But what you describe in terms of salumi are very traditional methods of curing and preparing charcuterie, a well-documented and accepted practice that dates back hundreds of years. It's not hidden or obfuscated. Blue cheese is similarly "gross", but at least we know what it is and how it came to be.
"Pink slime" has been well-documented as to how it's made and is tested to show its safety. And again, it's been shown to be more safe than typical ground beef. I also doubt that despite how long the process has been underway that most people know any better how lean beef trimmings are used than how blue cheese is made. It took me a hell of a lot more internet research to get good information on tripe than it did on pink slime.
You know what else is gross? Hot dogs. Industrialized, emulsified forcemeat (or surimi) is also a very disturbing process to witness. In their modern form it can be argued that it veers systematically from the original archetype, but at least it's mostly a sterile, bleak, and soulless extrapolation of practices that are centuries old.
Where this beef veers off course is that it's simply filler, a way for industrialization to stretch pennies exponentially into profit. We have had a way to ground beef for centuries, it works fine, but we decided it wasn't good enough so we pushed to take what is already a pretty unsettling practice even further into a gray area of acceptability.
Poor people eating the scraps, and making delicious stuff from them, is a tradition as old as time. Hell, even within the animal kingdom, the dominant males get the first cuts. I'm sure you could put a Marxist spin on this, it wouldn't be difficult, about how eating scraps are evil because they alienate the proletariat, but then despite being part of the bourgeoisie, you seem to still enjoy poor people's food. I'm just not seeing how stretching food -- aka, making things cheaper, aka, wasting less of an animal -- should result in a viral campaign including celebrity chef outrage in one case but result in approbation in the other. As Sacman says, there are a lot of things that truly deserve outrage in the food industry which makes this a waste of time and effort by the media et al.
As a foodie, I largely agree with you on lean beef trimmings -- that they're unnecessary and don't seem to add any value to ground beef.* It only makes it cheaper, much like the use of HFCS instead of cane sugar in sodas. I feel the same way about Velveeta, even if some people do think it has redeeming value
. But it seems that the outrage is far out of proportion to that "crime" and so it can't be the underlying reason. I think the "gross" factor is the root cause, but one that calmer heads should see as uncalled for.
Also, PE, you're normally the one defending cheap junk foods and treating those of us who would banish Velveeta and Top Ramen as snobs. So this position seems odd for you. I think it's one of the several cases in food politics where anti-corporatism also has an edge of classism.
* Though perhaps given the chance in a society where food prices matter more, people would come up with creative and wonderful ways to cook such a thing, like we have with tendon, tripe, bone marrow, blood, and so on.