Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Meat Manifesto

1. Reducing Your Meat Cost--Sometimes to Zero—By Rethinking Protein Sources
I can hear the crashing of shopping carts now, as well as the chorus of “Whaaaat?” Now that I have your attention, I’ll tell, you how to reduce your meat costs and why.

Meat is expensive when compared to other foods we buy. It’s even more expensive when purchased pre-cut, pre-plucked, pre-packaged, and pre-fed with all the hormones, antibiotics, and all the genetic mutations money can buy. So what do we do?

We look to where the animals HAVEN’T been doped up, dressed up, or cut up to excess—the forest, the plains, and the oceans. We look to wild animals. We look to hunters and hunting, as well as fishermen and fishing.

If you already hunt and fish your own meats, then you have reduced your MEAT costs to zero, but still incur equipment and supply bills (the guns, the ammo, the rod and reel, all the tackle, etc.). For those of us who DON’T fish or hunt ourselves, we can purchase meat directly from the hunter or fisherman, or a compliant butcher who can re-sell game meat. The meat is not laden with hormones or antibiotics, has lived a natural ethical life, and runs little risk of being genetically altered for market (as most chickens are—they now have half the feathers of normal chickens).

This meat is sold by the pound at butcher shops, is minimally packaged (usually freezer paper), and is healthier for you. It also comes with a taste that you may find strange or unappetizing—this is what meat is SUPPOSED to taste like! Our commercial meat has been bred and fed to the point of losing all taste except for those “11 secret herbs and spices” we have to add to make it taste good. When combined with vegetables in a stew or fried in batter, this meat loses some of its strong taste. My recommendation is to just get used to it, or mix it with other meats (ground deer goes really well with ground beef and pork for a hearty and wonderful meat loaf).

Ever have bear roast for Christmas dinner? Give it a try. You may find that bear roast is cheaper per pound than your usual turkey or ham—and certainly healthier.

If you don’t hunt or fish, get to know someone who does, or someone who will sell you the meat from their last trip out. Offer to buy ammo or replace some missing tackle for the hunter or fisherman. Find a way to contribute to the activity cost for some sort of meat discount. Get access to hunting and fishing magazines or clubs and find yourself a meat supplier through contacts or “for sale” ads.

Think outside the grocery store…or think outside the meat addiction…or even what comprises protein.

Most Americans eat way more meat than is needed for good health. A nutritionally correct amount for adults is two 3-oz. servings – the size of a small hamburger patty or a deck of cards. Two of those a day is all the meat you need. But consider eggs, beans, and peanut butter—they also count as meat (a protein) and are cheaper (beans also contain fiber, vitamins, and heart-protective phytochemicals). Meat is expensive, and all that excess meat costs extra money. It also runs up your health care bills in middle age when it translates into cardiovascular problems.

Rethinking your meat and protein sources can go a long way to reducing your overall food budget and enhancing your health.

2. Complementary Proteins—A Completely Meatless Alternative
When people say “meatless” these days, we immediately think of soy and TVP. They aren’t the whole story of doing without meat. Beans aren’t the total solution either, but they play a small part.

What spurred this subject on for me was the recent re-discovery of a seldom-used but much-treasured cookbook called More With Less by Doris Jantzen Longacre. I love this book for the simple recipes and the commentary she put into each chapter—notes about world hunger issues and frugality in the kitchen. The book was her message to all of us on how to strike back against hunger in the world and in our own communities.

Complementary proteins are incomplete proteins eaten in combination. Incomplete proteins are fragments from vegetables, legumes, grains, and seeds that the body cannot use to perform repair work as it does with complete proteins (meat, fish, dairy, and eggs). In order for these proteins to be used by the body, they must be consumed in combination to form complete protein strands (one of each type).

The old rule of thumb was that this combination should be eaten at every meal, but no longer. Scientific research has shown us that when the combination elements are consumed within the same 24 hours, complete proteins will still form in the intestine for our bodies to absorb and use.

So what make up these elements of incomplete proteins and their combinations? The graphics below will show you.

Source: Diet For a Small Planet by Francis Moore Lappe’.

This is one method for those who ingest dairy products. The heavier arrows designate the most beneficial combinations. Another method is to combine any food item from group 1 with any food item from groups 2, 3, and 4.

GROUP 1: breads, cereals, and grains—bread, rice, whole wheat products, and whole grain cereals (these include breakfast cereals, pasta, spaghetti, noodles, wheat products, flour products, etc.)

GROUP 2: legumes—includes all peas, beans, and lentils (chickpea, aduki, kidney, mushy peas, processed peas, baked beans, petit pois, soya, and bean sprouts)

GROUP 3: vegetables—potatoes and other vegetables, including frozen vegetables

GROUP 4: nuts and seeds—walnuts, cashews, peanuts, etc. Sunflower, sesame, and other seeds.

A salad, for example, is one place where I choose to combine barley, rice, or pasta with salad greens, grated raw vegetables, a handful of nuts, and maybe half a can of beans. This can also be done in casseroles, soups, muffins and breads, stir-fry and skillet dishes, etc.

By using this secondary method of complementary protein combining, you significantly reduce the fat in your diet(by not incorporating dairy items). This is how vegetarians get sufficient protein in their diet. If adequate calories are consumed, then certainly enough protein is also being consumed along the way.

Also, there is one grain that is a complete protein all by itself: quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). This grain is from South America, and you prepare it just like you do rice. It can be bought in bulk at health food stores.

Next time someone mentions “going meatless,” you have a better picture of what that means besides eating tofu, soybeans, and TVP. Now you have all the alternatives for reducing your meat costs and needs to zero.


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