- Jamie Oliver will fund a school food revolution out of his own pocket.— Eater
- An Australian publishing company has accidentally printed a cookbook with a recipe that calls for "salt and freshly ground black people." — Huffington Post Food
- Five things you need to know about grass-fed beef. — The Daily Beast
- Can honey help alleviate allergies? — Chow
- The latest economic rebound is good news to restauranteurs. — The Epi-Log
- Burger King is currently testing a highbrow brunch menu. — Grub Street Boston
- Twitter character Ruth Bourdain has launched a new advice column, Ask RuBo. — Feast
- Find out what Alice Waters's pantry essentials are. — Serious Eats
There are many phrases stamped on food labels designed to make food appear both ecologically sound as well as healthier to eat. One phrase that I find confusing is “free range,” which I have also seen it written as “free roaming.” While it sounds idyllic, the first bit of info you need to know is that this term “free range” isn’t heavily regulated by the USDA.
The only requirement is that the animals have access to outdoor areas of where they could possibly “roam free.” The regulations do not specify how big the area needs to be either. This by itself, by no means, makes meat any healthier than conventional meat. Also beware “free-range” doesn't mean free of E. coli or salmonella.
When it comes to selecting meat, you want to look for are the words “hormone free” and “antibiotic free,” since both substances are stored in the animals fat and flesh and then passed onto you. Look for word “organic” too. This way you know the animal was fed pesticide-free foods. When it comes to beef, the ultimate label is grass fed and finished since the meat of grass-fed animals is higher in omega-3 fatty acids and beta carotene. Unfortunately, the USDA doesn’t regulate this term either. This is why it is best to find a ranch that follows the practices you believe in. Check out Local Harvest to find one near you.
We all know by now that a diet high in red meat is just not good for us. So if you are going to indulge and eat a burger or a steak, go grass fed since grass fed beef is better for you.
According to recent studies, grass fed cattle produce meat higher in beta carotene, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids than meat produced from cattle raised by conventional ranching techniques. This is not that surprising to me since conventional ranching techniques means cows raised in lots and fed mostly corn and processed feed. Now from what I have read in Michale Pollan's superbly written, highly informative book The Omnivore's Dilemma, cows evolved to eat grass and roam around in pastures. When cows eat grass they are leaner animals and produce leaner meat, which translates into healthier protein for us. Corn creates fat marbled meat that has become familiar as modern beef, but the corn also upsets the cows four stomachs. Which in turn, leaves cattle more prone to infections, hence the increase in antibiotics given to cows. Historically speaking, corn was not the major feed for cows until after WW II, which is relatively recent in the grand scheme of things.
Unfortunately, the label/term grass fed is not currently regulated by the USDA. Ranchers and farmers raising grass fed animals are lobbying hard to have the term regulated. So your best bet is finding a ranch close by that raises grass fed cattle. If you are interested in finding grass fed beef produced close to you - check out Local Harvest. The website has a great search feature so you can find grass fed meat and organic produce raised in your area. You can also find restaurants that serve it!!!