IV. Choose Well-Sourced Animal Products
Does the sourcing of our animal products matter? It’s time to put a “steak” in the ground with an emphatic “yes!”.
Your body is like an eager student at a fascinating Ted-talk sitting on the edge of his seat, furiously taking notes. The “information” in this Ted-talk comes in the form of the environment we live in- information like vitamin D from sun exposure, hormonal balance from deep rest, spikes of cortisol from a stressful conflict left unresolved, a boost in immunity from an appropriate work out, or nutritional communication from our food. The notes the body writes are the expression of our genetic code. Will we be healthy or progress towards disease? The answer is determined in large part by our environment.
To have a healthy body, you can’t communicate with it using chemical-ladden, factory-produced and feedlot foods. You want blue skies, green pastures, and happy, healthy animals behaving according to their genetic code. After all, eating is taking something from the outside world, putting it inside your body, and letting your body make it part of who you are. That’s right, you are what you eat!
A very tangible way the environment of our food impacts us is the omega 3:6 ratio. The balance of omega 3:6 fatty acids in our diet may be the most important ratio to manage for avoiding diseases linked to chronic inflammation like heart disease, cancer, and alzheimers. The ideal is a ratio of 1:1 to 1:4. The average American today trends towards 1:20. Omega 6’s are like the gas pedal for the immune and inflammatory process. Omega 3’s are like the brakes. Imagine trying to drive to work in a Corvette with no brakes. It’s a recipe for disaster and disease. 100% grass fed meat has close to a 1:1 ratio of Omega 3:6 whereas grain-fed meat is closer to 1:15. This is due to grains being high in omega 6 fatty acids and greens being balanced. For more, check out our Omega 3:6 Chart.
But isn’t meat bad for us? The “scientific” research cited by shockingly titled articles like “meat causes cancer” tends to come from studies that use feedlot meats cooked in toxic oils and make universal claims about all animal products. The truth is most red meat is poorly sourced and is paired with toxins. The burger from In-And-Out cooked in vegetable oil and placed in between a bun made from cheap grains is a far cry from the 100% grass-fed steak cooked in a stable cooking oil like avocado oil that we encourage our clients to consume.
Choosing well sourced animal products is also better for the environment, the economy and the animal.
Nobody looks at an idyllic, green pasture land with scattered animals grazing and thinks, “Yeah that’s disgusting. That definitely needs to be converted into a dusty, industrial ranch complex.” People drive out of their way to take the “scenic route” through pasture lands! There's something about it that is good for the soul, and we recognize it even if we can’t explain why. When we buy and consume animal products from animals in their natural environment, we promote the preservation and stewardship of these wide open spaces. But it’s not just us and the animals that it benefits. These environments are mini-ecosystems that play host to hundreds of other creatures. The alternative industrial ranch complex? Not so much.
The meat and dairy industries are big business with big government lobbyists ensuring the people at the top are making big salaries. However, the average farmer is working in less than ideal conditions, has little control over his own farm, and is grossly underpaid. This pushes away talented and passionate farmers and leaves most of the work to less skilled hands. Instead of an artisanal craft, meat and dairy production become one more cog in the economic wheel that steamrolls over the livelihood of farmers and well-being of consumers. If you are used to paying $3 for a pound of ground beef, you may need to rethink the true cost. While 100% grass fed meat from a good source is significantly more expensive, it is not an apples to apples comparison. Currently, a pound of 100% grass-fed beef can be as much as $10-$13/pound. That’s a tough deal to swallow for folks used to buying ground beef for $3/pound. Similarly, pasture raised eggs and wild-caught fish command a premium price. But besides paying for actual nutrients, enzymes, and probiotic content (not to mention better flavor), you are also paying towards fair wages for skilled farmers and the maintenance of our nation’s most precious natural resource: land. That is a seriously worthy investment. The alternative is paying for the bonuses of agribusiness CEOs who care more about their bottom lines than their farmers, animals, or fields. As the old adage goes, “You get what you pay for.” Additionally, when you have precious, perishable food you are much more likely to plan your days around eating it. It builds in motivation to resist drive-thru temptation. Dead food might last forever, but living beings need living foods.
Animals not given antibiotics and toxic chemicals have to be extremely well taken care of. They cannot be sick. They cannot be dirty. They cannot be crowded. This is in stark contrast to the average feedlot animal which is, well, sick, dirty and crowded. Their mistreatment is blanketed over by antibiotics and pasteurization. Antibiotics prevent dirty, crowded animals from dropping dead before they lose their economic value. Pasteurization prevents any pathogens present in milk due to suboptimal conditions from making it to consumers and extends its shelf-life. But wouldn’t it be better to just have healthy animals and healthy milk?
Creating cultural change is not easy. It feels “normal” to shop and eat the way we do when everyone around us is doing the same thing. It can feel extravagant or excessive to pay more for food, especially if you were raised to believe that frugality is a moral virtue. But if we want to be healthy and to vote for change with our dollars, we must choose well-sourced animal products.
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