It is Safe to Eat Raw Meat – A Guide to Choosing the Right Type
No, I’m not trying to commit mass genocide here by posting about eating raw meat and am definitely not trying to off my own daughter. If I were, I suppose I could do it with a potent dose of Foot and Mouth disease or maybe some good ol’ E. coli, but that’s not what I’m propounding you consume.
Believe it or not, you and your family can eat raw meat for good health as long as you eat the right kind. My daughter and I (and thousands of other people) have been doing it for years and have never been sick. The important thing to note is that all meat is not created equally. There’s the range stuff – cows who eat grass on farms, and there’s the feedlot stuff – cows who eat grains and live in their own black muck. Meat from the latter can harbor some pretty nasty viruses and bacteria – we hear about them all the time in the news – but the fact is that meat from animals who eat their natural diets and live in their natural habitats don’t get sick. And neither will you if you eat them.
Why Eat Raw Meat
- Raw meat is easy to digest. Many people note that indigestion is eliminated after switching to raw meat, although one probably wouldn’t have indigestion if they didn’t eat grains.
- Raw meat has more vitamins than cooked meat and contains enzymes for digestion.
- Raw meat contains fewer free radicals and no heat-mutated proteins.
- Raw fats help balance metabolism and detoxify the body.
Types of Beef; Some Terminology
‘Cage free’ is a worthless delineation as is the term ‘organic’ – animals labeled in this way are usually fed a vegetarian diet and likely live in tight pens. ‘Free range’ is an easily abused term (though I would contact the manufacturer to be sure; some of it is actually grass fed) which can be legally used by operations who include a door in the animal’s pen, leading to a square of dirt outside. ‘Grass fed’ is the only term which guarantees that the animals eat grass their whole lives.
“The AGA defines grass-fed products from ruminants, including cattle, bison, goats and sheep, as those food products from animals that have eaten nothing but their mother’s milk and fresh grass or grass-type hay from their birth till harvest.”
There are also terms such as ‘grain finished’ meaning that the animals ate grass most of their lives until the final fattening up phase. Unfortunately, this is not a whole heck of a lot better because it doesn’t take long for the animals to begin losing their superior fatty acid profile. For poultry and eggs, the term ‘pastured’ is the equivalent to ‘grass fed.’ (The day after I posted this, Mark Sisson posted an article about animal’s diet, living conditions, nutrition, cost and taste. You can check out the article on MDA)
How Can I Be Sure My Raw Meat Won’t Hurt Me?
Follow the above guidelines for choosing your meat and look in to the company that sells it. I buy a lot of my beef from US Wellness Grassland Beef (as well as what is available from local farms). They choose beef (and poultry) from grassfed farms and supply every cut you could possibly desire, including organs.
Choosing grassfed beef is vital when consuming the animal raw (unless you have plenty of hydrochloric acid and a robust immune system… which you should on this diet anyway) because the chance of disease festering in these animals is next to nothing.
Disease needs a gross place to feed if it’s to live. Harmful bacteria and viruses fester in overpopulated areas and in animals who are undernourished and, especially in animals who eat food which they are not designed to digest. Cows, for example have a second, massive stomach which is designed to ferment grass in order to extract its nutrients and protein. When that stomach attempts to digest grains it becomes overly acidic and causes the cow all kinds of problems from feedlot-bloat to acidosis to diarrhea and liver disease. Since the animal cannot extract sufficient nutrients from grains it will eventually suffer nutritional deficiencies. These nutritional deficiencies cause a weakening of the immune system, which in turn makes them more susceptible to all those cattle diseases we hear of in the news. (Check out this interesting article about how replacing grains with hay just before slaughter eliminates E. coli.)
The Living Conditions of the Animals Makes All the Difference
Cows should wander and nibble on grass all day, not gorge on grains out of troughs on black farms. Grass is what keeps cows strong and healthy. They have evolved to extract every gram of protein and every last nutrient out of grass.
Pigs eat a wider variety of foods such as insects, roots, and leaves. They don’t carry trichinosis when they are free to run and eat their omnivorous wild diet, but when they sit in pens without so much as an inch to move in either direction disease spreads.
Chickens are omnivores, closer to carnivores actually. Always beware of eggs and chickens which advertise “vegetarian fed.” Chickens should spend their days pecking and scratching at insects, lizards, and other wiggly things.
My daughter and I recently spent a day at TLC Ranch – a free range farm in Watsonville, CA – where we took these lovely photos. We were amazed to discover that they supplement the chicken’s diet with leftover pig hearts and organs!
I think one’s intuition should suffice in determining which animals to eat raw – the evidence is truly in the product. Factory farms administer anti-biotics to their sick chickens, cows, and pigs while pastured, grass fed, and even free-range farms don’t need to do this.
If, however, you’re not sure about the purity of your meats or if you’re just new to this and feel a little sheepish experimenting on your kids, freeze the meat first for 14 days before eating raw. Freezing kills off all the bad bacteria and parasites (this is what sushi restaurants do), unfortunately, it also kills off a little of the good stuff – but it’s still better than nothing!
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