Sourcing High Quality Animal Products
Sourcing naturally raised organic nutrient dense meat, cooking fats, eggs and dairy is not always the easiest, but is a super important step towards being a healthy omnivore. If you are eating organic fruit and veg, but conventionally raised animal products, you are doing your body no favors. The reason why is that pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and many other toxins bioaccumulate in fatty tissues of the animals which consume them. So when you consume animal products, which usually contain some fat (which they should!) then you are often eating concentrated toxins. For reasons why you want to consume healthy fats, check out our other blog post: HEALTHY FATS: A GUIDE
But let’s assume you know it’s important to consume healthy fats on a regular basis but are left wondering just where to procure the stuff. Below are the requirements you need to ensure your animal products are going to bring you better health. These are important to memorize so when you are shopping or at a market, you can ask the right questions. Don’t be fooled by images of fields and barns or terms such as “natural,” which mean nothing. Be a savvy consumer and reap the benefits through vitality and health.
Beef, Lamb, Bison: meat, bones and cooking fat called tallow
Terms to look for: Certified organic and 100% grassfed and grass finished.
This means these ruminants were only fed certified organic grass/hay and/or were grazing on fields that are certified organic. These animals were exposed to the outdoors, healthy sun and diverse grasses and herbs. This is very important for the animals to have resilient health and therefore creates the healthiest meat. Sometimes they will use the term pastured. Make sure it says 100% grassfed (and grass finished) as the most important designation even above organic. I prefer to buy red meat with the bone still in, if possible.
Pork: meat, bones and cooking fat called lard
Terms to look for: Certified organic and pastured.
Pigs are ideally fed an organic vegetarian diet and also have the chance to forage for wild foods. For example, the finest pork forages in the forests for acorns. I prefer to buy pork with the bone still in, if possible.
Chicken, Turkey or Duck meat bones and cooking fat
Terms to look for: Certified organic and pasture raised.
This means the birds were only fed certified organic feed and/or also were allowed to forage for bugs and seeds outdoors in grass. Poultry that is allowed to forage have consistently higher nutrient densities. As a rule, I prefer to buy poultry with the bone still in and skin still on. That way when I cook the meat, you get a good amount of healthy fats and connective tissue which make the meat more easily digestible and provide healthy fat in addition to the protein from the muscle.
Chicken, duck, turkey or ostrich eggs
Terms to look for: Certified organic and pastured.
As a general rule, the darker and more orange the yolk, the richer in nutrients the egg is. You will consistently find that eggs that are from pastured organic birds are much more orange than the conventionally raised overcrowded caged hens whose yolks are usually a pale yellow. Using this metric alone, you can discover the healthiest eggs in your area and support that farm in the future. You might also notice the shells of healthier birds are thicker and harder to crack, indicating good mineral balance in those animals.
Dairy from animals such as Cows, Goats or Sheep with products such as Yogurt, Cheese, Butter, Milk, Cream
Terms to look for: Certified organic, 100% grassfed and preferably raw.
You can only get raw dairy in certain states except for raw cheese, which seems to be available in most areas. Grassfed butter is usually a deeper yellow than grain fed butter. Choose whole fat dairy, never lite or reduced fat. If the dairy is grassfed, those fats will be very healthy for you and will help the dairy from spiking your blood sugar. Low fat dairy is notoriously high in sugar (lactose) which unfortunately has made the obesity epidemic worse.
A NOTE ON LACTOSE INTOLERANCE
If you are sensitive to regular cow dairy, you can try sourcing dairy from Jersey cows (sometimes called A2 milk) as these cows have a more digestible protein than Holstein cows (which are considered A1). If using Jersey cow milk is still an issue, try raw Jersey cow dairy. If you cannot find that, try raw sheep or goat dairy. These are also usually more digestible for those with lactose issues. If you find none of these work for you, then try and avoid dairy totally as you are likely unable to digest dairy and continuing to ingest it will only make your life more difficult.
WHERE TO SHOP
Here are my top suggestions for places to find these nutrient dense options
Local Farmers Market
This is the ideal choice because you are often able to meet the farmer or rancher that is raising your animal products. Getting to know the actual person who is raising your animal foods is key because you will be able to ask them questions about their farming practices and hopefully get a good idea about their core values when it comes to raising animals. Even better - you can coordinate a time to visit the farm and check out the environment for yourself! Some farms even have work days where you can volunteer to help out with some lighter farm duties.
This is the next best option right below actually meeting your farmer and visiting the farm. Your local butcher is likely very knowledgable and will be able to answer questions about the quality of the meat and animal products they sell; especially stand alone butcher shops. Butchers inside grocery stores may not have as much knowledge about their meat sourcing. Going to a butcher is also nice because you can request specific cuts and even cuts with the bone still in which I prefer for stews.
Natural Foods Co-op
These are usually smaller grocery stores that offer organic and locally produced goods. They sometimes have better selections of high quality meats and dairy than some of the bigger box stores and may even have a butcher counter. Find out if there are any natural food co-op’s in your area. Check them out and if you find they have a nice selection of goods, consider joining!
USWELLNESSMEATS.com is my go to for meats, cheeses, cooking fats and more when you cannot find options locally. Their whole site has great choices for all animal goods and I know I can trust the way these animals were raised. Their shipping is very affordable and it shows up frozen in a cold chest with ice packs.