In our family, this month's theme has been pinching pennies. We're trying very hard to save as much as possible. Mari's grandma turns 80 this year, and a trip to Brazil for 4 people will be no less than $4000 just for the airfare. The main problem: I'm a food snob. I just started eating meat when pregnant with Kaio. Before that, I lived vegan for 7 years. Now I only eat 'happy' cows. For me, veganism was always out of mutual respect, not biblical or ethical. I believed humans should eat meat; our eyes being in front of our head and not to the side make us predator/omnivore, not herbivore. But I simply could not bare to contribute to the system of meat production in the US which keeps animals in small cages for the majority of their lives. What really did it for me was a scene from the movie Baraka, inside a chicken factory, a close up of a baby chick having its beak burned off. Once I learned that is real life for the food on the table, I stopped supporting the industry.
Now that I'm back on the meat eating bandwagon, and getting full speed into Nourishing Traditions and Weston A. Price Foundation’s dietary guidelines, our staples include unusual animal pieces. What's good is that organ meats and strange parts of animals are usually cheaper. What's bad is that they are difficult to find.
We've been shopping lately at the Asian/International market. Today we went and picked up cow feet, neck bones, whole quail, Halal goat with bones, salmon heads, and mussels. Oh and there were lots of other oddities I considered: duck feet, cow knee, chicken hearts, and conch shells.
The dilemma: where do these meats come from and what might they have in them? Are they pastured?
I had heard or read somewhere that lamb meat was always pastured. So when eating out, I always order a dish with lamb. I heard that Halal meat was more natural. So we always choose Halal when available. But are these rumors true? After some research and finding a surprisingly comprehensive USDA site, here's the scoop on what's pastured, and what has hormones and antibiotics. All the following information summarized from the various USDA farm to table fact sheets.
- Hormones are not approved for growth promotion in goats.
- Antibiotics may be given to prevent or treat diseases in
goats. A "withdrawal" period is required from the time most antibiotics are administered until it is legal to slaughter the animal.
- Kids (goats under a year of age) are often slaughtered when 3 to 5 months of age and weighing from 25 to 50 pounds.
- Many goats are older than a year and heavier when marketed, but most, except aged cull goats, are slaughtered when less than a year of age. The meat of older goats is darker and less tender, but more juicy and flavorful than kid.
- In the U.S., there are three distinct types of goats:
1. Dairy goats, raised primarily for milk;
2. Spanish or Mexican goats, produced for meat on a variety of open rangeland;
3. South African Boer goats, a recently introduced breed that can adapt to various climates and can rebreed while still nursing; and
4. Angora goats, raised primarily for their wool, used to make cloth.
- During weaning, lambs gradually begin feeding on pasture or coarsely ground grain. They are raised on hay and feed consisting of corn, barley, milo (a type of sorghum), and/or wheat supplemented with vitamins and minerals. Lambs are usually "finished" (grown to maturity) in feedlots where they are fed specially formulated feed.
- Zeronal, a synthetic hormone, may be used to promote efficient growth in feedlot lambs. The hormone is implanted on the lamb's ear and is time released for about 30 days. A withholding period of 40 days is required before slaughter.
- Antibiotics may be given to prevent or treat disease in lambs. A recommended withholding period is required from the time antibiotics are administered until it is legal to slaughter the animal.
- Lamb is meat from sheep less than 1 year old.
- Unlike the older, tougher animals the Native Americans ate, today's bison are custom-fed and slaughtered at about 18 months, so the meat is as tender as beef
- Bison are allowed to roam freely most of their lives. They are raised on the open range and eat hay or grass. They are usually given grain during the last 90 to 120 days before slaughter.
- Antibiotics and growth hormones are not given to bison.
- Almost all ducks are raised indoors to protect from predators and to manage their manure, which is collected and used elsewhere selectively as fertilizer.
- Ducks are fed corn and soybeans fortified with vitamins and minerals. Most feed contains no animal by-products.
- No hormones are allowed in U. S. duck or goose production.
- Very few drugs have been approved for ducks and geese so antibiotics are not routinely given and are not useful for feed efficiency. If a drug is given -- usually, through the feed -- to cure illness, for example, a "withdrawal" period of days is required from the time it is administered until it is legal to slaughter the bird.
- All cattle start out eating grass; three-fourths of them are "finished" (grown to maturity) in feedlots where they are fed specially formulated feed based on corn or other grains.
- Antibiotics may be given to prevent or treat disease in cattle. A "withdrawal" period is required from the time antibiotics are administered until it is legal to slaughter the animal.
- Not all antibiotics are approved for use in all classes of cattle. However, if there is a demonstrated therapeutic need, a veterinarian may prescribe an antibiotic that is approved in other classes for an animal in a non-approved class.
- Hormones may be used to promote efficient growth. Estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone (three natural hormones), and zeranol and trenbolone acetate (two synthetic hormones) may be used as an implant on the animal's ear. The hormone is time released, and is effective for 90 to 120 days.
- In addition, melengesterol acetate, which can be used to suppress estrus, or improve weight gain and feed efficiency, is approved for use as a feed additive.
- Pork is the number one meat consumed in the world
- Antibiotics may be given to prevent or treat disease in hogs. A "withdrawal" period is required from the time antibiotics are administered until it is legal to slaughter the animal.
- No hormones are used in the raising of hogs.
- Turkeys are fed a diet of mainly corn and soybean meal along with a supplement of vitamins and minerals. They grow to full maturity in about 4 to 5 months, depending on the desired market weight.
- No hormones have been approved for use in turkeys.
- Antibiotics may be given to prevent disease and increase feed efficiency.
- Producers must demonstrate to the USDA's food safety agency (FSIS) that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside in order to be labeled "Free Range" or "Free Roaming."
- Grass and forage shall be the feed source consumed for the lifetime of the ruminant animal, with the exception of milk consumed prior to weaning. more here.
- Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.
- Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; or ionizing radiation.
ANTIBIOTICS this content summarized from US Standards for Livestock and Meat marketing Claims 2002
- No antibiotics used, or Raised without antibiotics. -Livestock have never received antibiotics from birth to harvest.
- No subtherapeutic antibiotics added, or Not fed antibiotics. "Livestock are not fed subtherapeutic levels of antibiotics. They may receive treatment for illness provided the approved FDA withdrawal period is observed.
- No detectable antibiotic residue (analyzed by "method x"). Requires additional information on the label that clearly informs the consumer/purchaser that the animal may have been treated with antibiotics.
HORMONES this content summarized from US Standards for Livestock and Meat marketing Claims 2002
- No supplemental hormones* used, Raised without supplemental hormones*, or No added hormones* .-The livestock have never received supplemental hormones from birth to harvest.
- No hormones* administered during finishing .-The livestock have not received supplemental hormones during the feeding/finishing period.
* The terms "hormone," "growth promotant," "growth stimulant," and "implant" are used interchangeably.
POULTRY this content summarized from the US Trade Descriptions for Poultry
- Free-Range Production with Traditional Diet - Birds are raised in heated and air-cooled growing houses with access to the outdoors and fed a traditional high protein diet.
- Pastured/Pasture-Raised Production with Traditional Diet - Birds are raised outdoors using movable enclosures located on grass and fed a traditional high-protein diet.
- Traditional Production with Organic and/or Antibiotic-Free Systems – Birds are raised in heated and air-cooled growing houses and fed an organic diet (without hormones or non-organic additives) and/or raised without antibiotics.
- Free-Range Production with Organic and/or Antibiotic-Free Systems - Birds are raised in heated and air-cooled growing houses with access to the outdoors and fed an organic diet (without hormones or non-organic additives) and/or raised without antibiotics
- Pastured Production with Organic and/or Antibiotic-Free Systems - Birds are raised outdoors using movable enclosures located on grass and fed an organic diet (without hormones or non-organic additives) and/or raised without antibiotics.
HALAL this content summarized from the Washington Post Story
- Animals must be well rested, fed wholesome foods and handled in a way that minimizes suffering during slaughter.
- The butcher must use a sharp knife and prevent one animal from witnessing the slaughter of another.
- Animal is bleed quickly
- Blessing to Allah as the animal is killed
KOSHER this content summarized from the Kashrut
- Slaughter is a quick, deep stroke across the throat with a perfectly sharp blade with no nicks or unevenness.
- Rapid draining of most of the blood.
The remaining blood must be removed, either by broiling or soaking and salting.
- The sciatic nerve and its adjoining blood vessels may not be eaten. The process of removing this nerve is time consuming and not cost-effective, so most American kosher slaughterers simply sell the hind quarters to non-kosher butchers.
The facts about eggs were really confusing and I couldn’t quite get to the bottom of it. Did I miss anything else?
I’m glad that the information was available so transparently, just took a few hours of searching for guidelines, regulations, rules, and standards for meat production, slaughtering, marketing, and labeling...*exhale*