What's really in your meats? What to look for when buying quality meat.
Now that we have discussed produce buying lets discuss meats! This includes chicken, beef, fish, eggs and more. I will start by saying that a mostly plant based diet is the best for disease prevention, long term health and gut bacteria diversity so you still want to fill up most of what you eat with plants, fruits and veggies and a variety, but if you are a meat eater then these tips can be helpful for you to pick the best quality that will have the least amount of harmful effects for you.
Lets start with the dirty. Most conventional farms are not treating their animals very well and they are not being fed a natural diet. Most animals are cooped up eating corn, being injected with antibiotics to make them fatter, and also growth hormones to make them grow faster and make more milk. Most of the antibiotic production in this country is given to animals. We then ingest that, gross, and that will affect our health. The antibiotics will negatively affect our gut health, making us sicker and more inflamed and the growth hormones can affect our own hormone health contributing to things like thyroid problems, ovulation problems, and even affect insulin, which controls our blood sugars. Also treating animals this way is contributing to outbreaks of bad bacteria in meats and other plants. Knowing all of this we do have a choice in what we buy and what to look for.
Some clean meats can be good for us by giving us b vitamins, protein and iron and grass fed beef is higher in omega 3’s as well. For beef specifically look for ratings if your grocery store has them. I know Whole Foods has ratings on their beef. Look for pasture raised grass fed, meaning they are raised outside eating grass and not given growth hormones or antibiotics. Some may say RBGH free, meaning they are not given growth hormone. You may find this on cheese and milk as well.
For chicken look for the same. Organic doesn’t always mean its safe. The animal welfare approved label ensures that the chickens were raised on sustainable pasture based family farms. If in doubt and you can buy local! check out these other sites to see about meat delivery in your area!
For fish, always buy wild caught. Farm raised means the fish were raised in tight quarters not in their natural environment and can be given antibiotics as well. They are not as nutrient dense and have more omega 6’s which are pro inflammatory. Wild caught salmon for example has that naturally occurring pink salmon color, farm raised is naturally grey and is injected with a pink color, ummm what? Yes its true and this is not good for us either.
For eggs, look for the same type of chicken, pasture raised, the yolk should be more of an orange color if it is a high quality chicken egg. My favorite brand is vital farms. Buy local if you can.
One thing you should avoid as much as possible is cured meat. These are things like bacon, sausages, hot dogs, lunch meats, salami. Cured meats have nitrites in them and these nitrites turn in to nitrosamines when they are exposed to heat. Nitrosamines may play a major role in bowel cancer, are very inflammatory and not to mention fatty and are linked to many chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease and bowel and stomach cancers. Plus look at your pan after frying bacon, yuck! Now if you feel like you have to have this in your life look for nitrate free or uncured meats. I buy a brand called Applegate farms on occasion, but its best to limit this as much as possible.
If you are not sure always ask the butcher in the grocery store. They should know where their beef comes from. If you are not in an area with access to quality beef check out the resources listed above to find ways to get it.
I hope this helps when you are at the store and that you make changes to eating better meats and more plants!