Meaty Choices - Page 2
The problem: Cattle are left hungry for grass
While feeding cattle cheap grains fattens them up faster for slaughter and allows for cheap beef at the grocer, it also means a lot less nutritious meat. Plus, grain-fed cattle are more likely to harbor bacteria including dangerous E. Coli, which raises the risk of food poisoning.
Your move: Splurge for grass-fed
A recent study by California State University researchers determined that grass-fed beef has significantly higher levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fats than their grain-fed counterparts. By helping quell inflammation, these omega-3s may help runners during periods of intense training and competition.
Other perks of the grass-fed stuff are not only less cholesterol-elevating saturated fatty acids and inflammatory omega-6 fats, but more of a beneficial fat called conjugated-linoleic acid (CLA), which may help reduce body-fat storage, and boasts disease-fighting antioxidants vitamin E and glutathione. Gastronomes and chefs also laud animals that nibble on turf for having better flavor and texture.
You can often find grass-fed beef at farmers’ markets, specialty butchers and larger grocers such as Whole Foods.
The problem: Birds are under house arrest
The vast majority of chickens and turkeys intended for the butcher spend their lives indoors, often crammed in cages where they are fed everything from corn to animal guts spiked with antibiotics. This produces nutritionally inferior meat and eggs, not to mention raises animal-welfare concerns.
Your move: Locate true free-range fowl
Birds that are allowed to forage outdoors deliver meat and eggs richer in vitamins, healthy fats and flavor. But determining if your scrambled eggs came from a bird that really soaked up the sunshine is almost a Sisyphean effort, as labels provide no clear answers (see Label Lingo).
The only real way to be sure your eggs or poultry come from free-range birds is to visit a local farm and see the operation for yourself or ask an egg farmer plenty of questions at your local farmers’ market. You can also visit www.eatwild.com or www.eatwellguide.org to locate a free-range farmer near you. If you have a favorite supermarket brand of eggs or chicken breast, you can try calling the company and querying them about their bird raising guidelines, but many big operations are less than forthcoming.