Posts Tagged ‘meat’

Grass-fed beef is healthier

Beef has typically been flagged as unhealthy with high saturated fat and total fat content, not to mention high amounts of cholesterol. But grass-fed beef devotees claim it is as low in fat as skinless chicken breasts and even contains the same omega-3 compounds as fish.

Health experts tend to agree. 

“A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists in 2006 found that compared to grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef is lower in both saturated and total fat, has higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, and “sometimes” higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid.

According to the study, “The three omega-3 fatty acids — the so-called beneficial fatty acids — have been shown in many studies to improve health and prevent disease in humans.”

“It has 100 percent the same health benefits as salmon,” Castonguay said.”

Today, most cattle are grain fed and even some grass-fed cattle are given grain in the weeks before slaughtering.

 

Not only is grass-fed cattle better for human health compared to grain-fed cattle, it’s also better for the environment. Typically the grain is treated with pesticides, which we ingest through the beef and through drinking water as pesticides run off the fields and into our water ways.

 

Additionally, grass-fed cattle are not typically given antibiotics. Animals grassing in the pasture rarely get sick, while grain-fed cattle that spend their days in confined and crowded feed lots, often do get sick.

 

This also brings up the point that grass-fed cattle are more likely to be raised and live in more humane and healthy conditions.

 

Grass-fed beef is not much more expensive than grain-fed beef, and it’s naturally leaner. In my area, the difference is roughly 50 cents per pound. If you take into consideration grass-fed is naturally leaner, then comparing that way, there is very little difference in price.

 

We have been eating grass-fed beef for over a year, and now I am glad we made the switch when we did.

Cloned Meat, It’s What’s for Dinner

Ummm, this is pretty gross sounding. Cloning animals to produce more meat for consumption? If there is a shortage, I promise I will cutback! Maybe Hardees is to blame for using a pound of meat in their monster burger. Sure the FDA “says” it is safe to eat cloned meat, but they’ve been wrong before and we know a copy of something is never as good as the original. And maybe it really is safe and just as good for you, but again, cloned meat just does not make me want to run out for a burger. According to a national survey, 89% of Americans would like to know if the meat they are about to buy is from a cloned animal, so I am not alone in my sediments.

It’s also disturbing that meat in the US is not traceable. That is one reason why I like Whole Foods Market. They guarantee traceability on their meat products. And it’s free of antibiotics and growth hormones, which is really key for my household.

Here is the article:

Cloned Meat: Is Dolly for Dinner?
Company That Tracks Cloned Meat Wants to Pull the Wool From Your Eyes
By Martin F. Downs
WebMD Medical News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 14, 2008 (Boston) — Many consumers want meat produced by cloning to be easily identified as such. Now a company based in Ireland is promoting its system for tracing the meat of any cloned animal wherever it may go in the food supply. For this tracing system to work, however, the unique DNA profiles of clones must be publicly available.

Patrick Cunningham, PhD, chief science adviser to the Irish government and a founding executive of the company IdentiGEN, advocated for open access to cloned animal DNA at this week’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston. Major chain stores and meat packers in the United States, he says, want to offer discerning shoppers certifiably “clone free” meat products. “They should have a right to do that,” he says.

Cunningham says companies that clone animals should keep a library of “snips” of their DNA. That way, anyone wishing to screen for traces of cloned meat in food could ask a company like his to compare product samples with the genetic profiles of clones on file. Big retailers and food producers in Ireland and the U.K. now use IdentiGEN to certify other qualities of meat products, as well as to assist in safety recalls.

In the United States, Kroger, Safeway, Dean Foods, and Whole Foods have considered marketing “no clone” meat.

Mark Walton, PhD, president of ViaGen, a company that clones animals for use in agriculture, says he doesn’t think a DNA tracing system is justified. “It’s hard to imagine a scientific reason or a health reason that you would need to follow animals at all,” he says.

FDA: Cloned Meat Safe
The FDA has repeatedly assured American consumers that meat produced by cloning is safe to eat, and the agency says it will not require special labeling on food containing products of cloned animals or their offspring sold in the United States. Europe’s food safety agency has reached the same conclusion.

Walton attributes consumers’ wariness of cloning to “the fear of the unknown.”
The use of cloning for producing food is often misunderstood. For one thing, it probably won’t be used to make thousands of copies of an animal expressly for slaughter. A cloned cow now costs about $13,500, compared with the market price of about $1,000 for a normal steer.

“Cloning technology is in fact a breeding technology,” Walton says.

The process is called “somatic cell nuclear transfer,” which is how the famous sheep “Dolly” was cloned in 1996. Producers use this process to clone highly desirable breeding animals. For decades, farmers have routinely ordered semen from choice male animals to artificially inseminate their herds, but one prize stud can only produce so much semen. In theory, 10, 20, 100, or more clones of him increase the yield of his genetic material that many times.

So the clone’s offspring is what will be most commonly eaten. That doesn’t mean people won’t ever eat clones, however. Even breeding livestock are sold for meat once they’re past their prime. At present, the food industry is supposed to be observing a voluntary moratorium on selling the meat of clones the U.S., but “it’s not illegal to put clones on the market,” Cunningham says.

A national poll conducted in 2007 by the Consumers Union, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, found that 89% of those polled wanted labels to identify food containing cloned animal products. The Consumers Union opposes the use of cloning in agriculture.

Labeling isn’t as simple as slapping a sticker on a steak that comes from a clone. Parts of a single beef cow, for example, can end up in countless different consumer products. DNA can be retrieved from meat even if it has been cooked, frozen, or processed in other ways. With genetic profiles, clones or offspring of clones could be detected in anything from soup to sirloin.

Otherwise, it is very difficult to trace meat in processed foods back to specific animals. Unlike Europe and Canada, the United States does not have a system in place to trace the provenance of meat from farm to feedlot to factory to freezer.
Walton says it could be years before cloning catches up with conventional breeding methods in terms of cost and becomes widely used, but it is being done today. He says his company has cloned about 400-500 animals in the past four years. “They’re out there,” he says.

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20080214/is-dolly-for-dinner.xml

Are Organic Foods Healthier?

Yes, and significantly so. The organic food market is one of the fastest growing industries because people are not only concerned about their health, but for the environment as well. And really, whatever affects the environment, eventually affects your health. Now there are more reasons than ever to eat organic foods. When you eat organic food, you are not only reducing your exposure to pesticides, but you also increase your intake of nutrients.

In 1998, a review of 34 studies comparing organic and conventional foods found organics to have higher protein quality 100% of the studies, higher levels of vitamin C in 58% of studies and 5-20% higher mineral levels for all but 2 minerals. In some instances, mineral content in organic foods were significantly higher compared to conventional foods, and iron content was three times higher!

“A review of 41 studies comparing the nutritional value of organically to conventionally grown fruits, vegetables and grains, also indicates organic crops provide substantially more of several nutrients, including:
• 27% more vitamin C
• 21.1% more iron
• 29.3% more magnesium
• 13.6% more phosphorus” (ref 1)

Additionally, lab tests show that conventional means use chemicals that may have the ability to cause certain mutations leading to the development of cancer.

Organics and Children’s Health
Studies have been done on the pesticide levels found in children in the US. These studies concluded that millions of American children are exposed to levels of pesticides through their food at levels exceeding what is considered safe.

“Some of these pesticides are known to be neurotoxic, able to cause harm to the developing brain and nervous system. Additionally, some researchers feel that children and adolescents may be especially vulnerable to the cancer-causing effects of certain pesticides since the body is more sensitive to the impact of these materials during periods of high growth rates and breast development.” (ref 2)

See my other article on this topic.
Is Organic Food Better for You? 

References:
Popularity of Organic Foods (1)
Why Organic Foods are better for your health (2)
Everything you need to know about Organic Foods
Environmental Working Group’s website on Organic Food

Is Organic Food Better for You?

Since 1990, sales of organic products have risen at a rate of 20% annually. 70% of Americans buy organics occasionally and 25% buy them on a weekly basis. I fall into the latter category. But is this just a craze or what’s all the fuss?

Research is showing how damaging even low-level pesticide exposure can be, especially to children and fetuses whose delicate immune systems are still developing. Pesticide exposure can cause neurological damage, cancer, birth defects, and more.

Fruits & Veggies
If that is not enough, research is also showing that conventional produce is lacking in nutrients compared to its organic counterpart. Pesticides and fertilizers can interrupt their production of the phytochemicals (vitamins and antioxidants). Organic produce use these phytochemicals to strengthen their resistance to bugs and weeds. Interesting, isn’t it? We are taking away from the plant’s own natural defense mechanism when we use fertilizers and pesticides.

The use of pesticides and fertilizers is harmful to the environment as well. They take years to get out of the soil and some never leave. These pesticides are washed away and get into public water supply.

Meats, Eggs & Dairy
No they are not treated with pesticides, but the food they eat is, and they are treated with hormones and antibiotics which are not healthy for the animal or humans. When you do something too quickly it affects the quality, right? Same thing when you use hormones to speed up the growth of animals for food.

Antibiotics are also bad for our health and the environment. Water run off from stockyards carry the antibiotics into our soil and water supply. When this happens, bacteria learns how to fight off these antibiotics and mutate to become resistant to them. Sound familiar? That is how we get drug-resistant infections and illness. It’s why the flu shot is not reliable (I think the flu shot is crap anyway – see my article on this).

Buy beef from cows that have been GRASS-FED in an open pasture; and range-free chickens and eggs. Preferably milk and other dairy should be organic, but at minimum you can buy hormone-free milk. You can definitely taste the difference with organic meat and dairy in my opinion. I had no idea organic milk and organic unprocessed cheese was so good. I can’t go back to conventional milk and cheese just based on the taste.

But Organics are Expensive
Yes they are, but I figure it will all balance out in the end since I feel better and can be more productive when I have more energy. I also figure it’ll be cheaper and easier than chemo!

There are things you can do to save on organics:
1. Buy in bulk (you can freeze what you don’t use, or share with family/friends who are also eating organics)
2. Join a local farm co-op. To find one in your area, check out www.localharvest.org
3. At least buy the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables: peaches, strawberries, nectarines, apples, spinach, celery, pears, sweet bell peppers, cherries, potatoes, lettuce, and imported grapes
4. Shop local farmers markets. To find one in your area, check out www.localharvest.org
5. Grow your own produce, seeds are cheap. Herbs, tomatoes and peppers do very well in most environments. You can even grow them in planters if you have limited space. Freeze or share the surplus. Most of these plants yield lots of produce, so even 1 or 2 plants will go a long way. (see note below about seeds)
6. To expand on the grow-your-own idea, buddy up with a few friends or family and grow different items that you can all share.

Just a note about seeds if you elect to grow your own produce. If you want to truly grow organic produce, you will need to search out organic seeds as they have not been treated with pesticides like conventional seeds. Even if you use conventional seeds, your exposure to pesticides will still be lower since you will not be treating the plant once it grows. I found this site where you can search for organic seed suppliers. A Google search for organic seeds will also turn up many ways to purchase organic seeds online.

The Bottom Line
Pesticide, fertilizer, antibiotic and hormone use in our food supply is bad for human consumption, our health and for the environment. The US is lagging way behind other countries in banning the use of these substances. The greater the demand is for organics, the more that will be produced making prices come down as well. This is the way food should be anyway, just as natural as the day God put them on this Earth.

Environmental Working Group’s Food News on Pesticides and Organics
The Truth About Organic Foods, Redbook Magazine