western Hemisphere. According to the New York Times those locations included Uruguay, Texas, Nebraska and South Dakota. The meat inspection procedures are questionable. Blaming the victim for eating undercooked meat lets meat producers get away with selling adulterated food to maximize profits.

  5. And how many bajillion meat patties are distributed around the country every year, and how many end up killing or maiming someone? I wonder if a little rat poison has ever accidentally gotten spilled into a box of Powdermilk biscuits? Oh, wait, of course not - Powdermilk biscuits don't exist in reality! Kind of like Mr. Keillor.

    Meat handlers - all food processors for that matter - have a strong incentive to implement inspection and quality control: it's called self-preservation and the marketplace. When there is a tragedy, the manufacturer often goes out of business or is severely damaged. For example, I don't think Bridgestone and Firestone have fully recovered from their debacle more than a decade ago. Great horny toads, man, it's like saying the airlines don't care if they have a crash!

  6. I'm always fond of anonymous posters, especially in this context. You can be safely ignored. And what Crankbait said about self-preservation. Any company that wants to stay in business, especially a company as big as Cargill, will take great pains to get things right.

    And tell me this, brave anonymous poster -- do you agree with Keillor's asinine assertion that meat preparation practices are back to the 19th Century? Really?

  7. Actually, properly processed meat does NOT have a lot of e coli. How long have the French been eating steak tartare, after all?

    You get e coli in meat either when the intestine is perforated during butchering, or when the carcass is not properly washed before skinning--this is especially the case if the animal is on feed (acid tolerant e coli are far more deadly) and knee deep in its own manure.

    Cargill's fault? Maybe a bit, but the bigger problem is the USDA, which actually penalizes slaughterhouses for going beyond its recommendations, which fully accept feedlot farming and the practices Cargill uses.

    And in the 19th century, they knew better. That's why you could eat steak tartare then, but not--generally speaking--now.

  8. And of course, there's the matter of irradiation, which would essentially eliminate the threat of foodborne illness, but is opposed by scientific know-nothings who think it's scary.

  9. You could.....but "an ounce of prevention" comes to mind quickly. Why bother with radiation if bringing a healthy animal to market(reduce corn feeding), cleaning it well, and handling it responsibly will do the trick?

    Or, like you say, "cooking the meat"?

    I'm also not sure that it would solve the BSE problem....that's another "ounce of prevention" moment too, as well as a place where the USDA was encouraging farmers to feed rendering plant trimmings to animals--essentially making them cannibals.

  10. Cargill even sponsored Mr. Keillor on his tour many years ago. I enjoyed his show in Cincinnati.

  11. So, Anonymous, are you alleging that Garrison Keillor has economic ties to an organization known to intentionally adulterate its products with tainted Uruguayan meat?

    That's a serious charge. We need to investigate Keillor immediately. Follow the money!!

  12. Uruguayan meat. For shame. Never mind that the Uruguayans have been in the meat business for many years and produce some of the best quality beef in the world. Must be adulterated since most people can't find Uruguay on a map.

  13. Bubba,

    I take your point about handling. Having said that, I'm pretty confident in the food supply chain we have in this country, despite the issues with USDA inspectors. Generally speaking food is a hell of a lot safer now than it was 100 years ago, despite Keillor's Upton Sinclair fetish.

  14. I'd really like to hear a PETAn's side to this issue. Any card carrying PETA members out there... hello, hello, Buehler, Buehler.