Nutritional GuidanceWe are what we eat
What About Meat?
One of the most important aspects of eating any flesh food like beef, chicken, lamb, or fish is to think about the environment and food supply in which it grew.
These creatures are at the top of the food chain. This means that whatever it eats for nutrition is a link in the chain of life that is preceded by another link, or form of life.
For instance, let’s look at beef. It is typically born on the range and nursed by its mother until it is mature enough to graze on grass. So far so good – its mother’s milk will be affected by her food supply and the health of the grass supply is generally only affected by natural elements such as rain supply (except for over-grazing). After a year, the calf is shipped to a feed lot for the rest of his short life (2 years 4 month average). In this environment, he is now entirely dependent on what is fed to him.
The basis for his feed is corn and soy, not the grass his species has used for nutrition for hundreds of years. These two products are raised today by large corporate farms that attempt to reduce costs and increase profits by using the same savings of scale that the large feedlots employ. So corn is now raised on thousands of acres year after year. Land is not allowed to go fallow (a term meaning that nothing is grown on it for a full growing season. This gives it time to naturally recover its microscopic biologic and its mineral content.) Chemical soil additives and fertilizers are used to make sure the corn gets enough nutrition to grow to full maturity. Insecticides and pesticides made from other volatile chemicals are sprayed on the corn as it grows. Same with soy beans. So the corn that we feed the beef cow looks good on the outside but not on the inside.
Our beef cow lives in tight quarters with other beef cattle. Rain or shine, winter and summer they do not move much. The tenderness that we have come to associate with our steaks, is really a result of flabby muscle development.* To avoid sickness in such a concentrated population, they are given antibiotics regularly in their grain. And growth hormones to increase their size.
The residue of these products permeates every part of the animal, including the muscle parts that become steaks, burgers, chops, and roasts.
This same process applies to raising chickens and farming fish.
What to Do?
It is always advisable to choose flesh food that has been raised in as traditional a way as possible and fish that are caught in the wild of the ocean. We will pay more for this kind of product because more human care has gone into raising it. We spend 7-8% of our income on food. In Europe, where it is generally agreed the quality of the food is superior to the U.S., they spend 14% of their income on food. We have become spoiled by the low prices we pay for our agricultural products. The economies of scale that are realized by housing tens of thousands of animals in one operation do not take into account the costs to our health.
These products are dangerous.
We now know, for example, that the unhealthy qualities assigned to beef fat are only present in ‘factory’ raised beef, not grass-fed beef.
It takes some looking and a willingness to spend more on you, but there are providers of healthy, naturally raised or wild caught foods. This applies also to vegetables and fruits but that’s the topic for another discussion.
* Imagine an alien race who domesticates human beings for its food supply. Which do you think they would prefer? An active, muscular athletic human or one that sits around all day with fat throughout its undeveloped muscles? (Butchers call the fat permeation ‘well-marbled’). We need to retrain our taste buds to appreciate real muscle meat. Grass-fed beef cooks more quickly with less fat and it provides our bodies with healthier amino acids to build our own protein and muscle mass.