The Round and Purple Eggplant

By Emily Myers

The Eggplant is one of kind, from its smooth purple exterior, to its seedy, sponge-like center. This vegetable, grown on a vine, peaks in mid-July-October.

Eggplant is a very good source of Dietary Fiber, which is key when talking about gut health and weight management. Dietary Fiber increases the feeling of fullness by partnering with water in the stomach to create a gel-like Chyme. The gel, in a way, tricks the stomach by taking up more volume than it necessarily holds in calories. As the Dietary Fiber passes through the GI-tract, to the laeggplantrge intestine, bacteria breaks-down the Dietary Fiber and expels gas, which puts pressure on the on intestinal wall. The pressure comes out as a nice little stinker (we hope). Eggplant is also a good source of Thiamine, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium, and Magnesium. Eggplant is a winner when looking at the Glycemic Index, with a ranking of 2 out of 100. The Glycemic Index is often used when taking about the Diabetic Diet. It describes the rate carbohydrates are broken down to simple sugars and used as energy by the human body. High Glycemic Index foods are said to have an adverse effect on blood sugars.

Try this Baba Ghanoush recipe! Fun to say an easy to cook, it is sure to be a crowd pleaser!

Yield: 2 cups of dip, enough for 8-10 people Ingredients:

* Eggplant, 2 medium

* Olive oil, 2Tbsp

* Tahini butter, ½ cup

* Garlic cloves, 1Tbsp

* Lemon juice, ¼ cup

* Salt and pepper

* Optional cilantro to taste

Preparation:

1) Preheat oven to 450oF. After washing and drying eggplant, rub olive oil on the outside for roasting. Place eggplant on baking sheet and cook for 15-20 min, until the center of the eggplant is tender. Let it cool.

2) Peel the eggplant and cut into manageable pieces. Place into the food processor along with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and optional seasonings.

3) Taste and manipulate as needed. If it is a bit thick, add several teaspoons of water.

4) Serve alongside warm pita, or freshly cut cucumber and carrots.

 

References:

SELFNutritionData. Eggplant cooked, boiled, drained with salt Nutrition Facts and Calories. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2858/2 . Published 2013. Accessed September 20, 2016.

iDiet. The 2 Kinds of Fiber for Fullness/ Useful Dieting Tips. https://www.theidiet.com/2013/05/fiber-for-fullness-useful-dieting-tips/#.V916dPkrJhE. Published May 20, 2013. Accessed September 20, 2016.

SELFNutritionData. The Glycemic Index. http://nutritiondata.self.com/topics/glycemic-index. Published 2014. Accessed September 20, 2016.

Grocery Shopping 101

by Madeleine Wirth
Do you ever wish there was a class on “adulting”?
Life skills like grocery shopping are hardly taught in high schools or college campuses. Many students come to college and begin regularly grocery shopping for the first time in their lives with few prior experience food shopping.
There are challenges that come with grocery shopping, and perhaps the greatest challenge is budgeting your grocery list around healthy, nutritious foods. Developing the knowledge of how to shop resourcefully and plan a realistic grocery budget requires experience. However, with the proper knowledge, you can feel empowered to navigate the grocery store knowing how to shop and what to buy. Check out these tips on how you can be an informed consumer, buy nutritious foods, and save money!

1. Plan how many meals you will need during the upcoming week. Whether or not you have a dining plan, everyone should plan to eat at least three meals a day. If you have a dining plan, consider your punches and dining dollars before buying more than enough food at the grocery store. If you don’t have a meal plan, consider how many breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks you will need. Be sure to consider if you plan to eat out! This will save you from buying food that will go bad before you eat it!

2. Develop a grocery list. Knowing what you need before you walk into the grocery store saves you from impulse buying. Purchasing foods you do not need is the greatest threat to your bank account. Take 20 minutes to write down the foods you need to avoid impulsive food buys.

3. Never shop hungry. People are more likely to buy highly processed and sweet foods if they shop hungry. Grab a healthy snack before hitting the grocery store. You will save money and avoid junk food you would have bought otherwise!

4. Look for the generic brand. Most foods usually have a name-brand associated with them; think of your favorite cereals, soups, and tomato sauce. Brand versions are always more expensive than the generic store-brand, but the two are usually just the same thing. You can save a dollar here and there by choosing store-brands like MyEssentials or GreatValue!

5. Compare unit prices. Unit prices are listed on the price label, usually as a cost per ounce of the food item. This helps you compare brands for the best price. For example, one box of pasta may be listed as $2.49, and another box of pasta may be listed as $3.00. Check the unit prices to determine which option is cheaper.

6. Shop at Sharp Shopper or Costco for nonperishable items. These Harrisonburg stores are stocked with great deals on bulk items. If you find yourself eating many of the same foods, like canned beans, pasta, and peanut butter, buy these foods in bulk to save money. Other stores like Kroger, Martins, and Food Lion offer deals on purchases made with a special store member card. Anyone over the age of 18 can apply for Bonus or MVP cards. If you regularly shop at those stores, be sure to register! You will be surprised by the money you’ll save! You can also save money by planning meals around special deals offered with Bonus or MVP cards.

7. Consider “making it yourself”. Although convenient, many frozen dinners are highly processed with additives and extra salt. Buying the ingredients to make the meal yourself is likely much more nutritious. It will also save you money in the long run as you can make larger batches to last you through the week!

8. Visit the freezer aisle for produce. Buying frozen fruits and vegetables is often cheaper than buying fresh produce. The fruits and veggies are frozen shortly after being harvested, making them just as nutritious. Be sure to wrap frozen veggies and fruits tightly to avoid freezer burn.

9. Check the nutrition label for fiber, saturated fat, and sugar. Choose snack options that are low in refined sugars and saturated fat. Instead, choose foods that are high in fiber. Fiber is great for digestive health while keeping you satiated longer!

With these things in mind, you can approach and leave the grocery store feeling confident about the food you buy!
Happy shopping!

12 Tips on Saving Money [Part 1]

Noteworthy Nutritional Yeast

By: Michalea Gale
Nutritional what…? I will admit what many of you may be thinking, the name or appearance does not make you particularly excited to try this product. This summer I found myself continuously coming across nutritional yeast in various articles and recipes. After deciding to give it a try I was pleasantly surprised, not only does it taste great in dishes but is LOADED with several health benefits. What’s not to love about that?
First of all, what is nutritional yeast? It’s made from a single-celled organism, Saccharomyces Cerevisae, which is grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried with heat to kill or “deactivate” it. You may be familiar with brewer’s yeast, Torula yeast, or active dry yeast. Nutritional yeast differs from these as it does not grow or have leavening ability due to its inactive state, hence these ingredients should not be used interchangeably!
These flimsy little flakes pack a big punch when it comes to nutrition! Two tablespoons of nutritional yeast contains 60 calories and 9 grams of protein. That’s more protein than an egg (6 grams) or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (8 grams). It’s also high in fiber, which plays an important role in terms of gut health and functional digestion. Fiber slows the absorption of sugar, thus improving blood sugar levels and potentially reducing the risk of developing type II diabetes. Also, nutritional yeast contains a full day’s supply of Vitamin B-12 in just one tablespoon. Most sources of B-12 are animal based, making this a great option for vegans or vegetarians. Vitamin B-12 is required for proper functioning of the brain and nerves, as well as red blood cell production. Rich in folate, nutritional yeast is great for women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant as folate is known to prevent many major birth defects. Oh and one last added bonus- it’s gluten free!
Okay so it sounds great on paper but trust me, its flavor is delicious too! Nutritional yeast is known for its nutty, cheesy essence. With its somewhat umami (savory) characteristics it can be used as a seasoning for a wide variety of foods. Many individuals, especially those who are lactose intolerant or dairy free, use it the same way one would use shredded cheese. Sprinkle it over roasted veggies, pasta, eggs, or salads for that same “cheesy” flavor. Another fan favorite is sprinkling it over popcorn with some olive oil, salt, and pepper for a crunchy and satisfying snack. Overall it can serve as a replacement for cheese in any recipe, while saving calories and adding an abundance of essential nutrients.
This product is not typically something you’ll find on the corner stand of your local grocery store, I actually had to try three different locations before I could find it back at home. Luckily if you’re in the Harrisonburg area there is a few places you can be sure to find it.
1. Friendly City Food Co-op: 150 E Wolfe Street, Harrisonburg
2. Kate’s Natural Products: 451 University Blvd, Harrisonburg
3. Sue’s Super Nutrition: 3060 S Main Street, Harrisonburg
It stands out with it’s bright yellow color and is most commonly sold powdered or in flakes that resemble fish food. Below I’ve included one of my favorite recipes to use it in, enjoy!

Eggplant Cannelloni

Ingredients, Serves 4

Basil & Spinach Filling
2 cups cashews, soaked for minimum 4 hours
3 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup almond milk
½ cup basil
¾ cup spinach
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 Eggplant

Tomato Sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp honey or other sweetener (optional)
salt & pepper
2 tbsp chopped basil
2 tbsp grated parmesan or nutritional yeast (optional)

Directions
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
• Drain the soaked cashews and place them in a blender or food processor with the garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and almond milk. Blend until the cashews have broken down into a creamy consistency. Add in the spinach and basil and continue to blend until completely smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside
• Cut the eggplant lengthwise into ¼ to ½ inch thick slices. Lightly salt each side and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes to remove excess moisture. After 15 minutes wipe the eggplant with paper towels to remove the salt.
• The eggplant can be grilled for 2-3 minutes per side on a well oiled grill or baked in the oven for 15 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Once cooked remove and set aside
• To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a pot on medium heat and add the garlic. Allow to cook until soft before adding in the can of chopped tomatoes and sweetener. Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes until it begins to thicken. Season with salt and pepper and pour a small amount of the sauce into the bottom of a baking dish.
• Place about 2-3 spoonfuls of the spinach and basil mixture onto the end of each slice of eggplant and roll tightly, placing them seam side down on top of the sauce in the baking dish.
• Pour the remainder of the sauce overtop the rolls and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
• Serve straight from the oven sprinkled with parmesan (or more nutritional yeast) and chopped basil.

References:
http://research.omicsgroup.org/index.php/Nutritional_yeast
http://www.foodandnutrition.org/Stone-Soup/July-2013/Get-to-Know-Nutritional-Yeast/

Eggplant Cannelloni

Pushin’ Protein

By Kat Huntley

If you are someone who glances at food labels, you might notice that many of them have a featured nutrient in common that food companies are eager to highlight to the public. The common denominator? Protein!
I call it the protein push, because it seems that protein has been made everyone’s favorite macronutrient to love. Proteins are never the “bad” nutrients. Unlike carbs or fat they have always been included in every trendy new diet- and it’s easy to see why! The amino acids that make up proteins are the building blocks of life. Protein is essential in the body to help repair cells and make new ones. Because of this, protein is vital for growth and development. Protein has even been proven to help curb the appetite by helping people feel fuller, longer ¹. But, just like with everything else in life, it is better to stay in the moderate zone than to leap ahead to extremes. So that raises the question- “How much protein do I actually need?”
The Realities of Recommendations
The recommendation from 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is for protein to account for 10-30% of your total caloric intake². Every gram of protein breaks down to give us 4 calories of energy. If you are eating around 2,000 calories a day, your recommended range is anywhere from 50g-150g of protein. If you want to shoot for the middle at 20% of total calories, that would come to a neat 100 grams.
That might sound like a large amount of protein, but this is actually a very manageable amount that most people consume in their everyday meal pattern without even thinking about it. Here are a few ways to look at it:
• One serving of fish, lean meat, or poultry is considered to be 3 oz. (about the size of a checkbook⁴). Just one ounce of these foods typically contains 7 grams of protein. That adds up to 21 grams of protein in just one serving!
• One large egg contains 7 grams
• ½ cup of cooked beans or lentils also contain 7 grams of protein
That means that if you have 2 eggs with breakfast, a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, and one serving of fish, a lean meat, or poultry for dinner with a side of beans, you’ve already consumed well more than 50 grams of protein! And that is not even taking into consideration all the other sources of protein that people enjoy eating every day.
Sources of Protein
Protein is found in many food sources, not just meat, fish, poultry or beans. Dairy products like low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese are good sources of protein. Tempeh, tofu, quinoa, green peas, chickpeas, and vegetables like spinach and broccoli also have notable amounts of protein. Whole grains that are not refined or “white” products also are great sources of protein to enjoy. The reality is that if a variety of whole foods are enjoyed, there shouldn’t be any worry about not getting enough protein.
Individualized Approach
It is important when thinking about nutrition to understand that everyone’s needs are going to be different. This is because your nutrient needs are based on many factors that are unique to you, such as your gender, age, body size, physical activity level and health status.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommends that females from ages 14-18 that are consuming a little less than 2,000 calories a day get 46 grams of protein each day, while males of the same age group are recommended to eat a little more than 2,000 calories a day and get 52 grams of protein². As ages change so to can the recommended amount of protein. Females ages 51 and older are still recommended 46 grams of protein each day, while males in that same age group are recommended 56 grams².
Besides considering age and calorie consumption, the amount of physical activity and the actual size of person can change recommendations too.
Athletes, for example, have a greater over-all calorie need than others. Many athletes may be concerned with trying to consume more protein than they did before they began their exercise routine, because they might know that protein helps to repair and strengthen muscle tissue⁵. But protein needs for athletes are not as great as they are commonly perceived⁵. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic and the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 1.2-2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes⁵. This means if you weigh 170 lbs (77 kg), then the recommended range of protein for you as an athlete at that size is 92g-154g of protein. As was pointed out earlier in this article, the highest end of the range for non-athletes who are consuming a typical 2,000 calorie diet is 150 g of protein. The difference in between the recommended amount of protein for an athlete and a non-athlete does not actually add up to be that large.
Expensive Powders, Bars and Supplements
This leads to the topic of the popular protein blends that are available on the market for today’s consumers. Many types of proteins supplements and powders exist, and each one has their own claim to benefits for the body. Protein powders and supplements can be great because of their convenience. It can be quicker for someone to throw a few simple ingredients in the blender with a scoop of protein powder than it is to plan, prep, or cook a full meal. But besides offering convenience, these products are not a necessity, even for elite athletes.
So as for the common “Now with ‘x’ amount of protein” advertising that can be seen on many food products, just know that it isn’t a bad thing, but it isn’t something that was typically an issue before either.

References:

1. Leidy, H. J., Hoertel, H. A., Douglas, S. M., Higgins, K. A. and Shafer, R. S. (2015), A high-protein breakfast prevents body fat gain, through reductions in daily intake and hunger, in “Breakfast skipping” adolescents. Obesity, 23: 1761–1764. doi:10.1002/oby.21185
2. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/. Published December 2015. Accessed September 1, 2016.

3. Wax E. Protein in the diet. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002467.htm. Published April 25, 2015. Accessed September 1, 2016.

4. What is a serving? American Heart Association Web site. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Caregiver/Replenish/WhatisaServing/What-is-a-Serving_UCM_301838_Article.jsp#.V8ie8_krLIU. Published December 18, 2014. Revised February 18, 2015. Accessed September 1, 2016.

5. Caspero, A. Protein and the athlete- how much do you need? Eat Right. http://www.eatright.org/resource/fitness/sports-and-performance/fueling-your-workout/protein-and-the-athlete. Published July 19, 2016. Accessed September 1, 2016.

Plant Based Nutrition 101

By Anne Custer

Plant based diets have become a trend in the past few years, with meat and dairy alternative sales skyrocketing, more public interest in sustainability, and increased research in the health effects of these diets. However, it’s more than just a trend- it’s an overall lifestyle change driven by compassion, consciousness, and wellness. I made the change three years ago to a completely vegan diet. After my certification in Plant Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center of Nutrition Studies, I can confidently take pride in my lifestyle and the benefits I (and the animals, and the environment, etc.) reap.

Definitions

Before you read, here are a few definitions to be aware of:

– Pescetarian. Eats fish, dairy products, and eggs, but not poultry or red meat.

-Lacto-ovo-vegetarian. Eats both dairy products and eggs. This is the most common type of vegetarian diet.

-Lacto-vegetarian. Eats dairy products but not eggs.

-Ovo-vegetarian. Eats eggs but not dairy products.

-Vegan. Does not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other animal product.

The terminology between plant based and vegan differ slightly. Plant based eliminates oils, refined sugar, and processed foods. It is exactly how it sounds- plant based! Vegans may or may not consume these products depending on their preference.

Disease Prevention

Right now, about 3 out of 4 Americans are on some type of prescription drug. The majority of these medications are for chronic diseases that could be prevented and reversed by proper nutrition. The underlying problem behind this is the fact that the majority of medical professionals and the general public do not believe in the power of nutrition. Doctors are paid based on the number of patients they see, the tests they order, and the pharmacotherapy prescribed. This type of system doesn’t allow for a holistic approach where the needs of the patient are priority and the curative option (usually diet and lifestyle change) is taken. Diet and lifestyle changes can be cures for long term chronic diseases, while medicine temporarily treats a symptom of the disease, until they need a new medication for a different symptom. This is how people end up prescribed many different pills to take each day, all while the sustainable, cost effective solution is in their kitchen.

Of course, the nutrition I am speaking about is plant based. I learned a great deal about chronic disease prevention and reversal from my certification program. For example, there was a study out of the Pritkin Center that looked at the relationship between plant based diets and type 2 diabetes. 40 patients with the disease were prescribed a low fat, plant based diet along with exercise and within 26 days, 34 of the patients (85%) discontinued all medication. All medication! Perhaps the most controversial is the ability to turn on and off tumor growth in rats injected with cancer. The rats were fed a diet containing 20% of casein, which is a protein found in cow’s milk, then a diet containing of 5% casein. Scientists found that tumors continued to grow at a fast rate when fed 20% casein, but when switched to the lower amount, the tumors not only stopped growing, but they shrunk. This is controversial for many reasons, but mainly it contradicts the animal rights movement, which is one of the main reasons people decide to switch to plant based diets. I was first interested in veganism after hearing about the health benefits and the amazing power it has to combat disease. However it has grown into an appreciation for the Earth and the environment, as well as a desire to see the suffering of animals for our consumption come to an end. Unfortunately, these tests cannot be undone, but we have this information now that we can utilize to be a voice for the animals harmed in the process.

Diet patterns

I get endless questions about what I eat. How do you get protein, iron, calcium, B-12, etc.? What can you eat? Do you get bored? Do you eat a lot of salad? (The answer to that is a firm no.) So, just for the curious reader here is a vegan food pyramid. An example dinner from this would be brown rice with lime juice and cilantro, sautéed veggies, black beans, topped with fresh Pico de Gallo and guacamole. Sounds boring, right? No, but really there are bountiful options and many foods I didn’t discover on a SAD. (Standard American Diet. Yes, it is as sad as it sounds.) As for things like iron, calcium, and B-12, these micronutrients are of concern in a vegan diet because they aren’t as bioavailable to be absorbed in plants as they are in animal products. This shouldn’t discourage you because it is still easily achievable to get these nutrients. Fortified tofu, cereals, and nut milks have plenty of absorbable calcium and sometimes iron. It’s important to pair iron sources with a source of vitamin C. Put some lemon juice on sautéed kale, have a snack of cashews and an orange, or make a creamy chickpea salad with craisins. The possibilities are endless! As for B-12, if you are like me and hate the idea of supplementation, either buy fortified foods or use nutritional yeast as a seasoning on potatoes, vegetables, pasta, or even popcorn.  The last word I would use to describe a vegan diet is restrictive or boring. I can eat whatever I want and feel good about the choices I make. I rarely have the same thing for dinner in a week and look forward to trying new foods and recipes. Plus, most people eat vegan meals without consciously deciding to and many common recipes are easily made vegan.

Vegan-Food-Pyramid-New

 

Resources

These resources have challenged, inspired, and educated me throughout this transition. If your interest is sparked, I encourage you to do your own research and seek out resources that can do the same for you.

 

Documentaries:

Forks Over Knives

Cowspiracy

Vegucated

PlantPure Nation

 

Books:

How Not to Die by Michael Greger

Whole by Howard Jacobson and T. Colin Campbell

Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman

Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran

 

Websites:

NutritionFacts.org

VRG.org

Nutritionstudies.org

PCRM.org

Harrisonburg: the Foodie town

A review of local eats

By: Ashley Bubb

When I came to JMU & Harrisonburg, I had never heard of the local food movement, or had I been exposed to a town with so much emphasis on “going local”. Going local means supporting local farmers and businesses by purchasing from local farmers, restaurants, and vendors.

Throughout the four years you spend at JMU, you should make it a priority to “Go Local” and support your local restaurants and farms. I have compiled reviews of my favorite five ways to go local in Harrisonburg.

1. The Farmer’s Market

The Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market, located in the downtown Turner Pavilion, is open every Tuesday & Saturday from 9-1. The Farmer’s Market, depending on the season, has a variety of in-season produce, plants, and a ton of other food vendors. Whether you would like a grass fed burger, local eggs, homemade breads, or a warm cinnamon bun, the Farmer’s Market is the place to be! It is a great way to support local farmers and vendors. The best part of the market is its inexpensive, quality food. Coming to the Farmer’s Market with even just $5 can get you some good eats

2. The Friendly City Food Co-Op

A co-op is a business that is owned by a group of owners that aims to enrich the community with local products. The co-op sells healthy, and wholesome foods, with most products being organic. You can find fresh produce, local meats, and baked goods from local bakers. The co-op also sells typical groceries, and locally made hygienic products. You can find some nifty snacks at the co-op, with my personal favorite being coconut covered dates J My favorite part of the co-op is the pre-prepared meals and hot food bar! If you ever want to have a nutritious, cheap, and local meal for dinner or lunch, the co-op is the place to come! A general consensus among dietetics

majors is that the best meal there is the Pad Thai Chicken in Peanut Sauce.

3. Bella-Luna Pizza

Being from New Jersey, I have a very high standard for pizza. Bella-Luna exceeds my expectations. Finding out that Bella-Luna creates their pizzas with produce, meats, and cheeses from local farms in the Shenandoah Valley & Central Virginia made it even more delicious J Bella-Luna pizza dough is made from scratch daily (and is better than any pizza dough you have ever had). The atmosphere of Bella Luna is a calm and welcoming one. It is great for a night out with friends, or even a date while also supporting the local movement

4. Food Bar Food

Having the slogan of “Global Comfort Food”, Food Bar Food incorporates creative meals with emphasis on fresh and local ingredients from the Shenandoah Valley. Food Bar Food is known for their authentic meals and creative cocktails.  Popular menu items include Caramel Shrimp and J&L Green Farm Beef Burgers.

5. Little Grill Collective

If you are a fan of brunch, the Little Grill is the place to go! The aim of Little Grill is to localize where the food comes from by building a network with local food producers. But it doesn’t just stop there. The Little Grill is also about sustainability. They minimize food waste by composting and creating their lunch specials based on the leftover food. All foods do not contain high-fructose corn syrup, and all chicken, eggs, and beef are free range! Warning to all who come: make sure to get there early for brunch or there will be a wait because it is just that popular.

I hope I have inspired you to make a choice to go local during your time in Harrisonburg. Going local also ensures that you are consuming nutritious and high quality foods. This movement is evolving, and I can’t wait to see what else comes out of it!

Forever a Foodie,

Ashley

Grass-fed or Get Out?

Meat has been a hot topic in the news lately. The World Health Organization started it. They deemed processed red meats a Group 1 Carcinogen. What else is in this Group? Smoking tobacco. So, you can imagine the kinds of conversation this warning started. Before you freak out… They aren’t saying processed meats are equivalent to smoking. You can still have some bacon at Sunday brunch.

dirtydancing-meme

Everyone loves bacon jokes, but what does this really mean? To understand why the WHO would say such a thing, we need to go back to the source: the cow or the animal from which the meat originated.

Cows are a huge industry in the U.S. They give us red meat, butter, milk, and cheese. Try to come up with a product that doesn’t contain one of these ingredients. It might take you a minute. However, since we have become so dependent on these products, we have tried to come up with ways to make them fast and cheap to produce.

How? This is where it starts to get ugly.

thB3B1A25Z

Before we industrialized cows and their by-products, they ate grass. Unlike many other mammals, cows have an unusual stomach that can tolerate grass. Their rumen, a four-chambered stomach, is designed to efficiently digest grass and turn it into energy. Cows that eat grass are extremely healthy as this is their natural diet.

In the U.S., conventionally-raised calves are often born on a ranch and nursed for a few months while grazing on the pasture. By the time they are roughly six months, they are shipped to a feeding mill where they begin a diet of corn infused with protein and fat supplements. Their feed is laced with estrogen and liquid vitamins. These cows do not have access to grass. They are prone to illness, and it is easy to imagine why. They are eating a grain-based diet when they were made to eat a grass-based one. As a result of their sickness and damage to their digestive tracts, antibiotics are blended into their feed as well. If all of this wasn’t enough, the hormones and by-products in their feed gets stored in their fat that we then consume!

The benefits of grass-fed are widely documented. Grass-fed beef is lower in total fat and saturated fat. It has a high amount of carotenoids and Omega-3s (from the components of the grass) and CLA (an antioxidant and heart healthy fat). Many studies on red meat are used with conventionally raised red meat, and as a result, often have negative conclusions about the health of those who consume it. With all of this information in mind, it makes sense why eating these products can be detrimental to our health.

I do not mean to deter you from eating these foods, but I do mean to inform you. Understanding what you’re eating and where it comes from is a huge skill set and one that promotes wellbeing in all areas of our lives.

Grass-fed isn’t just for red meat: products like milk, butter, and cheese can also be found in grass-fed varieties. Even chickens and their eggs are found in grass-fed and pastured varieties (take a look at the difference in the yolks below!). These are usually sourced out best at farmer’s markets, co-ops, or health food stores in your area. Other terms used to appropriately describe grass-fed foods are pastured or pasture-raised. You could even take it a step further and ask your farmer about their growing tactics. They should be happy to tell you!

Eggs-1-300x277