As food becomes increasingly industrialized, we are losing more and more of our ancestral food traditions. One of my goals is to try to preserve some of those traditions. And one of the traditions I most want to preserve is the traditional prime rib roast. This tradition is thousands of years old, is absolutely delicious, and may have special nutritional factors. Yet, the tradition of the magnificent prime rib roast, once well known and popular throughout Europe and the U.S., is in danger of being forgotten.
In fact, there are many people who do not even know what a prime rib is. What is a prime rib? Look at the photo above—that is a prime rib.
The King of Roasts
A close look at this beautiful cut of meat shows what was once known as the king of roasts. This is a prime specimen, purchased from U.S. Wellness Meats, and they deserve great credit for this masterpiece.
The roast rests on the natural bones, which impart great flavor, add nutrients to the meat, and act as a natural rack. It is crowned with its own unique fat, which will provide wonderful flavor to the meat while making it tender and basting the meat as it cooks. The meat itself is divided into two sections, the large portion in the center, and a smaller portion on the front and top of the meat. These two cuts have different tastes and textures, which provide a wonderful contrast. Though grassfed, the roast is wonderfully marbled with little flecks of fat, which provide great grassfed nutrition, make the meat tender, and baste the meat internally as it cooks.
I also love the flavor of vegetables roasted in the pan with the prime rib. Vegetables flavored by the melted fat and juices are unbelievably delicious with a flavor like no others.
Prime rib has a unique taste that is brought out by roasting. It is hard to describe, but it is so delicious, and there is nothing else on earth comparable to it. I suspect, though I cannot prove it, that this taste shows the presence of a particular nutrient that I have found nowhere else. I do not know what this nutrient is, but I do know how I feel after eating grassfed prime rib. I feel rejuvenated and wonderful. And so satisfied. I can smell the presence of this taste about halfway through the roasting, and it makes me so hungry!
The Prime Rib Tradition
The chine portion of an animal, which is where the prime rib comes from, has a long history and storied reputation. In ancient times, it was reserved for heroes and royalty. Irish legend records duels to the death for the right to claim this meat. The hero Achilles barbecued meat from the chine for the kings of the Greeks at the beach of Troy, as described in the Iliad. During the height of the British Empire, the prime rib as Sunday dinner became common, with leftovers forming the basis of meals throughout the week. Prime rib was once very popular in the U.S., as well. It should be noted that the prime rib eaten during this period was always from grassfed cattle, as factory meat did not exist until the twentieth century.
It should also be noted that the chine portion, whether from cattle, lambs, pigs, goats, or bison, was always one of the most prized cuts of meat. It was always expensive, and always associated with strength and nutrition.
The sight and smell of this magnificent cut of meat, roasted to perfection, with an aroma that creates hunger as soon as it is smelled, has brought great pleasure and wonderful nutrition to countless human beings.
Yet the tradition of this king of roasts is in real danger of being lost.
How the Food Industry Is Killing the King of Roasts
The modern food industry has done a lot to kill the prime rib tradition. The factory meat it raises just does not cut it, not in taste or nutrition, and lacks the unique flavor that makes prime rib so special. Even worse, the meat industry decided to do away with skilled butchers and to come up with easy to cut and package pieces of meat. The chine portion of most cattle, even grassfed cattle, is cut into thin boneless, fatless steaks. None of these steaks can possibly come close to developing the incredible flavor and nutrition of a real prime rib roast, which requires the bones and fat, and at least a moderate cooking period to develop the unique flavor.
The anti-animal-fat phobia has resulted in most people wanting to buy meat with all the fat trimmed off, which will ruin any prime rib.
In fact, meat with bones and fat is increasingly frowned upon by government regulators and the anti-fat fanatics, who would like to see it done away with.
Cutting this portion of meat into thin steaks instead of cutting it into roasts has led to a huge price increase, which makes this meat difficult to afford. Most grassfed producers just cut the chine portion of their cattle into thin, boneless, fatless, steaks, which may taste good, but lack the real prime rib flavor. Fortunately, there are some exceptions.
If you buy a whole steer, or a half or a quarter, you can usually arrange to have the rib portion cut into roasts, with the bones and fat left on. A few producers carry prime rib roasts at holiday times. I have a great local market that cuts grassfed beef to order. And as shown above, U.S. Wellness Meats sells excellent grassfed prime rib roasts.
Make no mistake, grassfed prime rib is expensive. But you can still get a great grassfed prime rib roast for less than a restaurant dinner, and it will feed a lot of people. We do not have it often, but we will have it for special occasions, and enjoy the great pleasure and health benefits it brings.
I submit that the tradition of the grassfed prime rib roast is well worth preserving.
Many people are starting to realize that the traditional food of our ancestors, real food, is much better for us than the chemical-drenched industrial stuff turned out by the big food industry. Fruits and vegetables grown without chemicals, grassfed and pastured meats, real dairy, traditional fermented foods, and other traditional foods, have nourished humankind for thousands of years, and are so much better than the factory stuff, both in taste and nutrition. Real food generally is more expensive, and is harder to find. But it is truly worth it, as you feel so much better and are likely to experience great improvements in your health, vitality, mood, mental functions, and general quality of life. Real food does a great job of supporting the natural functions. After all, real food has been supporting our bodies for uncounted thousands of years, and our bodies have adapted to thrive on it. Factory food has only been around since the twentieth century, and new artificial ingredients and processes are introduced every year.
But real food comes with a hidden price. It is not convenient. If you are really going to switch completely to real food, someone in your family is going to have to cook it. And that someone might as well be you.
The Death of Real Cooking
Once, America was full of fantastic home cooks who were proud of their cooking. This was not limited to women, as many men were proud of their skill at barbecuing and cooking meat. Cooking knowledge was passed down from generation to generation. Home-cooked food was so good that restaurants had a very hard time competing, and had to struggle to provide food that was even better than home-cooked. This posed a huge problem to the processed food industry, as it slithered into existence. Why would anyone want to eat their dead, relatively tasteless food? Much research was done, and three answers were found:
The first was to claim that packaged, factory foods were more “scientific,” and modern. People in the early twentieth century were in awe of science, and this argument alone was enough to get many people to give up lard and switch to hydrogenated vegetable fats, for example.
The second was to claim that certain traditional foods were “unhealthy,” and to finance “scientific” research to prove the so called “unhealthiness.” This was even more successful, persuading hundreds of millions of people to give up the sacred foods of their ancestors for inferior processed substitutes.
But the third technique was the most effective. Convenience. Factory packaged foods were designed to be convenient to prepare. It was much easier to add a few ingredients to a mix, or heat something in the oven or a pan, than to actually cook from scratch. Or you could pour factory dry cereal directly into a bowl, add a few things, or not, and eat it with no preparation at all. The advent of the microwave made things even faster and more convenient, as you could “nuke” a huge variety of packages for just a few minutes, and have something resembling a meal.
It took absolutely no skill or knowledge to prepare food this way, and most Americans simply gave up on cooking. Today, it is estimated that two-thirds of American adults do not know how to cook, though they can pop a package in a microwave, or pour cereal into a bowl, or buy a pre-made salad at the supermarket. People eat a huge portion of their meals at fast food joints or restaurants. But this convenience comes at a terrible price. Malnutrition. Most Americans suffer from malnutrition without even knowing it. Processed and factory foods are far inferior to real food in supporting the natural functions of our bodies. Chronic illness is at an all time high, and many of the afflicted are young adults, which is something new and disturbing. In fact, the physical condition of American youth has deteriorated to such a degree that 75% of those who try to join the military are rejected as being physically unfit to serve.
I believe that switching to real food is the ultimate solution to these problems, and it certainly worked for me and many others. But you cannot get real food out of a package, or just nuke it in a microwave and expect to have a meal. Real food requires real cooking.
Many people complain about the cost of real food, but I believe in the truth of the old saying, “Pay the farmer or pay the doctor.”
The Return to Real Cooking
I cook just about everything from scratch, using real food ingredients. And the benefits to my well being have been enormous. I have gone from being chronically ill to healthy. If you are not used to cooking, learning how to cook might seem overwhelming. But it can be far easier than you might think. Real home cooking is simple, and consists of learning certain skills which are well within the abilities of most people. You do not need to be a fancy chef. And I will share a little secret with you. The more you cook, the easier it gets, if you are on the right path. Eventually, it becomes second nature, like riding a bicycle. And the real food you prepare will taste so much better. And you can take pride in the fact that every meal you make is truly nourishing and helping the natural functions of the people you feed, helping them to feel better and be better in every way. Another benefit is the sheer pleasure you can bring to others with a tasty, home-cooked meal of real food.
There are some excellent resources for learning how to cook real food. The Weston A. Price Foundation has a series of instructional cooking videos on their website, which are very informative and well done. I also recommend Sally Fallon Morell’s excellent cookbook, Nourishing Traditions as a great basic cookbook. It is also full of valuable nutritional information. When it comes to grassfed meat, I recommend what I use, Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue. I use them regularly. I designed them to be easy to use and traditional. While the inspiration is traditional, I have adapted these traditions to the modern kitchen.
There are other resources, as well, but learning how to cook real food is a very important part of receiving the benefits of real food. Real food deserves real cooking.
The pack of wild dogs stalked hungrily through the tall grass, sniffing for prey. Suddenly, the pack leader stiffened as he smelled something. The pack froze, watching the leader. The leader bounded forward, and the pack followed, howling. They burst furiously out of the grass, and pounced upon a — patch of GMO soybeans?
Sounds unbelievable, does it not? Well, so does a can of vegetarian dog food. But, believe it or not, I saw such a can recently, proudly marked as “vegetarian” dog food. Not trusting my eyes, I took a look at the ingredients. They included water (the first ingredient), soymeal, soybean oil, and a host of artificial vitamins. Oh yes, there was also some brown rice. Dogs are real big on brown rice. The ingredients were described as “natural.” In reality, this means that the soy was almost certainly GMO.
Dogs are carnivores. They are designed to hunt prey and eat raw meat. Not soybeans, especially not GMO soybeans. Of course, dogs will eat this, if they get hungry enough. In fact, they will probably wolf it down, as their bodies search desperately for the vital nutrients that aren’t there. And just in case hunger is not enough, flavor-enhancing chemicals can be used to give a meaty flavor to this stuff. But that does not make it meat.
Come to think of it, soymeal and soybean oil, highly processed to remove the stench and horrible natural taste, are added to all sorts of foods made for humans. While we are omnivores, replacing meat with soy is a bad idea for us too.
In other words, processed soy is not fit for a dog—or humans either.
Would You Rather Eat Grassfed Hamburger or Soymeal?
The answer is very obvious, for most people. And almost all the people who would choose soymeal would do so because of their vegan or vegetarian beliefs, or because they are scared to eat red meat. But the reason that most humans would choose grassfed hamburger is because grassfed meat is one of the oldest and most traditional foods of humankind, a food that has nourished humankind for thousands of generations. In contrast, unfermented soy has been eaten for little more than one hundred years. And GMO soy did not even exist until the 1990s. All soy includes hormone-disrupting chemicals and other toxins, though traditionally fermented soy has much less.
To say that grassfed meat tastes better than unfermented soy is like saying water is wet. And grassfed meat and fat are full of valuable nutrients, and are not toxic. This wonderful meat provides many nutrients that our bodies crave, and make us healthier and stronger.
While the soy industry has planted all kinds of misinformation all over the Internet, trying to convince us that soy products have been eaten since the dawn of time, the truth is very different. Soy was first grown as a crop in China, thousands of years ago. This soy was not eaten at first. It was used to restore nitrogen to the soil, and would be alternated with food crops at various intervals. The fact that soy was not eaten or fed to animals tells us that the early Chinese knew it was not good to eat, as even this early, non-GMO soy had toxins, hormone disruptors, and smelled and tasted horrible. Eventually, the Chinese learned to ferment soy to make various foods. The traditional fermentation process reduced the toxins, and greatly improved the taste and smell. Even this fermented soy was only eaten in small amounts, and used mainly as a condiment and seasoning.
It was not until the twentieth century that the eating of unfermented soy really began. Industrial processing made it possible to extract large amounts of oil from soy. This oil could only be made by refining soybeans, and had never been eaten by humans before. At first it was used solely for industrial uses, but soon was used as an ingredient in processed food and as a cooking oil. The sludge left over after the oil was extracted was thrown out as smelly, slimy garbage. Then someone came up with the idea of adding this sludge to foods, as it does contain protein. This sludge is still the basis of most soy foods, though now it almost always GMO. Since this stuff is truly revolting in its natural state, it is highly processed and mixed with sweeteners and flavor enhancers. Unbelievably, soy products are marketed as “health foods.”
I choose grassfed hamburger.
Grassfed Meat and Organs Can Be Great for Dogs, and Humans
I have often written about how grassfed meat can help people recover from all kinds of injuries, including physical ones. This applies to dogs as well as people. My friend John Wood, a terrific grassfed farmer and the founder of U.S. Wellness Meats, learned this firsthand about four years ago. John’s dog, Buck, was severely injured in an accident. The Vet found a severely broken hip, and did not think Buck would ever recover. John did not give up. He put Buck on a diet of raw grassfed meat, grassfed liver, and grassfed marrow bones. There was no surgery. John also gave Buck a very high-quality liquid calcium magnesium supplement. After three months, Buck was completely recovered. X-rays showed that the hip had healed completely.
Does anyone really think that Buck would have been healed by eating canned soymeal?
I know a number of humans, including myself, who have rebuilt their bodies and health by eating grassfed meat. So, I say that grassfed meat is fit for a dog, and humans, as both species thrive on it.
I am not a veterinarian, and am not qualified to advise people on what to feed their dogs. But no one needs to be a vet to know that feeding dogs a vegetarian soy-heavy diet from a can just does not make sense.
I was about to roast a 100% organic chicken, from a brand I had never tried before. As I washed the chicken, it just did not look right to me. I got a funny feeling that there was something wrong with this chicken. But it was 100% organic. What could be wrong with it? I roasted the chicken in a way that should have turned out delicious. But it didn’t. The chicken did not taste good, and I had indigestion after eating it.
I went to the butcher who sold it to me, who worked for a large chain store, and complained about the taste and after effects of the chicken. The butcher, who I knew well, leaned close to me, and said quietly, “This company feeds a very high percentage of soy to their chickens. I hate the way they taste. I won’t eat them myself.”
That was the first time I learned what soy feeding could do to the taste and quality of meat. And since unfermented soy has always given me indigestion, I learned that the nasty qualities of soy could survive in the meat of animals that ate it.
But my experience was “anecdotal” and not a valid scientific study.
But now, I have learned that various scientific studies confirm my experience by reporting that the meat or eggs from animals fed soy contain soy toxins.
The best way to avoid soy toxins from meat is to JEG—just eat grassfed.
You Can Get Toxins from Second-Hand Soy
Some of the many toxins in soy are known as soy isoflavanones, and the soy industry claims they have “health benefits.” Based on the excellent book, The Whole Soy Story, by Dr. Kaayla Daniel, and my own subjective experience, I believe these substances are toxins, pure and simple.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to read an excellent article by Dr. Daniel, called Soy-ling of America: Second-Hand Soy from Animal Feeds, on the website of the Weston A. Price Foundation. I learned a lot from this article, which is the source of the data that this post is based on. My thanks to Dr. Daniel for graciously giving me permission to use information from her article.
Several studies were done that showed the presence of soy isoflavones in egg yolks and meat tissues. One study tested eighteen commercial brands of eggs to see which of them contained soy isoflavones. The study found that all eighteen brands of eggs contained soy isoflavones, even the organic and free-range varieties. One study found soy isoflavones in the meat of poultry.
While none of the studies addressed red meat, there is no reason to believe that soy isoflavones are not present in the meat of every animal fed soy.
What this means is that you can avoid every soy product, and still ingest soy toxins. They can be hidden in the meat and eggs of animals, and can cause the same sorts of problems that result from eating food that contains soy.
If you are one of the many people who are allergic to soy, it is important to realize that you can get soy just by eating meat or eggs from an animal who was fed soy. While I have seen no study on this, it is quite likely that you could also ingest soy toxins from farmed fish that were fed soymeal, which is a common feed for farmed fish. These facts are just as important to those of us who choose to avoid unfermented soy, or all soy.
How to Avoid Second-Hand Soy Toxins from Animals
So how do you avoid ingesting soy toxins from animal products? The obvious answer is to avoid eating the meat or eggs of animals or fish that have been fed soy feed. The problem is that the government does not require the labeling of soy feed in animal products, so there is no way to know if a particular conventional meat or egg comes from a soy-fed animal.
My rule is simple: just eat grassfed. Grassfed meat, raised and finished on grass alone, is fed no soy, and contains no soy toxins. You can avoid soy toxins in fish by just eating wild fish. Soy is not part of the natural diet of wild fish, obviously. I have been able to find eggs that are from chickens raised without soy feed, though they are more expensive. It is worth the extra expense, and they feel and taste much better.
And you can find chickens that are pastured and raised without soy feed. These chickens can be very expensive. I find that I do not eat much chicken these days, as I would much rather spend the money on grassfed red meat, which is so much more satisfying.
I recommend that you read Dr. Daniel’s article at the link given above, as it provides an excellent, detailed description of the problem. I am deeply grateful to Dr Daniel for her research on the dangers of soy, her excellent book, and her continuing efforts to expose the truth about this noxious substance, which has done so much harm to the health of humanity and our planet.
I am including a short bio provided by Dr. Daniel, for those who would like to know more about her and her work:
Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN, is The Naughty Nutritionist™ because of her ability to outrageously and humorously debunk nutritional myths. A popular guest on radio and television, she has been on The Dr Oz Show, ABC’s View from the Bay, NPR’s People’s Pharmacy and will appear this summer on PBS Healing Quest. Dr Daniel is the author of The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food, a popular speaker at Wise Traditions and other conferences, Vice President of the Weston A. Price Foundation and recipient of its 2005 Integrity in Science Award. Her websites are www.naughtynutritionist.com and www.wholesoystory.com.
July the Fourth is near, and that means barbecue. It is an old American tradition, and a most delicious one. Barbecues in America go all the way back to colonial times, where easy access to inexpensive meat and wood meant delicious grassfed feasts cooked with logs burned down to coals. Barbecues were huge social events, often drawing hundreds or even thousands of people, lured by the ancient pleasure of pastured and wild meat cooked with fire.
But today, many are afraid to barbecue, being concerned by studies that find that suspected carcinogenic substances are created by the barbecue process.
Not to worry. Even if these studies are accurate, you can avoid the cooking method that creates the suspect substances by using traditional techniques, which are perfect for cooking grassfed and pastured meats.
What the Studies Found
I was concerned by these studies, and I must admit I stopped barbecuing for awhile. But I really missed the wonderful flavor that can only come from real barbecue, so I decided to take a close look at the studies. I wanted to resolve this paradox. The healthy peoples studied by Dr. Weston A. Price nearly all barbecued most of their meat and fish, and they had no cancer, despite the modern studies stating that barbecuing created carcinogens. Just as puzzling was the fact that humans have been cooking with fire for uncounted thousands of years, yet cancer is a very modern disease, unknown among people eating a traditional diet. If cooking with fire created cancer, humanity might have died out a long time ago. There had to be another explanation.
I decided to start by looking at the raw data. The studies found that barbecuing created two substances that were believed to be carcinogenic. One substance was created by cooking meat over direct high heat, especially when the flames touched the meat. The second substance was created when fat from the meat dripped directly on to the heat source, which created a smoke that went into the meat.
The key is that these substances were created only when the meat was cooked directly over the heat source.
Traditional Barbecue Methods Avoid the Creation of Carcinogens
My next step was to study the barbecuing methods of traditional peoples, which I did. What I found was fascinating. Most traditional barbecue was never done directly over the heat source. This was true for most peoples all over the world, and over time. The meat was cooked in front of, never directly over the heat source. The meat was invariably cooked over a container to catch the drippings, which were used for basting and as a condiment. This meant that the meat was never cooked over direct high heat, and never touched by the flames. This also meant that fat never dripped into the fire.
There were some exceptions to this rule. Some traditional peoples grilled directly over the fire, but set the grill so high over the coals that the heat was gentle, and the flames never touched the meat. Some European cooks grilled directly over the fire. The people who wrote older cookbooks looked down on this practice, stating that it gave “a noisome stink” to the meat, or that it was the mark of a bad cook.
Some peoples cooked small pieces of heavily marinated meat over a small fire, but this was the exception. Even these people kept the heat of the fire low, and kept the flames from touching the meat. Interestingly enough, the studies found that marinating meat reduced the formation of the suspect substances by 90 percent or more.
In other words, the cooking method that creates the carcinogens was not used by most traditional peoples. Use their methods, and you will not create the potential carcinogens mentioned in the studies.
But What about the Smoke?
A number of articles have been published over the Internet that point out the toxins given off by burning wood. But this is not a problem in traditional barbecue. That is because the most common fuel was one hundred percent hardwood charcoal. Charcoal is made by burning wood under controlled conditions. The toxic chemicals burn off during the process, and are gone by the time the charcoal is made. This process goes back many thousands of years.
Barbecue experts and traditional peoples did not cook over blazing raw wood, but made sure to burn the wood down to coals before cooking. Burning the wood down to coals also burns off the toxic chemicals, which literally go up in smoke.
So you can avoid the toxins in raw wood smoke by using one hundred percent hardwood charcoal, or burning your wood down to coals. These are the most traditional ways of using wood for cooking.
How to Adapt the Tradition to Modern Barbecues
Cooking in front of, not over the fire, is very different from the way most Americans grill. Grilling over direct high heat results in the creation of the substances mentioned in the studies. I believe that this method was created to deal with the extra water in factory meat, which requires direct high heat to be somewhat palatable rather than grey and soggy.
But grassfed meat, including steaks and burgers, cooks beautifully in front of, not over the heat source. The meat is never scorched or charred, and picks up a wonderful flavor from the coals. You can avoid the risks and have a perfect cooking method for grassfed barbecue by cooking in front of, not over the heat source.
This cooking method is used in all the recipes in Tender Grassfed Barbecue, and is the method I use whenever I barbecue. This July 4th, we are going to enjoy a beautiful thick prime rib steak, cut from a beautiful grassfed roast we got from U.S. Wellness Meats. And we will enjoy without fear, following the tradition of our ancestors.