By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
Many people have noticed that factory meat is full of water. It is hard to brown except at the highest heat, and water can come gushing out in the middle of cooking. The meat of factory-fed animals is watery and mushy. If that were not enough, much factory meat (though not all) is injected with “solution,” which is usually a mix of tap water and industrial salt. The amount of “solution” injected into meat can be as high as 40% in some chicken breasts, according to an example given by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Unbelievably, meat injected with solution is called “enhanced meat.” How can it possibly “enhance” meat to inject it with a large amount of saltwater? Most of that saltwater will cook out, leaving a piece of meat that is much smaller in weight and volume than it was when purchased. The injected water is just as expensive as the meat, so profits are enhanced, at the expense of the consumer. Industrial salt and tap water are literally dirt cheap, so this is serious profit. It might be more accurate to describe it as “enhanced profit meat.”
Sometimes “enhanced meat” is described as having a particular marinade added. Since the marinades are mostly liquid, you are paying the meat price for the liquid in the marinade if you buy such a product.
One of the excuses given for the use of “solution” is the claim that it is needed to make up for the flavor lost by having leaner meat. Well, if the natural flavor of the meat is so bad or so blah that it needs a saltwater solution to be palatable, why buy it in the first place?
Another problem with “solution” is that it contains a large amount of industrial salt, which has been stripped of its minerals. This is not the natural salt that humankind has eaten for most of history. Many people, including myself, want to avoid eating such salt. But if it is not clearly labeled, or served in a restaurant, we could be eating a lot of industrial salt without knowing it.
While meat injected with solution is supposed to be labeled, even the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service has concluded that the current labeling requirements do not work, finding that some labels do not clearly identify the fact that solution has been added to raw meat. This has led the Food Safety and Inspection Service to propose stricter labeling standards, which are not expected to go into effect until 2014. I commend the government for imposing stricter labeling standards that may actually inform consumers that a significant portion of the “meat” they are purchasing is actually saltwater.
Factory meat is often soaked in a water bath to chill. While sitting in the water bath, the meat can absorb a significant amount of water, which may also have to be disclosed under the new standards.
While stricter labeling is good, I have a better “solution.”
Eat grassfed and grass-finished meat only, which is what I do.
I have never had a piece of grassfed meat that was watery or mushy. I have never had a piece of grassfed meat that gushed water into the pan. I have never had a piece of grassfed meat that was hard to brown. In fact, grassfed meat will brown beautifully at medium heat.
Grassfed meat has a wonderful natural flavor, which varies from breed to breed, and from producer to producer. This flavor does not need to be enhanced with saltwater. In fact, injecting saltwater into grassfed meat would ruin its taste, tenderness, and texture.
Grassfed meat shrinks much less in cooking.
When we buy meat, we should get meat, not a mixture of meat and saltwater.
Grassfed meat can be easily ruined if you try to cook it like you would cook factory meat. But grassfed meat will come out tender and delicious if cooked properly, which is actually very easy to do. Tender Grassfed Meat describes how to do this.
By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
Once again, we are hit with yet another study claiming that red meat increases our chances of getting a horrible disease—Type 2 diabetes. It joins a host of other studies claiming that eating red meat increases the chances of just about every chronic disease you can think of. In fact, since humanity ate mainly red meat and saturated animal fat for most of its existence, we must be extinct, since all those diseases would have wiped us out long ago, when we got almost all our calories from meat and fat. All of these studies still have one thing in common. They totally fail to distinguish between the factory meat that did not exist until the twentieth century; and grassfed and wild meat, which has been the basic food of humanity for most of its existence. Since all the studies claiming that meat is unhealthy are based on people eating factory meat, these studies are totally meaningless when it comes to grassfed meat.
Grassfed Meat Is Different
There are many differences between the composition of grassfed meat, and factory meat.
Grassfed Meat Has:
- A perfect balance of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids;
- Considerably more CLA (conjugated linoleic acid);
- The benefits of having the animals eat the food they were evolved to eat, which is natural for them;
- A natural balance of nutrients, which our bodies have evolved to use over hundreds of thousands of years, if not more.
Factory Meat Has:
- A gross imbalance of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids, which does not occur in nature;
- Far less CLA;
- The detriments of having the animals eat a totally unnatural diet in the feedlot, including GMO soy, GMO corn, animal by-products, restaurant waste, and many other things that were never the natural food of grass-eating animals;
- An unnatural balance of substances in the meat, often including growth hormones, antibiotics, chemical residues, and others.
The very composition of the two kinds of meat is so different that consumption of factory meat is very different than eating grassfed meat.
The Study Fails to Prove that Eating Red Meat Increases the Risk of Diabetes
As I once wrote before, it is crucial to study the study before you blindly believe the conclusions drawn from the data. I have carefully looked at the latest study, and my own opinion is that it has no proof that any kind of unprocessed meat increases the risk of diabetes.
Why did I reach this conclusion?
The study concluded that eating red meat was associated with an increase in Type 2 diabetes, and seemed to recommend that people stop eating red meat on a regular basis.
But the data was inconclusive, with even the scientists who conducted the study admitting that it was hard to pinpoint the actual dietary factors that caused an increase in Type 2 diabetes risk.
The study was limited to roughly 60,000 doctors and nurses, and consisted mainly of reviewing food questionnaires sent in by the participants over a multi-year period.
The study did find a correlation in increased Type 2 diabetes risk by those who ate the most red meat. The increase for those who ate unprocessed meat was approximately one-third the risk increase of those who ate processed meat. But the data also showed the following:
- Those who ate more meat also consumed more sugary soft drinks;
- Those who ate more meat also ate considerably more calories, which almost certainly included a lot of refined high-carbohydrate foods;
- Those who ate more meat drank more alcohol.
Many studies and other research have shown that increased consumption of sugar (from the soft drinks), alcohol, and refined high-carb foods is directly related to causing Type 2 diabetes.
The people who ate more sugar, more alcohol, and more refined carbohydrates had a higher incidence of diabetes, which is exactly what you would expect, regardless of their meat consumption. Since we know that sugar, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol can cause Type 2 diabetes, the amount of meat eaten proves nothing.
But what about the result that eating processed meat had a much higher risk factor than eating unprocessed meat?
The answer is simple. Almost all factory-processed meats contain substantial amounts of added sugar, whether in the form of sucrose, fructose, dextrose, or just sugar. In addition, almost all factory-processed meats contain substantial amounts of industrial salt, which often has sugar added to it. In other words, the people who consume more of these processed meats are consuming more sugar. In other words, the sugar added to the processed meat would increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, all by itself.
It is totally unknown whether the consumption of meat has any relevance at all to the risk of Type 2 diabetes, because you cannot separate it from the consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates in this study. It is impossible to know whether the increase was caused just by the higher intake of sugar, alcohol, and refined carbohydrates; or by the combination of this with more red meat; or by red meat alone.
Although I believe the researchers to be sincere, their conclusion that red meat causes an increase in the risk of Type 2 diabetes is not supported by the data in their study, in my opinion. It is also clear from reviewing the remarks of the researchers in various articles that they already believed that eating red meat is unhealthy.
I will point out that this study, like all the others, failed to distinguish between eating grassfed meat and factory meat.
But there is an earlier study that addressed the affect of eating wild and grassfed meat on chronic disease. Dr. Weston A. Price spent ten years traveling around the world to study the diets of traditional peoples. Most of the peoples he studied ate plenty of wild game, and/or grassfed meat and fat. As long as these people ate their traditional diet, they had none of the chronic diseases common to the modern world. They had no cancer. They had no heart disease. And they had no Type 2 diabetes.
It is reasonable to conclude that if eating red meat caused Type 2 diabetes, the peoples studied by Dr. Price would have a diabetes epidemic, because they ate so much wild and grassfed red meat. But since they had no diabetes at all, it is equally reasonable to conclude that eating wild or grassfed red meat did not increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes. I will also point out that these people did not eat sugar or refined carbohydrates, and their diet was considerably lower in carbohydrates than modern diets. Of course many other factors were involved, but you cannot deny the fact that they ate large amounts of wild and grassfed red meat, and they did not get diabetes.
As a personal observation, I know many people, including myself, who eat red grassfed meat on a regular basis. I eat it almost every day, sometimes several times a day. I love it. It makes me feel good and gives me strength. None of those people, including me, have any symptoms of Type 2 diabetes. Not a scientific study, just real life observation.
Finally, I do not eat factory meat. It tastes like blah, and makes me feel stuffed rather than great. I love grassfed meat!
By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
Recently the issue arose on Facebook as to why some grassfed meat might have a strong, almost fishy smell. The opinion was expressed that the steer might have eaten wild onion or wild garlic, which are known to give a bad taste and smell to milk. Should a good grassfed farmer remove wild onion and wild garlic from their pastures?
As I do not raise grassfed meat, (though I certainly cook it and eat it), I posed the question to two of the best grassfed ranchers I know: John Wood of U.S. Wellness Meats, and Chris Kerston of Chaffin Family Orchards.
John qualifies because his meat is always delicious, and smells great while it is cooking and even better when it is done.
Chris qualifies because his meat is also always delicious, and also smells great at all stages of cooking and eating.
John has never had an issue with wild garlic or wild onions, and has not noticed them on his land. John is of the opinion that a good stand of grass usually chokes out wild garlic and wild onion. John’s pastures have some of the richest, greenest, most beautiful grass I have ever seen. John has substantially increased the density and richness of his grass by rotational grazing techniques, and by enriching the soil with ancient vegetable matter. Meat from his farm, raised on that wonderful grass, is in a class of its own, in my opinion. I have eaten a lot of John’s beef over the last six years.
Chris said that what the animal eats has a huge effect on flavor. Eating a lot of wild garlic and wild onion will have a big effect on the taste and smell of the meat However, Chris is opposed to removing wild garlic and wild onion from grazing land. As Chris pointed out, removing any natural plant from a pasture will affect the natural balance, and something else will take its place. Chris stated that cattle will not eat pungent plants like wild garlic and wild onion in normal conditions. They prefer sweet grasses. Cattle will eat pungent plants for medicinal purposes, and Chris has observed his cattle treating themselves by eating certain pungent plants and grasses when they have a need. However, this is only done on a short-term basis. Also, the amount of pungent plants they eat for this purpose is in small quantities, not enough to interfere with the flavor or smell of the meat. The other situation where cattle will eat wild garlic and wild onion is when they do not have enough other suitable feed (like grass) to eat, and will eat anything out of hunger. This could certainly affect the taste and smell of the meat. I have visited Chris’s farm, and seen the beautiful rich, green grass the cattle graze on. Grazing is rotated to enrich the soil and the grass. The soil on Chris’s farm is particularly rich, and has never been sprayed with chemicals. It provides dense, sweet, green grass that the cattle love. The grass gives the cattle a deep, beefy flavor that I love.
It is clear that having plenty of good sweet grass, and providing adequate pasture prevents the problem.
You can buy John’s meat at U.S. Wellness Meats.
Chaffin Family Orchards does not sell its meat over the Internet, but you can buy it directly from the ranch or at the farmer’s markets where Chaffin sells meat, or some buying clubs. Chaffin does sell its magnificent olive oil over the Internet. This olive oil is my absolute favorite, and my first choice for marinating meat.
While John’s Missouri grassfed beef tastes different from the California grassfed beef raised by Chris, both tastes are wonderful, and I love to eat both of them.
By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
Many traditional peoples would always eat vegetables with their meat. Since meat is acidic, and vegetables are alkaline, this helped them maintain a proper pH balance in their bodies.
It is a German tradition to eat plenty of vegetables with steak, and a Latin American tradition to eat a raw vegetable condiment with meat, in the form of a salsa, chimichurri, or Pebre.
My upcoming barbecue book includes several such recipes for raw vegetable condiments. This recipe did not make it into the book, because I invented it last week, and the book is done except for the index, which is well on the way. It is a very tasty and satisfying recipe, so I thought I would print it here as a gift for my readers.
This recipe combines the sweetness of organic Vidalia onions with traditional salsa ingredients to form an absolutely delicious side dish for any grassfed meat. The fresh vegetables are full of enzymes and other nutrients, which will help with digestion. While it calls for organic ingredients, the equivalent of organic is just as good.
5 ripe red organic tomatoes, finely chopped
1 medium organic Vidalia onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 organic red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 organic green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
¼ cup fresh organic cilantro leaves, finely chopped
2 stalks organic celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unfiltered organic extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unfiltered raw organic apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground organic black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse unrefined sea salt, crushed
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon organic hot sauce of your choice, depending on how hot you like it (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Stir until well mixed. Let rest in a covered bowl for an hour before serving. Tastes best at room temperature. You can refrigerate this for a few days, if you have any left.