Let’s be real here— thousands of years ago, we did not have the luxury of walking into a grocery store to choose which part of a cow we were in the mood to eat for dinner.
Historically, we would have set out to hunt an animal in its natural habitat, where it would have freely grazed with its companions on local grasses and shrubbery, that were also absorbing chlorophyll from the sun’s rays in the fresh air.
Despite the delicate topic regarding the consumption of animals in today’s current climate, we would have accepted that The Circle of Life… was part of life and a sustainable way of living.
Fast forward to our new world… Convenience has become expected and the mass production of all products and services has replaced quality (and also common sense) with all sorts of inflammatory diseases and health complications that we hope to quickly resolve with magic pills, without wanting to address any changes to our buying habits, or lifestyle.
Bare with me here. I realize habits are hard to break but we have to be open to exploring The Why, instead being so reactive and quick to fix issues with bandaids.
Let’s talk meat. Commercially raised meat and poultry is an issue and not one that needs to be resolved with laboratory made schmeats, made from highly processed “once” plants by scientists in white lab coats.
When we look at how animals bred for food production are raised, it is no wonder our bodies are under such a heightened states of stress. However, we simply cannot turn a blind eye and start swearing off all animals products to live a life on boxed pastas, breads and meat substitutes. We have to come back to the original issue— The Source.
Even if it does not ruffle your feathers to know that commercially raised animals are kept in stressful, congested and unnatural living quarters, it is important to note that it impacts the quality of the final product. Let’s stick with beef, for the sake of this article, although the poultry industry may be even more problematic.
Cows are often fed a grain-based diet because it provides quick energy to the cattle that results in increased muscle growth and weight gain. For the farmer, this is ideal because the longer it takes to fatten up a cow, the more expensive it is to have them around before slaughter. For the end consumer, this is also considered a win, simply because not only could the beef potentially come at a more “cost effective” price, but it means that the steaks will be larger and there will be more marbling on the beef— or fat, rather. If you are a beef eater, the marbling is considered to add prized flavor.
This is an issue for the beef eaters, however, because cows, even those being fed “organic” grains are not designed to eat grains like barley, corn and sorghum. Cows are beautifully and intricately designed to munch on grass all day. Grains lower their immune function and in a closed environment, invites disease. Where disease is invited, there will be antibiotics. If animals are given antibiotics, the end consumer ultimately will receive byproducts of these antibiotics that remain in the fatty tissue and muscle of the animal. Ick.
Even if we had a farm of healthy cattle, happily munching on grains, this unnatural diet alters their chemical makeup, creating inflammation in their tissues and changes the ratio of omega fatty acids, to include very little anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids.
According to Teri Cochrane, Integrative Practitioner and author of “The Wildatarian Diet,” “commercial cow meat contains xenoestrogen, industrially made compounds that mimic the hormone estrogen… stored in the animal’s fatty tissue.” Because these commercial meats are raised to be “marbled” (or higher in fat and flavor, rather) we end up consuming these hormone disruptors that become more toxic and disruptive, the more we consume it.
The solution is not then, schmeat, aka: laboratory made meats, but rather aiming to eat more wholesome sources of food (produce, for instance) in addition to grass-fed beef and local and sustainable foods that are reminiscent of the cattle and buffalo freely grazing the land.
There are several tiers of better for you beef, but first lets discuss the more ideal options— “grass fed” beef.
Most people do not know this but there are two types of “grass-fed” beef— “Grass-fed, grass-finished” and just “grass-fed.”
If beef is labeled as “grass-finished” it means that cows ate nothing but grass and other forage for their entire lives. If beef is labeled as just “grass fed” however, it means that the cattle was started on a grass diet but then either switched over to a grain diet to fatten them up before slaughter, or received grains, as supplemental feed during their life. This is very important to note for those that have auto-immune diseases, because what they eat, you ultimately end up eating as well.
Grass fed-grass finished beef is going to be leaner, containing at least 20% fewer calories. It is going to be richer in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin A and E. Think about the nutrient density of greens, versus the carb rich nutrition label of a bag of corn.
If grass-fed is not an option for you, you ideally want then Certified Organic Beef, free of antibiotics and hormones, ensuring that the cattle were at least fed quality grains.
It is quite unfortunate that we would be lead to believe that the best flavor from the beef comes from the fat and marbling of a cut of meat. Truly grass-fed and finished beef is tender and rich in flavor from a life of grazing on nutrient dense greens in the fresh air.
Marketing has a way of leading us astray. If you are going to eat beef, go for the grass-finished variety. We love Burgundy’s located on Ross in Dallas. The beef is packed with flavor and nutrients that you will feel good about.