“The pork butt — which actually comes from shoulder meat — will be called a Boston roast.”
— from a Reuters news story on the U.S. meat industry’s plan to rename many beef and pork cuts
The acronym isn’t the prettiest one — it’s URMIS, which stands for the Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standards. What URMIS does is give cuts of meats their names — like pork butt and pork chops. And those names are about to change, after 18 months of consumer surveys.
The problem? U.S. customers can’t seem to figure out what’s good for them. Or, more to the point, what’s good.
Beefretail.org spells the problem out like this: “Today’s consumers admit they are confused about fresh meat cuts and they look to you to help them. … The industry has a new, aligned perspective regarding on-pack labeling best practices and a revised Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standards (URMIS) nomenclature that has been consumer-tested and reviewed by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Marketing Service (AMS) and the Industry-Wide Cooperative Meat Identification Standards Committee (ICMISC).”
Meattrack.com, another industry site, spells it out even more directly: “Today’s consumers admit that they’re confused about the fresh meat cuts they see in your meat case. They don’t understand the differences between many cuts and just buy ‘whatever looks good.’ They don’t tend to venture beyond 3-4 cuts they’re most familiar with. That’s costing you potential sales.”
There’s a lot of jargon, but the end result is a simplification of the names of meat cuts, and some new and, well, confusing ones.
Pork loin chops, for example, will become Ribeye Chops. Unless it’s top loin chops, which will become New York Chops.
Chuckeye boneless pot roast will become Denver Roast: one kind of beef loin will become the brand-new Petite Sirloin (not to be confused with seven other kinds of sirloin, like Sirloin Bavette Steak, which is to replace the rather-
unattractive-sounding beef loin flap meat steak boneless). Flap meat, somehow, just doesn’t sound very good, so you can understand that name change.
But from there to federal politics, where dressing things up is also apparently important.
In Ottawa this week, the talk has been about the Conservatives’ new attack ads, and the Liberals’ response to those ads. The Tory ads are meant to belittle Justin Trudeau, while the Liberal ads are meant to belittle the Tory ads. (Sorry, that’s a “flap meat” explanation. The Liberal ads are meant to take the high road.)
Anyway, you can pretty much think about the strategists as giggling junior high school boys, high on that particular high that teen boys that age get talking about things like the mysteries of sex. But onwards.
The Liberals have also disclosed that the Tories intend to continue their trashing of Trudeau, and that the next tranche of bile (sorry, no way to pretty that up) is an attempt to have Tory MPs use their constituency mail-out budgets to send attack flyers against the new Liberal leader. The Liberals, of course, have cried foul, something that’s difficult to do because they’ve done the same recently with the mail-outs.
Tory House Leader Peter Van Loan explains sending out political advertising on the taxpayer’s dime like this: “It’s entirely appropriate for Canadians to be informed about those contrasting aspects of leadership they have available.” OK then.
It’s also perfectly available for Canadians to be informed about which kind of car is better suited to their needs, but that doesn’t mean the taxpayer has to foot the bill for car advertising.
If the Tories want to advertise, they should do it with their own money, and there should be clear rules on how much they are allowed to spend.
(Of course, this is the same Peter Van Loan who somewhat confusingly told the House of Commons earlier this week that forcing individually elected MPs to follow the edicts of the Prime Minister’s Office in absolute lock-step was an exercise of the finest kind of democracy — which, of course, is self-serving flap meat at its best.)
Here’s the bottom line in the whole equation: people may vote badly. They may make mistakes, have big dreams and get swayed by fear and anger.
But they’re not stupid.
The current political trend seems to be that the best way to stay in office is to believe voters are sheep and treat them with the kind of disregard sheep are used to. That may work for a while, but it will only work until there is some kind of legitimate option.
No one likes to be treated like an idiot.
You can call it “Boston Roast” all you like.
Everyone in this country knows what pork butt looks like.
Russell Wangersky is The Telegram’s
editorial page editor.