Friday, July 24, 2009

Rest Day


Alright, now that you are eating more meat, let's talk about quality.
When it comes to beef it is much, much better to opt for meat that comes from grass fed, or even better, grass-finished than corn-fed cows. Good old American style corn-fed beef provides you with protein, yes, but also gives you loads of fat, the kind you don't want. By feeding the cows corn they fatten up at an unnatural pace and reach slaughter weight very quickly- like within a matter of months- where as on a natural diet of grass, clover and other grassy things, it takes years (as it should). The corn that they are fed comes from a strain of corn that is essentially inedible in it's "natural" form, called Number 2 corn. Sounds tasty. Number 2 corn is also used for the production of high fructose corn syrup and a myriad of other additives and preservatives, resulting in processed food being composed primarily of different "flavors" of corn. Yum. Not to mention the corn industry is wreaking havoc on our economy in that it is WAY over produced (mountains of corn are left scattered across the mid-West at the end of every harvest season) and this excessive amount of cultivating inedible food is HIGHLY subsidized by the government. While the amount of corn being produced continues to increase, the value is rapidly decreasing, thus leaving the farmers at the whim and mercy of the government who is pumping every form of corn they can think of into our food. Okay, that was a bit of a tangent from why eating corn-fed beef is not good for you.. Here's why:

We all have heard about Omega-3 fatty acids and how they help keep inflammation, and therefore, risk of disease down. We are encouraged over and over again to ensure that we are getting enough Omega-3. Salmon and other fish are a popular, and actually the most effective source. What we don't hear too much about are the other essential fatty acids, Omega-6 and Omega-9 (9 actually is not an essential fatty acid, since it can be produced by the body). The preferable ratio for Omega-6:Omega-3 (N6:N3) is 4:1 or lower. The modern Western diets that are prevalent today skew this ratio to an average of 10:1 and even upwards of 30:1. This excess of N6 promotes inflammation and disease and over shadows any benefits that could be offered by N3 as they
compete for the same rate-limiting enzymes. Chronic elevated levels of N6 are associated with heart attacks, thrombotic stroke, arrhythmia, arthritis, osteoporosis, inflammation, mood disorders and cancer. Not to mention the extra bit of belly fat you can't seem to shake. Corn-fed beef is LOADED with N6.

Okay, so then grass-fed beef should be okay, right? Well, here is where the lines are made fuzzy by bureaucracy and marketing, on purpose. Just because a cow had been "grass-fed" does not mean it hasn't been fed corn, too. In reality, grass-fed cows could have been fed grass for one week after they were born and then quickly transferred over to the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) to gain 400 pounds in 3 to 4 months. Any creature that gains this much weight, let alone in such a short amount of time, is bound to be plagued with disease. Unless, of course, it is pumped full of antibiotics and slaughtered before it dies from disease and placed in pretty packaging, with images of happy cows eating grass, on our deli shelves. (How's that for a run-on sentence, but you get my point). Although grass-fed is certainly a step up from corn-fed, grass-finished is the most preferable kind of beef you want to eat. Grass-finished means the lucky cows have eaten grass their whole lives, maturing naturally, and are not full of disease from an all corn/grain diet. They are healthy and lean cows, offering us much less N6 and higher quality protein.

I've been mainly talking about beef here, but the same (sort of) rules apply to all meat. You want to eat meat that came from animals who were fed what they would naturally eat and what they are equipped to digest. Chickens, for example, are better suited for eating seeds and grains like corn, although bugs and worms would be their first choice. So in this case you would want to seek out free-range chicken (which like grass-fed, could mean a number of things, but a little wandering outside the coop is better than nothing). Buffalo are usually fed grass, since they are not domesticated (yet), but still pay attention to where it comes from. Pork, I am not so sure about, since I don't eat much of it myself. With salmon, obviously wild is the best option, because guess what farmed salmon are fed? CORN. And ALWAYS steer clear of meat that comes from animals that were given antibiotics or raised in other inhumane ways.

"Many people walk in and out of your life, but only true friends leave footprints in your heart." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

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