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Healthy Living Healthy Meat Real Food Toxin Alert!

Deceptions in the Food Industry: Applegate Organic & “Natural Meats”

www.mypicshares.com

I love bacon. It’s one of life’s most wonderful pleasures. I love to eat it with eggs from pastured hens cooked sunny side up or over easy, in plenty of Kerrygold butter.

When you go to the store, there are many products on the shelves claiming to be healthy and natural. It’s overwhelming  just how many there are, and confusing to the unaware consumer.

Applegate Organic & Natural Meats (formerly Applegate Farms) sells different meat products including sliced turkey, chicken, roast beef, ham, bacon, hot dogs, sausages, and salami. Yes, there are many other companies selling products claiming to be a healthy choice which really aren’t…or, facts about the product are concealed, and if you really knew the truth, you may change your mind about buying the product.

This brand happens to be one of those I keep seeing everywhere as one that many people seem to trust, even when many others are rejected. It’s a “compromise” brand that a lot of people seem to believe is better than many conventional meat products.

Their slogan “changing the meat we eat” implies that the meat they sell is different from other choices on the market. Their labels tell the consumer that their products:

  • come from animals and birds receiving no antibiotics, no hormones
  • are gluten and casein free (the proteins found in wheat and dairy that are highly irritating and indigestible to those who have digestive problems and sensitivity)
  • are low-fat
  • are “humanely raised”

For some years, I thought this brand was a better alternative than some. Unfortunately, there are times where I  will buy the Applegate organic variety of meats.  I either buy their bacon, or we don’t have bacon.  Because we only have it once a week or so, it’s a compromise. But I don’t like it.

Where I live (Boise, ID), there are no better alternatives for traditionally cured meats such as ham, bacon, or salami.  None of the local farmers around here are able to produce these meats without using some type of nitrate.

So, is Applegate really changing anything, or is it just an illusion?

What Dr. Weston A. Price learned about real food and healthy populations

One of the things many modern food companies – and the mainstream health system – try to convince us of is that we need less fat, cholesterol, and calories.  If you look at the work of Dr. Weston A. Price, author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, he discovered in the 1930s by traveling the world that all healthy populations consumed TEN times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K2) from sustainable-raised animals and birds, raised in natural environments with no chemicals, pesticides, hormones or GMOs. People in these populations consumed a lot of animal fat – fatty meat, poultry, and fish, butter, lard, tallow, ghee, dairy products.

So, even though modern doctors and health experts tell us to avoid fat and cholesterol, this is false information. And the truth is coming out about this big lie; current research shows why health authorities have been wrong about this all along.  Fat and cholesterol are extremely important for good health.

Dr. Price found no successful plant-based societies.  Dr. Price never said vegetables weren’t good for us, just that there were no healthy societies that avoided meat or animal fat and thrived on plant-based foods. Dr. Price discovered the healthy populations consumed animal products and they also consumed properly prepared foods that were soaked, sprouted, fermented, and soured. That includes grains, dairy, nuts, soy, vegetables, meats, fish, and other foods. By and large, we don’t eat food like this today. It’s no wonder we have health and digestive issues that are so rampant.

Compare what Dr. Price found in the 1930s with how meat is raised today. Most meat comes from feedlots and factory farm environments. Are Applegate meats and poultry raised in feedlot environments? We don’t know for sure. But, even as the labeling goes, it’s possible to discern that Applegate isn’t as natural as they claim to be.

This post on Mark’s Daily Apple touches on this subject and mentions that an individual on the Paleohacks site contacted Applegate to learn more about their grassfed meat claim on the label, only to discover that when grassfed is not available from one of their farms, they use grain-fed beef.

Most grain-fed cattle are housed on feedlots. So the likelihood of the meat coming from a factory farm is definitely not out of the question. Even if those cattle spent the previous period of their lives on pasture, the fact that they were on a feedlot anywhere from 90-120 days before slaughter diminishes health benefits significantly.

Vegetarian fed

Animals and birds slaughtered for Applegate products are “vegetarian fed” (excluding the “grass-fed” hotdogs and roast beef lunch meat, although we have no proof that these are actually grassfed and grass finished).

Vegetarian fed means the animals or birds consume soy, corn, and grains. Cattle are ruminants and are not designed to eat anything but grass, and a very SMALL amount of grains, if any, that might grow naturally in the pasture or field. When cattle eat these substances, it causes an acidic environment in their digestive tracts, creating inflammation and illness.

Cows, pigs, and poultry birds need open access to grazing, foraging, sunshine, and vital nutrients found in the outdoors from sun and eating grasses, plants, and for birds, eating worms and insects. This is why meat from healthy sources is so much higher in nutrients and in particular, the fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K2 – essential for all aspects of health including bone, cardiovascular, brain and nervous system, immunity, and digestion.

Many farmers use antibiotics, to “prevent” disease. But antibiotics don’t prevent disease. In fact, they make matters worse by weakening the immune system and causing yeast overgrowth and other problems. They also cause antibiotic-resistance. So, even though Applegate meats don’t contain antibiotics, the animals and birds are still fed inflammatory and disease-causing feed.

Pigs, chicken, turkeys, and other animals that are vegetarian fed – even if it is organic, are still eating soy, corn, and possibly some grains. The U.S. currently grows and cultivates a huge amount of grain, soy and corn crops for the purposes of feeding livestock.

GMO-sourced feed

Many of  the crops grown for animal feed come from GMO sources. There are currently no labeling laws for GMOs.  Some Applegate products are not organic, and many of them are labeled “Natural” even though they are fed GMOs.  Residue from these feeds are passed from animal to human when you consume feedlot meats (dairy and eggs too, for that matter) from these sources.

Even if GMOs didn’t exist, animals and birds fed soy, organic or not, are not going to be healthy. Soy is highly processed, contains a lot of estrogen, is a goitrogen (thyroid and hormone damaging), and is a nutrient inhibitor and pulls or leaches minerals out of the body due to its phytic acid content. These kinds of diets, coupled with not enough exposure to the outdoors and sunshine cause a nutritional imbalance in the meat and poultry. These meats end up with higher Omega 6 fatty acids – currently what people in developed countries such as the U.S. have too much of in their diets. This causes inflammation and disease in the body of animals or birds, and those consuming their meat, and subsequently, those consuming it.

MSG

Most Applegate Meat products contain hidden MSG. Carageenan, another name for MSG used by the food industry, is a highly processed food additive that comes from seaweed, but by no means resembles the naturally occurring glutamate that occurs in plants. This substance is formally classified as a potential carcinogen to human beings by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organization).

Read this post The ingredient allowed in organic food that can cause cancer from The Healthy Home Economist about carageenan.

Hidden nitrates

Nitrates and nitrites are used by the industrial food industry in meats to “cure” and preserve them, for longer shelf life and prevent the development of Clostridium Botulinum, the bacterium which causes botulism. Applegate  packaging claims to have “no nitrates”, and yet they use this ingredient in many of their meats such as hotdogs, turkey, bacon, and ham.

Celery root or celery juice powder, used in Applegate products, is still a nitrate even if it’s not the synthetic sodium nitrate. Plant concentrates of natural nitrates are even higher than the synthetic, because they are compounded and isolated in a laboratory to include more nitrates than you would naturally get from just eating a stalk of celery. Do you know how many stalks of celery you’d have to eat to get the amount of natural nitrates in an Applegate serving of meat? A lot! You’d never eat that much at once.

Here’s what Weston A. Price Foundation has to say about natural nitrates/nitrites:

“As far as your body’s chemistry is concerned and for the curing process, a nitrate is a nitrate is a nitrate. It doesn’t matter if it is a chemically produced nitrate or nitrate from celery juice powder. So the notion that uncured bacon has no added nitrates or nitrites is completely false advertising; on the contrary, they are loaded with nitrates.

Now here’s where it starts to get a little crazy. There is no way to gauge how much nitrate is in celery juice powder. Conventional bacon production uses chemical nitrate so they know exactly how much is added to the pork for curing, based on parts per million. In fact when chemical nitrates are utilized the FDA and USDA mandate how much the processor can put into the bacon, how little they can put in and how much is left over. However because celery juice powder is considered a natural additive, there are no restrictions or mandates to follow. It’s as though the nitrates were never added. When it comes to how much nitrate is being added to uncured bacon with celery juice it’s a complete crapshoot. It’s a loophole that gives the meat producers one less inspector looking over their shoulder but leaves the door wide open for possible health issues.

In 2010, Cook’s Illustrated tested different types of bacon and found that two brands of “nitrate-free” bacon had significantly more nitrates than their conventional counterparts. The residual levels in the “uncured” bacons tested were all above the allowed levels in the conventional way of processing. So the very same nitrate level that everyone is trying to avoid by purchasing the uncured bacon is above, sometimes well above, that contained in the conventional brands.”

If the meat cures for long periods of time – such as salami and other cured meat products that cure for anywhere from a month up to a year, over that time, sodium nitrites convert to harmless nitric oxide (NO). This leaves only residual amounts of nitrites. With uncured meats, no extended curing process occurs. When you eat uncured meats, you receive a full dose of of sodium nitrite because these meats go from the processing facility to the grocery store and then to your kitchen.  Higher amounts of nitrates are naturally found in uncured bacon via celery juice powder. So what is actually happening is that you consume large and dangerous amounts of sodium nitrites.

Some people have experienced an adverse reaction called cyanosis. Cyanosis occurs when a lack of oxygen in the blood is present. Symptoms include a bluish tint to the skin, feeling as though you cannot breathe, and even feelings of death.  Unless there is some underlying issue such a blood clot or related problem, after eliminating the suspected cause of the problem – bacon or other meat with the celery root powder in it – people’s symptoms disappear.

From Naturally cured meats; Quality, Safety, and chemistry:

“Cyanosis caused by ingesting sodium nitrite or nitrite containing food has been reported throughout medical literature (Aquanno, Chan & 8 Dietzler, 1981; Bakshi, Fahey & Pierce, 1967; Barton, 1954; Bradberry, Gazzard & Vale, 1994; Harvey, Cave & Chanwai, 1976; Oppé, 1951; Simon, 1966; Walley & Flanagan, 1987; Wilson, 1976).”

A similar thing occurs when you drink a glass of juice. You are getting the juice of 8-10 oranges, but no nutrients, it’s all sugar. When you eat Applegate meats with natural nitrates (celery powder), you are getting the effect of  compounded nitrates that you’d eat from a lot more celery than you’d ever consume at one time. This is not natural, and the food industry persists in using these tactics to fool consumers into thinking they are doing something better for themselves by eating these products instead of others on the market which are probably about the same. In this case, the compounded nitrates from celery powder are actually worse.

Here’s a New York Times article about celery powder used in preserving commercial meats. While I don’t agree with some of the commentary in this article about salt or saturated fats, I do agree with their overall assessment that nitrates in any form are harmful to human health. Apparently, some of the companies in this article (Organic Prairie) attempted to sell the same product to people without any nitrates or celery juice powder and no one wanted them.

The best way to cure meat is with salt, the traditional method that has been used for thousands and thousands of years by many populations on the planet. These meats are delicious and people have consumed them for a long, long time with no ill effects.

Don’t let mainstream food producers fool you with slick marketing and label claims. Applegate  claims to be a more natural choice, but when you look at their ingredients and realize just what’s in their products, it becomes plain that their food is just as processed and unnatural as many other products on the market.

If you want to learn more about how to find good, local foods from sustainable producers, read Questions to Ask Your Farmer – Know What’s in Your Food!

More Deceptions in the Food Industry topics:

All-natural

Lean meats

Low-sodium and no salt added

Omega 3s

No MSG

 

 

 

Activism Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food

Deciphering Egg and Poultry Labels

www.mypicshares.com

If you are still buying eggs and poultry from the grocery store, you will see a variety of terms regarding the type of eggs and meat you’ll be buying – “organic”, “free-range”, or “cage-free”. You should know that most of these are just marketing terms that are there to sell the product.

There are a dizzying variety of eggs in the store, and with the recent egg and other food recalls, the consumer eye is becoming more watchful and discerning – as well it should.

I can tell because at the health food store where I shop, now nearly every time I go to the egg section, all of the local and pasture-raised eggs are usually sold out. And what’s left are cartons and cartons of eggs from large producers. These producers raise chickens in ways you’d really rather they didn’t. Especially if you knew the details.

What’s the big deal?

It’s not just for taste you should be aware of the differences between conventional eggs and poultry – problems with conventional food on the market are becoming more and more acute every day, and eating these foods, claimed by many from politicians to government officials to come from “the safest food system in the world”, can actually be hazardous to your health. And yet, if our food system is so safe, why do we continue to have these issues? Clearly this is a way to protect the interests of a multi-billion dollar industry by leaders in agribusiness, government, and politics as well as cover-up of how faulty practices which are now becoming apparent to the consumer are failing – and losing the confidence of many.

The same can be said for poultry too. There are many, many brands of chicken (and turkey, for that matter) in the store and you have to be really careful about what you buy and what you believe from the label description.

In the American markets (and many other developed countries), poultry birds live in industrial housing and facilities that don’t allow for much in the way of natural behavior or existence. What’s more, many of them eat dangerous chemicals and toxic feed – genetically- modified soy, grain, corn, silage, meat parts, etc. So that means that the majority of eggs and poultry you will buy are not worth the money you spend and would invariably fall into this category.

Even a “designer” carton of eggs that costs $4 or $5 a carton labeled organic is probably not what you think it is. Maybe you can’t believe anyone could possibly spend that much on a container of eggs like this and instead you’ve been buying eggs at the local grocery chain store that cost only $1.89 a dozen, and you believe this to be a real bargain.  But the truth is, neither variety of eggs is a good choice.

How could that possibly be the case? The main factor in a healthy egg is not how expensive it is, the fact that the eggs or brown, or that the label reads “free-range” or “organic”.

Here are the ways to tell what label terms mean and how you know if you are getting an egg or chicken meat that is worth the money you are paying for it:

Organic

This label only refers to the feed source of the chicken – free from harmful chemicals. It also means that no pesticides are used on the premises nor antibiotics are administered to the birds. But it is no guarantee of a life free of industrial hen-housing. The term “organic” does not describe how they are raised or whether they have access to pasture. Many organic chickens and turkeys consume feed that can translate to poor nutrition in the meat and eggs – soy, grain, and corn. This type of feed causes the product you are eating from the bird to have too many Omega 6s, and leads to inflammation and disease in the body.

Vegetarian-fed

Many people imagine chicken eating grains as a bulk of their diet – and they can and do eat grains in nature, but not a large amount. Chickens and turkeys need nutrients from protein when eating grubs, worms, insects, and other creatures, as well as plants like grass and fresh seeds – which they can only get out in the open and by having access to pasture or grass.

“Vegetarian-fed” usually means the majority of what chickens eat is grain, corn, soy, and other things like flaxseed – which is mistakenly believed to impart the elusive Omega 3 so many people are lacking in their diets, but actually doesn’t translate the same way as a diet on pasture would. The things that provide Omega 3s in the diet of chickens are being out in the sunshine, digging in the dirt, and eating the things nature intended.

Cage-free

A fantastic marketing label, but totally meaningless. Chickens may be cage-free, but the term implies they are also free to roam. The dismal reality is that are likely confined to a chicken house which barely ever sees the natural light of day, and fails to provide natural soil, grass, and plants for chickens to eat. At best, these chickens might have temporary (maybe only as long as 1 hour daily) access to an outside fenced area on cement or bare dirt. Sorry Charlie, this gets a failing grade.

Free-range

Another slick marketing term that gives you the idea the chickens are roaming around, free and happy. Like many others, this term has been used over and over again by store employees – so much so that you will hear many an uninformed consumer using it as well – but due to no fault of their own.

Many of these chickens have so-called “access” to outdoor areas (again, bare dirt or cement), but there’s no guarantee they actually make it there. This term is the most commonly mistaken of all terms to mean “on pasture”. But it doesn’t mean that in the slightest. The legal requirement for these terms is merely that the chickens have a small patch of dirt or concrete, much like “cage-free”.

Here is a list of feed ingredients in a caged hen’s diet, from Mother Earth News:

(Feed ingredients list from “16 percent Layer Crumbles,” a feed designed for hens raised in confinement: “Grain Products, Plant Protein Products, Processed Grain Byproducts, Roughage Products, Forage Products [in other words, could contain pretty much anything! — Mother], Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Choline Chloride, Folic Acid, Manadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Methionine Supplement, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Manganous Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Chloride, Zinc Oxide, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Sodium Selenite.”

Pastured

There are three types of pastured poultry:

  • Those kept in movable, floor-less “tractors” with perpetual access to grass. The tractors should be moved daily to give the chickens rotation and opportunity to new ground without built-up chicken excrement.
  • Free access to green pastures with movable electric fences to keep predators away.
  • A fence-less pastured area, which is best for the chickens. The farmer must keep a more watchful eye on the chickens this way, as they would be vulnerable to predators and mishaps.

Another important consideration is what type of birds your eggs and meat are coming from. If you talk to the farmer, you’ll want to make sure the chickens are some type of heritage or heirloom breed. The cornish-game cross so ubiquitous in the American market have been bred and bred over time such that their constitution and health has become compromised. They are more susceptible to health issues and disease. Also, many of the heritage breeds are becoming more rare, and supporting farmers who raise these types of birds will go a long way toward preserving these varieties.

Read this great article about the farming of older, heritage breeds of poultry and the advantages over conventional – The Chicken or The Egg? A Closer Look at Rogue Valley Brambles

You can tell by the color: when you bring your eggs home and crack one open, there should be a bright orange yolk greeting you inside the shell – much like the one in this picture to the right.

www.mypicshares.com

The yolk will be a brilliant color because of all the wonderful nutrients from chickens raised outside on pasture, in the sunshine, and open air. Conventional eggs will be pale and quite dull in color, by comparison.

Where can I find pastured poultry and eggs?

The two best places to find eggs and poultry from pastured chickens is at your local farmer’s market or direct from the farmer. At our local health food store, they also sell a constant offering of at least three or four local eggs from chickens on pasture. If you are in doubt, ask the farmer or the store employee about the farming practices. Don’t be shy. These people are usually helpful and accustomed to being asked questions about the food they sell.  And, your health depends on it!

Eggs are nutritious!

Even at $4 a dozen for local, pastured eggs, this is a bargain price. The reason is because spending that $1.89 for the other variety is getting you really not much nutrition at all, and is probably adding in some toxic substance that could be harmful to your health such as antibiotics, pesticides, or genetically-modified substances from the feed they eat. Those eggs are also higher in Omega 6s which leads to inflammation and illness in the body – as opposed to the rich source of Omega 3s available in eggs from hens on pasture without antibiotics and chemicals.

Chickens on pasture also have Vitamins A, B, D, E, and K in their meat and eggs – the same cannot be said for factory farmed and conventional eggs and poultry meat. Eggs from pastured hens are a rich source of choline, a nutrient essential in maintenance of cardiovascular and nervous system function. Various studies have been conducted on the nutritional value of an egg from pastured as compared to conventional, but one in particular stands out is the Egg Project undertaken by Mother Earth News in 2007.

(Source: Pathways to Family Wellness,  Issue #27, Jeanne Ohm, DC.)

More information on eggs and food recalls:

The egg recall and why local isn’t necessarily better

Food recalls – why they could mean the end of real food as we know it

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival.