By Al Sears, MD
I didn’t even get a chance to put my briefcase down at my desk.
My researcher K.D. just about ran into my office.
“Dr. Sears, do I have a story for you!”
K.D. doesn’t ever get excited, so I was kind of curious. “What happened?”
“Well, I went to Maine for my vacation this summer because my family lives up there. My cousin lives near Acadia National Park. Just down the road there’s a family that has an organic farm.
“Every year, they have a big party. Like a farm-to-table kind of thing. They raise money for charity and have a big tent for the dinner. My cousin’s never been able to go because she’s never had anyone to go with. So I drove over and we went to the party.
“Before the dinner they have a tour, and show you where all the crops come from, and all that. They raise cows there, too. Some are for milking and some are for … you know … eating.
“Before the tour they ask you if you want chicken of beef for dinner. I would usually have the chicken. But I thought, what the heck, I’ll try the beef …”
I had a hunch what he was going to say, but I didn’t want to spoil the story.
“Dr. Sears, I’m telling you, every bite melted in my mouth! Guess what kind it was.”
“I’m going to say … grass-fed beef.”
“Awww, man! How did you know?”
I had a good idea because there are so many people like K.D. They feel guilty about eating red meat because they’ve been told for years that it’s going to kill them. So they force themselves into eating 40 tons of chicken breasts.
And you have a hard time finding anything else if you want to eat protein. Fish is a good alternative, but there’s mercury poisoning.
“One thing was weird,” K.D. said. “This beef was almost a deep, dark burgundy color.”
“It’s supposed to look like that. Have you eaten wild boar before?”
“No, I haven’t …”
I pointed to the top of my desk. “It’s almost this color. Dark brown, with maybe a little hint of burgundy. It looks almost the same color as beef. And that’s a pig. So, what are these pink things we’re getting from the grocery store that are supposed to be beef? What is that stuff?”
They call pork the other white meat but there is no part of a wild pig that is white. And wild pigs are very lean. Three to six percent body fat. Leaner than anybody you know. But those things they call pork from the supermarket? 50% body fat.
That changes the whole texture, look, color and overall quality of the thing you’re eating. It’s something entirely foreign.
When you get a real organic chicken — like when my wife’s cousin in Jamaica grabs one from the yard and we pull the feathers off, cook it and eat it — it’s got no resemblance to the white puffy stuff from the store.
Even the breast has color. It’s not pure white, and it has a totally different consistency that’s fibrous. You can see the striations in the muscle. When you pull on the meat it’s stringy and fibrous, and when you take a bite of it it’s not like taking a bite of a piece of bread.
Your teeth aren’t supposed to cut right through it. The meat we’re getting is puffy steroid balls, just like the dysfunctional muscles on those huge bodybuilders. We gave the cows steroids, and they produce big puffy muscles that we’re eating.
Compare pale beef and white pork with the deep burgundy red — I mean grass fed is really dark — and brown color of real wild pork and you’ve got an alarming problem. What are you supposed to eat?
Fortunately, all hope is not lost.
There are quite a few ways to get grass-fed beef and organic pork and chicken. Plus, there are more and more farm-to-table restaurants opening up all over the country.
In fact, some of the best restaurants in some areas are partnering with local farms for their food. But be sure the animals you’re eating are raised on their native diet, not grain, corn and soy.
Here are a few resources to help with farm-to-table eating:
- Epicurious (epicurious.com) — This website for “people who love to eat” has a few lists of restaurants that serve grass fed meat, and even has a top ten listing of the best farm-to-table restaurants in the country. It also has recipes for cooking grass-fed meat, and even has guides to where to eat grass-fed meat when you’re traveling to other countries.
- American Farm to Table Restaurant Guide (americanfarmtotable.com) — Lists many of the farm-to-table restaurants in the U.S., reviews, directions and contact info.
- WIC Works (http://riley.nal.usda.gov) — This USDA website has a farm-to-table topic page, education for kids and other resources.
- farmtotableonline.org — farm-to-table news
- ethicurean.com — links to farm-to-table articles
- eatwellguide.org — search for farm-to-table restaurants and markets
Here are some resources to get grass-fed meat at home:
- Green Promise (greenpromise.com) — Click on resources and then “grass-fed” to find organic and grass-fed meat suppliers.
- All Things Grass-fed (www.csuchico.edu/grassfedbeef/) — The University of California’s “home page” for grass-fed meat research, consumer info and education.
- Honored Prairie (honoredprairie.com) — Fellowship of family farms, not just for grass-fed beef. Grass-fed lamb, chicken, turkey and duck. Resources to other grass-fed site, too.
- Small Farm Institute (smallfarminstitute.wordpress.com) — Behind the scenes info on grass-fed beef industry.