Choosing the best meats for overall health can be a tricky endeavor these days. Just like with any packaged food, it is easy to read the front of the package, and be easily misled. Here is a good breakdown of the differences between meats and their labels:
- Conventional meats – This refers to any meats that are not organic. The companies often use terms like “USDA Choice” or “Vegetarian Fed” or “No added hormones or antibiotics” to get us to purchase their products. All vegetarian fed does mean that they are not fed animal byproducts/waste (which they often are when the package doesn’t say otherwise), but it could also mean that they are raised on GMO corn and other ingredients that are actually banned in other countries. Always remember that they only tell you what they want you to know.
- Organic – Organic meats are not allowed to be fed GMO feed or be given hormones or antibiotics. When purchasing from the grocery store, this is the first thing to look for. While no process is perfect, buying organic is the first line of defense against GMO’s, pesticides, and other chemical processes that meat is exposed to.
- Grass fed – Grass fed meats (whether chicken or beef) is superior to even organic in many cases due to its higher content of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a potent cancer fighting compound.
- Grass finished – Many cows start out their lives grass fed but are “finished” on feedlots on GMO feed with little room to move around. Looking for both grass fed and grass finished beef the best option when reading the label.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine has stated that, “several animal studies indicate serious health risks associate d with GM food.” Infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, changes in major organs and gastrointestinal system have been found in animals given genetically-modified food. GM food has also been linked to allergies and nutritional deficiencies in humans.
We are what we eat…eats. Remember that whatever our meat eats is passed on to us, so we must be educated and choose carefully.
And the best option….when you can get it…..is local, organically raised pasture raised meats. Pasture-raised meats are raised on grass instead of feed which raises their CLA content as well as ensures that your body is not ingesting additional chemicals involved in the packaging processes used by large manufacturers. Many local farmers to not certify organic due to cost but follow all organic practices in the raising of their animals. Heart In Motion supports Saddle Ridge Farm saddleridgefarm.net (if you are local to Northern VA where we have dropoff locations monthly. To find a local, grass fed farmer in your area, go to Eat Wild.
STEP(S) FOR THIS WEEK:
- Everyone has a different budget, so make your choices accordingly. It is often challenging to see the health benefits of switching to organic and pasture raised meats right away, but they are well documented and extremely beneficial. Make it a point to read your labels carefully and start the careful switch to pasture raised, grass fed organic meats whenever possible. It will benefit you in ways you may never know!