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 the Ginger Pig book, it has some fascinating info on rearing, and the conventional way of doing it. This has inspired me to cut out supermarket bought meats. Convenience is killing my meals and my health.
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. Thankfully in the UK the use of these steroids is heavily regulated, but you are very likely to get it in USDA beef. USDA prime beef is characterised by its high fat content without the great beefy flavour you get from grass fed counterparts. A one trick pony.
Grass fed beef is much better for you, higher omega 3 , some vitamin Bs (B3 & B12), 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. The 350g Dexter T-bone (60 days dry hung) above was about £6. Fantastic value, incredible on the barbie!
It is much more obvious to see stressed pork that other meats. Especially on bacon often you'll see that sheen across the surface similar to that with petrol on top of water, like a glistening rainbow, except there is no gold at the end of this one. This is due to a surge of adrenaline at the time of death. Also, 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.
To be honest I've always been bit nonplussed about pork chops, mainly due to having tasteless, dry, tough meat 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.
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.
Getting to a good butcher might not always be convenient, especially in London.
Natoora deliver meats sourced from The Butchery Ltd. I Hhghly recommend, they have some tremendous seasonal produce, and if you enter
REFERFRIEND when order, you'll get £10 off.
The Ginger Pig Meat book - Tim Wilson