So. DakotaThe company that makes ‘pink slime’ suspended operations Monday at three of four plants where the beef ingredient is made, saying officials would work to address recent public concern about the product. Beef Products Inc. will suspend operations at plants in Amarillo, Texas; Garden City, Kansas; and Waterloo, Iowa, according to Craig Letch, the company’s director of food safety and quality assurance. ‘We feel like when people can start to understand the truth and reality then our business will come back,’ Letch said. ‘It’s 100 percent beef.’

Federal regulators say the ammonia-treated filler, known in the industry as ‘lean, finely textured beef,’ meets food safety standards. But critics say the product could be unsafe and is an unappetizing example of industrialized food production. The low-cost ingredient is made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m a man of simple pleasures.  I’m all about the little things.  All I need is coffee in the morning, beer when I get home and the cable to be working to keep me happy.  And once a week or so, I want a burger.  Nothing exotic.  Nothing weird. Just give me a couple of pounds of quality ground beef, fresh rolls and the grill on my back deck and I’ll take that over the priciest gourmet meal any foodie can buy anywhere.

So it begs the question: How worried do I have to be about this Pink Slime thing?  On the one hand, I don’t want to be eating garbage.  On the other hand, I’ve lived through too many of these food scares to take all of them seriously.  Remember back when Meryl Streep went in front of Congress to say Alar on produce was slowly killing us all and almost put the American apple growers out of business?  And it turned out the only way Alar could kill you was if a 50 gallon drum of it crushed your skull and by the way she’s an actress who shouldn’t be dictating agricultural policy?  Or time Penn & Teller asked a bunch of Hippies to sign petitions banning this substance that’s in all our crops and in our drinking water: Di-Hydro Ozide. And they all signed it without even asking what the stuff is even though it just means H2O.  Not to mention the Mad Cow Hysteria of a few years ago that almost made eating a rare burger a felony.  Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life is that as long as you enjoy some simple pleasure… whether it’s tobacco or gambling, booze or the noble hamburger… there’s some crusading, know-it-all buttinski somewhere who’s going to try to kill your fun.  So I’m going to assume that’s what this is.  Just another phony scare by the Professional Hysterical Alarmist lobby.  And that while “Pink Slime” doesn’t sound particularly appetizing, no one would care if they gave it some trendy name like Organic Enhancer or Natural Protein Supplement or something.  So as far as the Great Pink Slime Scare of 2012 is concerned, I’m going back in the Matrix.  I want to be fat, happy and in denial.  @JerryThornton1