The key is, when consuming meat and animal foods, that try your best to eat the meat of animals who have been raised as their nature intended, and for pork and poultry that means you should look for meadow-raised or pasture-raised options.
The Meaning of Meadow-raised: Hogs and poultry that are raised naturally are often referred to as pasture-raised, meadow-raised or pastured. The term implies that the animals were raised out-of-doors, under the sun, with plenty of access to clean water and natural foods.
Poultry and Eggs: For laying hens, raising them on pasture means considerably more nutrients in their eggs than in the eggs of conventionally raised, battery cage hens or even "free-range" eggs you find at the grocery store. When a hen is allowed to pick at the ground, eat fresh green sprouts, live grubs and insects, her eggs become denser in nutrients: particularly omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A. For you, it means that you will enjoy more nutrients if you consume the eggs of pasture-raised hens than the eggs of conventionally raised hens.
Don't believe me? Pick up some farm fresh, pastured eggs and crack one open. Then crack open a regular store-bought egg. You'll find that the yolk of the pastured egg is a rich orange and stands high and firm while the conventional egg's yolk will be palid by comparison and may even break easily. More color means more nutrients.
You'll also find that pasture-raised broilers, turkeys and wild ducks offer a richer flavor to their meat.
Meadow-raised Pork: One of the greatest benefits to consuming meadow- or pasture-raised pork is its vitamin D content. Much like humans, hogs synthesize vitamin D through their skin which means that their fat can be a very rich source of natural vitamin D - a substance that is critical given that recent research indicates that over 70% of US children suffer from insufficient or deficient vitamin D levels (and adults don't fare much better). If the hogs aren't given adequate access to sunlight, as is the case with most conventionally raised animals, they cannot synthesize vitamin D. (Read more about vitamin D).
Pork is also a very good source of monounsaturated fatty acids - that same heart-healthy fat found in olive oil and avocado. Indeed, monounsaturated fat constitutes a full 45% of the total fat content of lard with saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat constituting the remaining 55%. Due to the combined benefits of both vitamin D and monounsaturated fat, meadow-raised pork, lard and even bacon can bring valuable nourishment and flavor to your supper table.
Today's assignment is to track down a source of farm fresh eggs and pasture-raised poultry or pork. You can find it from online sources or check out your farmers market or even Local Harvest for a source near you. Then scramble some eggs, or roast some real pork or go a step further and learn how to render lard - one of the most potent sources of vitamin D outside of cod liver oil.
Day #22: Check List:
Eat some bacon and learn to love it, already!
Read more about the benefits of pasture-raised poultry and pork:
I do have my bacon and lard once in a while and eggs almost everyday. Just because this post has given you the go signal, doesn't mean they have to become a huge part of your meal. Incorporate them into your dishes just like your grandmother would. I know, my grandmother did and she lived until she's 96 years old.
Love and light,