"Introducing guest blogger Ava Redman. I have known Ava for many years through the competitive body building circuit. She has established herself as a personal trainer and fitness journalist and is now expanding her portfolio of writings here on my Blog. I hope you enjoy her concepts as much as I and I look forward to hearing your feedback!"
This is my first post on Rachael’s site and because I know that a lot of her clients are health conscious I wanted to open up with a post that would help dispel the confusion between labels that are out there. Eating healthy and training healthy is not just a mantra but a lifestyle and it’s important to know exactly what you’re putting into your body and how it affects your gut. For me I like to know where my meat comes from, where my veggies were grown and when they were picked. We’re lucky to have access to such a broad range of foods from our local supermarket and to get such a variety when it comes to one product. There’s no longer one brand of eggs we can buy but several, any cut of meat is available in bulk or just on its own.
For my first post I will be covering meats and poultry. I didn’t want to overload on information, I just wanted to clear up the fog a little for conscious consumers.
Organic versus Free range versus Caged:
We’ve all wondered before what the difference is when you go to the aisle and look at the selection of eggs on display. It’s almost a universal knowledge that it has something or other to do with roaming space for chickens and hormones and what they’re fed. Sometimes we assume things when they’re not true.
So what should we buy when it comes to eggs? Organic, free-range or caged?
Maybe you didn’t know that in the supermarket industry companies are allowed to label products calling them free-range when they might not actually be. They can even go as far as calling it organic without the right accreditations. With these products even if they state they are free from unnatural addictives you cannot be sure. You need to look out for the product that says Certified Organic and Certified Free-Range, because those are the only labels you can trust.
Certified-is a special membership that ensures the company is regularly audited to ensure they meet the minimal standards for free-range and organic.
For one you’ll always notice the price tag difference. Caged eggs are cheaper, whereas free-range hits the middle and organic is often twice the price of free-range. It has everything to do with costs that go into providing a healthy egg from a healthier chicken. Your caged eggs are cheap because the same considerations for a chicken’s health are not taken. Free range chickens are given more roaming space than caged so we need to accommodate for the cost of that and the same goes for organic.
Organic chooks get access to daylight and bugs and worms and an organic diet free from additives and hormones and in return it has been shown that free-range and organic eggs not only have a healthy chemical profile with a healthier range of good fats and minerals but also customer feedback is that they taste better.
I for one have steered clear of caged eggs, especially once I tasted the difference. But if you want to make sure, do the taste test. One caged egg versus one free-range or organic egg sunny side up in the pan and if you can’t taste the difference you might not be the food expert you thought you were.
Grass-Fed versus Organic versus Free-Range meats and poultry:
When it comes to meats and poultry the labels are just as confusing.
In the case of Inglewood Farms Organic, they operate on a ‘closed loop’ management system, so basically that means they hatch their own chickens, feed them only organic grain from their own farms and give them access to greater roaming areas, almost half more than what free-range birds get.
In terms of timing a ‘normal’ chicken raised ready for consumption takes a little over 30 days, they often get pumped with water loading chemicals that make them weigh more when they’re packaged (it’s really just water) whereas organic chooks and free-range chooks take longer to reach maturity because of the lack of hormones. For organic that means waiting until about 60 days when they reach maturity. You can already see where the higher price comes from. Say you were an activist for animal rights though you still ate meat, this is the much more humane way and your chicken has seen daylight.
Meats-With the recent surge in Paleo diets and food consciousness the consumer market has actually allowed for local supermarkets to shelve grass-fed meats.
What exactly is grass-fed and why all the hubbub?
If you’ve heard about the Paleo diet then you might have heard the term Cave man diet used interchangeably. Before mass market consumption the cow that provided the steak on your plate had been raised in pasture. There came a point when farmers became economists and realised that raising cattle on grain gave a faster turn around and fattened them up faster giving them a bigger pay day. What you might not know is that this changes the chemical profile of your meat once it’s on your plate.
Beef from pasture is leaner and with a better ratio of the ‘good’ fats including extra omega 3’s. There are other minerals and vitamins like vitamin E that don’t come up so readily in beef from grain. A cow’s digestive system evolved living on a grass diet over the last few million years and they weren’t meant to eat grain even though most farmers feed them that.
I know grass-fed is pricier but again you’re buying into what it means for your body and for that animal.
We are lucky as Australians to have most of our food come from Australian sources meaning we are supporting our local economy. Australia does not import eggs so you can guarantee your eggs are 100% Australian. It also means we are saving on our carbon footprint and helping the world for tomorrow. So even if you don’t consider yourself as food conscious as you’d like to be you can be sure that the labels out there are conscious enough and as long as you have a sense of what you’re really buying you can see the difference.
Next week I will be posting Part 2 of Organic versus Free-range going over Fruits and Vegetables.