Smart Shopping: Vegetarian vs. Grain vs. Grass vs. Uhhh...Other?
We talked about where your meat comes from. That is closely related to what your meat eats. And what your meat eats you eat. So here is a breakdown of terms you'll see at the supermarket. Vegetarian Fed-This is something you'll see on egg and chicken products. Chickens are not vegetarian. They like bugs. Normally. These days, there are fed some mixture of something. If a chicken is vegetarian fed it basically means it's not fed animal protein. What is meant by animal protein? Leftovers. These leftovers could be just about anything under the sun:
Ground up downer cattle (cattle too sick to stand - the FDA says you can't feed downer cattle to people, but the USDA says it's legal to put them in animal feed).
Feathers, bones, bodies, feet, and offal from battery hens. These are hens which are raised in cages the size of a shoebox. When they die, they are likely sick, malnourished, and pumped full of antibiotics. Antibiotics and other medications are definitely passed into the feed, and illnesses can be.
Plastic. Many rendering plants receive spoiled styrofoam and plastic wrapped cuts of meat from grocery stores. Since unwrapping the meat would be time-consuming, typically they just dump the whole thing into the grinder, plastic wrap and all.
Soiled bedding (chicken poop and sawdust) from chicken feed lots.
Cattle and pig manure.
Cats and dogs euthanized at animal shelters, including the chemicals used to euthanize them, and any medication the animals were on prior to their death.Source: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/vegetarian-fedI'll take the corn feed over the random body parts feed, but still not the most ideal diet for chickens, and therefore, not the most ideal diet for you.
Uhhh...Non-Descript Fed-Then there's the meat that doesn't say anything. The default diet is something like our good old friend, "vegetarian fed," and unmistakably corn based. Well, what's wrong with corn? First and foremost, for our Paleo challengers-it is a grain. Grain, at the end of the day, is sugar. The biochemical effect on you body when you eat corn is the same as sugar, and our goal is to choose more nutrient dense food that will sustain you, not give you an insulin spike. Secondly, grain is not fully digestable by people. For some this is no big deal. For many, this can lead to health problems after years of eating grain, that are often related to the gastro-intestinal system. Lastly, corn is systemically a problem. It's the go-to solution to dealing with fillers, feed, farmers, subsidies, and corporate appeasement. Sorry, Kellog's, but we know it's no coincidence almost all of your product is mostly corn. And that farmers get paid to make corn. And that the corporations who sell corn lobby the government to keep paying farmers for their corn. See the cycle? Unless you swim your way out of that cycle, you are full blown in it.
Grass Fed Grain Finished-Here's a tricky little practice in the meat industry. Unless you ask your grocer to make sure, grass fed is often grain finished. This means the last few months of life, the animal is fed corn to fatten them up before being slaughtered. Yes, this does compromise the Omega 3 fatty acids and nutrition profile of the animal. Yes, it costs more for you to buy this meat. The good news is this meat is often still pasture raised, and hormone/antibiotic free, but if you are going to go grass, go 100%. Grass Fed-Well, this is the natural feed for cattle, meaning what their bodies have evolved to eat and live off of in the wild. Naturally, it makes sense that this diet would be the healthiest for the cattle, and therefore, healthier for you. Grass fed meat has higher amounts of Omega 3 fats, vitamin E, antioxidants, and is generally much more nutrient dense (http://www.eatwild.com/healthbenefits.htm). Furthermore, grass fed meat is often pasture raised, and as discussed in our previous article, a much better situation. Hormones/antibiotics next time...