Offal’s not so Awful
One of the detriments to the modern diet is not only the terrible, health-destabilizing stuff we’ve added to our diets, like sugar, trans fats, GMOs and any number of chemical additives, but the wonderfully healthy stuff we’ve removed.
While I could go on about the demonization of saturated fats or the myriad benefits of fermented foods, today we’re going to talk about organ meats.
I know; eating organ meats is hard.
It seems in modern times, we’ve lost a taste for these once highly valued parts components of a healthy diet. It really doesn’t help that, somewhere along the way, someone decided it was a good idea to call them “offal”. Not exactly an appetizing title. Someone needs to speak to their PR department.
Back in the day, people valued using every possible component of an animal being used for food. Not a single component was wasted. Thus the liver, kidney, heart, various glands and even the lungs were often used in various ways. These parts also tended to be the cheapest cuts, and so were often incorporated into the diet as a way of keeping costs down. But as time went on, these nutrient rich cuts came to be viewed as “poor people food” and were often cast aside in favour of the more conventional muscle meats.
But our snobbery has cost us, in this regard. What these people may not have realized at the time was that their inclusion of organ meats in their diet was actually giving them a remarkable nutritional boost that the bourgeoisie were missing out on.
While some people seem to love the taste of organ meats, it seems most people (myself included) have lost our taste for them. But, since venturing into Paleo several years ago, where such an emphasis is put on the importance of these foods, I’ve become more adventurous. It seems to require our intellect (our knowledge of the amazing nutritional benefits of organ meats) needs to overcome our emotions (the ick-factor) in really breaking this particular impediment to health. But believe me, it’s worth it.
Take heart, for example. Aside from being a good source of iron, zinc, selenium, and B vitamins, heart is an excellent source of CoQ10; the best food source we have, in fact. Being vital for energy production and a pretty darn good antioxidant, CoQ10 is one of the best selling supplements in the dispensary. And it’s not cheap, either. And yet here’s an inexpensive and natural source you can add to your diet! The good thing about heart, too, is that it’s more like a muscle meat than an organ meat (the heart is a muscle, after all!). People often compare it to steak or brisket. Prepared correctly, it’s really quite tasty.
Liver really is the king of all organ meats
Or, if you’re a little more adventurous, you could go for the classic: liver. Liver really is the king of all organ meats, (which makes it the king of meats, really). Apparently, there was a time when liver was considered a food of the affluent. Duck and goose liver is still considered a delicacy in fancy French restaurants around the world, called foie gras (get it from humane sources, please!).
Liver is, quite simply, one of the most nutrient dense food sources here on planet earth, and that includes any vegetable sources you can name. It is probably the best food source of pre-formed vitamin A, retinol, you can find. It’s also an excellent source of folic acid, which is likely why pre-industrial cultures used to feed it extensively to child-bearing aged women (see the work of Weston A. Price for more on this). It’s also a great source of zinc, iron, B vitamins including plenty of B12, CoQ10 and is a great source of copper. It’s also a fantastic source of choline, second only to egg yolks.
Like other organ meats, liver can be tricky to incorporate into the diet if you don’t like the taste. Some have taken to grinding it up and mixing it with ground meats to hide it in burgers. Pates can also be a way to change up the taste and texture by adding lots of other ingredients. Or you can fry it up with bacon – bacon makes everything better.
So consider adding organ meats to your diet once or twice a week. Even if it’s a struggle at first, you will get acclimatized to it and may even grow to love it. And your body will thank you for it!
Here are a few recipes to help you start integrating organ meats into your meals!
Doug DiPasquale, Certified Holistic Nutritionist
Ask in our meat department if you would like to special order any organ meats