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Taco Bell beef is only 36% meat?

January 27, 2011

Taco Bell is being sued because of claims that its beef is comprised of only 36% actual meat, so calling it meat is misleading to the consumer.

Taco Bell says this is lie, and that their meat is 88% meat, 12% secret recipe, which includes spices.

As I’ll explain, while I think this is an unfair attack on Taco Bell, I do think we need to be thinking more about where our food comes from and what is in our food.

picture from

In recent months I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about not only where our food comes from, but also what is in our food. Everything I’ve found is shocking, and once you learn about it you realize how truly obvious it is that most of what we eat isn’t real food at all (which is most likely why as a nation we are so sick and so fat).

For example, pick up a box of cereal. How many ingredients do you actually recognize? Not many, I would assume, because not many of them are whole foods.

While I was never under the impression that eating fast food was in any way healthy, I didn’t understand how many fillers are mixed into processed foods and also how many of them are derived from corn.

Corn products are in almost everything Americans consume. Here are a few very common ingredients you’ll find in almost everything:

Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)


Caramel Color

Citric Acid

Corn oil

Corn starch





Flavoring – as in “natural flavors”


High-fructose corn syrup

Lactic Acid


Monosodium glutamate (MSG)


Xantham gum


For a full list of corn derivatives and descriptions, click here.

Overall I think this is an unfair attack on Taco Bell because it isn’t going to change the industry, it’s just going to hurt their sales for a short while. People are going to look at Taco Bell in a negative light while they continue to eat at other fast food establishments or shop at the supermarket and buy the same sort of processed foods or meats that come from factory farms.

We need to focus more on education. I  never learned about food or nutrition in school, and it was only after reading about this subject on blogs that I took an interest to educate myself.

People have such a distrust for the government on almost every level, but most people don’t question the government in terms of what they consider to be real or safe food.

An excellent book to read is The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. He extensively researched exactly where our food comes from and followed it from the field to the supermarket.

It’s a big book, but it’s worth it. Alternatively, the documentary Food, Inc. is a good place to start in terms of getting an understanding of how much corn dominates our food economy.

Ever since I started reading about it I’ve strived to eliminate processed foods from my diet. I cook almost all my meals at home and I pack my lunch every day. Due to the nature of the way meats are processed and the food animals are force-fed I’ve also had to eliminate most meat from my diet, which is why the recipes on this site are  mostly vegetarian. You would be absolutely sickened to learn what cows are actually fed in factory farms and by the amount of antibiotics and growth hormones that are pumped into them.

It’s a long road toward a total lifestyle change, but I’ll get there!

11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2011 3:57 am

    Oh, Please. Neither Food, Inc, nor the Omnivore’s Dilemma have any idea of how cattle are raised. There are so many holes in their stories. You need to talk to some real farmers to find out how your beef is really produced. Don’t believe some shockumentary.

    • January 28, 2011 11:22 am

      Hi, thanks for your comment. I’m not a farmer, and I don’t claim to be. I fully admit my knowledge on the subject is limited as people just aren’t educated about where our food comes from.

      What I do know is that there are always two sides to the story, and I do understand that there are plenty of farms that humanely raise their animals in a natural way. In The Omnivore’s Dilemma he describes these types of farms in great detail, and in fact focuses on them more than the industrialized animals.

      I also understand that it’s simply not possible to feed the country as much meat as we eat and still maintain a naturally fed, healthy animal.

      My point in writing this post is to get people questioning their food, which they don’t do. We question everything else in life, so why not the most important thing to our health?

      Americans are grossly overweight, and it’s directly due to diet.

      • January 30, 2011 6:55 pm

        In fact most beef is already raised “naturally.” The beef cow usually is raised on pasture, out in rough country that cannot produce anything but pasture plants. Some cattle spend their whole life there, but it takes longer to get to market weight. Thus to speed up the process cattle destined for the table are moved to feed lots to give them a diet that includes grain as part of the diet.
        It’s not the meat we eat that makes us overweight. If that was so there would be no pictures of overweight people from the slavic countries where they live mostly on cabbage and bread. It is lack of exercise that makes us fat.

      • February 3, 2011 3:36 pm

        The simple solution to me is that American eat WAY too much meat! Our bodies don’t need meat at every meal and we certainly don’t need it in the quantities that we get it. The vegetables should be the main course and the meat should be more of the side item instead of the other way around which is how we eat. But of course you know this:)

  2. Karen permalink
    January 28, 2011 3:23 pm

    A lot of people learn about where their food comes from and then just continue to eat the unhealthy stuff they always have. I know someone who watched food inc. and at the end he was like, “I agree with that movie but eating processed foods is just too convenient.” Never going to change. Then you have the people who just don’t believe anything other people have to say-so it must be some sort of conspiracy and those resources surely must be exaggerating. I really don’t think they are exaggerating. People need to take responsibility for themselves and just say no to things that aren’t right. A change in diet isn’t always easy but people again, need to take responsibility for their health and do what they need to do to get healthy.

    I’m giving myself 1 year to make the switch to natural and humanely raised food. This means that if I do eat in a restaurant then I’ll have to eat vegetarian because most restaurants are not going to pay more money for higher quality ingredients. It takes a while to learn what to replace the things you usually eat with, but it can be done and it doesn’t have to be overnight.

    The government does not always have our health and safety in mind. Why? Because money is far more important.

    • January 28, 2011 3:37 pm

      That’s one thing I learned from reading about all this is that big corporations can persuade the government to do anything they want. I know it’s obvious, but I just never thought about the food industries doing it.

    • January 30, 2011 6:49 pm

      I find it interesting that you plan to eat vegetarian at restaurants when two of the biggest food contamination issues in restaurants in the last years have involved fresh veggies.

      • Karen permalink
        January 31, 2011 4:54 pm

        You do have a great point. Luckily I don’t like raw vegetables which is where you are most likely to get food poisoning from. I would mostly likely choose a pasta dish that didn’t have meat in it. I just want to support the local farmers who are humanely treating their animals and are feeding them natural diets-grass-fed beef only for me.

  3. Karen permalink
    January 28, 2011 3:27 pm

    Also I am going to start going to farmer’s markets and buying local products to support local farmers who aren’t owned by a big corporation like Tyson.

    • January 28, 2011 3:36 pm

      I’m doing the same thing! I’m attending my first farmers’ market this weekend and I’m going to try to buy as many vegetables as possible. Mom and dad are looking at buying meat from local farms as well which is really good. I’d do that too if I didn’t live in such a huge city, but since I can’t I’m eating mostly vegetarian now.

      • January 30, 2011 6:59 pm

        You could also check to see if you can find any small town butcher shops. Most of them kill local products.
        Also check out farmed bison and elk. Both good low fat meats that do not respond well to being fed grain so they are fed grasses and legumes.

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