Friday, October 24, 2008

Pasture Meat.

I have written about this before, but it bears repeating, as many still cannot grasp the problem with American Meats.

The History
Until the last half of the 20th Century, our meats, including Beef, Chicken, Pork and lamb, as the four major meats came from animals raised in traditional Euro-Asian ways.  The cows were raised on grasslands, the chickens foraging in those grasslands, and pigs foraging everywhere they could.  In the 17th century in New England, for instance, farmers would turn their pigs out into the woods until fall, when they would go out and round them up, a difficult process for sure, but not as difficult as managing the pigs for the entire spring and summer seasons.  This turned out healthy strong pigs for slaughter.
In the latter 20th Century, after Nixon instituted massive grain subsidies, two things happened.  Farmers began using their pasture land to grow Corn, Soy and Wheat, and a surplus of grain resulted.
The need to use that grain was a necessity or the market would crumble.  So we began feeding the animals with it.  The resultant industry driven animal factories are well documented in previous posts on this blog.

What this means for your health
The meats that are now grain fed are qaulitatively different then the old pasture animals.  They have a much higher ratio of Omega 6 fatty acids to Omega 3 fatty acids.  Human beings need a nice 3:1 ratio.  Pasture animals have a near perfect ratio for our consumption.  Pasture animals, particularly cows, produce milk with much lower bacterial counts then grain fed animals, and pasture animals have much higher levels of essential vitamins and minerals then grain fed animals.  In short they are a far healthier product.
This is not a little thing, our metabolism has developed over thousands of years to function off of specific foods.  It is glacially slow in adjusting to new factors, hence lactose intolerance for 70% of the world's population.  Pasture meats are the perfect food, having all essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals (except vitamin C), along with a perfect inflammation reducing ratio of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.  But grain fed animals quickly take on the opposite composition, lacking in vitamin and minerals, and with greatly expanded Omega 6, we are left with less nutrition and higher inflammation.  

Where to get the meats

1.  Farmer's Markets, find your local market or farm here

2.  Delivery, I have recently found two sources.  Fleisher's Gras fed will deliver grass fed meat to your door if you live in NYC or Rhinebeck. They have beef, pork, lamb, and poultry.  
8-O'clock Ranch is an upper NY state ranch that delivers orders as small as 5-6 lbs and as large as halves and wholes (sides of beef!).  I have joined their CSA which gives me 3 months of Beef, Lamb and Pork, from December through February, 10 lbs/month.
The best part - their prime rib cuts are all dry aged, a process that is sadly less and less prevalent, as it delivers meat of the utmost tenderness and flavor.

{Edit: I just found another resource from our friends at the Union of Concerned Scientists.  A paper entitled Greener Pastures: How grass-fed Beef and Milk contribute to healthy eating

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