Monday, January 28, 2013

How to Eat Wild in the City - Find Pasture Raised Proteins

First the why, then where and how. As you may have noticed in my recipes, I emphasize grass-fed, free-fed, free-range cattle, pork and poultry, wild caught fish, non-GMO, hormone- and anti-biotic free proteins, humane living conditions and abbatoirs. 

The reason is simple. Farmed fish are being fed corn and soy (mostly GMO, genetically modified, at that). Cattle, poultry and pork have been fed commercial grade (also mostly GMO) corn for decades, contaminating the meat, milk and eggs, creating secondary food intolerances that affect our bodies the same as when we eat corn and soy.

From the GARD website: "One of my newest concerns is the presence of glutamate in the flesh of grain-fed animals, especially chickens, turkeys, and cattle. This is a topic of discussion on the celiac forums and we are now believing [sic] that this is a real concern and could explain why some celiacs are not responding to elimination diets. Catfish are also grain fed." 

Actually, this applies to all of us with gastro-intestinal and neurological conditions related to food intolerances. It doesn’t matter how healthy our diet is, if we’re eating proteins that have been fed corn, soy or grain we’re not going to get well. Also consider that feedlot cows get sick on this unnatural diet and are then given massive doses of antibiotics, which stay in the meat.*

What are By-Product Feedstuffs these factory farm cows being fed? 
Fresh pasture and dried grasses are the natural diet of all ruminant animals. In factory farms, animals are switched to an unnatural diet based on corn and soy. But corn and soy are not the only ingredients in their “balanced rations.” Many large-scale dairy farmers and feedlot operators save money by feeding the cows “by-product feedstuffs” as well. In general, this means waste products from the manufacture of human food. In particular, it can mean: 
*sterilized city garbage 
*candy, sometimes with the wrappers still on 
*bubble gum
*floor sweepings from plants that manufacture animal food
*bakery, potato wastes or a "scientific blend" of pasta and candy

Eat Wild is an excellent state by state resource for finding safe, healthy, natural and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, dairy, eggs, milk and other wild edibles. If you can't find a nearby source, call and ask those in your state if they sell at a local store or farmer's market. If you need to Google a source (not all ranches are listed on this site) read Rule #1.

Click on the Free Raised Veal Pasture Tour and Video on this page to find out about one such ranch in Wisconsin. For me, this isn’t just about my health, it’s about my conscience.

Oasis at Bird-in-Hand is my local farmer's co-op, where I buy most of my pasture-raised proteins (you can see a picture of their pork shoulder in my recipe for Carnitas and they do ship!

Rule #1: When you use Google, use the term "pasture raised", i.e. "pasture raised chickens", or "pasture raised eggs", rather than "free range". "Free range" can mean the chickens have access to a small, barren patch of dirt outside their overcrowded hen house. Chickens are flocking birds; they won't go outside unless their sisters do, and let's be honest: what's the point of going outside if they don't get to wander around and pick through cow patties looking for grubs and worms?

Include your state, or nearby states if you live near a border, in your search terms.

Rule #2: Be sure to ask whether the cattle has been "grain-finished." What's the point of paying a premium price for grass-fed cattle if it's been fed corn and soy the last 6 months of its life?

Rule #3: Even grass-fed cattle need food supplements in the winter, when the grass is dead or covered in snow. Hay, or alfalfa, is still a form of grass, which is fine; just be sure to ask about corn or soy supplements during your research.

Farmed catfish, tilapia, salmon and trout are grain-fed in the U.S., mainly corn. Look for the words “wild caught” while shopping.

*If you haven't read The Omnivore's Dilemma I highly recommend it. Michael Pollan will open your eyes, your mind, and your mouth (the last in jaw-dropping astonishment.)

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