I found an article showing there has been some research supporting the healthfulness of animal fat in our diets. It says the animal fats help the body absorb other nutrients. I do believe there are genetics to consider with that article and that maybe their recommended intake could be too high for many of us. Also, I am not here to tell anyone to go against their convictions, just providing information for your consideration. Though some nutrients can be more difficult to include in a person’s diet without animal sources, vegetarians & vegans of course can be very healthy. I just want to include the possibility for consideration that meat can be a healthy option when chosen appropriately and eaten in moderation.
In addition to the options of conventional or organic, there are a couple of other choices you have in choosing meat and dairy.
For meat, eggs and dairy, grass-fed is an option. There is information all over the web from Reuters to the American Grassfed Association showing evidence that grass fed animals are a healthier option. Milk from grass fed cows is higher in conjugated linoleic acid and omega 3s, especially full fat milk. There is also much evidence that cattle fed mostly grain can produce an acid resistant form of E. coli, able to survive the human digestive tract. There is some evidence that products (meat, milk or eggs) from animals that eat corn or soy can cause issues for people with allergies to those foods. Some believe the amount of soy in our diets has contributed recently to the earlier onset of puberty in girls. If you watched the Food, Inc. movie, you might have seen other reasons to consider changing to grass-fed beef.
Free range kind of goes along with grass fed. Usually, an animal allowed out to pasture will be eating the grass available there, though they might also be given grain too. If possible, ask the farmer what percentage of the animals’ diet is grain. The health benefits will be passed on to and through cows, goats, milk, chickens (and their eggs), lambs… There is also belief that because animals are meant to be free to roam the pasture it is therefore more humane to the animals. They will be happier and therefore healthier, providing healthier products.
Hormone free (added/artificial) and antibiotic free are other options. It is believed the hormones and antibiotics can be passed on to humans through consumption of animals that have been given hormones or antibiotics. As it is, many doctors have been more judicious in prescribing antibiotics to curb development of superbugs.
There are still a few other options for dairy.
It is illegal to purchase raw milk (not pasteurized) in most states, but you can consume it if you own the cow (or goat or whatever). No room on your balcony? Neighborhood association doesn’t allow cattle? In Ohio, you can get raw milk by purchasing herd shares, wherein you purchase a share of a herd, tended to by farmers on their property. It is believed that pasteurization destroys much of the healthfulness of milk, including the protein and lactase (helps aid in digestion of lactose). On the down side, because the milk isn’t pasteurized, none of the bacteria is eliminated, good or bad. I believe the generations of people who drank milk this way fared quite well. They had more control as not only the owners, but also tending to the animals. Their cows were healthy and produced healthy milk. If you make this choice, be sure to choose a farmer in whom you feel confident. There are many people passionate about this issue. I am posting information for individuals to make up their own minds. You can get more information at Real Milk.
The milk we have recently started using is an HTST (high temp, short time pasteurized), non-homogenized from Snowville Creamery. It is believed HTST is a nice middle between the ultra pasteurized milk most often found in stores and raw milk. It is brought to about 170 degrees F for less than 20 seconds. It kills most of the harmful bacteria (about the same as ultra pasteurized) without killing the good bacteria and doesn’t destroy the proteins and other nutrients as much as ultra pasteurization does. Non-homogenized just means the fat molecules aren’t blasted so that they mix into the milk, less processed. The cream will rise on non-homogenized milk.
While there is still debate on all of these issues, it is worth taking some time to consider your options for providing nutrition for yourself and your family.