Eating meat and dairy responsibly can be challenging: always reading labels, asking questions of waitstaff and proprietors, researching stores and brands. I rely on a collection of web sites to help me find my way, and a notable one is The Whole9, a health and wellness site that preaches a very paleo way of eating.
Yes, paleo followers eat a lot of meat, but they pay close attention to the composition of the meat, as any added hormones or chemicals are transferred from the meat to the eater, and the healthier the animal and more natural and higher quality the animal’s diet, the more nutritious the meat or dairy product. The treatment of the animal is important too, since stress dumps bad hormones and chemicals into the bloodstream, and from there into the meat.
The Whole9 has a ton of really good information about eating healthy meat and eggs. They believe dairy products are irritants and cause health problems, so they don’t address milk, cheese, etc in their articles, but the same rules apply: get your dairy from happy, healthy, naturally raised animals.
Without further ado, here are some useful references to help you along your merry responsible consumer way!
- The Conscientious Omnivore from The Whole9: A great overview of the importance of eating healthy, happy, well cared for and humanely slaughtered animals.
- The Conscientious Omnivore: Eggs Covers the hidden cost of cheap eggs, and instructs how to read egg carton labels–or even better: find egg that are so fresh and local, their cartons don’t even have labels!
- The Conscientious Omnivore: From the Sea Discusses the pros and cons of wild-caught and farmed seafood. Consumers need to use caution when choosing wild fish as many populations are over-fished. Farmed fish presents similar problems as factory farmed livestock: pollution, chemicals, and animals fed unnatural diets. The Whole9 gives seafood recommendations, including “consider farmed salmon your worst choice in any setting.”
- The Whole9 crew then did all sorts of cross-referencing about mercury content, sustainability, and Omega-3 content to come up with this list of fish recommendations.
Following links from The Whole9 articles led me to these resources:
- Eat Wild is a directory of local farms selling grass-fed products, and a resource for both farmers and consumers on the how-tos and benefits of pasture-raising livestock. To sum up, they help you to “find out how choosing grassfed products is good for: Animal Welfare, Farmer Benefits, the Environment, and Human Health.” I can locate local grass-fed farms in the Virginia farm directory, or on the Virginia map, and there’s list of Virginia stores, restaurant, farmers markets, and buying clubs with grass-fed products. Look up your state!
- US Wellness Meats is a consortium of family farms in the central US, raising livestock that’s free to forage on grass at will, and practicing sustainable pasture management. They ship meat, cheese, and butter around the country, and the farmers’ beliefs about how livestock and land should be treated is worth reading.
- Heritage Food USA, a site selling grass-fed, antibiotic-free regional or heritage meat, is affiliated with Slow Food USA. They have a manifesto worth reading, the gist of which is “We are proud combatants in the fight to promote difference and diversity in a marketplace dominated by monocultures. In this kind of marketplace, animals raised on pasture without antibiotics are hard to come by, as are rare and heritage genetics that evolved naturally rather than from laboratories designed for meat production and fast growth.“
There are many, many good resources out there instructing consumers on the importance and benefits of eating responsibly raised and produced animal products. These are just a few; please share your favorites in the comments!