If you consume animal products, it is important to select meats that come from high-quality sources. The tips below will help you make the best choices when buying beef, poultry, and fish.
You are what you eat
You are what you eat and the nutrition of the food you eat is just a symptom of the soil or animal it came from. If you eat animal products such as meat, poultry, or dairy, the lifestyle these animals had when they were alive will impact your health in either a positive or negative way.
An animal’s diet and living situation can have a profound influence on the nutrient content of its products. You will be healthier if the animal products you eat come from animals that were:
- raised in clean and stress-free environments
- free of growth hormones and antibiotics
- bred consuming plants grown in healthy organic soil
Food shopping for beef, poultry, and fish can be overwhelming due to the vast amount of choices offered to consumers. I am sure you have seen the following terms stamped onto packages:
- Certified organic
…but what do these words mean? To help you make the healthiest choices when buying meat, poultry and fish, I have put together a few simple guidelines that you should follow.
1) Purchase ORGANIC, GRASS-FED and FREE-RANGE products whenever possible
Organic, free-range meats are more nutritious than commercially farmed products and are free of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics, all of which are toxic to humans.
- When reading labels, select meats that are “certified organic, grass-fed and free-range.”
- When possible, avoid grain-fed products.
2) If you are unable to purchase organic meats, the next best choice is GRASS FED, FREE-RANGE meat
Cows, sheep, and buffalo are designed to walk about and eat grass. When these animals’ diets are mostly made up of grains, they have a higher chance of becoming sick and the quality of the fats and protein in their meat declines.
- Reduce (or better yet, eliminate) your consumption of grain-fed, factory-farmed meat containing hormones and/or antibiotics.
- Factory-farmed animals are more susceptible to stress, abuse, pollution, antibiotic drugs and unnatural diets, all of which are not ideal for us.
Grass-fed animals vs. grain-fed animals
- Grass-fed meat gives you more bang for your buck on all fronts, with its significantly higher levels of omega-3s, antioxidants, minerals, and other important nutrients. In my article, “Why Grass-Fed Beef Is Better Than Grain-Fed Beef”, I explain why.
Farm-raised animals vs. factory-farmed animals
- Choose farm-raised animal products whenever possible. A farm-raised animal product where the animal was free-range is a healthier option over a factory-farmed animal. I explain why in “Why Farm-Raised Animal Products Are Superior To Factory-Farmed Products.”
3) Always choose wild-caught fish over farm-raised fish, especially when it comes to salmon.
- Selecting wild-caught fish over farmed-raised fish is a must, especially when it comes to salmon. When millions of fish are raised in close confinement, fed an unvaried artificial diet, and constantly exposed to their own wastes, exposure to harmful chemicals is inevitable. The quality of their meat is compromised.
- This makes the consumption of farm-raised fish unhealthy for humans. It also disrupts the delicate balance of the ecosystem. In my article, “Why You Should Always Buy Wild-Caught Salmon” I give more detail as to why you should always avoid farm-raised salmon and buy wild-caught salmon instead.
4) Minimize consumption of smoked meats and fish
- Smoked meats and fish often contain additives such as nitrites and nitrates, two chemicals that belong to a class of chemicals called nitrosamines.
- Nitrosamines have been found to be harmful and potentially carcinogenic to both animals and humans.
- New research suggests nitrosamines can alter gene expression and cause DNA damage which can spur on the development of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.
5) Read all product labels and minimize or eliminate the consumption of processed meats
- Read the labels or ask the deli-counter what ingredients are in the products you are about to buy. Not only do deli/processed meats often contain harmful chemicals such as nitrites and nitrates, but some of the preservatives in these foods produce histamine, which can trigger false food allergies for several people.
- A lot of processed meats contain high levels of sugar and sodium which may cause health issues.
- Many meats contain wheat, which presents a problem for those who have a gluten intolerance (which is over 60% of our population).
You truly are what you eat. If you eat animal products such as meat, poultry, or dairy, the lifestyle these animals had when they were alive will also impact your health in either a positive or negative manner. Your body will be healthier if the animal products you eat come from animals that were raised in clean and stress-free environments, free of growth hormones and antibiotics, and bred consuming plants grown in healthy organic soil.
When buying meat, poultry and fish, read product labels and look for buzzwords such as: certified organic, grass-fed, free-range, wild, grain-free, antibiotic-free, hormone free, and non-processed. When you clean up your diet and focus on eating animal products that come from quality sources, your body and health will thank you.
When you choose to eat meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals raised on pasture, you are:
- Giving your family the healthiest possible food
- Improving the welfare of animals
- Helping to put an end to environmental degradation
- Supporting small-scale ranchers and farmers make a living from sustainable agriculture
- Helping to sustain rural communities
It’s a win-win-win-win-win situation!
Thoughts or Tips?
- What are your thoughts on this topic?
- Do you follow these guidelines when buying beef, poultry, and fish?
- If you don’t, why not?
- If you do follow these rules, do you have any other tips to share?
- Daley CA, Abbott A, Doyle PS, Nader GA, Larson S. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutrition Journal. 2010;9:10. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-10.
- Dhiman, T. R., G. R. Anand, et al. (1999). “Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets.” J Dairy Sci 82(10): 2146-56.
- Duckett, S. K., D. G. Wagner, et al. (1993). “Effects of time on feed on beef nutrient composition.” J Anim Sci 71(8): 2079-88.
- Foran, J.A. D.H. Good, D.O. Carpenter, MC Hamilton, BA Knuth, and S.J. Schwager. (2005). Quantitative Analysis of the Benefits and Risks of Consuming Farmed and Wild Salmon. Journal of Nutrition. 135:2639-2643.
- Ip, C, J.A. Scimeca, et al. (1994) “Conjugated linoleic acid. A powerful anti-carcinogen from animal fat sources.” p. 1053. Cancer 74(3 suppl):1050-4.
- Mozaffarian, D. and E.A. Rimm. (2006). Fish Intake, Contaminants, and Human Health: Evaluating the Risks and Benefits. Journal of the American Medical Association. 296(15): 1885-1899.