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When it comes to making the switch to real food, one of the most common questions I receive is: “Where should I buy meat? I can’t give up my hamburgers, please help!”
Friend, you don’t have to give up your Sunday night burger just because you’ve taken the pledge to eat “real”. That’s the beauty and freedom of real food. Welcome to a world that’s free of restrictions and starvation.
Real food is about finding better alternatives to the food so many of us love and enjoy. Making the real food switch means saying “good-bye” to freezer biscuits, enjoying a flaky, homemade version instead. And bypassing the cookie dough aisle for flour, sugar, and real butter to make homemade cookies that melt-in-your-mouth. This thing we call “real food” is one of the most freeing (and delicious) choices one can make.
Eating meat in a real food diet simply means finding better alternatives. I don’t need to preach to the choir about the scary facts of conventional meat. Let’s review a few of the basic reasons to say “no” to the meat so many of us are accustomed to purchasing:
1. Sick Animals and Antibiotics: “Antibiotic-Free” is the big buzz word for meat. We should be concerned about the overuse of antibiotics in our food supply. Overuse of antibiotics in animal feed has helped contribute to the continual antibiotic resistance of bacterial infections in humans.
Can we remove antibiotics and solve the issue? My vote is “NO!” Animals kept on conventional “farms” live in less than ideal conditions and are fed a diet consisting of unnatural food (corn, animal by-products, etc). The result? Sick animals in need of antibiotics. Without caring for the heart of the issue, the problem will never be solved.
2. Pink Slime: Ring a bell? Pink Slime is a processed meat by-product considered safe by the USDA and found in the majority of ground beef sold in conventional stores. Pink slime is “made from connective tissue (versus meat muscle) and fat, and is treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill salmonella and E. coli.” (Source)
3. A Poor Diet: Conventional meat is fed a diet consisting of corn and soy, along with many other ingredients. What’s the big deal with corn and soy? For a cow, this diet is far from natural. Cows are naturally grazers who belong on pasture, eating grass. Supplement is often needed, but the large majority of a cow’s diet should consist of grass found in open pasture. For a chicken this means roaming freely eating bugs, seeds, leafy greens, real food scraps, and a supplemented natural feed. For pigs this looks like open space foraging for grass, nuts, seeds, and roots.
4. The Unknown Origin Factor: Meat from the conventional grocery store is mystery meat without a farmer’s name attached to the label. Today, we’ve grown accustomed to blind-buying, not knowing the direct source of our food supply. Isn’t that what got us into this whole food mess to begin with?
“What’s the alternative?” I’m so glad you asked, because there is a wonderful alternative!
Real meat comes from animals raised in natural, open conditions (think: nature), raised on “natural” food. Farmers’ seek the very best practices and care about the beginning, middle, and end result; not just the profit. This kind of meat is not easily found in conventional stores, but there are several resources for finding meat that’s been raised with integrity.
Five Resources for Finding Grass-Fed Meat:
1. Natural Food Store: Many natural food stores have answered the demand for pastured meat. I always ask the butcher behind the counter a few question about the meat options: Where does the meat come from? How were the animals raised? What kind of diet did the animals eat?
2. Food Co-op: A food co-op is generally a small food club where members purchase products in bulk, often at a cheaper price than the natural food store. Food co-ops often require a membership fee, but joining can add up to significant savings over time. You can learn more about my co-op here.
3. Farmer’s Market: Farmer’s markets are a wonderful venue for connecting farms with consumers. If you’re looking for individual cuts and speciality meat selections this is a great option. Farmer’s markets often charge vendors to set up shop, so meat costs may reflect such charges.
4. Farm: Finding local farms sounds difficult, but thanks to sites like eatwild.com and eatlocalgrown.com the job gets a bit easier. Yes, this option requires more time researching and calling/emailing farms, but you are able to hand-pick the farm with standards you feel are important.
5. Farm-to-Door Delivery Service: Finding pastured meat just got a whole lot easier! Yep, you can now order pastured meat and have it delivered straight to your door. Nothing like putting the pizza delivery man to shame. “Do you deliver grass-fed steak, sir?”
Finding grass-fed, pastured meat is completely doable when you look outside the big conventional grocery store. Finding the right resources for buying meat means burger night can be healthy and extra delicious!