According to Justin Cascio, food and lifestyle writer, the first time he ate a free-ranging chicken of a heritage breed, instead of a caged and overfed white roaster, he immediately knew that the meat was Paleo.
While he was butchering it, he even noticed that its skeleton was different. The meat was dark as this bird was built to run, with long legs and thin breasts. When it comes to the flavor, he claims that he had not eaten such a good chicken since childhood.
He had similar epiphanies when he ate pork and beef that lived the good life before being slaughtered. His experience taught him that happy animals make for happy meat. Chicken with whom freely run in yards, wild birds and fish and meat and pigs that forage for acorns are far more flavorful, evocative, and nutritious than the caged animals.
Nowadays, it appears as if food is just a bar of compressed gruel for powering through the next couple of hours. Paleo is a reaction against the industrialization of our lives.
In ancient times, meat was our first staple food and continues to be one of the most important parts of our healthy diets.
However, a lot of newcomers to the Paleo lifestyle are doing it wrong when it comes to meat. In fact, replacing commercial white bread with commercial pork chops doesn’t make a diet Paleo. What needs to change is the meat itself.
These seven ways mean that your meat is definitely not Paleo:
- Your grazing animals don’t eat grass
Large grazing animals need to be the foundation of your diet and they should consume mainly grass.
In the past hundred years, cattle have been intensively fed with grain and they’re not designed to eat it any more than you are. In fact, feedlot cattle experience painful bloating and poor health due to the filthy and cramped living conditions and the inhumane diet.
Therefore, always opt for grass-fed beef from heritage breeds and bison to more closely emulate the profile of ancient cattle.
Animals that fend for themselves have different nutritional profiles from the ones bread domestically. Hence, the more wild-like the conditions, as well as the cultivar of species, the more wild-like the meat.
Modern domestic cattle didn’t exist in the Paleolithic, or modern broiler hens.
Therefore, consume more meat from undomesticated species and when you eat domesticated meat, choose the one bread in wild conditions.
- Your fish is toxic or endangered
A great percentage of popular seafood, from shrimp to tilapia, is farmed, and like industrially farmed meat, seafood farmed on large scales doesn’t eat a native diet.
Nonetheless, as the oceans contain a lot of toxins we have deposited, mostly from burning coal, a lot of seafood is dangerous for consumption, while others have been depleted due to over fishing and as a consequence they became endangered species.
A good solution is to learn more about the species you eat from land based to aquatic livestock. Know how and where your seafood is usually produced and if they are farmed, find out whether they contain high levels of mercury or some other toxins. Also, find out whether alternatives exist.
What’s more, avoid unsustainably harvested seafood. Choose species that are sustainably harvested or farmed.
- Your poultry doesn’t eat bugs
As free ranging chickens are omnivores, they spend their days looking for insects to eat. Just as humans don’t thrive on an all vegetable diet, neither do chicken.
The negative side of industrial farming is that poultry are raised indoors, eat only grains, and never engage in normal chicken activity like scratching in the dirt, preening themselves, taking dust baths, etc.
Therefore, consume less poultry as it’s not a staple food because small animals aren’t fat enough to sustain humans. When you do eat poultry, opt for free ranging chickens. Unfortunately, they are rarely available in retail as it’s uncommon to have a large, free range chicken operation.
The best option is to find the nearest farmer and check out the operation. Also, always choose eggs from free ranging hens.
- You don’t eat the entire animal
In the past, when the hunt was successful, people ate not only the tenderloin but the heart, kidneys, and intestine as well. Every culture has recipes and traditions for preparation of every animal part eaten, from bone stock to roasts.
When possible and reasonable, buy whole animals. If you have a deep freezer, you can buy and store whole or half beeves, pigs, and seasonally available seafood and poultry. Discover new ways to enjoy offal or other cuts that you are less familiar with.
Humans’ diet before we became agriculturalists was wilder, wider, and flavorful!
It doesn’t only count what type of animals you eat and how they were bread, but in what proportions you eat the parts. Nowadays, we tend to choose tenderloin more than chuck, loin, shoulder, thigh, etc.
Our former programming for a low fat diet, familiarity with the low fat cuts we grew up eating, and their current ubiquity in the industrial foodscape mean that we are choosing lean cuts of meat and exclude the nutritive parts, the flavor, and the satisfaction of eating animal fat.
Don’t be scared to try fattier cuts of meat. Well-marbled and free-range meat is Paleo.
In almost every culture, people eat together. We take cues from watching each other on how slowly to chew, how much to eat, and which foods to consume.
When you’re at work, instead of eating at your desk, eat with coworkers at midday and always offer to share your food with others.
When you and your family members are over at the dining table, instead of looking at the TV, face each other and talk about the food you are eating. For example, speak about what it reminds you of, how it makes you feel, which food combinations you enjoy, etc.
When you eat alone, do it meditatively, with a lot of attention and appreciation because eating is the time when you enjoy being alive.