I know it's really important to support our local grass-fed beef farmers, the people who take the extra effort to feed their chickens a soy free diet, and sourcing from GMO, pesticide free veggies but in this day and age of economic hardship and growing size of humans what is the true impact of buying the perdue farms chicken breast from publix and the not-so-wild caught salmon that are on sale because they are about to go bad?
As a college student with substanstial loans and a decreasingly middle class family, the importance of grass fed beef and organic free range chicken and eggs just isn't that high up there, especially when I'm 6'5 and have a caloric daily need of 6,000+ calories.
We see it on this site all the time, people complaining of lower energy and stalling in their goals. We get so caught up in eating the cleanest and being as close to perfect as possible. Yet, this causes our caloric intake to suffer, and over time, our ability to expend these calories effectively.
So, as a student of economics and business, I know the importance of voting with my dollar and buying the reality I want into existence buy soy free chicken eggs and organic veggies but when I need insane amounts of calories each day, how and where do you draw the line between the two?
To provide one side of the argument: http://paleohacks.com/questions/102095/is-cafo-meat-paleo-or-a-neolithic-agent-of-disease#axzz2OlpWlf4f
A more middle of the road approach: http://paleohacks.com/questions/152073/your-only-choices-are-cafo-meats-what-do-you-choose#axzz2OlpWlf4f
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The most important thing for me to buy free range / organic / grass-fed / pastured is meat (including offal), eggs and milk (I don't drink the milk but my kids do). I think there is a huge difference in nutrition between these kinds of meats and factory-produced stuff, in terms of nutritional content, omega 3 vs. 6, and toxins.
I am more flexible on produce. I think that organic produce may have less toxins, but I am more ok with that, and would rather have twice as many non-organic vegetables if I had the choice.
Organic or no, getting enough calories is very rarely anyone's problem, and if it is, just eat calorie-rich foods such as fats, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, chocolate, etc. in addition to square meals. If you really really need the calories eat 5 meals a day.
I'm very very lucky in that I have enough money to buy ethical meat for my needs (single woman, approx. 2000-2500 calories/day). Honestly for me the health issue isn't such a big deal; it's more the ethics. I buy conventional produce because I've decided to prioritize paying off my student loans over organic carrots, because carrots don't feel pain.
Honestly if I had to choose I think I'd rather eat lentils and beans and more carbs (potatoes) than CAFO meat...they're much cheaper and I'd use them to stretch a smaller amount of grass-fed meat. I won't say I'd NEVER buy CAFO meat again, but it would take a lot.
I used to trek to a very expensive little butchers that was out of my way and sold organic, grass-fed beef and lamb but it was too much money and too much hassle so I just buy ordinary beef now - I've been told that here in the uk most beef and lamb IS grass fed already and that we don't have the feed-lot thing like in the US (somebody please let me know if I'm wrong!!). I buy organic if its in the reduced section but that's about the only time.
I won't buy pork or chicken that isn't free range as I think factory farming practices are disgusting, but again I don't worry too much about organic as its too pricey.
I have my own chickens in the garden for eggs, so I know exactly what they're eating and that they're very happy (they have a LOT of space to run around in, they're very spoiled!)...
I'd love to say I always buy wild salmon but I must admit I buy the farmed stuff a lot simply because I love the taste of salmon and can't afford the high price of the wild ones. However I do often compromise and go for mackerel instead as its cheap, tasty, not on the verge of extinction (and so a good ethical choice) and wild. I'm fully aware that farmed salmon is reared in awful circumstances and it does weigh on my conscience when I buy it :(
I used to live in the UK and always bought grass-fed beef and lamb, outdoor reared port and organic, free-range chicken, all widely available. Soy free chicken, I don't know - doubt it, but organic was good enough for me
Grass fed beef/lamb is more important than soy-free chicken and organic veggies IMO. Grain-fed beef has different fats and amino acid content
Now I live in the Middle East, there is only one store that sells free range chicken and organic veggies and that's a 20-30 min drive from my house, and I don't have a car so have to take a taxi - 90 mins round trip for groceries. Stuff only keeps for 2-4 days, too, which is maddening. NZ lamb is available in a few places. All lamb and pork in the restaurants will be mainly grain-fed as there's not much grass in the desert. It's annoying.
If you really need 6000 cals a day (hard to believe unless you're doing a lot of cardio - the guys on my crew team were your height and had about 5000 but they were doing 2 or more hard training sessions every day including 90 minute water sessions (cardio), circuits and weights), then you can get about 500 from a can of coconut milk and a lot from pork belly or beef bone marrow, which are all cheap
I'm glad I only need 1500 cals a day. Makes paleo a lot cheaper
I feel better from eating pasture/grass-fed organic meat. I think it is important to give my body what it really needs, and it gives me the focus and energy to be productive in return. Here is what I do to save some money on quality meat. Go to your butcher shop and ask for odd bits like beef tongue, beef cheeks, pork hocks, etc. (I pay about $5 a pound for these cut at my local European style butcher shop.) These cuts are packed with good energy and nutrients, and if you know how to cook with them, they are delicious.