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If I see another one of those "Beef: It's What's for Dinner" advertisements (courtesy the Beef Council, of course), I may lose my appetite for the stuff altogether.

A quick Google search (how did we live before they came along, anyway?) shows that just about every state (and New Zealand!) with a cow within its borders has a beef council, in addition to the "" grandaddy site.

I looked at the Pennsylvania site first, since I used to live there.

This is not a good omen, I thought, greeted by a horrifying little mascot figure of a girlish hamburger wearing a baseball cap. Timorously clicking on the forboding creature (she's animated! heaven help us all), I learned that "Patty Melt" teaches kids about food safety. Somehow I doubt that cholesterol is part of her lesson plan.

On the "Industry Facts" page we learn fascinating things, such as the fact that a "3-ounce serving of beef has less fat than a tablespoon of typical salad." Typical salad dressing, maybe. And when was the last time you saw a three-ounce serving of beef?

In "Producers" we learn about a sinister conspiracy called "The Checkoff," which may be partially responsible for those damnable commercials, since it's a means of forcing all cattle dealers in the state to contribute to a fund for "advertising, cooperative marketing, public relations efforts, education programs and new product development initiatives." It is firmly noted that everyone has to contribute to it.

Shocked, shocked I am. And this in a Republican state!

Moving on to, I find an admission of guilt: yes, it is indeed they who produced those heinous spots, featuring such unlikely events as a wedding reception at which 99 people order beef and one lone fool thinks she wants chicken. Of course, she changes her mind at the sight of a slice of roast. If you want to know where the music for those spots came from, look no further than these pages.

Clicking on "Research," I did find what appeared to be a brave BSE-related study, examining the way neural tissue ends up in weird parts of a cow's body after they smack it on the head with a "captive bolt stunner." The full report isn't available online, I find to my disappointment, and the "layman's summary" only says that the report agrees with the results of some other report. Wow, that's useful to us laymen! Thanks, Beef Council!

They do have a page on BSE, I notice. The "documented cases" map shows only Europe, oddly enough, although the text below mentions a case in Canada, among other non-European nations. I bet they didn't like the idea of coloring in that huge swathe of Canada just because of one li'l old case of BSE.

The very first question on the Q&A page insists that there is no known connection between BSE and CJD.

The second one says that recent research suggests a link between BSE and vCJD.

So, not classic CJD, but variant. Now I'm quite sure I've lost my appetite. Maybe a look at their nutrition page will cheer me up. At least there's no dancing hamburger....

No, there's a dancing woman with a cell phone at her ear and a fry pan in one oven-mitted hand, captioned "The Everyday Hero" and the tagline, "If you're a woman, she's you."

Oh really. According to them, women punch clocks (salaried, thank you), wash clothes (when it's my turn), pay bills (only half of them), take the kids to soccer practice (whatEVER), pack lunches (my own), pick up their husbands' dry cleaning (as IF), change the baby (my mother didn't trust me to change my niece when we visited), check on their aged mother (call her "aged" and see what she calls you), console their best friends (rarely required), and get dinner on the table every night (that one, I do—but he does the dishes).

Yup, definitely going to have to cut down on the red meat. I think it's doing something to my blood pressure....

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© 2000 Rebecca J. Stevenson