Meat & Your Body
"You are what you eat," said whoever said it first.
It's true, isn't it? If we eat organic vegetables and pasture-raised animals, we'll benefit from the pure vitamins, proteins and minerals that exist within them. Our bodies will be in a natural, healthy state. If we eat processed grains and hormone-injected, corn-and-soy-fed animals, our bodies will respond accordingly to the artificial ingredients that we put into it, possibly giving us problems with our digestion, skin, joints, cardiovascular system, respiratory system and hormone balance.
Giving our bodies naturally-grown foods and sustainably-raised meats results in them functioning correctly. Feeding our bodies artificial products and ingredients confuses them, and many times causes our bodies to implement defense mechanisms because they think that certain ingredients and products are harmful (which some of them are), and this can lead to food intolerances and allergies. What's really a bummer is when our bodies start to get so out of balance and confused with all of the artificial and inorganic ingredients being put into them that they start recognizing the good as the bad and triggering defense mechanisms that result in or bodies being in a constant state of inflammation.
Just making sure that we mostly eat the 'right' things seems like an easy feat to accomplish, right? Well, there is a problem that lies within the confusion that people have about what are classified as 'the right things'; and interestingly enough, the meats that we purchase at the grocery store have a bigger impact on our overall health than we might realize.
Let's revisit the "you are what you eat" concept. If a chicken is caged in a dark, enclosed area with hundreds of other chickens, injected with growth hormones, fed a processed corn, soy and/or grain diet, and unable to function correctly (i.e. simply walk or breathe normally), then by eating this chicken after it is prepared for purchase, we are indirectly introducing those hormones, grains, corn and soy products to our systems. The chickens lack so many of the proteins and nutrients that we purposely aim to get from eating them because they are raised improperly! So, it seems almost more harmful for us to eat them than to not.
However, if a chicken is raised in its natural environment, allowed to roam freely within its comfortable living quarters, and eats its natural, omnivore diet of plants and small animal proteins from bugs and/or worms, then by eating the chicken after it is prepared for purchase, we are feeding our bodies the healthy proteins and components that the universe intended for us all along! Most likely, the meat makes us feel good, gives us sustained energy and is digested properly by our gastrointestinal tract. We are what we eat, and what that animal ate, and what the animals that it ate, ate, etc.
Here's where the problem resides...
Many of us don't understand the difference between the following: organic, free-range, pasture-raised, grass-fed, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and all-natural.
When we go to the grocery and see chicken breasts that are decently sized (not huge af) and packaged with a label that reads 'hormone-free, organic, no-antibiotics and all-natural', we grab it, purchase it, eat it and feel good about it. Or do we?
Here are the true meanings behind these labels.
- Chickens that have the "freedom to range" often are not even shown the light of day. Chickens are classified 'free range' when there exists a wide enough space for them to walk outside of their chicken house, usually into another gated area that might be muddy or unkempt, or when they are free to range...throughout their spacious chicken house.
- According to sustainabletable.org, "in order to be labeled “organic”, a product, its producer, and the farm where the ingredients come from must meet the USDA’s organic standards and must be certified by a USDA-approved food-certifying agency. Organic foods cannot be grown using synthetic fertilizers, chemicals, or sewage sludge, cannot be genetically modified, and cannot be irradiated. Organic meat and poultry must be fed only organically-grown feed (without any animal byproducts)," which can mean corn and soy products, "and cannot be treated with hormones or antibiotics. [Animals] must have access to pasture (but don’t actually have to go outdoors and graze on pasture to be considered organic)."
Hormone-Free & Antibiotic-Free
- Simply, this means exactly what it says and nothing more: animals are raised without the use of hormones or antibiotics. This means the animals can still be fed a grain, soy or corn based diet, and still might be raised improperly.
- According to the United States Department of Agriculture, natural means "a product [contains] no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product. The label must include a statement explaining the meaning of the term natural (such as "no artificial ingredients; minimally processed")."
- According to sustainabletable.org, "[animals] like cows have stomachs that evolved to digest grasses and other forage. As a result, when these animals are fed a grain heavy diet, they often have digestive problems, poor liver health, and, in extreme cases, their diet can kill them. Sustainably-raised animals eat grasses from weaning to slaughter. Their diet should not be supplemented with grain, animal byproducts, or synthetic hormones. They should not be given antibiotics to promote growth or prevent disease (though they may be given antibiotics to treat disease)."
- Animals are raised outdoors in a humane, ecologically-sustainable manner and eat foods that nature intends for them to eat. Period.
THIS is the ish that you want. It's natural, it's real, and it's what the universe intended. #yes
But where does one find pasture-raised meats?
- Via Eat Wild, you can find farmers in your state that both deliver and ship pasture-raised meats to you. Something on my list of things that I want to do is visit one of these farms in person!
- Your local farmer's market should have meat producers that have pasture-raised meats. It's important to ask them how they raise the animals; although, most likely, they will share a short blurb with you about their practices, etc. So you might not have to ask ;) If you are unsure of where the local farmers markets are in your area, you can either Google it or go to https://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/ and type in your city in the farmer's markets tab!
- High Quality Butcher Shops and Meat Markets in your city might host pasture-raised meats that are ready for purchase. However, again, it's probably best that we ask the butchers for information about the way the animals were raised!
I understand that it's a bit annoying to ask people for information about the background of how animals are raised when we're just simply trying to purchase two chicken breasts, but it is so important. Your gut issues, acne, hormonal imbalance, anxiety, etc. could be slightly caused by the kind of meats that you're eating. When you eat animal products, you are indirectly eating whatever that animal ate! Therefore, we gotta get the good stuff.
I also understand that it's expensive to eat ingredients and meats that are grown and raised correctly. However, we're not really meant to eat meat everyday, or the same kind of meats everyday at least. According to Dr. Gundry from Plant Paradox, we are intended to eat no more than 4 oz. of meat per day, and possibly not even every day! So maybe our grocery bills won't be as expensive if we're only buying three or four pieces of meat for the week!
Keep in mind that fish also are fed corn/soy/grain products in some farm-raised environments and can be inhumanely raised. This is why it's important to buy wild-caught fish. Look online for more information on the best types of wild-caught fish to buy in your state.
I love meat, but I also love my body. My hope is that people pay attention to the meats that they are eating and understand that the way nature intended animals (including us!) to eat is the best way!