Meat and dairy options

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.

Some other options for meat are cloned meat and lab produced meat. While I love science and what we can learn about the world around us, I’m going to leave animal creation to God. 😛

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.

Week 5 No Nonfat, Low Fat or Lite

Ok, so you’re thinking “I thought you were trying to eat healthier, and you’re going to eliminate low fat and non fat foods?” I know it has become counter-intuitive for us to think of full fat foods as health foods. I had been using fat free milk for years and low fat cheese too (the fat free stuff might as well be dry rotted rubber bands :P). The idea here is that the fuller fat version is less processed. There is natural nutrition in the fat that is stripped out and then added back artificially because the nutrients are important for our health. In some cases, the fat is being replaced with chemicals or processed foods such as added sugar or corn starch to make it taste good or give the expected consistency.

I have also seen “light” fruit juice. They take out some of the natural sugar and replace it with artificial sweeteners. What? I’ve never been a fan of what I call “fake sugars”, but really, in fruit juice? Again, taking out what God put in and replacing it with chemicals.

Our key to healthier food this week lies in moderation and careful selection from the options available. I will post later this week about a variety of milk and meat options, some of which I just learned about in the last few months.

BTW, we did quite well staying out of fast food restaurants and avoiding fried foods this last week. We had to have a couple of late dinners at home on evenings we are out until 7, but doing some of the chopping, mixing etc. earlier in the day helps some. I also made and posted a recipe for ChipHOMEle (my homemade version of my favorite fast food, sans the tortilla chips). I have added a few other recipes too. Check them out.

At the end of this last week, Hubby and I watched a documentary, Food, Inc. Based on that, I believe Chipotle might be the only fast food restaurant we might go to from now on. I highly recommend you watch this movie to find out more about where your food comes from and what happens to it along the way. Lisa at 100 Days of Real Food has a very good summary, but you really need to watch it to best understand it. It is available on Netflix and the Cincinnati Library has over 30 copies in their system.

Instead of just the one mid-week post this week, I will have one additional post to wrap up the budget for the last 4 weeks.

Week 4 Challenge — No Fast Food

We did ok in week 3. We had 4 servings of meat. We had cheeseburgers and roasted chicken from local farms. It’s the other 2 that weren’t local. We had ribs for a Father’s Day dinner at someone else’s house. The other was a total slip up on my part. One day when trying to figure out what we would have for lunch (our mornings this week turned out to be way busier than I anticipated), I decided on a turkey bacon sandwich. It wasn’t even until the next day that I realized we had had meat that probably wasn’t local. Please forgive me! If it redeems me at all, we went to the Greek festival this weekend. So much good smelling food, so many things with meat. But because we suspected the meat was probably not local, we remained meatless. Next year, we’re going to try some of those other items.

This week, our challenge is to have no fast food or deep fried foods. Hubby was disappointed to find out he couldn’t have tortilla chips with salsa. Fast food is from a restaurant with a drive-thru or where you watch them prepare your food through a glass window, a convenience store, food court, and so on. I’m disappointed that Chipotle is considered fast food. I guess the white rice isn’t best for me, anyhow.

You’ve asked, so…also this week with Hubby’s technical expertise, I plan to post some recipes.

Week 3 Challenge — Local Meat

Barn at Grassland Graze

We did well this week drinking only water, milk, coffee, tea and one serving of juice. The girls chose to have their juice in the form of homemade popsicles. I had one Izze and Hubby had no juice. We also managed to have at least two fruits or vegetables (often more) with every meal with the exception of one breakfast, I believe. As for budget, I have used well over half the monthly budget in only half the month. I usually buy what we will use when I see it on sale. Makes sense, right? This usually means a few weeks of spending more and a week or two of spending less. I have a couple of weeks to balance this budget.

The challenge this next week is to eat only local meat with no more than 3-4 servings. The number of servings won’t be so hard. The part about only local… well, while not impossible, it’s not super easy either. Luckily I have done a little pre-planning, knowing this was coming. Gravel Knolls sells free range chicken and eggs — they say they eat organic clover and bugs. We ordered a chicken to pick up when we get our CSA member share. Grassland Graze sells grass fed beef for pick up. We will have cheeseburgers from there one day this week. Both farms are in Liberty Township, Ohio, approximately 30 miles or less from home (much closer to Hubby’s work).

Speaking of distance, how close is “local”? There are a variety of opinions on how far food can travel and still be “local”. Some say 50, some 100 miles, our federal government says 400 miles. And some say it is more about regions than distance. I think either is acceptable when you consider much of the produce at grocery stores travels 1,000 to thousands of miles to get there.

Why eat local? Localvores (people who eat locally raised food) do so for a variety of reasons. Eating locally supports the local farmer and the local economy. You might even meet the farmer raising your food and ask him/her questions about it. The farther food is transported, the greater the effect (of fuel emissions for example) on the environment. Local is better for the earth and therefore better for our health and future food supply. Local food will be fresher and healthier when you get it than food that travels thousands of miles. Many localvores choose local food over organic because certified organic food from larger corporations is viewed as lower quality/more highly processed. Also, local farmers might use organic and sustainable practices in their farming, though they have not gone through the process of becoming certified by the federal government. I believe it is a lengthy and expensive process.

Do you eat locally raised food?