My beef with PINK SLIME

What is “pink slime” anyway? A new rock group? A low-budget horror flick monster? Or a hidden menace?

Brace yourself. Pink slime is the yucky-looking, oozy ammonia-treated filler used to beef up ground beef. Lately, the stuff has been surrounded in turmoil and controversy…and frankly, it should be.

It’s truly amazing what goes into the food stream that’s been deemed as appropriate for humans to eat. Worst part is, most of us don’t even know about all the fillers, preservatives and chemicals they hide in our foods. And when we find out, we all feel like we’ve been cheated and lied to…we’re pretty disgusted…and next come the waves of that sick and nauseated feeling…followed immediately by anger and dismay.

Over 10 years ago, I made a solemn promise to myself, my business partner, my employees and most of all, to my customers. That promise was that I was going to convert 100% of all of our meats, poultry and seafood to 100% All Natural and/or Organic. When discussing this pact with my colleagues, I usually got the same reaction and questions: “What does that mean? What’s an All-Natural product? How much more is this going to cost us? Will our guests even care about it? Will we have to raise our prices? What’s wrong with the products we buy now?” The questions continued to pound at me, but my mind was set. My reply was always, “I don’t care about the costs. This is what we are going to do, and I will do whatever it takes to make this happen!”

Little did I know that those questions weren’t going to be my biggest obstacle. The real hurdle came after I started trying to find the product, a product that had not yet been labeled that way…or even discussed.

And so, after telling all of our local purveyors exactly what I was after, I got the same vacant look (you know the look!). First, their eyes glazed over, then I always got the same question, “What are you talking about…what exactly is it you want?” They just didn’t get it…or didn’t want to get it.

I started a national search, calling all types of small farms that were committed to the same “All Natural” products that I was. And, believe it or not, I found quite a few suppliers. One farm providing the best tasting meat was a small ranching family from Oregon called Painted Hills Beef. We brought in samples, did cuttings, and found that their product was exactly what I was looking for. Now a new question arose, “How could we get a steady fresh supply of it?” Plus, there was another hurdle… I couldn’t do it on my own, because I would have to palate loads at thousands of pounds at a time. Nope, that was not going to work.

Then, I went back to our local purveyors and started to push once again. Yes, you guessed it, another hurdle. But giving up was not an option. It took my dogged persistence and continually telling vendors that this was the future and that people care about what’s in their foods. I didn’t forget to hit them in their profit center with, “Hey look, it’s a great new item for you to market!”

I finally reached a deal with a major supplier that would carry a new product that I wanted. With chefs in tow, we hopped on a plane and set out to Creekstone Farms in the prairie state of Kansas. Their facility was pristine. We were able to go through the entire process—from knock to box—and we toured their feedlots and talked to their buyers and breeders. Ahhhh…finally, my dream does exists!

In order to spare you any more unnecessary details (including why I don’t have any hair left on the top of my head), all you really need to know is this:

At both Tonto and Cartwright’s, we made a solemn promise to completely keep anything even slightly resembling pink slime and many more of its noxious and non-food cousins out of our restaurant. Not only out of the protein, but out of all the products we use. There is a lot more “bad stuff” being served up than just pink slime. Sure, you can see pink slime…but what about all those things you CAN’T see, like growth hormones, antibiotics and steroids? What about harmful fats and oils, and so on and so on (ad nauseam…literally)? No, I will not settle down. It all makes me sick to my stomach to even think about that stuff, and now I’ve put it all behind me and whipped a recipe you’ll eat up with no qualms:

  • ALL of our proteins are 100% ALL NATURAL, NO Antibiotics, NO Steroids and NO growth hormones!
  • We offer you a choice for your hamburgers:
    At Tonto Bar & Grill, you get a choice of: All-Natural or Local grass-fed organic
  • At Cartwright’s, it’s 100% All-Natural Elk & Buffalo mix
    Now how about putting that burger on our House-Made buns or a non gluten bun? We bake every single day, all day long, with NO preservatives and NO additives.
  • Which side do you want with your hamburger? French fries, sweet potato tots or fresh salad with House-Made dressings? Yep, we have that covered as well. My pact continued here about 3 years ago, when we switched from canola, vegetable and olive oils. We now use 100% rice bran oil—the healthiest oil in the world, and your body is not able to absorb it as fat. Yes, we use this in all of our cooking, searing, baking, deep-frying and salad dressings. We only use a little bit of 100% sesame oil in our Asian dressing and a little 100% extra virgin olive oil in our Caesar dressing. Nothing but wholesome goodness for our diners…every time.

Needless to say, we carry the same high standards in everything we do and buy for all of our menu options. Does it come at added expense? Of course it does. But think about this, the next time you choose to dine with us. Every bite you take is 100% real, 100% good for you and it will make you 100% happy. And that’s certainly not a half-baked commitment! It’s all that you could ask for…and then some!

To see a complete list of our items, visit our pantry on our web page: – or-