My own conflicted reactions to discussions of "pink slime" - the processed beef product that is at the center of considerable controversy - illustrate the complicated economics of modern food and its processing.

I can't help it; the "yuk factor" is familiar for me. I am a farm kid, but I always have hated to watch the evisceration or bleeding of any animal, even fish or fowl, much less do it myself.

And two of the most difficult experiences I ever had while working in international development projects involved having to eat repugnant foods. Once, when I already was nauseous from altitude sickness at 14,400 feet in the Peruvian Andes, I had to choke down cau cau - a mixture of potatoes and sheep tripe - to avoid offending the Indian woman who was our hostess. Another time, in a fancy restaurant in Sofia, Bulgaria, I had to express pleasure in the breaded calf brains that a local counterpart loved.

At the same, it pains me to waste food to an extent that probably rises to the obsessive-compulsive disorder scale. So I instinctively support making use of a food product that is nutritious and safe.

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