|To this day, my mom loves to tell me stories about growing up in Dallas in the sixties and seventies. She grew up in Lake Highlands with two very loving parents, two sisters and a brother. Her mother loved to cook, and was the embodiment of southern hospitality.|
My grandma passed before I was born, but I can see the influence she had on my mother; my mom is a wonderful cook and homemaker, and was intent on raising two boys with excellence. My brother turned out ok; what I’ll make of myself remains to be seen ; ).
My mom comes from a family of carnivores, and one thing she has repeatedly talked about is where they got their meat (As a side note, my grandpa and her dad is 87 years old, still works, and manages to get in a game of golf or two per week, which to me punches a few holes in the theory that you can’t be healthy and eat meat…). On grocery day, a separate trip was made to the butcher’s shop to pick up the week’s meat. The butcher would hand slice the selected cuts – no prepackaging, no preservatives, etc.
Things, obviously, are very different than they were 50 years ago. One of the more notable changes is the difference in how we feed ourselves and how we produce the food we feed ourselves with as nation. Food conglomerates, big agriculture companies and factory farms dominate the industry. In a nation of 300 million people, it is easy to see why this trend exists. Still, it raises some questions about the practices involved, especially when these corporate entities worry more about bottom lines than producing healthy, quality foods.
Most people will be familiar with the the many documentaries and books covering the deplorable conditionsfactory farm animals live in. (If you are unfamiliar with any of this, I highly recommend starting with Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.) People fascinated with agriculture science will also know that animals in factory farms are not fed the diets they would eat in a normal habitat. Anyone driving by a factory farm can see that the animals have little to no room to exercise.
Last week we talked about the importance of meat on the Phase 1 diet and how this is in juxtaposition to what many health advocates would suggest. Eating meat is encouraged on the Phase 1 diet, but their is a caveat. Doug recommends that, whenever it is physically and financially possible, to always eat organic, grass-fed meat or wild caught fish. There are a number of reasons why this is optimal, but as far as the Phase 1 diet is concerned, here is our reasoning.
1. These animals are not exposed to mycotoxins the way factory farm animals are.
Factory farm animals are given antibiotics; the farmers go as far as to mix these drugs in with their feed as a prophylactic measure. These antibiotics, and a host of other drugs and hormones, can contaminate the meat and milk these animals produce. These animals are also routinely fed corn, which raises two concerns. Corn is contaminated with mycotoxins (Etzel, JAMA), which can result in contaminated meat, not to mention unhealthy animals. Corn is also unnatural to the diet of ruminants, which leads to the next point:
2. The fat profile of grass fed animals is the way it would be found in nature, and the result is healthier meat for humans to consume.
The “all fat is bad” meme is finally going away. Still, the issue of animal fat remains confusing. Eating the fat of animals isn’t necessarily bad; it is a more nuanced issue than that. The fat in grass-fed animals is loaded with Omega 3 as opposed to only Omega 6. High levels of Omega 6 fat have been associated with inflammation, while Omega 3 has been associated with countless health benefits, not to mention anti-fungal properties.
So where do you go for meat? Many local health food stores are committed to selling local, organic and grass-fed meat, and those business owners would undoubtedly be happy to help you and discuss the practices of their providers with you. Even closer to the source, many farmers will sell directly to you. The growing number of people that are cognizant of the inherent problems with the system has created a demand for meat that is drug-free and raised correctly. It may be a little more expensive, but it is definitely worth it, in the long run.