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Tender Grassfed Barbecue: Traditional, Primal and Paleo by Stanley A. Fishman
By Stanley A. Fishman
Link to Tender Grassfed Meat at Amazon
By Stanley A. Fishman

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DISCLOSURE AND DISCLAIMER

I am an attorney and an author, not a doctor. This website is intended to provide information about grassfed meat, what it is, its benefits, and how to cook it. I will also describe my own experiences from time to time. The information on this website is being provided for educational purposes. Any statements about the possible health benefits provided by any foods or diet have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

I do receive some compensation each time a copy of my book is purchased. I receive a very small amount of compensation each time somebody purchases a book from Amazon through the links on this site, as I am a member of the Amazon affiliate program.

—Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat

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Why I Prefer Traditional Foods and Cooking

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue

A traditional cast iron stove.

A traditional stove.

I was asked why I keep looking to the past for cooking inspiration. Modern technology and food science has developed faster and more efficient ways of raising and cooking food, innovations that are supposed to make everything better. Preserving food with chemicals prevents it from spoiling, and being wasted. Science has invented ways of extracting oil from plants that never were able to produce oil before, such as soy and corn. Scientific ways of raising cattle, with genetics, drugs, hormones, and feedlots, which cut the time it takes to bring a steer to market in half. And so many other new ways of doing things, that make the food traditions of the past obsolete.

I see it differently. Speed, efficiency, and innovation do not necessarily make food better. In fact, they often make it much worse, in my experience. These innovations are designed for profit, not for taste or nutrition.

And, to me, nutrition and taste are by far the most important aspects of food. Our ancestors also valued nutrition and taste above all. The food traditions of our ancestors have been passed down for hundreds and thousands of years, tested by every generation that used them. They became traditions because they enhanced nutrition and taste, and because they worked.

 

Traditional Foods vs. Modern Foods

Modern foods, grown and raised with a heavy dose of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, hormones, genetic modification, and feedlots, preserved through radiation and chemical preservatives, often flavored by chemicals, and designed for long shelf life and profit, are very different from the foods of our ancestors.

The traditional foods of humanity were developed over time, and eaten over many generations, so the ability to use and process these foods effectively was part of our ancestral heritage. These foods required rich soil, full of nutrients, to grow in; or rich pastures, also full of nutrients. Seafood was almost universally wild, with the nutrients of nature. Fertilizers and pest control methods were natural, using the products of nature, not a lab. These foods had a density and quality of nutrients that is rarely found today. And the wonderful natural taste of these foods, from nature, was much better than the taste of the factory foods used today.

Traditional foods were developed over many generations, raised in accordance with the laws of nature. They became traditional foods because they gave great nutrition to people, generation after generation.

Modern factory foods are a product of human technology, not nature. They have a very short history of use, and are developed for long shelf life and profit, not nutrition or taste.

I prefer to eat traditional foods, and am much healthier and happier when I do so.

 

Traditional Cooking vs. Modern Cooking

Modern cooking methods have been developed for speed, ease, and convenience. They have also been developed to enable people to cook factory foods, which are very different from traditional foods, and must often be cooked differently. Modern cooking equipment often uses methods that have never been used before in history, cookware from modern metals such as aluminum, non-stick cookware, and many other such innovations.

Traditional cooking methods consist of ways of preparing and combining foods that have been passed down from generation to generation, often going back thousands of years, often being slightly modified over time, yet essentially the same. They use the same cooking implements and techniques that humanity has used for thousands of years, many of which can easily be reproduced in an easier form by more modern methods. For example, an ordinary electric oven can bake and roast in much the same way as an ancient wood fire, especially when the temperatures are adjusted to mimic the temperature cycle of a fire burning down. Some techniques, such as frying meat in butter in a heavy cast iron pan, are essentially identical.

My books are devoted to recreating food traditions in a modern kitchen, especially the cooking of grassfed meat, and doing it the easy way.

I prefer traditional foods cooked in a traditional way, because it has been so much better for me in so many ways, and because it tastes so much better with an almost infinite number of time tested dishes to try and enjoy.

This post is part of Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday blog carnivals.

 

Eating the Whole Animal — Grassfed Beef Cheeks

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue

Beef Cheek Stew—melt in your mouth goodness.

Beef Cheek Stew—melt in your mouth goodness.

Every known hunting people, and most of our ancestors, would eat the entire animal, including all the organs, with the only exception being the parts that had other, more important uses. Like using sinew to make bows and bowstrings. This provided a huge variety of foodstuffs from a single animal, with the various parts containing different nutrients, textures, tastes, and great variety.

In modern times, we are told to eat only lean meat, from a limited selection of cuts. Most of the cuts served in restaurants and homes consist of lean meat, with all the visible fat trimmed off. For some people, the only meat they eat is boneless, skinless, factory chicken breasts, the most boring of meats—because it is “nutritionally correct.”

Our ancestors would have been surprised by this, as lean meat was their least valued cut, with some peoples actually reserving it for dog food. Cuts with lots of fat, and gelatin, such as organ meats and other areas of the animal, were preferred. These cuts had a much denser nutrient profile, full of the benefits of grassfed fat. And the gelatin contained in some cuts was highly prized, as it was known to help digestion and make strong bones.

This brings us to one of the traditional beef cuts, once highly prized, but now so neglected that most people have never tasted it—beef cheeks. Yes, they are cut from the facial area of the animal. And they look unusual, and fatty. And they are full of fat and gelatin. When properly cooked, they are tender, soft, easy to chew, and utterly delicious. They can literally melt in your mouth.

In the old days, when wise doctors used food to heal, beef cheek stews were prescribed to help with digestive problems. Some even recommended beef cheeks for those who were having problems with their face, such as recovering from an injury, or a skin problem. That is consistent with the line of traditional medicine that recommended eating the part of the animal that corresponded to the afflicted part of the human body, such as those doctors who prescribed beef heart for those suffering from heart problems.

But I must confess that the best part of beef cheeks are they wonderful texture and rich taste, when properly braised.

Cooking beef cheeks is easy. They can be slowly braised in a huge number of ways, with all kinds of flavorings and vegetables. Slowly cooked until easily pierced with a fork, they are wonderful. And the flavorful sauce you get is good beyond words. And cooking them can be as easy as placing ingredients in single pot and setting it to braise in a slow oven.

I am currently experiencing the joy of creating new beef cheek recipes, based on traditional food combinations. I love my work!

This post is part of Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday blog carnivals.

Beyond Broth—European Peasant Soup

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue

Classic European organic root vegetables for soup.

Classic European root vegetables for soup.

As I continue to write and research my upcoming book on traditional cooking, I kept running into the same fact. The use of homemade broth was universal across traditional Europe. This kind of broth, made from the bones, sinews, and meat scraps of pastured animals, and simmered slowly for a long time, at least twelve hours, is a nutritional powerhouse of minerals and other nutrients.

Yet I found something else. While this broth was often heated and sipped by itself, it was common to add other ingredients to make it into a soup. The variety of these soups was almost endless, yet certain ingredients were used over and over. These ingredients were used from Spain to Russia, and everywhere in between. These ingredients were always shredded or cut very small, in the traditional soups.

Since I believe that our ancestors combined ingredients for nutritional reasons, I decided to make a soup out of homemade broth and these widely used ingredients. I did so last night, to fend off the cold of an approaching winter, and to strengthen a body that was fighting something off. I was lucky, and feel that I found something so beneficial that it goes beyond broth in its benefits. The type of soup that European peasants made for themselves, to extract every bit of nutrition from the food they were able to get.

 

The Search

I have many traditional cookbooks. I have collected these books for over thirty years, and I have so many I am embarrassed to give the actual number. I began searching these books for soup recipes using these ingredients. I came across so many recipes that I could not decide, and they were all blending together in my head and thought. So I decided to go with the flow, and follow the thought I was having. A recipe began to form in my mind.

 

The Ingredients

Cabbage. Finely shredded cabbage was used in these kind of soups almost everywhere in Europe. I had learned that cabbage, both as sauerkraut and fresh cabbage, was heavily used in winter, and in much of the rest of the year. Fresh cabbage will keep a long time in a traditional root cellar, in cool or cold weather.

Carrots. Finely chopped carrots were another common ingredient. Carrots were also a universal ingredient of these types of soups.

Onion. The onion, valued since the days of ancient Egypt, was another universal ingredient. Except that the finely chopped onions were usually sautéed in some kind of animal fat as the first step in making the soup.

Fat. These soups almost always had some kind of fat that was used to sauté the onion, either bacon, or chicken fat, or butter, or salt pork, or ham fat, or olive oil, or others, depending on what was available.

Potato. The use of the potato in these soups was also almost universal. Potatoes were not introduced to Europe until the seventeenth century, at which point they replaced the previously ubiquitous turnip.

Salt and Pepper. Used by almost everyone to season the soup. Everyone had salt, and pepper was also common, though often not available for the poorer families.

 

The Cooking

I noticed that everyone cut these vegetables very small, shredding them or even cutting them into pieces the size of threads. I decided to settle for finely chopped vegetables.

I sautéed the onion in a medium sized saucepan with three tablespoons of butter. I then added a quart of homemade beef broth, cabbage, carrot, and a small potato, all finely chopped. I brought the mixture to a simmer, covered the pot, and simmered it for twenty minutes. The aroma of this soup, when I opened the lid, was fantastic.

 

The Eating

The soup was placed in large bowls. It was very hot, temperature wise, and we sipped it slowly. We added salt and pepper to taste. It was wonderful, nourishing, filling, warming. It was very filling. In fact, I felt that I was filling my body with easily absorbed nutrients, and I began to feel very good. By the time I had finished a bowl of soup, I felt very satisfied, totally warm, and healthy. The last traces of whatever illness I was fighting off disappeared. I woke this morning feeling completely fine, and immediately got to work on this post.

Our ancestors knew how to combine foods, how to get the nutrients into their bodies in beneficial combinations. Traditional cooking is not only delicious, but nourishing.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday blog carnivals.

How Real Food Really Heals

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue

Apricot picking 1

photo:

In our heavily medicated culture, we have been conditioned to believe that the way to get well is to have a doctor diagnose our illness, and prescribe a drug for it.

We then expect to take the drug, and get well. In many cases, we do not get well. The symptoms are relieved, and we get some immediate relief, but the underlying cause of the illness is not touched.

Many people who try to use food first for healing treat it like taking a drug. For example, people with a sore throat will take a honey vinegar drink, expecting it to act like a drug and provide immediate relief. Sometime it will, sometimes it will not. Sometimes the underlying condition will disappear. And sometimes it will not.

This is because the food we eat does not act like drugs. No food acts directly to cure an illness. Instead, the food provides various substances to our bodies. It is the natural functions of our bodies that use these substances to actually heal us.

So, if eating a particular real food does not help, it is likely that something else the body needs is missing.

Eating a diversified, wide ranging diet of real foods is our best chance of giving our bodies what they need to stay healthy. And, if we avoid chemicals that deceive our senses, like the flavor chemicals put in processed foods, our bodies may actually tell us what foods we need.

 

How Real Food Helps Us Heal

If you try to use food to help your body heal, eventually you will realize that some foods that help you one time, will not help the next. But some other foods may. This is because the content and chemistry of our bodies is constantly changing, and our natural functions have many different ways of resisting disease and healing us, only some of which are understood. From my own experience, and the reported experience of others that I know, and from the rare studies in this area, I believe that our bodies know how to heal most conditions. But they must have the right ingredients to perform these healings, which could also be viewed as “repair jobs.”

Some of these ingredients are produced by our bodies. But other ingredients can only be obtained from food. Our bodies also need the right substances from food to make the ingredients our bodies produce. The key is to eat the foods that our bodies need for our natural functions to work well.

 

So How Do We Know What Foods to Eat?

Our ancestral food traditions give us a lot of information. These traditions emphasize a huge variety of real foods, prepared and combined in many different ways.

But the best guide we have is the craving for a particular food. Our bodies know what foods we need to eat, and make us hungry for them. Our ancestors could trust these cravings. But most modern people cannot.

Factory food and chemicals deceive our natural sense of what is needed.

We cannot trust these cravings, if we eat processed food, or food with chemicals. That is because these foods have chemicals added to them that fool our bodies into believing that the food contains something it does not. Flavor enhancers do this, and chemicals that make people crave a certain factory food do this. Large amounts of refined sugar do this, as do chemical additives. It is like trying to see a path when you have been given hallucinogenic drugs.

The only way to get our cravings back on track is to eat only real food, with no added chemicals. Once we do this, our bodies can recover their natural abilities to know what to eat.

 

An Example

Some years ago, the skin on my fingertips was drying, peeling, and splitting. I ate a good diet, and I tried various natural remedies, but nothing helped. I did avoid all processed foods and foods with added chemicals .One day, I visited a wonderful organic farm, where the soil had never been sprayed with chemicals. Some apricots were for sale at that farm, and I felt an intense craving for them. I should mention that I never liked apricots. But I went with the feeling, and bought a large amount of these apricots. Once we got home, I began eating them in large quantities. They were delicious, and I loved eating them. They were gone in a few days, and so was my skin problem. It never returned.

Now, that was not just the apricots, but many of the other real foods I was eating at the time, combining to give the natural functions of my body the ingredients they needed to repair my body. But the apricots did provide the missing ingredient, whatever it was.

Now, I am not saying to stop using modern medicine. It can be very helpful, even lifesaving, especially in cases of trauma.

But I am saying that I have found that supporting the natural functions of my body with real food, avoiding all factory food, and listening to what my body wants has been very effective in keeping me healthy, and in healing conditions that the doctors could not help me with.

Disclaimer: Information found on the Tender Grassfed Meat site, including this article, is meant for educational and informational purposes only. Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods or anything else have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. None of the content on the Tender Grassfed Meat site should be relied upon for any purpose, and nothing here is a substitute for a medical diagnosis or medical treatment.

This post is part of Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday blog carnivals.

Diversity Matters — Especially in Food

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue

Farmers' markets are great places to find heirloom fruits and vegetables.

Farmers’ markets are great places to find heirloom fruits and vegetables.

We are taught to think of our modern, high-tech civilization as being much more advanced, wiser, and richer than anything that existed in the past.

When it come to machines, weapons, travel, and other mechanical areas, this is true (at least to the extent of our culture’s knowledge). We are much richer in these things than our ancestors were.

But when it comes to food—the real food that our bodies need to thrive—we are paupers. Our ancestors were the rich ones. They regularly ate hundreds of varieties of meats, vegetables, nuts, fruits, grains, milk products, and other foods, but we have far fewer to choose from. And where our ancestors’ food was chosen for taste and nutrition, our food is usually chosen for profit, cheapness, appearance, and shelf life.

 

Traditional Food

I have studied the traditional cooking of our ancestors from all over the world. I have read hundreds of books and many articles, and I am still learning.

And one of the most important things I learned was how much our ancestors valued diversity in the foods they ate, whenever they had a choice. People did not limit themselves to factory beef and chicken breasts, but ate many different kinds of meat, heritage varieties of pigs, chickens, duck, geese, squab, cattle, sheep, lambs, calves, water buffalo, bison, rabbits, a vast variety of fish and seafood, and a huge variety of wild game. Produce was only eaten in season. There were dozens if not hundreds of varieties of almost every fruit and vegetable, that were regularly eaten. During the winter, people relied on certain root vegetables, such as cabbage.

Traditional meals included a huge variety of ingredients. For example, the traditional English breakfast included a number of different kinds of meat and fish, often fermented (such as sausage) or salted, along with eggs, breads, and a variety of condiments. The Russian custom of serving appetizers before a meal could include dozens of different items, all kinds of meat and fish and vegetables and small dishes, as did the Scandinavian Smorgasbord. And this was not just the custom of the rich, but also the practice of middle class families and prosperous farmers. Even ordinary working folks enjoyed a great variety of seasonal foods.

The different varieties of food were prized for their taste and nutritional qualities. Food that looked good tasted good, and tasty food was widely believed to be healthier.

 

Modern Food

Modern food was developed for profit. This meant focusing on the foods that had a long shelf life, and foods that looked good so people could buy them. The replacement of small farmers by huge factory farms meant concentrating on only the most profitable foods, that had the longest shelf life.

The chemical industry became a crucial part of this change, as chemicals could preserve the appearance of food, and chemicals could make even mediocre quality food taste good. The number of varieties of food available to us is now but a tiny fraction of the bounty available to our ancestors. These factory varieties are available all year long, but their taste and nutrition leave much to be desired.

My father grew up in Canada, before its food system was industrialized. He enjoyed a huge variety of the wonderful natural foods raised on the Canadian Prairie—wonderful meats, an endless variety of berries, fish, and vegetables—all grown and served in season.

After he immigrated to the U.S., he was delighted to see beautiful tomatoes available all year round in the supermarkets. Until he tasted them. He could never understand how something that looked so good could be so tasteless and have such a horrible texture—like soggy cardboard.

I could go on for a thousand pages, or more, but I will simply say that our ancestors were much richer in real, life-sustaining food than we are, in endless varieties that we no longer have.

What we can do is support small farmers raising traditional foods like grassfed beef, heirloom vegetables, real milk, and by buying as much as we can from them. As much as possible, avoid purchasing factory food.

This may be more trouble, but the taste of heirloom vegetables and fruits and pastured meat is superior. And the wonderful benefits I and my family have enjoyed in improved health and nutrition—are more than worth it.

This post is part of Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday blog carnivals.

The Hippocratic Alternative — Food

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue

Bust of Hippocrates, the great healer.

Hippocrates, the great healer.

With the current controversy over medical insurance, our nation seems fixated on drugs and medical treatment as being the only way to maintain health. No doubt drugs and medical care can be necessary under certain circumstances, especially trauma.

But they are not the only way to stay healthy, under normal circumstances. The most famous and successful physician of ancient times, Hippocrates of Kos, had a very different approach.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

 

Modern Medicine

Modern medicine has a one-size-fits-all approach to disease. Every patient who is diagnosed with a particular disease is supposed to receive the same treatment. One size fits all. Often the same dose of drugs is prescribed with no regard for the body weight of the patient.

Usually, food is never even considered when treating illness. Drugs are the treatment of choice, though surgery is often used. The majority of treatments used for most illnesses are not even designed to cure the disease, but to help the patient “manage” the disease, by suppressing the symptoms. Many people have bad reactions to various drugs, called “side effects.” This can result in the prescription of yet another drug, which could have bad effects on the patient, which could lead to the prescription of yet another drug.

According to the Mayo clinic, and to CBS news, 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug. And many of these people take several prescription drugs. This statistic does not even consider over the counter drugs, which are also widely used.

Yet this huge amount of drug use has not resulted in good health for the American population.

Let me make this clear. Modern medicine can achieve some amazing results, such as reattaching severed fingers and limbs, and saving the lives of those who have suffered trauma. Yet in many instances, it “manages” rather than cures.

 

Hippocratic Medicine

Hippocrates had a very different approach. Greek medicine of his time was far more advanced than most people realize, and did use drugs and surgery. Contemporary Greek writings show that Greek citizens led long lives, often recovered from serious wounds, and were expected to put on heavy armor and fight in brutal hand-to-hand combat when needed, even into their seventies. Great emphasis was placed on personal cleanliness, and Greek doctors were very skilled at disinfecting and treating battle wounds, and many other injuries. They had many medications, compounded from plants and other substances, and were skilled at performing many kinds of surgeries.

Hippocrates was the most successful doctor of his time, and became famous. He became so famous that he was asked to come to Athens to stop a plague that was killing many people while the city was under siege. Hippocrates cured the plague, and ended the epidemic, by, among other things, getting the people to boil their drinking water.

Yet Hippocrates believed in treating most illness with what he called “regimen,” using food, exercise, massage, sleep, and relaxation as the treatments of choice. Only if these methods failed, or if the patient was incapable of using them, would drugs be used. Surgery would be done only if there was no alternative. Each patient was considered to be a unique individual, and the treatment would be customized for the unique condition of each patient. Hippocrates had great success in using these methods.

Many Greek physicians resisted his methods, because, then, as now, it was much more profitable to use drugs and surgeries.

This led Hippocrates to create new moral standards for physicians, placing the welfare of the patient before the profit of the doctor. These standards were set forth in the oath he created for doctors, the famous Hippocratic Oath.

In the 1930s, Dr. Weston A. Price studied many peoples who were eating the traditional diets of their ancestors. In every case, these people had perfect teeth, and none of the chronic diseases that plague our culture. This research is direct proof of Hippocrates’ belief that food was the best way to prevent and treat many illnesses.

 

What We Can Learn from Hippocrates

Modern medicine is too focused on drugs, radiation, and surgery as the only way to treat illness. I believe we could greatly drive down the cost of medical care, and be a much healthier nation, if doctors were actually trained in the Hippocratic methods of healing, and were required to be just as familiar with the healing effects of real food as they are with drugs. In fact, our whole society needs to relearn and use the benefits of eating real food, rather than modern factory foods.

Many individuals have reported enjoying good health and curing all kinds of illness just by eating the right foods, and avoiding the wrong foods.

We can still use modern medical methods when needed, but I believe they would be needed far less often, if our population was well nourished, and if doctors used Hippocratic regimen as the treatment of choice (when possible).

We would also have more success if we abandoned the “one-size-fits-all” approach, and treated each patient as a unique individual.

Finally, we need to return to the moral standards set down by Hippocrates. The main motive of doctors should be to heal people, not to make money. People who are mainly concerned with making money should go elsewhere. People who truly want to heal should be the doctors. The welfare of the patient must come before the profit of the doctor.

This post is part of Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday blog carnivals.

The Joy of a Traditional Meal

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue

In our modern, “advanced” culture, eating is often a burden. We are taught to fear our food, and avoid many foods that our bodies crave and need. Everyone is busy, and meals are often gulped down quickly after being “nuked” in a microwave.

Most of our ancestors viewed meals as being of great importance, and tried to arrange a pleasant, happy setting to eat and enjoy the real food they valued.

 

Modern Eating

The need to get to work or school at an early hour often means a hurried breakfast, gulped down quickly. The time allowed for lunch at work or school is usually short, and eating lunch is often a race against the clock. People are busy in the evening as well, and the time available for cooking and eating dinner is often limited. It is common for people living in the same family to eat at different times. Most people do not know how to cook, and meals often come from a package nuked in the microwave, or consist of takeout from a restaurant. Upset stomachs and digestive ailments are common. Many people try to relieve this discomfort by gulping pills, which only masks the problem, at best.

Of course, many of these problems come from the poor quality of factory food. But the fear of food and the race to hurry through a meal are huge factors as well.

 

Traditional Eating

Our ancestors would have been appalled by this modern way of eating. To most of them, meal time was a carefully conducted ritual, where healthy natural foods were enjoyed without fear or hurry, where every custom was designed to bring harmony and joy to the table. Discussing the taste and quality of the food being enjoyed was a tradition, and it was usually forbidden to argue or raise controversial subjects at the table. Being friendly and courteous was expected. Everyone was expected to do their part to create and sustain a pleasant atmosphere while eating. The cook was praised and complimented for the good food prepared, and thanks for the food was often given before eating began.

There was a definite purpose behind the ritual of a pleasant meal. It was considered absolutely necessary for the food to be properly digested. Our ancestors knew there was more to digestion than cramming food into their mouths.

Our ancestors did not need studies to tell them that eating a delicious meal in harmony , peace, and happiness was important for digestion, and the absorption of nutrients, and they were absolutely right. Modern research has confirmed that stress, hurry, and rushing through meals impairs digestion, and often results in stomach problems, with a variety of unpleasant symptoms.

It is not enough to have good food, it must be properly cooked, eaten in relaxed, pleasant circumstances, and deeply appreciated. This is the time-honored way to help our bodies process the nutrients in food. The importance of having pleasant surroundings as an aid to digestion, and to avoid conflict or stress while eating was mentioned by many ancient, medieval, and pre-twentieth century writers. While circumstances such as war or famine could prevent the tradition of a happy meal from taking place, a peaceful meal of great real food was the ideal, and almost everyone tried to make it happen when circumstances would allow it.

Having a pleasant meal of great real food is a challenge in our modern, hurried culture. But it can be done. I select the best real food I can find, without extravagant cost. I cook from scratch, using only real food. If eating out, I select the most real food from what is available. Wherever I am at mealtime, I do my best to relax, think happy thoughts, and focus on eating and enjoying the food, and the company of the people I am with. I try to maintain a pleasant discussion as we eat, and to focus on the good things in my life. I do not rush when I eat, as I believe it is better to eat at a pleasant pace, even if time is short, even if I might not finish the food.

When I can influence the time available to eat, I do the best I can. Then with the invaluable help of my family, we arrange delicious real food, in pleasant surroundings, without hurry or worry.

I know for a fact that the wonderful feeling of well being I usually get after eating is due not only to the good real food, but to the happy pleasant atmosphere in which it is enjoyed.

Our ancestors were right about this, in my view. This kind of meal is a happy, wonderful experience, and I highly recommend it.

This post is part of Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday  and Fight Back Friday blog carnivals.

Photo credit

Cooking—The Most Important Skill

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue

Click on this photo to see photos of home-cooked recipes from Tender Grassfed Meat.

Click on this photo to see photos of home-cooked recipes from Tender Grassfed Meat.

Your first reaction to the title of this post might be, “What!? Cooking is important?”

That is typical of a culture that no longer values cooking, one of the oldest and most vital human skills. In fact, two-thirds of American adults know almost nothing about cooking, and never cook. To these folks, cooking means heating up an already prepared product in the microwave, or warming up takeout that has gotten cold.

Suppose you had the power to create an almost magical medicine that had no side effects, yet gave you strong bones, powerful muscles, strength, stamina, great vision and hearing, a happy optimistic viewpoint, a clear mind that can focus on anything, a great memory, an immune system so strong that you almost never get sick?

Suppose this power and this medicine brought great happiness and pleasure to all who used it?

Would you want this power?

Well, you can learn this power, and make that medicine.

The power is cooking, and the “medicine” is real food.

 

The Power of Real Food

Nothing affects the health of our bodies as much as the food we eat. Our bodies are made of the food we eat. Our bodies use the food we eat to repair themselves, to run the natural functions of the body, and to get energy. We need the right kinds of food, and enough of it. If people do not have enough food, they die. If people do not get enough good real food, their health deteriorates and they become vulnerable to all kinds of diseases.

Doctors and hospitals can be very good for traumatic injuries, and some very serious conditions, yet their drugs and surgeries and radiation cannot keep our bodies healthy.

Only food can do that.

Hippocrates, the most famous of doctors, said it best:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

In ancient times, and actually until the twentieth century, most food was real, and grown and produced in accordance with the laws of nature. Countless generations of humans had eaten this kind of food, and our bodies adapted to using it. The main problem was getting enough of it, and obtaining certain foods that could be hard to get.

In modern America today, most of the food has been raised with chemicals, and has been altered. Fruits and vegetables are grown in poor soil with the use of chemical fertilizers. Produce has been altered to have a longer shelf life and better appearance, at the cost of taste and nutrition. Meat animals are fed substances unnatural to them, that cause the very composition of their fat and meat to change. Antibiotics, growth hormones, and other drugs are used to cause meat animals to grow faster.

Humans have never eaten this kind of modified food before the twentieth century.

Real food is the unmodified food of our ancestors, grown in good soil, or grazed on good grass, without the use of chemicals. It is what our bodies know how to process, and we thrive on it. But it is not enough to just buy real food. You have to know how to cook it.

 

The Magic of Cooking

The art of cooking transforms produce and meat into almost magical creations that give our bodies the nutrition they so desperately need, and create great pleasure for the people who eat a well cooked meal. You cannot get this kind of food in a can or microwavable container. You can almost never get it in a restaurant. But you can learn how to cook it. You can create the magical “medicine” advocated by Hippocrates, which can keep your body healthy and functioning perfectly.

Our ancestors knew this, and knew what foods to eat, and how to combine foods to sustain life and health. Much of this knowledge has been lost, yet much has been preserved. My major motive in writing my cookbooks, Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue, has been to rediscover and preserve some knowledge of how to cook grassfed meat, perhaps the oldest and most valued food of humanity. Learning how to cook and eat this meat and other real foods healed all the problems that modern medicine could not help me with.

I am an attorney, yet cooking real food is my most valuable skill, without a doubt.

This post is part of Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, and Fight Back Friday blog carnivals.

 

The Elephant, the Blind Men, and Food Science

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue

Partial data is misleading.

Partial data is misleading.

The United States established national nutrition standards in the early days of World War II. The reason for establishing these standards was simple, yet of great concern. Approximately 15% of potential military recruits were physically unfit for service.

The government correctly determined that the problem was malnutrition. Thus, the national nutrition standards were established, based on scientific research. These standards have been revised several times over the years, based on more scientific research.

American institutions, the medical profession, the nutrition profession, and society in general tried to follow these standards, and many people did.

The result? Today, in 2013, 75% of potential military recruits were physically unfit for service.

In other words, the percentage of recruits unfit for service has risen from 15% to 75%!

Since the purpose was to improve the health of military recruits, the national nutrition standards are a miserable failure, by any measure.

How could this happen?

 

The Dangers of Partial Information

The problem with food science is that it is based on partial information. There is much about food and how it interacts with the body that has not yet been discovered. Partial knowledge can be very misleading.

The problem was perfectly described in a very old tale from India, one that goes back thousands of years. There are several versions, but this one will do.

Six wise men, who had much knowledge, had never seen an elephant. All of them were blind. They went to examine an elephant to decide what it was. Since they were blind, they had to rely on touch.

One wise man fell against the side of the elephant, and stated that the elephant was like a wall.

The second wise man grasped the tusk of the elephant, and declared the elephant was like a spear.

The third wise man felt the squirming trunk of the elephant, and declared that the elephant was like a snake.

The fourth wise man felt one of the legs of the elephant, and stated the elephant was like a tree.

The fifth wise man touched the ear of the elephant, and declared that the elephant was like a fan.

The sixth wise man touched the tail of the elephant, and declared that the elephant was like a rope.

All of their conclusions were reasonable, based on the data they had, and all of them were wrong.

Before one can determine the truth of something, one must be able to perceive the whole of it.

Food science has never had more than partial information on food, nutrition, and digestion, and has come up with conclusions that are often wrong, because the data is partial.

 

An Example of How Partial Knowledge Leads to Serious Errors

Back in the mid-twentieth century, food scientists reached a consensus that saturated fat was bad for health, and unsaturated fat was good. Since most saturated fat came from animal sources, and most unsaturated fat came from vegetable sources, the scientists claimed that vegetable oils should be used instead of animal fats. This recommendation was adopted by the authorities and institutions, and most people adopted it as well.

But these scientists did not know of the existence of omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. We now know that these acids must be in a particular ratio, one that occurs naturally in the fat of wild fish and grassfed animals. There is much scientific evidence that an oversupply of omega-6 fatty acids is very bad for the body, causing inflammation, and contributing to inflammatory diseases like heart disease, cancer, and many others. More omega-3 fatty acids are found in saturated fat, while unsaturated fat is made up mainly of omega-6 fatty acids. Most vegetable oils have far too many omega-6 fatty acids, and are out of balance.

The scientists who recommended vegetable oil over animal fats did not even know that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids existed, let alone how crucial the balance was. This is very much like the blind wise men and the elephant.

The harm that was created by this partial knowledge is immense, as there is no telling how many millions of people got serious inflammatory illnesses because they followed this bad research. We do know that the occurrence of these diseases has increased enormously over time.

For example, 3000 people died from heart attacks in the U.S. in 1930. But, in 2004, 876,000 people died from heart attacks in the U.S.

 

The Wisdom of the Ancestors—the Research of Dr. Price

I am not condemning valid, unbiased, well conducted scientific research. It can be invaluable. There is no doubt, though, at this time, scientific knowledge of food and its interaction with the body is only partial, and cannot be relied on in all areas.

But we have an alternative. Our ancestors (especially those peoples who were healthy) had cuisines and food combinations based on thousands of years of experience, passed down over the centuries from father to son, from mother to daughter. I try to eat according to these traditions, and to eat unmodified foods that were similar to what they ate. I have had great success, and so have most of the people I know who follow this path. Dr. Weston A. Price showed the way, with his study of traditional peoples who were free from tooth decay and modern disease, and we can follow his path.

This post is part of  Fat Tuesday and Real Food Wednesday blog carnivals.

Nourish the Terrain with Real Food

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue

These pastured eggs with their deep orange yolks are a wonderful example of real food.

These pastured eggs with their deep orange yolks are a wonderful example of real food.

A debate between two nineteenth century French researchers ended up creating the core belief of the modern medical system.

Nearly everyone has heard of Louis Pasteur, but very few have heard of Claude Bernard.

Modern medicine is built on the germ theory proposed by Pasteur. Yet there is mounting evidence that Bernard, who had a different theory, was correct. In fact, Pasteur was reported to have blurted out the words “Bernard is right!” shortly before he died. The medical profession and mainstream scientific establishment claim that Pasteur never said this.

Why is the controversy still important? Because the modern medical system, built on the Pasteur theory of germs being the cause of most disease, fails many people. Some of those people who found no help from conventional medicine turned to the Bernard theory without even knowing it, and restored their health.

With one important addition—eating real food.

I am one of those people, and I know many others.

 

The Two Theories

Most people are familiar with the germ theory of disease advocated by Pasteur. This theory claims that most illness is caused by germs, tiny organisms like bacteria and viruses. Since these organisms are the cause of illness, the way to cure illness is to kill the germs. This can aggressively be done through medication, sanitation, radiation, and other methods outside the natural defenses of the body.

In fact, the symptoms of disease are attacked by outside interventions such as surgery, drugs, and radiation—all aimed at killing the organisms that are blamed for the disease. This approach, which is the cornerstone of modern medicine, often does great harm to the patient, and often fails to cure them.

It can work, but it is common for the symptoms to return at a later date.

Bernard believed that the most important part of defeating disease was what he called “the terrain.”

The terrain is the body of the patient, and the natural functions of that body. Bernard taught that the body is full of bacteria, which are benign and helpful if the body is working properly. But if the body becomes weakened, or injured, or malnourished, some of these bacteria change and become dangerous, causing disease.

To Pasteur, killing the pathogens through outside intervention was the way to heal. To Bernard, strengthening the “terrain,” the body, enabled the body to heal itself, creating a condition where the bad bacteria became benign and helpful again.

 

What We Know Now

We know that killing outside germs through basic hygiene helps prevent disease. Yet we also know that the body needs beneficial bacteria to live, and killing too many of these bacteria has bad effects on the body, and they are often replaced with harmful organisms.

We know that antibiotics and other aggressive medical interventions can relieve symptoms, but they usually fail to treat the cause of the symptoms, which often return at a later date.

Yet we also know that many people who have no medical intervention recover from every kind of illness, and often do not see the symptoms return.

 

My Experience, and the Role of Food

I have had many illnesses over most of my life. I have had a lot of medical treatment for various conditions. At first, the treatment relieved the symptoms. But my body became weaker from the prescription drugs and other treatments. After some time, the symptoms always returned, and I would need more treatment. Eventually, I reached a point where the medical interventions did not work.

What saved me was an unwitting turn toward Bernard’s theory. I strengthened my body by switching to real food, and avoiding toxins. The real food and grassfed meat gave my body the nutrition it needed to function properly. As my terrain became stronger and stronger, I became healthier and healthier. I have not needed any medical intervention in over ten years.

I do practice hygiene, which gives my body less to fight off, and I believe there is a proper place for medical intervention when it is truly needed. But the best path I have found for myself is to nourish my terrain by avoiding toxins, including dangerous bacteria, and eating real food only. That way, the natural functions of my body keep it healthy. Many of my friends in the real food movement have had a similar experience.

This post is part of Fat Tuesday and  Real Food Wednesday blog carnivals.

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