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Tender Grassfed Barbecue: Traditional, Primal and Paleo by Stanley A. Fishman
By Stanley A. Fishman
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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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A Magnificent Roast — Grassfed and Fatty

A magnificent grassfed prime rib barbecued on a pellet grill with oak pellets.

A magnificent grassfed prime rib.

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

Our ancestors prized the fat in meat. Humans have raised beef cattle on grass for thousands of years, and they always tried to raise them to be fatter. Incredible breeds were developed over the centuries, cattle that fattened well on good grass and provided tender, delicious, meat; full of the nutritional benefits of grassfed fat. This beef was prized and loved.

Then two events happened that denied most of us access to this wonderful meat.

The first, starting mainly after World War II, was the widespread adoption of fattening cattle on grain, starting out with corn grown by artificial fertilizer, then leading to the use of soybeans and other substances, and resulting in a system where most cattle were taken from the pasture and sent to a feedlot to be fattened with foods that were never part of their natural diet. This resulted in a change of the very composition of the fat of the animals, and a great decline in taste.

The second was the false belief, almost universally held to be true, that eating animal fat increased cholesterol levels in the blood, causing heart disease. We now know, from extensive research, that this was never true. But this false belief led to the demonization of all animal fat. Meat was routinely trimmed of all visible fat, and leaner meats were widely claimed to be healthier.

When I started eating grassfed beef, and learned how to cook it, I was amazed at how good it tasted, and how much better I felt after eating it. Yet I immediately ran into the problem that grassfed meat providers trimmed most if not all of the fat off the meat, and most tried to make  a selling point of how lean their meat was.

This began a constant struggle to try to get grassfed meat with more fat in it, and more fat on it, a struggle that continues to this day. Throughout this period, I had one solid, superb meat supplier, and I was able to get fattier grassfed meat from them, and it was wonderful. Yet I was unable to get an old style grassfed roast, with a thick cap of its own glorious fat, and ample marbling. Until recently.

This raw grass-fed prime rib has a thick fat cap that will flavor tenderize the meat.

This raw grassfed prime rib has a thick fat cap that will flavor and tenderize the meat.

Note the beauty of the raw prime rib roast in the photo above. That is a magnificent piece of grassfed meat. The tiny steaks of white fat in the meat are called marbling, and the flavor and tenderness they provide to a roast when they melt into the meat has to be tasted to be understood. The thick cap of natural fat covering the roast is known as the fat cap, and it melts over and into the meat as it cooks, basting it, and making it even more tender and delicious, and preventing the meat from drying out.

This is a roast that our ancestors would have appreciated, the kind that was recommended and celebrated in older cookbooks.

The photo at the top of the page shows the same roast, after it was cooked, just prior to being carved and enjoyed. The photo shows the beauty of the roast, but it cannot recreate the wonderful aroma, the tenderness of the absolutely delicious meat, the feeling of joy and satisfaction as it was tasted. It felt so right, so familiar, somehow. The roast was marinated with a combination of four traditional ingredients, all of which helped bring out its superb natural flavor, and slow roasted on a pellet barbecue using oak as the wood. Very easy, very simple, utterly tender and delicious.

I recommend cooking a roast this fatty, medium rare (to around 130 degrees), rather than rare. This allows the fat to melt into the meat, which gives it that characteristic prime rib flavor and tenderness.

The success and popularity of the Ketogenic movement, which appreciates the value of good fat, is making fatty grassfed meat more popular.

One of the secrets of great cooking is to get great ingredients. This roast was obtained from my favorite meat supplier, U.S. Wellness Meats. If you want to try it, here is the link. Be sure to ask for a “high fat prime rib” in the Note section of your order.

I will not receive any compensation if you order this roast.

I am disclosing once again that I have a long and excellent relationship with U.S. Wellness Meats, going back eleven years. They were the first provider to sell me grassfed meat that I could make tender, and I have ordered regularly from them ever since. The founder of U.S. Wellness, John Wood, encouraged me to write my first grassfed cookbook, and bought a number of copies when it first came out, and sold and helped publicize the book. I am proud to call him my friend, and I have other friendships with some great people in the organization. They still sell both of my books, which they purchase from me.

That said, our relationship would never have been close if they had not provided me with so much excellent meat, over so many years. And the photos speak for themselves.

 

Saving a Heritage Ham

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

Notice the smoke ring around the edges of the heritage ham, now that I marinated it and smoked it with pork fat.

Notice the smoke ring around the edges of the heritage ham, after I marinated it and smoked it with pork fat.

The marketing was effective, I must admit. It even convinced me. A large boneless ham, raised on a small farm, from a heritage breed, cured in a traditional manner, smoked over hickory wood. And at a bargain price! The ham was fully cooked, which meant I could reheat it slowly in a low oven. Easy.

When the ham arrived, and was thawed, I started to take off the reddish brown wrap. As I started to remove it, I realized that the wrap was clear. The ham itself was covered with a dried coating, reddish brown in color, which had the consistency of sawdust glued together. Netting lines were deeply sunk all over the ham, from the netting that was used when it was hung to smoke.

I began to realize that the coating around the ham was the ham itself, what the outside of the roast had turned into, with not a single shred of fat in evidence. In mounting horror, I came to realize that all fat had been trimmed off the ham before smoking. With no fat to keep it moist, the ham had dried out in the smoking process, and lost most of its moisture. I stuck a fork in the ham, it met a lot of resistance. The meat was tough.

I sliced off a small outside piece of the ham and tasted it. The outside meat tasted terrible, with a horrid texture of sawdust. The interior meat was dry, so dry. Hardly any smoke flavor. Chewy, not tender at all. Not good. But there was a hint of a good pork flavor in there.

My family was expecting a nice meal. I decided to save the ham.

A plan was needed. I decided to cover the ham in organic apple juice, and marinate it for a few hours. This should add moisture and flavor. Then, I would add fat and heat it slowly in front of a smoky barbecue fire, at very low heat. This would add the smoke flavor it should have had. And I would restore the fat to the meat, by putting some sliced pork fat from another roast over the top of the ham.

I did not know if this would work, but I was going to give it my best.

But first, that sawdust-like outer coating had to be trimmed off and discarded. I took a sharp knife and trimmed the whole thing, getting off every scrap of the outside. I placed the ham in a glass bowl, poured the apple juice over it, and set it to marinate.

A couple of hours later, I stated a barbecue fire, using some hickory. I brought the temperature up to about 225 degrees. I placed the ham on a rack in a pan, covered the top with sliced pork fat, and set it to smoke. Several hours later, I boiled down the apple juice used for the marinade, until three-quarters of the liquid was gone, and used it to baste the ham occasionally. I was encouraged when I stuck a fork into the meat—it felt much more tender than before. I continued cooking until the roast had been reheated.

Then I started slicing it in the dining room. The knife glided easily through the tender meat. There was a wonderful wood smoke smell. The ham was moist, tender, and so delicious that it was hard to stop eating it. A disaster had become a wonderful meal. The inherent wonderful flavor of the heritage pork had been unlocked deliciously, once fat and moisture had been restored.

This post is part of Fat Tuesday blog carnival.

 

What We Can Learn from a Traditional Dish that No One Will Make

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

Free Sheep Grazing for Wool in New Zealand

photo:

I have spent a lot of time reading old descriptions of traditional food. Some of these recipes are so different from how we cook today that they may never be made again. Yet we can learn from them.

One such recipe was a Mongol dish that was described by Medieval Chinese food writers, who called it “Grab Your Own Lamb.”

 

How to Cook Grab Your Own Lamb

The ingredients could not be simpler. A single young lamb, gutted, with the head, wool, hooves, everything, left on.

Some large rocks that would not crack from heat were heated in a hot fire. That is, the rocks were placed in the fire, and kept there until they were literally red hot, glowing with their own heat.

Then the rocks were removed from the fire with tongs, and placed in the cavity of the gutted lamb. The cavity was sewn closed with sturdy twine, and the cooks and guests waited for it to be done.

First, the wool would burn off. I think the smell of burning wool might have been very bad. When all the wool had burned off, from the interior heat, the skin would start to crisp. At some point after this, the lamb would be considered ready.

The meat was so tender that the diners would serve themselves by literally pulling the lamb apart with their hands, and grabbing the pieces they wanted. The Chinese food writers wrote that this lamb was one of the most delicious things you could possibly eat.

 

A Warning

I would never try this myself. Heating rocks until they are red hot could be very dangerous, leading to serious injury or worse, or fires if something goes wrong. Even heating the wrong rock could result in an explosion that would send red hot pieces of rock flying in all directions. The Mongol cooks were experts in using this method. I believe those skills have long been lost.

 

Why Was It So Good?

At the time of the writing, Chinese food was heavily seasoned and spiced, meat was eaten in small quantities, and was often cut into small pieces and stir-fried, lamb was almost never eaten, and the center of most meals was the featured grain, either rice or wheat. The prevailing attitude in China was that only Chinese cooking was worth eating, and all other cuisines were inferior. In other words, “Grab Your Own Lamb” was as un-Chinese a dish as you could possibly find.

So why did the Chinese writers love it so much?

I think it was the bones and the fat, cooked right into the meat.

I am just guessing here, but it is based on my experience in cooking much smaller pieces of meat on the bone, with the fat.

Cooking the lamb whole, with all its bones and fat, meant that substances from the bones and fat would cook right into the meat, helping it become more tender, adding incredible flavor, and greatly increasing the nutritional value of the meat. This provided so much flavor that no spices were needed.

 

What We Can Learn

I recently made a small roast from a very fatty piece of grassfed meat, which I was able to get with all the fat left on. I barbecued it with no seasoning other than the smoke of the fire. Unbelievably tender and delicious, and we felt so good after eating it. I have had even better results when I could get the fat and the bone.

Cooking meat on the bone, with the fat, provides incredible flavor, tenderness, and nutrition.

This post is part of Fat Tuesday blog carnival.

Photo credit epSos .de

Enjoy the Thanksgiving Feast Without Fear

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

Classic roast turkey with it's delicious skin.

Classic roast turkey with its delicious skin. Credit

When a holiday approached, our ancestors, all over the world, anticipated the feast with great joy, happiness, and anticipation. The feast would be prepared by skilled cooks, from the best traditional foods available, and would provide a happy time where everyone would enjoy the fun, happiness, satisfaction and joy of sharing a special great meal.

Yet in modern America, the approach of the holiday feasts is cluttered with a blizzard of cautionary articles, posts, and warnings that could ruin the joy of any meal. Avoid fat, avoid eating too much, avoid gaining weight, avoid eggs in the stuffing, avoid the skin on the turkey, avoid cooking the stuffing in the bird, avoid calories, avoid, avoid AVOID!

In other words, avoid the traditional joy of the feast and worry about what you eat, even on the holidays.

Most of the people who have lived on this earth would be puzzled by this kill-joy attitude.

I advocate enjoying the holiday feasts, and the traditional dishes that have been used to celebrate them.

 

The Claim that Animal Fat Is Bad for Us Has Been Debunked

Most of the fear of the feast is based on fear of fat. This fear is based on the debunked belief that animal fat is always bad for us. This is just not true, as documented in the book The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, and many other credible sources, including articles in the New York Times and Time magazine.

 

My Thanksgiving Plans

I have seen ads for Thanksgiving which featured mounds of different kinds of steamed vegetables. I have seen vegetarian “roasts” made mostly of soy, in the shape of a turkey. I have read articles advocating roasting a turkey breast instead of a turkey, with the skin to be trimmed off and discarded before serving. None of these things are traditional, and none of them are for me.

Instead, we will have a traditional Thanksgiving feast, including:

  • Roast whole pastured turkey, brined in my secret apple brine, and basted repeatedly with pastured butter while roasting
  • Stuffing made from homemade cornbread; roasted chestnuts; onion and celery which have been cooked golden in plenty of pastured butter; as many whole eggs as it takes to moisten the stuffing; various herbs; and the minced heart and liver of the turkey; roasted inside the turkey in the traditional way
  • Sweet potatoes, roasted whole until meltingly soft, and served with plenty of pastured butter
  • Fresh cranberry sauce
  • Sliced onions, cabbage, and apple, sautéed in plenty of melted bacon fat, with the bacon
  • Gravy, made from lots of fatty turkey drippings, and homemade turkey broth, and the flavor-rich scrapings from the pan the turkey is roasted in
  • And finally, a homemade pumpkin pie

And we will most definitely eat every last bit of the crisp, buttery, wonderful turkey skin.

Now, that is a feast to look forward to!

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 o Fat Tuesday and Real Food Wednesday blog carnivals.

No Hockey Pucks, Just Good, Fatty, Grassfed Beef

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

Irish Whiskey Steak, page 69, Tender Grassfed Meat: Traditional Ways to Cook Healthy Meat

Here is a picture of a grassfed steak with good fat.

I thought that I would be overjoyed when grassfed meat finally made it to mainstream supermarkets. It has happened, yet I feel no joy. Because most of the grassfed beef is in the form of “Hockey Puck” steaks, completely without the wonderful grassfed fat that is so good for us.

The falsity of the claim that animal fat is bad for us has finally been recognized in the mainstream media, as shown by recent articles in Time Magazine and the New York Times. The falsity of this modern claim, which goes against all food traditions, was superbly documented in the book The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet,by Nina Teicholz.

Yet most of our nation blindly continues along in the false belief that animal fat is bad for us.

This mistake has resulted in the emergence of the “Hockey Puck” steak, something which was never seen by our ancestors. These steaks are made from some of the leanest and toughest cuts of meat, and trimmed of every scrap of fat. This combination just about guarantees a tough, fatless, relatively tasteless piece of beef.

This is a tragedy, and contrary to the wisdom of our ancestors. Our ancestors knew that meat should always be eaten with fat, as it comes in nature, and that is how they ate it. If the meat they had was from a relatively lean cut, they would cook it with fat from other parts of the animal.

Grassfed meat is at its very best, in terms of nutrition, taste, tenderness, and satisfaction, when it contains some marbling of fat in the meat, and is cooked with a fat cap of its own glorious fat. Most of the nutritional benefits of grassfed meat are in the fat, as is most of the flavor. Our ancestors knew that the fattier cuts were best, and prized them.

I have cooked all kinds of grassfed beef, as detailed in my cookbooks Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue. I have had great success in producing tender, satisfying, utterly delicious grassfed beef, bison, and lamb, in literally hundreds of ways.

Yet I cannot even bring myself to buy a “Hockey Puck” steak, let alone try to cook it.

It is time for markets that carry grassfed beef to carry traditional cuts, with some marbling, and a nice fat cap, just like butchers used to do, before the huge fat mistake ruined the way meat is cut and butchered. I call upon suppliers, meat producers, and markets to bring back the traditional cuts, which are so much better and healthier than the “Hockey Puck.”

Related Post

Finding Grassfed Fat, and How to Add Good Fat to Lean Meat

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

 

Dr. Weston A. Price Did Not Advocate Plant-Based Diets

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

One of the healthiest traditional fats, pastured butter.

One of the healthiest traditional fats, pastured butter.

Dr. Weston A. Price was, in my opinion, the greatest nutritional researcher of all time. He spent ten years actually visiting healthy traditional peoples, studying and recording what they ate first hand, and comparing the health of people eating their traditional diet with their relatives who ate modern foods. He discovered that people eating the traditional diet of their ancestors were much healthier than their relatives who ate modern foods.

Dr. Price recorded his findings in a book entitled Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, published in 1939. The book is difficult for many people to read and understand, as are many academic works.

Somehow, the rumor is spreading on the Internet that Dr. Price was an advocate of eating only plant foods. This is simply not true, as Dr. Price addressed the issue directly in his book.

 

The Physical Degeneration

Dr. Price was a dentist, in Cleveland Ohio. He noticed that each generation of his patients was less healthy than their parents, with decayed teeth, badly formed and crowded mouths, and deformed arches in the mouth. Clearly, something was very wrong. Dr. Price noticed how the American diet was changing, with more and more processed factory foods being eaten. Dr. Price believed that this change in diet might be responsible for the physical degeneration he was observing. But, what should people eat to be healthy? One day, Dr. Price saw a photo of a “primitive” man, who was grinning. The man had superb, perfectly formed teeth, with no signs of decay. Dr. Price decided that the diets of the so called primitive peoples might have the answer.

 

The Plant Food Desire

It is true that Dr. Price, before he set out on his ten year journey, believed that he would find that the traditional healthy peoples would eat plant foods only. Dr. Price, a gentle and very spiritual man, disliked the killing of animals for food, and thought he would find that people could thrive on plants alone.

Dr. Price, however, was a true scientist, more interested in learning the truth than proving his theory.

 

The Animal Truth

Dr. Price found, contrary to his expectations, that animal foods were crucial to a good diet. He stated that he had never found a group which was building and maintaining excellent bodies by eating only plant foods. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, page 279.

There it is. All the peoples he found with excellent health from a traditional diet ate animal foods, especially the fats demonized in modern nutrition. This is described in detail in his book, where every healthy people he found ate plenty of animal foods, and animal fat.

And Dr. Price also commented on the plant food only groups of his day, noting that they all had signs of dental degeneration, if they had been on the diet for an extended time. He also noted that their children had deformed dental arches. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, page 279.

As we can see, there is nothing new about the belief that people should eat only plant foods, as Dr. Price did most of his research in the 1930’s.

Dr. Price found that we need animal foods to be healthy, good real foods, not the foods of industry.

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

 

Staying Smart with Food—a Family Tradition

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

My dad's traditional breakfast included full-fat cheddar cheese, rye bread with lots of butter, marinated herring and onions, and smoked salmon.

My dad’s traditional breakfast included full-fat cheddar cheese, rye bread with lots of butter, marinated herring and onions, and smoked salmon.

I had four relatives in my family who lived long lives: my mother, my aunt, my uncle, and my dad.

Three of them had severe Alzheimer’s during the last years. But my dad, who lived to be ninety, (he should have lived longer, but that is another story) was sharp as a tack, right up to his last day. He had no signs of mental impairment.

I have often wondered why he was different. The other three took the advice of their doctors, and put themselves on low-fat diets. But my dad continued to eat a special breakfast that had been taught to him, which was full of animal fat. I think he kept sharp because of the special breakfast he always had, and the way he kept his mind active. I do not know if what he did will help others, but I have decided to share it.

The Food: Dad’s “Garbage”

Ever since I can remember, my dad always had the same breakfast. This was the menu:

  • Two eggs with the yolks, fried in butter
  • A small piece of rye toast, thickly spread with butter
  • A thick slice of full fat cheddar cheese
  • Several pieces of marinated raw herring
  • Some smoked salmon
  • Raw onions, that had been marinated overnight in vinegar

My mother, who was Russian, and felt she had a license to be rude, called this meal “garbage.” She ranted and raved at times about all the fat and cholesterol it contained. My dad continued to eat it every day, and eventually referred to it as “my garbage.”

I asked my dad why he ate it, especially when my mother was so mean to him over it. He said that his father told him that it would keep his mind sharp.

Interestingly enough, the butter, cheese, and egg yolks contributed valuable animal fat and other nutrients that are very important for nourishing the brain. Some studies have shown that eating eggs every day may be an important factor in maintaining mental function.

Both herring and salmon are very fatty fish. He ate them raw, though one had been fermented by smoking, and the other by marinating. Fermenting foods preserve and increase their nutrient value. Fish has been recommended for mental sharpness for thousands of years.

The ancient Egyptians believed that onions would heal and prevent all kinds of problems. Again, the onions were raw, somewhat fermented from the marinade.

Mental Activity

My dad never wrote down phone numbers. He always memorized them, keeping them in his head. And he always remembered them when he needed to make a call. He could hold hundreds in his mind at a time, and was always able to recall them.

My dad always followed the news of the world, keeping himself current on every issue. He would watch or read about the news many hours a day. And he would think about the issues, analyze them, and come up with ways to solve them that I thought were much more sensible than what the politicians actually did.

I asked him once why he spent so much time on the news, and why he memorized the phone numbers instead of writing them down. He said that he liked to use his mind.

Some studies have shown that older people who are mentally active are far less likely to get Alzheimer’s.

Now, this is what he did, on advice from his father, who was also mentally sharp until the day he died. I do not know if this will work for anyone else.

But I am so grateful that he kept a sharp mind throughout his entire life.

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.

Fat Meat, Lean Meat

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

Grass fed picanha with a nutrient-dense fat cap.

Grassfed picanha with a nutrient-dense fat cap.

We are told to only eat lean meat, and avoid fatty meat. This is part of our culture’s fear of animal fat, due to intensive marketing of this view. The mistaken belief that lean meat is healthier has resulted in farm animals being bred to produce lean meat, and many animals are even given drugs to make their meat leaner. Butchers compound the problem by trimming off as much fat as possible.

The result is tough, often tasteless meat, with American factory pork being a great example.

Our ancestors would have been shocked by this preference, as they preferred meat with fat, the fatter the better. Our ancestors believed fatty meat was healthier and tastier, and would add large amounts of fat to meat that was too lean. Some even threw the lean meat to their dogs, while keeping the fatty portions for themselves.

When it comes to grassfed and pastured meats, this is how I see it:

The fatter, the better.

 

Traditional Animal Fats Contain Vital Nutrients

Contrary to popular belief, traditional animal fats have many vital nutrients that are important for human health and development. This is what our ancestors believed throughout most of history, and their belief has been vindicated by research. See The Skinny on Fats.

 

Factory Fat Is Different than Traditional Fat

It is important to know that the modern way of raising most meat animals, which is dependent on processed grains and other foods that are unnatural for these animals, changes the very composition of their fat. Grassfed animals, which humans have eaten for most of history, have a perfect balance of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. Animals fed in modern feedlots and CAFOs have a huge imbalance of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids. See Health Benefits of Grass-fed Products. An oversupply of omega-6 fatty acids has been linked to many illnesses. Other vital nutrients are also much higher in traditionally fed meat.

 

Paleolithic and Traditional People Ate Animal Fat

While nobody truly knows what Paleolithic people ate, we do know some of what they ate. In fact, every cave dwelling that is believed to have been occupied by Paleolithic people had a pile of bones, which had been cracked open for the marrow. Bone marrow is almost completely fat.

We also know that traditional hunting peoples prized the fat of the animals they killed, and this fact was verified by the extensive on site research of Dr. Weston A. Price. Because the meat of wild animals is often lean, some believe that only lean meat was eaten by Paleolithic peoples. But nearly all wild animals store fat, but it usually located on the back, rather than in the meat. This back fat was often eaten by itself, and mixed with the leaner meat , which was never eaten without animal fat. For example, Pemmican, the famous survival food of the Native Americans who lived on the great plains, was one third bison fat. Organ meats, which are very fatty, were prized by all of these traditional peoples.

 

Traditional Cuisines Call For Fat, Fat, and More Fat, when Cooking Meat

A review of older cookbooks and histories reveal the fact that meat-eating cultures, such as European cultures, greatly prized animal fat as a food and as a cooking medium. Fatty meat and organ meats were the prized cuts, and meat was always cooked with fat, usually animal fat. Fatty meat was valued in most of the rest of the world, with fatty pork being the most prized meat in traditional Chinese cuisine.

Our ancestors agreed, both in their words and actions, that fatty meat from grassfed and pastured animals is best.

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

Science Verifies Health Benefits of Traditional Food Combinations

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

Traditional Chinese seasoning combination of garlic, ginger, and green onions has been shown to give health benefits.

Traditional Chinese seasoning combination of garlic, ginger, and green onions.

In researching my upcoming book on traditional cooking, I was fascinated to see how many cultures ate particular food combinations. Certain foods and spices would always be eaten together. I saw this in the traditional cuisines of Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, Latin America, almost everywhere. Why were these foods always combined in a particular cuisine?

I did a bit of research and was delighted to find that science has verified the health benefits of some of these traditional food combinations.

Our ancestors were remarkably well informed about the foods they ate, even without science and research. They had their traditions, which represented the collected knowledge of their ancestors, passed down from father to son, from mother to daughter, over the centuries. Not all of these traditions have been verified, but some of them have been.

 

Some Verified Benefits of Traditional Food Combinations

Throughout traditional Europe, bread was always eaten with butter. In areas were butter was hard to get, bread was always eaten with some other fat. In many areas it was pork lard or pork fat, often spread on the bread while still raw. Bread was also fried in bacon grease. Olive oil was sometimes used, especially in Southern Italy. But some kind of fat, usually a lot of fat, was always spread on the bread.

Potatoes were also always eaten with fat, including butter, cheese, cream, lard, bacon, chicken fat, duck fat, beef tallow, lamb tallow, and other animal fats.

Bread and potatoes are very high in carbohydrates, and can cause glycemic effects that can harm the body.

Science has verified that fat slows the absorption of the sugar from carbohydrates. This can slow down and often prevent the harmful “sugar rush” effect of eating carbs and sugars. Thus the traditions of always eating these carb-heavy foods with fat had a definite health benefit.

Another example is the Chinese seasoning combination of garlic, ginger, and green onions, which is used in a huge number of traditional Chinese dishes. All of these vegetables have proven antibacterial and blood purifying effects, and ginger is known to help digestion. There was an old Chinese belief that ginger drove “the devils” out of the food. The numerous health benefits of garlic have been proven by science, as have the antibacterial effects of green onions. The combination of all three has not been tested, but I suspect that they are even more effective in combination.

Turmeric has proven antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities, and recent research has shown that it may help the natural processes of the body avoid Alzheimer’s disease. Even more recent research has shown that the helpful effect of turmeric is substantially increased when it is consumed with black pepper, which has a substance that works to increase the beneficial effects of curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric).

Turmeric is a very common spice in India, being a component of almost every curry spice combination. Turmeric is nearly always combined with black pepper in these dishes.

India may have the lowest rate of Alzheimer’s disease in the developed world.

These are just a few of the traditional food combinations whose beneficial qualities have been verified by science. There are many others. There are other food combinations that have not been tested, but I suspect that they are very beneficial as well.

Hippocrates, the greatest of ancient physicians, said it best, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Words of wisdom.

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

 

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