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So You Think You Can’t Cook?

As you probably know, I’m no snob when it comes to grassfed beef. Sure, I love it, use it a lot, but there’s just something about the "grassfed" culture in the paleo movement that rubs me the wrong way, just a tad.

There’s no question it’s the better choice on a number of levels, but to my mind goes far beyond any 80/20 consideration. Someone eating nothing but supermarket meat and veggies, no junk food or cheats, is well above 90%, even 95% paleo compliance and eating healthy! I’m not knocking grassfed meat at all, but I also don’t want to discourage someone from the paleo scene because they feel they don’t measure up if all they can reasonably source is grain finished meat due to budget or other considerations. Or, maybe they just don’t want to bother. Their choice, and I’m perfectly fine with it. On top of that, frankly, is that concerns over the environment and sustainability simply fail to keep me from losing a microsecond of sleep. I’ll leave the hand wringing to others. Hopefully, it never gets this bad.

That said, I encourage the preference for grassfed, when you’re ready (it took me a while), for two reasons primarily: it’s probably slightly healthier (and most find it tastier) but more importantly, the animals are respected for their natures. Even so, there are some operations such as Prather Ranch that take great care to raise their stock humanely but finish them — in addition to chopped forage — with some organic barley & rice. Accordingly, it’s not "grassfed" that’s the end all, be all, but that the livestock are properly attended to.

So, down from the soapbox and into the kitchen, here’s last evening’s preparation, dedicated to those who want it simple, quick, tasty and economical. One of the things I like to keep in the fridge is Trader Joe’s pre-cooked pot roast. They come in 1 pound packages and I think cost somewhere between $6-10, but I don’t recall. Then you need some beef stock (TJ’s has that too), half an onion, and some potato, sweet potato, or whatever you like (carrots, turnips…some sort of root, preferably).

Just cube up the pot roast, put it in the cast iron, add a cup or so of beef stock, the onion coarsely chopped, and your root veggies. Bring the stock to a boil, cover, and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes or until the root veggies get soft.

Then put it under the broiler (low setting), 2nd shelf down and let it crisp up for 5 minutes, turn with a spatula and then do the other side.

This is what you get, and it’s delicious. Click for the hi-res.

Pot Roast Taters
Pot Roast & Taters

There’s just something about slightly dried & crisped pot roast that I just love, and especially when you have the moisture of the onion and vegetables to balance it out. So give it a try.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

57 Comments

  1. David Csonka on August 17, 2010 at 11:50

    Doesn’t feeding cows grains make them more susceptible to disease and infection – correspondingly the reason why most have to be kept on antibiotics and such?

    Seems like a decent reason to opt for grass-fed if possible. Eating diseased animals is not really my preference, though I can’t afford grass-fed beef all the time.

    • AJP on August 17, 2010 at 12:08

      David

      I think Richard made it pretty clear.

      “I’m not knocking grassfed meat at all, but I also don’t want to discourage someone from the Paleo scene because they feel they don’t measure up if all they can reasonably source is grain finished meat due to budget or other considerations.”

      Maybe you missed it.

      • David Csonka on August 17, 2010 at 12:17

        Oh, are there actually people out there that say you aren’t eating paleo if your beef is not grass-fed? Yikes, the militant fanaticism has grown faster than I expected… LOL



      • Sassy on August 17, 2010 at 13:00

        Yeah, there are people whose attitudes seem to be if you aren’t eating grass-fed you may as well not even bother. OR there’s the other one that says eating grocery store beef is no better for you than a platter of Funyuns.

        Both of those CAN be very discouraging mindsets for people just getting started – It’s hard enough to learn a whole new way of cooking and eating, without also having to source out some farms for your organic grass-fed needs.

        I’m always grateful for posts like this just to remind me that I’m miles ahead of where I was even if I can’t do grass-fed at this point.



      • John R on August 18, 2010 at 08:09

        Yes. And it gets even worse: I have heard “pork is not paleo” at least once or twice. I tend to think that the problem is people reading a little too much into some of Kurt Harris’s pithier pronouncements.



      • Jeff W. on September 12, 2010 at 17:15

        I’ve literally read Kurt’s entire blog, and I can say with 100% certainty that Dr. Harris is in no way, shape, or form anti-pork

        Anybody who came to that conclusion reading his stuff has serious reading comprehension problems.

        Kurt is pretty adamant about getting grass-fed beef, but it’s not for any humanitarian reason. It’s for the omega-6 to omega-3 balance. Grain fed/finished beef has very high levels of omega-6 fatty acids as a direct result of their diet. Those animals were meant to eat grass and grass only, grains screw them up – which is why they get so fat off them. It’s enough to throw your 6-3 ratio off, which can potentially lead to various cardiovascular diseases.

        If you can’t get grass-fed beef, Dr. Harris recommends a spoonful of fish oil with the meal to re-balance the 6-3 ratio. That’s all. You don’t have to deal with the fish oil if you eat grass-fed.

        As far as I know, this applies only to beef. Pigs process food differently, and have a much wider range of natural food choices (wild pigs are omnivorous). As far as I know he has never mentioned it, so I can only assume there is no issue with grain-fed pigs other than a total waste – those pigs are made for eating garbage and leftovers. Feeding them only grass is no better than feeding them only grains AFAIK.



  2. Jim on August 17, 2010 at 12:15

    Richard,

    I certainly agree with your 80/20 view and not going overboard (nice youtube link 🙂 btw). That said, grass fed beef is MUCH healthier and MUCH better tasting than supermarket beef. Mass-Produced beef is as bad for you as the boxed meals from the center of the supermarket in terms of unhealthy contents. Just the omega 6/3 fat balance is so far off you’re almost better being a vegetarian (ALMOST). Instead of the healthy 2/1 ratio, corn fed beef is closer to 30/1. Paleo man would not have eaten an unhealthy animal but that’s exactly what today’s manufactured beef is. Cows were never meant to eat corn and it makes them so sick that they can’t survive on it unless they’re fed a constant supply of drugs (mostly antibiotics).

    I’ve been able to find local grassfed beef that isn’t much more expsneive than the supermarket beef and much cheaper than grass fed from stores like WholeFoods. A little research should turn up local suppliers almost anywhere in the country.

    Great blog. I believe your practical approach and personal stories help inspire a lot of people to take steps to improve their health. You should be proud of that.

    • gallier2 on August 17, 2010 at 12:38

      Would you be so kind as to give a link to the studies with the omega6/3 ratios? It’s not that I don’t doubt them, but I have often heard about it but never seen proper reference to it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of issues with american meat (antibiotics, cloning or whatnot) but this omega3/6 ratio thing spooks in the paleosphere with not much more than hearsay to back it up.

      • paleozone on August 17, 2010 at 13:56

        the O6:O3 ratio is detailed in Cordain’s book “The Paleo Diet”, along with references to all his research.



    • Jon on August 17, 2010 at 13:02

      I think you may be exaggerating comparing mass produced beef to boxed meals.

      I believe I read somewhere (PaNu probably) that beef and other ruminants’ omega 6/3 ratios never exceed a certain value. I can’t remember what it is at the moment, but it is better than other corn-fed meat.

    • terenced on August 17, 2010 at 13:03

      @Jim
      I think you missed the whole point. Read what AJP wrote.

      Also, thinks to consider
      1 – If I am not mistake, the problem with grain-fed beef is not that is more omega-6, but less omega-3. So if a person doesn’t have easy access to grass-fed beef, they can just consume more omega-3.

      2 – “under the umbrella of eating a paleo diet, I don’t believe fatty meats have a negative effect” http://youtu.be/ap6oP-V-JeY

      It is very hard to get grass-fed beef where I live; everyone grain finishes.

      @Richard
      I agree with you 100%
      If people start getting too strict, and saying you’re not paleo if you eat grain-fed beed, or have potatoes sometimes, then we are no better than the vegans.

    • Lute Nikoley on August 17, 2010 at 13:26

      We eat mostly grass fed beef, but as far as taste is concerned? I have yet to have a grass fed ribeye or fillet that tastes a great as a Ruth’s Chris’s, or Mortens Steak House, or Smith and Wollenski ribeye or fillet.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 17, 2010 at 14:05

      Jim,

      I’m just going to have to call BS on some of this. While I suspect grassfed is likely healthier, we just don’t know for sure. Better tasting? Totally subjective. For me, it depends upon the cut. I have had some awfully wonderful steaks in top steak houses.

      “Mass-Produced beef is as bad for you as the boxed meals from the center of the supermarket in terms of unhealthy contents.”

      Now that’s just crazy talk, Jim. C’mon, man.

      Cornfed beef at 30/1 of 6/3. First, not likely and second, irrelevant.

      Cordain says grassfed is about 2.25 and grain fed, 4.34. Another source (Medeiros et al.) clocks in at 17.19, BUT, that’s due to a minuscule 30mg difference in n-3 IN 100g OF MEAT!!!

      There’s only a few hundred mg of total PUFA in 100g of meat. It’s insignificant, whatever the ratio. Even if you ate 3 pounds per day of the stuff (1500g), a 1 gram fish oil cap would be enough to balance things out.

    • Michael on August 17, 2010 at 14:13

      Just the omega 6/3 fat balance is so far off you’re almost better being a vegetarian (ALMOST). Instead of the healthy 2/1 ratio, corn fed beef is closer to 30/1.

      I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that is just patently false. Considering beef on the basis of its omega6/omega3 ratios is just a non-starter. The differences are relatively insignificant. There may be some good reasons to eat grass-fed beef but the omega3/omega6 issue is not one of them.

    • Aaron Curl on August 18, 2010 at 02:53

      “Mass-Produced beef is as bad for you as the boxed meals from the center of the supermarket in terms of unhealthy contents.”…..NO…NO…NO…and NO! Don’t give me that load of shit! I have been eating “grain fed” paleo (i’m starting a new name…lol) for 8 months, I am very strict also. You may want to compare photos with me as I am 7-8% body fat and feel and look healthier than I have my entire life! Now believe me I plan on loading up a freezer with grass fed animals when I move because I believe grass fed to be superior nutrition wise. The balance of o3 to 06 is not the only thing in meat. Here is a comparison of the two..http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beef-products/10526/2…….http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beef-products/8004/2. There is a difference between o3 to 06 but the minerals and vitamins aren’t much different. Besides….I know how I feel and I know the side effects from experience when I eat boxed foods from the center of the grocery store!….and eating grian fed beef does not make me feel like shit!

      • Skyler Tanner on August 18, 2010 at 05:26

        I’m going to call myself “Ovo-Lacto-Graino-Fedo-Paleo” 😀



    • John R on August 18, 2010 at 08:13

      Slightly healthier, not better-tasting. In the hands of a skilled cook who knows how to cook grassfed beef (there is an art to it), a really good grassfed steak can be excellent… but not, generally, as excellent as a prime piece of feedlot beef handled by the same skilled cook.

    • pecanmike on August 18, 2010 at 12:55

      O come on Jim. Have you ever even been to a feedlot? I grow my own grassfed beef and prefer it but such hyperbole as “corn makes them so sick that they can’t survive without a constant supply of drugs” is just plain bullshit. If that were the case the cattle feeding business would not be economically viable. Richard, thanks for being a voice of reason. In this movement as in most areas of human activity it seems the fringes are the loudest, many time to the detriment of the movement.

    • Zach on August 30, 2010 at 17:20

      I agree with Jim. As a bodybuilder who eats huge amounts of animal products, I can’t afford to be putting huge amounts of hormones (the estrogen in conventional animal products has been shown in studies to decrease testosterone production, not something a bodybuilder wants) and huge amounts of omega-6’s into my body. Thus, the only times I eat animal products are when I know they are organic and come from animals that have been naturally, humanely raised

  3. Jim on August 17, 2010 at 13:05

    Great post, Richard. Please stay on your soapbox for as long as you’d like – I LOVE your posts like that.

    And that meal looks great. Probably the closest you’ve come to an out and out recipe that I remember seeing on this blog. Looks like I’m headed up to Trader Joe’s this weekend…

  4. JP@PrimalJournal.com on August 17, 2010 at 13:12

    We raise our own animals and sometimes, in the case of some of them (chicken, mainly), we round things up with grains. I think that it’s just fine. All our animals are raised humanely (sun light exposure, access to water, grass, and insects, no hormones, etc.) and they taste really better than supermarket stuff. So, I agree with you Richard, the grassfed love has its place but it should not become a must either (if you don’t have the money for it, regular meat is just fine considered that you eat within the paleo guidelines, like you said0.

    I’m planning to buy a 1/4 of a grassfed bison, though.

    • David Csonka on August 17, 2010 at 17:36

      Apparently, farmers are doing feedlot bison now. How sick is that?

      • Richard Nikoley on August 17, 2010 at 17:49

        You might want to consider not being so hasty, David. What we really need to battle is food without care. Granted, feedlot farming is at least on the cusp of that. – decent, nutritious product, less than exemplary care.

        Really, it comes down to me as an issue of respect. Food should be respected. It’s what sustains us and at base it’s this ‘just fuel’ notion that has got us off track.

        I can see some upside to this. Can you think of anything? Remember, it only makes your argument stronger when you can imagine the best arguments from the other side.



      • David Csonka on August 19, 2010 at 10:06

        If bison meat is more nutritious or healthier, this move might get it to more people and possibly create more awareness of better food options. That could be an upside I’m sure. I suppose I’m a little romantic with my visions of undomesticated bison roaming the grasslands; it’s easier to associate regular cows with farming.



    • Mallory on August 18, 2010 at 06:29

      arent chicken real dirty and gross and pretty much eat anythign anyways??? i use to tend to some for eggs and they are mean critters!

  5. Skyler Tanner on August 17, 2010 at 13:40

    Beef is a rubbish source of omega 3, period. Using the 6:3 ratio as some sort of amazing data point to say “SEE! THIS IS WHY YOU DON’T EAT GRAIN FED MEAT!” won’t convince anyone who has access to the actual amounts in the respective beefs:

    Grass fed beef: 25mg omega-3/ounce
    Grain fed beef: 15mg omega-3/ounce

    (This of course varies due to cow, environment, etc.)

    It’s easier to say it has 67% more omega-3 than grain; it certainly sounds impressive but it’s still a paltry amount. Salmon has 10 times the amount of omega 3 per ounce compared to grass fed cows. Even with that, 12 ounces of salmon is 3 grams of omega 3; personally I’d rather get the best quality beef I can find at a reasonable price at take my very inexpensive by comparison fish oil daily.

    To quote Coach Hale (with research):
    “For instance, to achieve Recommended Daily Allowances and/or daily chemoprotective dietary levels of omega-3 fatty acids a person would have to eat at least 12 pounds of grass-fed beef
    (Rule et al., 002;Martz et al., 2004; Guiffrida de Mendoza et al ., 2005; Daley et al., 2005; Smith et al., 2005). ”

    I love beef but not that much.

    Best,
    Skyler

    • Skyler Tanner on August 17, 2010 at 13:52

      Add to this that Olive oil, the kind that I put on my tasty tasty salad everyday, has THREE TIMES the 6’s that corn fed beef fat has.

      Beef Fat:

      Olive Oil:

      Minutia miring, anyone?

      Best,
      Skyler

    • Richard Nikoley on August 17, 2010 at 14:11

      Skyler, I hadn’t seen this yet when I posted my bit, above.

      Yea, it reminds me of how they always start off reporting on a new study:

      “A new study finds that people who do x are fives times as likely to get y.”

      They don’t tell you that your chances of getting y in the first place is 1 in a million. There’s no meaningful difference between a 1 and 5 in a million chance.

      • Dan on August 20, 2010 at 09:30

        Great point!!!!



  6. Michael on August 17, 2010 at 14:23

    Even so, there are some operations such as Prather Ranch that take great care to raise their stock humanely but finish them — in addition to chopped forage — with some organic barley & rice. Accordingly, it’s not “grassfed” that’s the end all, be all, but that the livestock are properly attended to.

    Right on point Richard. I noted this in my post, What Makes Beef Tasty? Its Provenance, Not Grass Or Grain, and got a few “grass-fed” dissenters from around the web. They didn’t comment on my site but thanks to the magic of Google Alerts I found their comments. 🙂

    Also, people who don’t want to pay grass fed prices but still want grass fed beef can just go to an auction and buy an animal before it hits the conventional feedlots. Team up with a few folks to share the cost/bulk and you can have a lot of grass fed beef at more conventional prices.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 17, 2010 at 14:46

      I remember that post Michael. It was a great one.

  7. Dave on August 17, 2010 at 15:55

    I’m picking up half a grassfed cow for my freezer. I chose to pay what amounted to a $1.50/lb premium over comparable conventionally grain-fed beef because I believe that feeding cattle perennial grasses is far more sustainable than growing grain to feed a cow (This idea is dealt with in more lengths in “The Vegetarian Myth”. Tilling and planting are not helping our soil – prairie topsoil has basically disappeared over the last century.

    Besides the ecological bonus of eating this kind of meat, from an animal welfare perspective, pastured grass – fed beef generally means that the animal had room to move while alive, rather than wandering around in a cesspool of manure for the better part of it’s life. We all need to eat, but I would much rather see the animal I’m going to consume be treated humanely for it’s time before it ends up in my belly. I grew up on a farm and have seen the feedlots that most cattle are finished in – not very pretty.

  8. Dan on August 17, 2010 at 15:58

    Right on buddy. I was lucky in new zealand as all meat is grass fed. Then I moved to newfoundland in canada. Alas no more grass fed beef. I felt so guilty and like such a phony I almost gave up paleo all together. Im hating how a diet based on evolution is getting all religious like.

  9. Laurie D. on August 17, 2010 at 16:07

    I buy my grass-fed beef from a local farmer who does not grain finish. The meat is delicious and tender. The Black Angus cattle graze on lush green pastures in Maryland without having to move much. They are some fat, happy steers! I buy the meat directly from the farmer for less per pound than supermarket prices, wrapped and ready for the freezer. I also buy my pastured pork from him. The pork is MUCH tastier than the dry lean store variety. I’ve also eaten grass-fed beef raised in ranches out west. Not the same – those guys have to move around a lot to graze and the meat is a bit dry and tough. Grass-fed can be affordable if you are willing to get a freezer and buy local. I have no qualms about eating meat but I do like knowing that the animals I am eating are raised in good conditions. What anyone else does is really none of my business. Supermarket meat is better than no meat at all.

    • Mallory on August 18, 2010 at 06:25

      i use to live in MD growing up right by happy cow farms!!! then i moved to mississippi. i o remember the beef and eggs growing up tasted real good 🙂

  10. michael on August 17, 2010 at 16:18

    Hi Richard,
    Glad you are back from your vacation and blogging again. The Paleo world has been silent for awhile. Slightly off topic, but I was reading about animals being cloned to breed animals, and cloned animals in our food supply currently. I am by no means an expert on any of these things, and I do not want sound like I am one. I just do not want to eat cloned meats. This is not a religious decision for me, it just doesn’t sit well with me. I googled cloned meats and am led to believe that it is impossible at this time to know if we are eating cloned meats or not, even grass fed ones may be from cloned animals. Just curious what your opinions are?

    • Richard Nikoley on August 17, 2010 at 16:22

      That wouldn’t bother me at all. Generally, offspring are the genetic product of two genomes and a clone is of one, like an identical twin.

      No big in my view, though I don’t really see the economic benefit to it since the offspring must still be gestated conventionally.

  11. Todd S. on August 17, 2010 at 17:38

    On the topic of the post title:
    I’ve recently become enamored with French Bistro style cuisine – which many of your recipes and those on Sisson’s site seem to draw from.

    I’m even toying with the idea of making some true sourdough bread as I’ve heard from a few sources (even in the evolutionary health scene) that the fermented dough of such bread really lessens the atrocities of conventional breads. I even read a study summary once that claimed some celiacs were able to eat sourdough with no noticeable problems. Still, I would make it as more of a novelty of sorts. Not something I’d partake of daily.

    On the topic of grass fed:
    My main concern with conventional CAFO meats is the antibiotics they must pump into the animals for them to even exist in such an environment. There was a (Dutch?) study done a while back that showed consumption of such meat eventually leads to antibiotic resistant bacterial strains in a given population. My wallet isn’t so concerned though. In Florida, grass-fed beef (ground beef, mind you) generally runs in the $7 – $8 per lb range.

    • Dave on August 17, 2010 at 17:46

      @ Todd S. – It might take some leg-work, but I think if you found a farmer and bought a freezer you could get your cost down significantly, depending on your area and get a wide variety of cuts.

  12. Mallory on August 17, 2010 at 18:26

    havent read the comments but do understand your position regarding grassfed….however, for me, the amount of food i have to eat and the results i have had from store bought meat and dairy have been horrendous. my skin is gross, my lymph nodes swell (?) i can ‘go’ i get hot flashes/cold chills….so i switch to all raw unpasteured dairy and all grassfed beef and lotsa tallow and bone marrow….was it the switch or maybe it was something else about store dairy and meat, i just know i feel a million bucks better now. but unlike most, i came from a position of near death malnutirion and starvation so maybe my body just reacts differently…..and i am female and i am HOPING theres lots good hormonal things going on in me!

    ps- that reduction sauce was AAAAMMMAZING OMG!!!!! i did it with beef liver though, nom nom

  13. Eve M. on August 18, 2010 at 06:34

    Grass-fed beef and more generally non-feedlot beef is harder to get than conventional beef (so far, though luckily that’s changing a bit). It would be obnoxious to demand it in all circumstances. Agreed that it’s wrong to be a snob about it — but I have been so effusive about its quality and its salutary effects on my health and weight that I’ve accidentally converted two friends to it.

    I started doing “everything right” on low-carb in 2004 and then have spent the last several months doing “everything right” on paleo, but my weight had stalled and wouldn’t budge since about 2006. My research and reading led me to conclude that the only thing left to try was to massively change the O6:O3 ratio of fats I consumed to try and get the “oldest fat” off my body, and to continue consuming a lot of fats. I can’t swear that coconut oil and pastured butter made the difference since I don’t consume them by the pound…but I consume grass-fed beef by the half-pound when I can get it, now, and the difference is way noticeable. Extremely anti-inflammatory and weight-loss-producing, to the point where I’m able to “cheat” occasionally with other treats in a way I couldn’t tolerate for the last five years.

    I’ve been relying on farmers-market beef when I can get it, in this summer season, but just ordered my first large batch from LaCenseBeef.com so that I won’t be without it for home cooking and I can’t wait.

    (It’s also consistently way yummier than the conventional beef they sell to consumers in supermarkets.)

  14. zach on August 18, 2010 at 06:35

    “Grassfed beef is probably a little healthier”

    I eat grain finished beef all the time, but I think grass fed meat and dairy is probably significantly better. Feeding lots of grain to ruminants will dramatically reduce CLA in the stuff that I have read. Fat soluble vitamins in the fat are also greatly reduced. I know the blog was specifically about meat, but look at the color difference between 100% grassfed butter and conventional butter-and the taste.

    • Skyler Tanner on August 18, 2010 at 07:35

      Quoting Hale again regarding grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef:

      “Research shows grass-finished beef has higher levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and conjugated linoleic acid (Duckett et al., 1993; Smith et al., 1996; French et al ., 2000; Grześkiewicz et al., 2001; Poulson et al., 2004; Engle and Spears, 2004; Noci et al., 2005; Daley et al., 2005). Therefore, marketing claims that those nutrients are present in higher concentrations in grass-finished than in conventional beef are correct. However, claims that grass-finished beef is “healthier” as a result are not true, because the differences are not significant for human health.”

      Best,
      Skyler

      • Dan on August 18, 2010 at 17:21

        Thanks. Your helping me win an argument with someone who claims that insinuated I was lying when I said that grain fed beef wasn’t nearly as unhealthy for you as many claim on my blog.



  15. Ned Kock on August 18, 2010 at 07:36

    Hi Richard.

    I have been pondering this issue for some time, regarding grassfed beef and omega-6 fats, and was planning on posting on it soon. Here goes a basic outline of what I was planning to say.

    A point that is often made about the advantages of grass-fed beef is that it contains a better omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Yet pork, whether from naturally raised pigs or not, has a lot more omega-6 than omega-3. Not only that, pork contains a lot of omega-6. And pork is a staple food of the original diet of the longest living group in the world:

    http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/search/label/Okinawa

    The thing about the omega-6 fats one finds in beef and pork is that they are not of the same type as the one found in industrially-produced (for lack of a better term) vegetable oils, such as safflower and sunflower oils. Industrially-produced vegetable oils are a rich source of linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid used in the synthesis of the pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid (which reminds me of arachnids). Arachidonic acids is an essential fat acid, but in abnormally high levels can cause a number of problems.

    Beef and pork, whether from naturally-raised animals or not, are poor sources of linoleic acid.

  16. John R on August 18, 2010 at 08:17

    Great post, Richard… and man, does this need to be said, often and emphatically. A diet built around meat and eggs and veg from Costco — and hell, Oscar Mayer bacon — is far, far better than what most people eat, and if you take your fish oil and vit D the difference between that and “ideal paleo” is little more than nitpicking in comparison.

  17. Grain Fed Meat – The Elephant In The Room - At Darwin's Table on August 18, 2010 at 08:47

    […] was reading this post over at free the animal and I highly recommend you read it. I love this guy, and I love how he brings this contentious […]

  18. Grain Fed Meat: The Elephant In The Room « At Darwin's Table on August 18, 2010 at 08:52

    […] 18 Aug Should we eat grain fed meat if we are on a evolutionary based diet? I discuss why we should, or shouldn’t, be eating grain fed beef over at the new site http://www.darwinstable.com which you can link to here. Tomorrow will be a guest post by JP also to be found at the new site. Please friends update your links to my new site. This post is in response to Richard Nikoley’s post which can be found here. […]

  19. Katelyn on August 18, 2010 at 11:33

    I buy a lot of grassfed/pastured meats, eggs and butter. But I am Zero Carb first and foremost. I will eat a Wal-Mart 100% hamburger roll that was run over by a Mack truck–a ZC food–before I eat some stupid sugared organic fruit. I feel fantastic eating ZC, have tons of energy for lifting weights, can eat once a a day and have the best body of my life. Better off vegetarian? No way! I was a vegetarian up until I was 28, now spent 1.5 years completely Zero Carb, never eating off plan. I increased my energy, got visible abs, got stronger at the gym and got the mental benefits of fasting all day and having a big meat feast at night. No way am I going to fret over the O3:6 ratio of meat and suck a tree sugar orange. Bye, Jim!

  20. Alex on August 18, 2010 at 19:09

    11 years ago, I came down with chronic epididymitis, and after two years of unsuccessful treatment by doctors, I was able to get it under control with supplements and diet. Now I only get flare-ups when I get run down or I eat enough of the wrong foods. Supermarket beef is one of those wrong foods, and I’m not talking about the cheap stuff in the cooler that has been soaked in chemical solution; I’m talking about Hy-Vee’s premium Amana Beef that they sell at the meat counter. If I eat 12oz of it, two days in a row, I get a flare-up. That doesn’t happen with the local grass-fed beef I get at the farmers market. Granted, I’m more sensitive than most people, but I think it does point out that there’s something seriously suboptimal about factory farmed meat.

  21. Jim on August 20, 2010 at 11:55

    I’m happy I was able to insight some really great discussion. Did I exaggerate some, yes, do I still believe you’re better off skipping beef altogether compared to eating the CAFO raised beef, yes. Is it scientifically substiantiated, probably not because there are just as many flawed studies out there are credible ones. It’s often difficult, if not impossible, to tell the difference.

    A lot of you raise great counter points to my opinions and I will continue to research and do what works best for me. One of the things I like best about this particular blog is the lively commentary it inspires and the respect with which most people disagree.

    I’ll stick to my parting comments from my first comment. Great blog Richard. And I’ll add one more. Great comments ‘community’, always question what doesn’t make sense to you and do what you believe is best for your health, not what conventional wisdom says you should do ‘just because’.

    (i’m glad I didn’t select to get e-mail comment notification)
    to steal from Mark Sisson.
    Grok On!

    • Richard Nikoley on August 20, 2010 at 11:59

      Cool Jim and I agree. I especially love it when a post inspires disagreement and debate.

  22. Jason on August 21, 2010 at 22:28

    I would say that eating cattle and animals that eat what they are supposed to (assuming that is grass, or perhaps for some animals that means eating mostly smaller animals), are free-range when applicable, and that are basically allowed to roam and live according to their nature while they are alive is the healthiest and best tasting (the taste can take time to adjust to). That being said, the much more significant dietary principle that has a much bigger impact is eating lots of meat cooked in natural fatty oils (I’m not familiar enough with olive oil so for now I’ve been mostly using butter, sometimes coconut oil) and naturally fatty foods in general.

    Switching from the standard low-fat, high-carb diet to eating any kind of pork chops, eggs, bacon, chicken, steak, meatballs, etc. cooked in naturally fatty oils, naturally fatty foods in general, lots of water, and even some high-fat dairy–doing this as at least 80-90% of one’s diet–is life-changing and very healthy. Grass-fed is healthier, but meat and naturally fatty foods in general (with lots of water) as the main component of one’s diet is very healthy (and tastes delicious).

    I’d like to see animals treated properly (including grass-fed when applicable) while they are alive because it is healthier, tastes better, and importantly I like to see living beings flourish and live according to their natures (just like I like to see plants bloom and thrive). But there is not enough variety and availability today of grass-fed, naturally raised animals for purchase (even for those willing to pay), and the availability can be a legitimate factor. Plus it can be expensive. I basically eat all grain-fed meat because it’s much more affordable and available in wide variety at local grocery stores. I don’t even know a local place where I could find properly fed, naturally raised pork chops and porterhouse steaks.

    By the way, thanks Richard. Your writing helped bring my attention to and helped me tremendously in my transition to a broadly Paleo diet.

  23. Monica on August 21, 2010 at 23:08

    Good post. I’m sure there are more than a few people who think they can’t “do paleo” because they can’t/won’t find grassfed beef. Unfortunate.

    While there is truth in the fact that terroir and breed have a lot to do with the taste of beef, I find grassfed and grainfed beef strikingly different in taste (far more complex), texture, and color. I’m not sure whether in my particular case this is a difference in processing at the slaughterhouse (my grassfed is almost purple in color), various fatty acid proportional differences (sat/mono), vitamin content, CLA, or some other as yet unstudied characteristic, but… there’s definitely an enormous difference, in my experience. I’m uneasy with saying the two are basically equivalent based on simply the omega 3/6 issue.

    I also think the difference could be significant for some people. Lately, I’ve been wondering whether the arachidonic acid content (or some other unknown entity?) of grainfed beef (and eggs from overly-grainfed chickens) might be a serious problem for some people in terms of producing inflammation. To the extent that some sensitive people experience this, and I’ve seen comments to this effect in a few places and some people have mentioned it to me personally, it might be worth it for the rest of us who don’t have such sensitivities to sit up and take notice. (Wheat never bothered me much til I cut it out… then I noticed when I re-introduced it that it has dramatic negative effects on my mood and physical well-being). There are a whole bunch of people out there who avoid meat, eggs, dairy for its “inflammatory effects”. I think some of those effects are real, and not just imagined. Just as it would be a shame if people without access to grassfed don’t try paleo, it’s as much of a shame that people who avoid red meat because of past bad reactions don’t understand that the differences with grain-fed are possibly significant enough to warrant them trying it.

    Not saying the effects of switching from grain- to grass-fed are going to be as dramatic as cutting out junk food… but for me, I have cheap ($5.50/lb) and easy access (delivered right along with my eggs and dairy), so why not? I don’t make a fetish of it. But I do consider it superior. Not because of a bunch of lab values or purported omega 3/6 ratios: because of the fact that it looks, tastes, and feels totally different, just as with about any other animal food that is not raised in factory settings. (It doesn’t necessarily taste *better* to me.)

    Nonetheless, I don’t want to end with criticism because you raise a number of valid points, so: Bravo. I have a friend who buys nothing but grassfed due to concerns over “antibiotics and hormones” and then feeds her kid Kraft mac and cheese. It’s absurd.

  24. Chris W on August 23, 2010 at 09:31

    Chiming in here in tune with Monica:

    A core idea of paleo eating is that we are adapted to certain **whole food** sources or combinations of whole foods. Organisms don’t adapt to specific nutrients in isolation.

    The overall rationale for grass fed beef in the context of health is that it more likely represents a whole food that is closer in its characteristics to what we evolved to eat compared to grain fed beef.

    Is it always worth the extra expense or effort to get it? That’s a different discussion dependent on many other paramaters, including one’s individual situation.

  25. Grass-fed or nothing? | Alex's blog on August 24, 2010 at 04:51

    […] paleo blogger Richard Nikolay says that if you’re eating a paleo diet based around a lot of meat you’re already ahead of the pac… and not to worry about eating grass fed. Fair enough and probably pretty true. He says he’s […]

  26. Michael K on August 26, 2010 at 14:33

    This is why pastured, small, local, sustainable, etc… farms are important:

    http://www.democracynow.org/2010/8/24/david_kirby_on_the_looming_threat

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