organ meats offalToday we welcome a post by guest author Ashleigh VanHouten, health and nutrition journalist, public speaker, certified health coach, and host of the Muscle Maven Radio podcast. Here, she explains why we’re missing out if we’re only eating boring boneless cuts of meat from the grocery store, and makes the case for eating nose-to-tail, for both our health and for our enjoyment. Her new cookbook, It Takes Guts, is available for preorder and hits the shelves in late October.

“It’s good for you and for the planet – and it’s easier and tastier than you think!” – Ashleigh VanHouten

Modified excerpt from It Takes Guts, shared with publisher permission.

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me, “I just can’t get my head around eating [insert type of organ meat here] because I didn’t grow up eating it,” I could retire now and live out the rest of my days eating animal hearts on a beach somewhere — but I have a secret for you. I didn’t grow up eating organ meat, either; I grew up eating cereal and bread and chicken breast, and while I always gravitated toward animal products, I certainly wasn’t eating liver or sweetbreads.

But as someone who has dedicated their career to researching, studying, and experimenting with nutrition, I believe strongly that one bite of something new won’t hurt you, and it just might open up a whole new world of pleasure and health. It’s a fact that organs are generally the most nutrient-dense parts of an animal, so if we can find fun and creative and even subtle ways to enjoy them, we’re winning. And by eating the whole animal, we’re also honoring and respecting the beings who sacrificed for our dinner plates by ensuring none of it is wasted.

I wrote my nose-to-tail cookbook It Takes Guts because I am passionate about honoring the animals we’re eating, and enjoying the full bounty of delicious and healthy options available to us. As the saying goes, the way you do anything is the way you do everything, and I believe we should all be approaching our plates, and our lives, with a sense of adventure and enthusiasm.

Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the reasons why eating organ meats is a good idea:

It’s Sustainable

It would be wasteful to buy a huge house and use only one or two rooms, right? Adopting a whole-animal approach reduces waste, and buying from local farms and butchers helps decrease the carbon footprint created when meat is brought to you from far-flung places. In the process of breaking down an animal, less than half of it will usually end up as boneless cuts,
or the type of meat you normally pick up at a grocery store. Much of the rest is bone, hide, blood, and organs – the latter being the most nutrient-dense part of the animal, which we are essentially giving away to then eat the less nutrient-dense muscle meat!

If you’re reading this, you probably eat animals, and if you’ve accepted that eating animals is a natural part of living, the best way forward is to ensure that the animals you’re eating lived a healthy, natural life and were slaughtered humanely, and that we honor the animal’s sacrifice by not wasting any of it over arbitrary (and misguided) beliefs that some part of the animal are acceptable to eat and others aren’t.

It’s Healthy

It’s a fact: organ meats like liver, heart, and kidney are nutritional powerhouses, not just for their individual nutrients but for the synergistic effect of consuming these nutrients together. Nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin D, and magnesium work together with other food-based compounds. That’s why taking many of these nutrients on their own (in pill form, for example) doesn’t have as much of a positive effect on your body.

And to debunk a big myth about these cuts, it is untrue that organ meats like liver and kidney store and contain toxins. Organs like the liver filter toxins, usually moving them to the kidneys, from which they are eventually expelled through the urine. Toxins are removed from a healthy, well-functioning animal’s body via these miraculous organs just like they are in ours; eating fresh, healthy organs is the same as eating fresh, healthy muscle meat. If toxins do linger in the body, they are generally stored in fat cells (this goes for us too), which is why it’s crucial to source high-quality animal protein that is raised without pesticides or antibiotics, because that’s where they’ll end up: in your delicious, fatty rib-eye.

Organ meats are so nutrient-dense that you can eat very small amounts and get more benefit than you would from nearly any other food on the planet. A few ounces of beef liver contains your daily needs for many nutrients, including iron, copper, zinc, folate, choline, and vitamins A and B12. So even if I can’t convince you to love the taste of organ meats, I hope I can help you understand that these are superfoods that can dramatically improve your health.

It Saves You Money

Often, organ meats are less expensive than muscle meats simply because they aren’t in high demand. Imagine the nutrient-dense parts being sold for scraps while the basic protein is sold at a premium! Unlike prime cuts of grass-fed beef, grass-fed beef liver and heart are pretty cheap. A beef tongue can feed a party of six for about ten bucks; chicken hearts are often sold for a few bucks a pound; and you can buy a bag of tasty, protein packed chicken gizzards that will serve a whole family for less than you’d pay for a fancy salad at your local fast-casual restaurant.

If you want to get the best nutritional bang for your buck with protein, your best bet is to throw some offal in there. Make friends with your local butcher, too, so you learn about and source the best stuff!

It’s Fun (and Ancestral!)

If you can reframe your perceptions of organ meat being “gross” or extreme and see it for what it really is—just a different part of the animal you’re already eating, and a much more nutritious part at that—you can start having fun with different recipes and preparations.

Nose-to-tail eating is also a celebration of culture and history, honoring the traditional foods off different countries; a time when people were less swayed by grocery store marketing and more driven by instinct; when we gave more respect to the time, skill, and labor of providing meals for our families, and when nourishment mattered more than hyperpalatability.

It’s Tasty (Really!)

Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it—that’s what I’m always telling my skeptics. While certain organ meats have stronger flavors and unique textures and may never appeal to some people, the same can be said for less controversial foods (don’t even get me started on broccoli—now that’s an acquired taste!) I know I’ll never win everyone over, but if you’re willing to at least try,

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how delicious, delicate, and decadent offal can be. If you’d like to learn more about the health, history, and deliciousness of organ meats, including my personal journey and more than 75 offal-based recipes created by myself and a range of other fantastic chefs, you can pre-order my book, It Takes Guts, now!

Ashleigh VanHouten is a health and nutrition journalist, public speaker, certified health coach, and self-proclaimed muscle nerd. She has written for Paleo Magazine for more than eight years, along with a number of other health publications. She hosts the Muscle Maven Radio podcast, which has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times, where she’s interviewed some of the biggest names in health and wellness, including Mark Sisson, Dave Asprey, and Steph Gaudreau. She’s also worked with other top-rated health-related podcasts, such as Barbell Shrugged, Muscle Intelligence, and Paleo Magazine Radio. Combining her formal education and professional experience in marketing and communications with her passion for healthy eating, exercise, and learning, Ashleigh works in a consulting role for a number of professionals in the health and wellness world, working alongside individuals like Dr. Gabrielle Lyon, Ben Pakulski, and Elle Russ. Find out more at ashleighvanhouten.com.

 

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The post Why We Should All Be Eating Organ Meats appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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is meat good for you the planetToday we’re sharing a post by guest authors Robb Wolf, New York Times Best Selling Author and one of the early advocates of the paleo lifestyle, and Diana Rodgers, RD, Real Food Dietitian and Sustainability Advocate. Robb and Diana co-authored Sacred Cow, an eye-opening book about meat, health, and sustainability, out this month. 

The ancestral health community generally accepts the right type of meat as a health food. In fact, eating animals is the number one guiding principle of the Primal lifestyle. Still, some groups advise against meat consumption.

Two of the main arguments that you should give up meat are:

  1. It’s healthier to eat vegan
  2. You reduce your impact on the planet if you’re vegan

If your primary meat source comes predominantly from a drive-thru, then yes, these arguments probably hold true. But there’s a world of difference between mass-produced meat from large agricultural operations, and pasture-raised meat from small-scale farms. The animals’ diet and living conditions have a profound effect on what the meat does for your body and for (or against) the planet.

Here are the main reasons why eating meat the right way can benefit your health, as well as the planet’s carbon load.


Stay on track no matter where you are. Instantly download your Primal and Keto Guide to Dining Out.


Meat Is a Great Source of Protein

Protein is the most satiating macronutrient – it simply fills you up better than fat or carbs. It’s also the building block of our bodies and immune systems. Meat is a low calorie way to get the most bioavailable source of protein for humans. It contains all of the amino acids we need to grow and thrive. Unless you are eating a LOT of vegan protein powders, a “plant-based” diet sourced from industrial agriculture is a sure way to ensure you are always hungry and will consume a lot more energy to get the nutrients you need, including protein. Read more here.

Red Meat Is Nutrient Dense

Meat is not just high in protein. It is also a source of many nutrients that are simply not available in plants. Meat provides B12, highly absorbable heme iron, preformed vitamins, all the essential amino acids, zinc, EPA, DHA, vitamin D, and vitamin K2, none of which are found in plant foods. Plants provide important antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber. We need this variety of nutrients to survive. Compared to rice and beans or other plant proteins, red meat contains more vitamins and minerals per gram of protein. In order to get 30g of protein, you could eat about 200 calories of beef or about 700 calories of beans and rice.

Meat Provides Critical Nutrients That Aren’t Available in Other Foods

Vitamin B12 is not found in plant foods and is essential for neural development. Other vitamins and minerals that are found in both meat and plants are usually in their most absorbable form when eating from animals. This includes iron, zinc, vitamin A, calcium and essential fatty acids. Even though chicken and beef are both quality sources of protein, beef simply blows chicken away in the nutrient department. It has significantly more B12, zinc, choline, iron, and potassium. Meat contains heme iron, the most absorbable type of iron. Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common mineral deficiency in the United States. In terms of micronutrients, chicken only has more B3 than beef. Recommendations that ask people to reduce beef intake and replace it with chicken or vegetables are essentially asking them to reduce the nutrient quality of their diets. Read more here.

Without Grazing Animals, Some Ecosystems Fall Out of Balance

Well-managed grazing systems mimic the way that herds of bison used to migrate through the plains, biting and trampling pasture while depositing manure, before moving to the next spot and allowing the previously grazed area to rest. If plants are not controlled, then a few varieties typically takeover and shade out other plants. To test this theory, stop mowing your front yard for six months and see what happens. Without regular harvesting – whether through grazing or mowing – ecosystems can become dormant. Grazing animals help stimulate the constant regeneration and growth of pastures and grasslands. This provides better living conditions for wildlife, encourages plant root growth, and improves soil health.

Well-managed ruminants can also help eliminate the need to use chemicals to maintain weeds and other undesirable plants. Controlled grazing encourages cattle to eat types of forage that they may not otherwise select while adding sheep and goats can specifically target weeds and invasive species of plants. The use of chemical inputs like pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides has also taken its toll. Pesticide usage has led to pollinator decline while fertilizer runoff has created a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico the size of Connecticut, as a few examples.

Good Grazing Management Can Improve Soil Health and Sequester Carbon

In a well-managed grazing system, the rest period after grazing has another important function. The more leaf surface area that a plant has, the quicker it will be able to regrow after a grazing period. By ensuring that the cattle only take the top half of a pasture, producers can ensure that those plants will rebound during the rest period. As plants photosynthesize sunlight, they expand their root systems. Healthy root systems help those plants transmit nutrients into the soil to feed microbial life. The more abundant a root system is, the healthier the soil will be, and the more carbon will be sequestered.

Grazing Animals Can Thrive on Land That Cannot Be Cropped

Removing livestock doesn’t mean that we will free up more land for crop production. More than 60% of agricultural land globally is pasture and rangeland that is too rocky, steep, and/or arid to support cultivated agriculture. Yet this land supports cattle production and nutrient upcycling. Sheep and goats are also well-equipped to thrive in harsh conditions and on challenging types of terrain. By raising well-managed ruminants in these areas, we are able to improve the ecosystems, create better wildlife habitat, and build soil health while also generating a nutrient dense source of protein and other nutrients. Burger King, Cargill and World Wildlife Fund recently announced a new project to reseed 8,000 acres of marginal cropland throughout Montana and South Dakota to ecologically diverse grasslands with beef cattle as the primary grazers to maintain the new ecosystem.

Cattle Upcycle Agricultural Byproducts and Other Materials We Can’t Eat Into Nutritious Meat

Only 13% of global animal feed (including feed for chickens, pigs, and cattle) consists of grain crops, according to United Nations FAO research, and only 32% of overall global grain production in 2010 was used to feed livestock. A staggering 86% of global livestock feed consists of materials that we cannot digest as humans, like crop residues including stover and sugarcane tops. Pigs and chickens are also monogastrics (like humans) and cannot digest these products either. However, ruminant animals like cattle, sheep, and goats can safely consume these materials and turn them into nutrient-dense protein for humans. When looking at what only ruminants eat, the numbers are even lower for grain, at only 10% of the diet for cattle, globally. Grass and leaves makes up 57.4% of global ruminant feed ration. The rest is inedible by humans, like “crop residue” such as corn stalks.

Buying Direct From Local Farmers Boosts Farmer Income and Food Security

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted many of the weaknesses of our current heavily-consolidated and industrialized meat industry. Choosing meat from local farmers helps to create a new supply chain that pays farmers what they actually deserve for the hard, never-ending work of raising livestock. It can also reduce the number of miles that your food has traveled while in some cases offering high standards of welfare for the livestock. Supporting small farmers also supports the preservation of open space in or near your community while keeping money close to home. Investing your food dollars close to home helps build a more resilient local food system that can withstand crises like the current pandemic.

Grazing Animals Produce So Much More Than Meat

Many people view livestock production as providing one simple output: meat. But when you add up the many products that source ingredients from cattle alone including tallow for beauty products, cartilage for osteoarthritis medications, and gelatin for foods as a few examples, it paints a much different picture of a cow’s contribution to our society.

In most cases, synthetic leather is made from two plastic-based substances polyurethane (PU) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The process involves bonding a plastic coating to a fabric backing to create the look and feel of genuine leather. PVC has been identified by numerous organizations as one of the most environmentally damaging types of plastic. Many vegan leather makers also rely on plasticisers like phthalates to make the material flexible. Unfortunately, the wool industry has seen a similar turn of events. Competition from synthetic fibers has led to a reduction in the price for wool leaving many sheep producers in the lurch particularly in New Zealand and Australia.

Livestock Are a Critical Resource for Women and Children in Developing Nations

When people in a position of privilege talk about reducing global meat consumption, they overlook the negative impact that it would have on women and children in developing nations who rely on these animals for economic stability, food security, and vital nutrition. Two of the leading nutrient deficiencies worldwide are Iron and Vitamin B12. Animal products deliver these in the best form. Meat is a critical component of a child’s diet, particularly in developing nations where improved health and cognitive function is a key step to fostering a healthier, more successful nation.

According to ILRI, two-thirds of the world’s 600 million low-income livestock producers are rural women who are responsible for the day-to-day animal management, including processing, marketing, and selling animal products. The organization has found that when women control income, 90% is invested back into their household compared to only 30% to 40% when income is controlled by men. Enabling women to derive economic independence through livestock will directly improve the health, education, and food security of their households. Read more here.

To learn more about these topics and more, pick up the book Sacred Cow: The Case for Better Meat, by Diana Rodgers and Robb Wolf. They also have a companion film coming out this fall. Keep up to date at www.sacredcow.info.

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The post 10 Reasons Why Eating Beef is Good for You and the Planet appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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This juicy burger has bacon on it… and in it! Laid on top of fresh lettuce and topped with the classic onion-and-tomato combo, you can be sure that burger night just got a little bit baconer—I mean, better.

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Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week how genetic tests impact your motivation, moralizing food linked to weight regain, and Whole Foods packaging linked to cancer.

Next week’s Mindful Meal Challenge will start again on Monday. Sign up now to join us!

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Reminder: I’ll be at the Fireside conference Sept 6-9 in Canada, and doing a live podcast on stage with the venerable Yoni Freedhoff. Would love to see you there!

This week mushroom tea isn’t magic, a little alcohol probably won’t kill you, and diet impacts women’s wellbeing more than men’s.

Next week’s Mindful Meal Challenge will start again on Monday. Sign up now to join us!

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

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Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week make family meals a reality, gut bacteria can prevent weight loss, and red meat wins in the context of a healthy diet.

Next week’s Mindful Meal Challenge will start again on Monday. Sign up now to join us!

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week the benefits of eating early, alternative milks lose their status, and the best time to exercise.

Next week’s Mindful Meal Challenge will start again on Monday. Sign up now to join us!

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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