Not all meats and dairy products are created equal. The pound of beef you buy at the average grocery store is NOT the same in nutritional quality as the pound bought at the farm. The cheapest milk in the jug at the grocery store is NOT the same in nutritional quality as the organic, pasture raised half gallon. The dozen eggs you picked up on sale ( or even from your neighbor) are NOT the same in nutritional quality as the pastured dozen bought at the farm or farmer’s market. Why?
Think about the life of a caged animal. If you lived life confined to a tiny bit of light exercise once a day (at best) and otherwise were sedentary, living in a tiny box, how would your body be composed? Mostly fat, right?
The fat profile of factory farmed pigs, cows and chickens is unnaturally high in saturated fat and unnaturally low in healthy fats (which are CRUCIAL to preventing disease and maintaining healthy weight). I’m a walking example of healthy fat intake. I eat butter, beef, pork, eggs and drink/consume dairy as well. I am a healthy weight. Fad diets that deprive you of necessary nutrients usually aren’t satisfying and will leave you feeling hungry a lot of the time. Steer clear of these. They are not a long term way to health!
To understand what you buy, familiarize yourself with these terms:
Added hormone free
Synthetic fertilizer free
Generally supports sustainable farming
Genetically modified organisms, meaning products engineered by altering their genetics. Long term health effects of GMOs are not fully known yet. more on GMOs
This indicates that the animal used for the product was raised on pastures most of its life. Will have a much healthier fat profile than traditional varieties.
4. Grass Fed
This means the animal’s diet was mainly grass/hay as opposed to corn or other vegetables that are usually GMO and pesticide-laden.
I prioritize organic, pasture raised meats and dairy because we face three potential sources of contamination
-the animal’s diet: pesticide-contaminated feed
-the animal’s lifestyle: sedentary versus pastured
-the animal’s health: antibiotics and hormones
Whatever the animal consumes, you will consume!
Here’s how to know you are buying quality meat and dairy:
*When you buy from a farm or local farmer’s and ask these questions:
-what do you feed your animals?
You hope they say they are pastured or foraging (aka grass fed) If they say corn or a “mash” then it’s not worth the price you’d likely pay here.
-are they pastured the majority of the time? And what do they eat in the winter? (hopefully mostly hay)
Again, if not, probably not worth the price you’ll pay.
-do you treat with antibiotics or hormones?
*At the grocery store:
I have only had luck with beef and dairy at the grocery store. Depends on where you live. You are looking for key words here:
Pasture Raised or Grass Fed
Free Range (for poultry/eggs)
I am a huge fan of the Organic Valley brand for milk, creamer, butter and sour cream. It’s a widely available, organic and pasture raised source of dairy that supports small farms.
If you live in Burke County, I highly recommend Rock House Farm. They are local and use all organic feed and pasture all their animals. I buy pork, beef, chicken and eggs there.
I will post on organic produce and other organic products another day. For today, I challenge you to think about how you can make buying wholesome meat and dairy a priority. The health benefits far outweigh the cost. For our family, we have prioritized this in our budget by eating out less. I also incorporate bean and eggs into my weekly dinner rotation to decrease our meat bill. I use unsweetened almond milk in place of cow’s milk a lot of the time to save money. How will you make the switch? The less factory farmed meat and dairy you consume, the more results you will see in your body.