The following labels will help to ensure that you’re buying meat that’s humanely produced and sustainable, so do your best to choose them:
- Animal Welfare Approved
- Certified Humane
- Global Animal Partnership
- Food Alliance Certified
I highly recommend you choose beef, bison, goat, lamb, and sheep that are certified by the American Grassfed Association (AGA). To do that, look for the organization’s green logo, which says “American Grassfed.” Their certification ensures the following:
All animals certified by the AGA are raised entirely on open grass pastures. This is important because some “grass-fed” animals are raised on grains and other crops for most of their lives and then “finished” on grass just before slaughter. The AGA certification forbids that practice.
The AGA certification ensures that animals are allowed to graze on grass without being forced into small feedlots or harsh confinements.
When Grass-Fed Isn’t an Option, Look for Organic
Grass-fed is best. But second best is USDA organic certified meat. It’s cheaper than grass-fed and nearly comparable in price to conventional. Though USDA standards are not quite as stringent as the American Grassfed Association’s, they’re still far better than those applied to conventional meat. Buying USDA organic certified meat ensures the.
Watch the Amounts You Eat
The average adult in America consumes slightly more than a third of a pound of meat every day. Unless you’re an athlete, that much probably isn’t necessary. Remember, at least three-quarters of your plate should be vegetables, and the rest protein. I like the term “condi-meat”—a small amount of meat added to meals that are mostly vegetables. I’ve downsized my own consumption to no more than 4 to 6 ounces a day, which is a piece that’s roughly the size of my palm. I eat mostly lamb, especially when I’m dining out, because it’s almost all pasture-raised. Occasionally I’ll eat grass-fed beef, bison, or venison.
Limit Processed Meats
As I’ve discussed, the evidence suggests that there may be some link between processed meats and cancer. However, that risk is small—an increase from an average population risk of 5 percent for colon cancer to a 6 percent risk if you eat processed meat every day. I know that most people can’t live without bacon and sausage, so just think of it as a treat, not a staple. Here are some things to look for to reduce the risk from processed meats when you must have them.
Look for bacon, deli meats, ham, and sausages made from whole foods and not full of additives, fillers, preservatives, gluten, and high-fructose corn syrup. Some processed meats also contain nitrates, which are not carcinogenic, but when those nitrates get grilled, charred, or heated to high temperature (over 266°F), they turn into nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic. Slow, low-temperature cooking is best. Heat also creates two other toxic carcinogenic by-products— PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and HCAs (heterocyclic amines). Get organic or minimally processed meats. Try Applegate and Niman Ranch brands, which are often carried in most stores and supermarkets.
Buy your bacon, sausages, and other processed meats from local farmers. You can find them at your nearest farmers’ market, where you can ask about which ingredients or preservatives (if any) they use.
Avoid Charred Meats
Grilled meat may be as American as apple pie. But grilling over an open flame or at very high temperatures can lead to the creation of heterocyclic amines and other carcinogenic compounds.
That may be why rosemary works. Some other antioxidant-rich spices you can add to your meat before cooking are oregano, basil, paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric, ginger, and chili.