Sunday, 12 May 2013

You are what they eat

Sometimes, there are books you read that not only change the way you think, but the way you live your life. I've been reading through the Ginger Pig book, as well as some great recipes, it has some fascinating info on rearing, and the conventional way of doing it, which has lead to me cutting out supermarket bought meats. Convenience is killing my meals and my health.

Dexter T-bone from the butchery, yellow fat due to being grass fed,

We all know about the ethical and welfare issues, but what hasn't been widely discussed is the possible implication of eating supermarket meat in terms of our health, and vast improvement in taste! Some people may see this as a little OTT, a 'fad' or a bit pedantic, but I've felt so much healthier since doing this, and enjoyed my home cooked meals a lot more. 
Most meat you see on the supermarket is water injected, steriod grown meats. These meats contain little nutrition due to the diet of the animal, and the speed and mainly from breeds that get to maturity, and most importantly size as quickly as possible. Nevermind the nutrition values, method of slaughter is often stressful. You'll see pink spots in the meat, especially in pork and chicken, which is from stress at time of death, causing an adrenaline surge and affects the taste of the meat. Massive stress will actually make the meat more tough. Nice.


Alot of reared cattle are given a synthetic estrogens put it in a little waxy pellet in the cows ear. 
These hormones increases their feed efficiency, which means for a given amount of food they will put on approx. 30% more weight. This stuff is fat-soluble and it bio-accumulates. You do not want to be eating hormone treated beef, that was treated to get fat quickly. It has about as much taste and nutrition as a stale gummy bear. These are obseity causing hormones are more likely the reason there are so many attention grabbing headlines proclaiming that RED MEAT IS BAD. If you are going to eat something that has been fed on crap, then of course it's going to be bad for you, that's a no brainer. You are what you eat.
Grass fed beef is much better for you, higher omega 3s, some vitamin Bs, vitamin E and beta carotene. These will actually lower your heart disease risk and help you perform better. Regardless, the taste is by far superior. These meats aren't costing the earth either.  This 350g Dexter T-bone (60 days dry hung) was about £6. Fantastic value, incredible on the barbie!


It is much more obvious to see stressed pork that other meats, often you'll see that sheen across the surface similar to that with petrol on top of water, kinda like a glistening rainbow, except there is no gold at the end of this one. Water is often injected after slaughter, so effectively you are being conned as you pay by the kg, then this evaporates as soon as you cook it. Booo.
To be honest I've always been bit nonplussed about pork chops, mainly due to having tasteless, dry, tough crap no matter what I've done with it. Only recently I've become a convert, especially with delicious Old Spot chops like below, when cooked the flavour of the fat seeps into the meat, making it nice and juicy.

Old spot pork chop and Dexter T-bone from The Butchery Ltd


I think the whole concept of commercially bred chickens is already well known. Put it this way I don't want to be eating something that has has it's breasts so big they cannot stand up properly. On this note I doubt Katie Price would taste good either. Interesting fact Shahz pointed out to me was that to be labelled 'free range' doesn't necessarily mean what you think it does. The chickens only have to be able to given access to open range, but can be so overpopulated they don't have much space to move and literally shitting on each other. This is one of the reasons why chickens are so synonymous with salmonella, airborne faecal matter cause lesions in their tissues, allows salmonella & e.coli to get into the blood stream .
Again, the same old story, chickens given a more natural diet and allowed to roam freely in space are tastier because of it. It's your brain's way of telling you there is good nutrition in this. You notice after having KFC you feel hungry soon after finishing, that's your liver crying out for some energy to convert the huge amount of crap you've made it process.

I would love to pull out so more science stuff around the food we eat, maybe a few graphs, but think that would be dull for everyone except myself. The point is meat is good for you, not bad (don't read the Daily Mail) long as you eat the good stuff.

So get down your local butcher get some properly sourced meats. Normally I make the effort to go to The Butchery in Spa Terminus near Bermondsey Station, but they aren't the only good ones out there. If anyone has any others they recommend please add in the comments. It would be nice to have a list of tried and trusted butchers.
If you are ever on holiday in Cornwall make the effort to go to Philip Warren Butchers, had a few of their steaks from here when Cornish Grill was selling their produce on Maltby Street. It's no suprise that some of the best restaurants in London use their produce including Pollen Street Social, Ledbury, Pitt Cue Co, and Hedone (who pride their selves in sourcing the best produce the country has to offer). 

Getting to a good butcher might not always be convenient, especially in London. But don't worry Marky market is your saviour, getting up up at ungodly hours to go to Smithfields (and Billingsgate) and will deliver to you the market fresh meat. If you need anything in particular just ask him on @MarkyMarket 

- Owen 

Interesting links

Bulletproof executive
Eat wild
Marky Market

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