|Mmmm.... Rare, delicious steak!|
Recently, I have been called the, “Scary Meat Lady”, since I am constantly sharing articles about ‘meat glue’, ‘ammonia washes’ and other harmful practices of the meat industry. Since I also tout my affinity for real, untainted, wholesome, non-genetically modified, chemical-free food, I have also been asked as to where I get my grass-fed beef, free-range poultry and other staple items contained in a whole-foodie’s refrigerator and pantry.
Well, here is my all-inclusive post on the subject of not only finding quality food, but also economical methods of doing so and the topic regarding where to compromise for the sake of stretching your almighty dollar.
For those of you outside of the Pacific Northwest, I must apologize and say that I tailored this post to those of us looking to get our local meat, produce and baking necessities through a local resource. I hope to do another post that will address more 'online' resources, which would be more accessible and useful for a broader range of an audience, outside of Western Washington.
I will begin with a Q & A format with common question and answers that I often field as to the WHY and WHAT to look for in quality food.
If you are unaware, I believe in more than just ‘Organic’ or ‘All natural’ food labeling (in fact, most of these labels are quite the joke, based on the true FDA regulations on what ‘organic’ or ‘all natural’ can be. Let’s just say that big manufacturers pay exorbitant amounts of money, year after year, re-branding and marketing their products to us before they even THINK about making that product ACTUALLY healthy for consumption.
So, let me hoist myself up to my soapbox and address a couple of common questions or misnomers.
Q: Why Raw Milk?
A: Raw milk is an outstanding source of nutrients including beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus acidophilus, vitamins and enzymes, and is possibly one of the finest sources of calcium available.
Pasteurized milk has been heated above 145 - 150 degrees in order to kill many possibly occurring pathogens. Based on a study conducted in Australia, children who consumed ‘treated’ dairy products had a very high incidence of allergies, asthma and ‘Atopic sensitization” or skin problems. The remaining group of children studied grew up on raw, unprocessed farm milk and had a much, much lower level of allergies, asthma and ‘Atopic sensitization” or skin problems.
Pasteurizing milk destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamin B12, and vitamin B6, kills beneficial bacteria and promotes pathogens. You may notice that raw milk left out will sour naturally but pasteurized milk will rot. This is because the beneficial bacteria in the raw milk helps to keep putrefactive bacteria under control. Pasteurized milk, however, does not have any of the beneficial bacteria left to keep it from rotting.
Pasteurization also destroys 20 percent of the iodine present in raw milk, causes constipation and generally takes from the milk its most vital qualities.
Then, of course there is the issue of the antibiotics, pesticides and growth hormones and the fact that nearly all commercial dairy cows are raised on grains, not grass, like they were designed to. This will change the composition of the fats in the milk, especially the CLA content.
Recent figures published regarding the spread of tuberculosis by milk show, among other facts, that over a period of five years, during which time 70 children belonging to a special organization received a pint of raw milk daily, only one case of the disease occurred. During a similar period when pasteurized milk had been given, 14 cases were reported.
And, hey, raw milk just tastes better! Also, Raw Milk usually comes from a Jersey Cow, with more nutrient-rich milk and contains a higher content of good, tasty fat in it! (Taking fat out of the milk is a crime against, not only nature, but your body as well. The milk, without the beneficial cream is no longer a 'health' food.).
Compared to average milk, a glass of all-Jersey milk has greater nutritional value: 15% to 20% more protein, 15% to 18% more calcium, and 10% to 12% more phosphorous, along with considerably higher levels of an essential vitamin, B12.
Q: Why is Raw Milk so costly?
A: The commercial ‘elephant in the room’ here, is that for a farmer, selling raw, untreated milk means keeping an extremely sanitary milking and storing environment, with several Federal regulations and costly certifications to adhere to. On the other side of the fence, we have a large, mass-producing dairy farm that, although they may follow high sanitary standards, they can just ‘treat’ (boil/ pasteurize) any and ALL diseased milk and no profit is lost! The Raw milk farmer must dump any and ALL diseased milk and if his cow is sick, he doesn’t use antibiotics, therefore thousands of dollars are lost if he must ‘do away with’ his prized cow.
Do you see why it costs $8 – $12 for a gallon of raw milk, compared to $1.99 of ‘treated’ milk? Mass producing food in this country has created a type of ‘manufactured’ product, reducing the upfront costs for the producer, while passing on the ‘savings’ to us, however, no one told you how the quality has gone down along with that great, new low price!
The cost of food has been reduced so drastically in the past 50 years that we now find the price for high quality food ‘ridiculous’ because we’ve pushed food to the very smallest regions of our monthly budget. Our priorities have shifted, along with the paradigm and I’m asking you to challenge yourself with your own paradigm shift in regards to the value of your family's own health and well-being.
Q: What about the dangers of consuming raw milk?
A: Well, like Dr. Mercola says, “While it is certainly possible to become sick from drinking contaminated raw milk, it is also possible to become sick from almost any food source. But it seems that raw milk has been unfairly singled out as a risk, when only a very small risk exists.”
In fact, back when both raw and pasteurized milk were allowed to be sold, side by side, the percentage of contamination incidents was identical between the two!
Q: Why Grass-fed/ Free-range?
A: Cows that are allowed to feed in a pasture up until slaughter are not only happier, but their meat is also more nutritious (cows were NOT designed to eat GMO corn and soy feed).
It also eliminates the feedlots’ run-off issue that is HUGE environmental and health hazard!
Commercially raised chickens are kept inside, without access to grasses and bugs (a free-range egg has a VERY vibrant yolk, with loads more Omega 3’s than a ‘housed’ chicken) and such ‘confined’ chickens are subject to contracting numerous diseases, forcing the farmer to administer antibiotics and other nasty chemicals into them. They are given growth hormones in order to ‘grow’ a chicken much faster and in a shorter amount of time than is natural. Not only is this not a ‘happy’ environment for the poor bird, but it is also extremely unhealthy for you and your family, when that meat hits your plate and ends up in your stomach. Science has proven time and time again that one of the worst foods that you could possibly eat is chicken and that’s because 90% of the available poultry out there is this ‘diseased’/ genetically altered bird (which are now more and more resistant to antibiotics than ever before!).
Grass-fed/ Free-range products are clean and safe!
When you choose to eat meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals raised on pasture, you are improving the welfare of the animals, helping to put an end to environmental degradation, helping small-scale ranchers and farmers make a living from the land, helping to sustain rural communities, and giving your family the healthiest possible food. It’s a win-win-win-win situation.
Q: Where can I obtain Grass-fed/ Free-range meat?
A: More and more sources are becoming available as people are becoming more educated on the benefits, quality and safety of such food, however, the cost is a bit higher and is not always easy to find.
As Spring and Summer approaches, make yourself familiar with local Farmer’s Markets. The one in Federal Way is pretty awesome and my favorite butcher will sell his ‘wares’ there, alongside organic produce and hand-made crafts (try only to buy ONE awesome pair of earrings and some chocolate-covered fruit on a stick so that you have more money to shop!). Kent has one that is right down by the Train Station and Tacoma supposedly has a very robust one. Personally, I make note as to when certain ones will be open and where and then stick them in my Google Calendar, with a text reminder to be sent to me in advance, so that I do not forget.
In Enumclaw, Olson's Meats does provide some free-range beef, but when I asked, they also give the cows 'feed'. The Corn in most 'feed' flushes most of the healthy CLA's right out of the meat, leaving it less nutritious. I see that they do offer 'antibiotic-free', grain-fed beef, which is better than what you would typically find in a major grocery (chain) store, but they are a bit pricey. (Grass-fed, doesn’t ALWAYS mean grass-finished! BE SURE TO ASK!)
Acres in Zion uses Olson's as their butcher, but THEY do indeed sell full-pastured/ grass-fed, hormone & antibiotic-free animals! (And their pricing, with butcher fees is well worth the order). The reason I have not ordered with them, however, is because you need to purchase the cow in large bundles (whole, half or a quarter, or go into a ‘cow share’ with other parties to pitch in and reduce the butcher fees) and my budget hardly ever allows me to make such a large purchase at one time.
In Auburn, right by the Hwy 18 freeway entrance & exit off of Hwy 164, my favorite butcher is Proper British Meats. Robin will tell you what is not gluten-free and makes all-natural beef jerky that is out of this world! He smokes his own fish and meats right there in the shop and owns his own farm in Enumclaw (the "Twisted S Ranch") (Oh, he's also a champion, blue-ribbon, giant pumpkin grower)!
I also shop Fred Meyer &/ or QFC for Free-Range chickens (buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself, you’ll not only get the skin (very healthy for you in terms of fat, collagen and other nutrients), but you will also have the ‘giblets’ available too (internal organs of healthy animals are nature’s multivitamins!!! It’s TRUE!).
You can also buy lamb or buffalo, as there are currently regulations on those particular meats, which do not allow the producers to administer antibiotics, growth hormones and other nasty chemicals.
If you absolutely MUST buy store bought meat (aka non-grass-fed beef or non-free-range poultry), be sure it is antibiotic-free & hormone-free and get the leanest cut possible, as toxins are stored in the fat of an animal.
Normally, for seafood, I would suggest ocean-caught above farmed sources, however, in the wake of the Fukushima incident, please keep your eyes and ears open to the experts and their findings regarding radioactive materials and how they affect our seafood sources.
Here is a FABULOUS resource for the Pacific Northwest (and other parts of the United States), it is called "Eat Wild"
Meadowwood Organics offers raw milk, raw cheese, organic produce (when in season), free-range eggs and free-range poultry (pre-order your turkey for the holidays!), & raw, local honey. Drop on by and meet their adorable Jersey cows and pet their friendly cat for a casual self-serve experience on a real, down-to-earth farm. Their eggs are good, but rather pricey.
For good, wholesome, free-range eggs, try to get ones that come from chickens with a rooster in their midst, as ‘fertilized’ eggs are the TOP of the list for one of the world’s most perfect and nutritious foods. If you are up by Bellevue, ”Whole Foods” carries ‘Fertilized’ eggs, as does “Marlene’s” (but the prices on these just doubled recently). Try to search Craigslist or keep your eyes open for signs along farm roads. The best price is $2.50/ dozen. You can sometimes get them in the store, on sale for $1.89/ dozen, but I find that even if the carton says ‘free-range’, the quality is not always reflective of the labeling. The POM actually has a gal in there who will sell eggs for $2.50 on Tuesdays & Fridays, 10 AM – 2 PM. (Don’t get wrapped up into buying eggs for $3 – 4 per dozen, since there are surely more affordable options out there, just keep your eyes open, ask around and you will surely find a great source). Also, Wilcox Farms is a good ‘brand’, as are the bulk eggs from ‘Arlington, WA’ that Grocery outlet sells (the ones in the large cardboard carton, with the shrink wrap over the top).
Please contact us if you know of ANY other local sources (especially in Enumclaw) that I am not already evangelizing.
In addition to, or to supplement between, your Farmer’s Market shopping trips, organic produce can be found at Grocery Outlet (depending on their inventory. Lately I’ve been finding organic lemons and avocados there), Fred Meyer for the most affordable produce with quality. Marlene’s has produce and from what I understand, Costco is really starting to offer some organic options and the products for selection are growing day by day.
Try to purchase organic, frozen produce and vegetables, since they will be more cost effective and are usually flash frozen at their peak of perfection, saving your fresh veggie selection for the more ‘in season’ or not-easily frozen produce.
Know where you can compromise between organic and non-organic produce by visiting EWG’s website and downloading or printing their ‘dirty dozen’ list. This great resource will point you in the direction you need to go in regards to what foods MUST be organic and others that you can rest-assured that they are low in potentially hazardous chemicals, even though they are not organic. This will help you stretch your hard-earned dollar a bit further.
I only use Coconut Flour, Almond Flour or other ‘nut flours’ instead of gluten-free ‘mixes’ or ‘grain flours’, as they do not contain the starches, soy or the other inflammation factors.
|Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cinnamon Icing|
Almond Flour is easy to make at home, but I like to purchase it because it gets kind of wet from the oils in the nuts, whereas the ones you get from a manufacturer are more like a dry flour consistency.
Marlene’s has Almond Flour, but at the time of writing this, they switched suppliers and it is now $8+/ pound, being that they get it from an organic source. Still beats the heck out of buying it in super small amounts, like “Bob’s Redmill”, which can cost you an arm and a leg, but can be found in QFC or Fred Meyer when convenience forces you to find an immediate source. Honeyville sells a 5 lb bag of Almond Flour for less than $39, which should last you a while.
Coconut Flour is best bought in the bulk section of Marlene’s, or in bulk through Tropical Traditions. Amazon can usually get around the same price as Tropical Traditions too. Good thing about cooking with Coconut Flour, a little goes a long way (and is VERY filling).
I get my raw honey and Xylitol at ’Marlene's, Organic Grade B Maple Syrup in Amazon, at “Your Health, Inc.” or Fred Meyer and through any deals that I can find on the web (Amazon is a great resources for competitive pricing).
Marlene’s also has a bulk distribution format for Organic, extra virgin Olive Oil, Celtic Sea Salt, Organic Chocolate Chips and dried fruit.
For oils, I try to stay with Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, & free-range animal fats (ask your butcher or search online free-range meat resources).
Try to get to an Asian Market for your canned coconut milk and coconut cream, since the price per can will be under $1 compared to $2 - $4 per can at a QFC or other supermarket chain. (Actually, next to a Farmer’s Market, the Asian Market will be your best bet for low prices on seafood, fruit & produce!).
Nuts & Dried Fruit:
If you can’t make your own dehydrator/ beef jerky maker (I’m nearly complete with making mine now), you can buy one from any store with kitchen supplies, or online at Amazon.com.
The Bulk Section of Fred Meyer or QFC will be your best bet for raw, organic nuts and dried fruit, allowing you to select a variety of nuts to make ‘no-oatmeal/ cereal bars’, ‘no-grainola’, custom-made trail-mix and other nut-based recipes and concoctions. Otherwise, buying nuts that are pre-packaged gets you into rather high prices, nasty oils & salts used and the lack of organic choices.
“SO Delicious” has a great ice-cream that, although it uses Agave Nectar (blech!), it is relatively healthy. You can also make your own (drop serious hints around the Holidays, your birthday and anniversary for an electric ice-cream maker!) by using coconut milk, raw cream, or any ‘nut milk’ of your choice.
|Paleo Ginger Snaps|
For cookies, well, try to make your own, as you will save a ton of money. Besides, I have a special recipe that I modified to make the most delicious ‘no-oatmeal raisin’ cookies you’ll ever have!
I have thousands of recipes (I add more every day) that you can access, free of charge, in my Google Documents’ public ‘Primal Recipes’ archive. One recipe you need to be sure to try, is the ultimate low-carb bread recipe that will allow you to eat delicious sandwiches again!
I’ve written this post several times over because I keep leaving things out, so I hope that I’ve covered enough to get you started and please feel free to contact me with questions or information that you have found to be useful that I am not aware of.
Here’s to healthy living!