Meat to Please You

Meat Quality

When trying to eat clean, it can sometimes be difficult to find a balance between the best food choices, their availability and your budget. There is a definite quality spectrum among animal foods. “Animal foods” aren’t just meat, poultry and seafood. Animal foods also include animal fats, such as butter, eggs, milk and cheese.

Looking at what’s on the Nutritional Information label can sometimes help, but not all of them regulated, and some can be quite misleading.  Use this as a general guideline, the highest quality animal foods, you are looking at animals that have grown up in their natural habitat eating natural foods, have been raised or caught in sustainable ways, and have been treated humanely.

pomegranate-meatAnimal foods with no particular labelling have generally been raised conventionally, which is basically in factory farms indoors with no exposure to the sun, in stressful, crowded environments, fed primarily on genetically modified grains or other types of “feed”, including “waste-based”, (as oppose to their natural diet for cattle: grass, poultry: seeds and insects, etc.).

They have also generally been given additives such as hormones in beef or colorants in salmon,  and often vaccinated with several courses of antibiotics throughout their lifetime. Pretty much conventional “animal foods” are quite poor quality.

Here are some things to look out for when you’re buying “animal foods”, they’re listed roughly from poorest to highest quality:

1) Natural: Natural is a regulated label, however it only refers to the actual content of the food not how the animal was raised, so it’s pretty misleading. Animal foods with the official label of “natural” are close to their original state (hardly processed) and must not contain any artificial ingredients or added colour. So unless they carry any other label stating otherwise, you can assume that the food is produced from factory farmed animals.

2) Nimage_1o Hormones Administered: No poultry in Australia is raised with hormones, however it is optional for both cattle and pigs, so any beef or pork products containing this regulated label are a better choice than conventional.

3) No Antibiotics Added: Antibiotics are routinely used on factory-farmed red meat and poultry, so chicken or beef products carrying this regulated label are a better choice.

4) Cage-free: This is an UNREGULATED label which indicates that the poultry animals could “freely roam around a shed, room, or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and fresh water during their productive cycle” during their life times. However no Australian poultry is raised in cages, and these “areas” that are in question are generally hugely crowded and offer no outdoor access. You can take presume that they are feed the same foods & additives as factory-farmed animals.

5) Free-range: This IS a regulated label which indicates that the poultry animals were “provided shelter in a building, room, or area with unlimited access to food, fresh water, and constant access to the outdoors during their production cycle. This outdoor area may or may not be fenced and/or covered with netting like material”. This is a huge step up from cage-free due to the o12309079utdoor access, however the feeding practices will most likely be conventional and not natural.

6) Organic: The organic label is also regulated and it verifies that the livestock “producers met the animal health and welfare standards, used 100% organic feed, did not use antibiotics or growth hormones, and provided animals with unlimited access to the outdoors”. Although organic feed typically means the animals were still fed grains instead of grasses or insects.

7) Grass-fed: Grass-fed animals receive the majority of their nutrients from grass throughout their lifetime, whilst organic animals pastured diet might be supplemented with grain. Traditional grass-fed animals are generally “grain-finished”, this means that the cattle are feed a “finishing ration” for a minimum of 100 days to fatten them up before slaughter. Therefore cancelling out many of the nutritional benefits. This term is regulated and you can presume that unless the product is also labeled organic, that these animals have quite possibly been given hormones, antibiotics and genetically modified foods and /or pesticide-treated grains.

So take home point, is make sure you know what meat & animal product you are buying. Always read the labels on the animal products you’re buying, and generally try to always buy organic, as it contains the highest nutritional content and it is going to give you the greatest benefits.

Go and eat some meat guys!


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