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Eating the whole animal? It's not just trendy - it's also vital to your health.

April 13, 2023

The longer you're in pasture-raised circles, the more often you'll hear the phrase "eating the whole animal". And you might wonder -- what's that all about?

If your first thought jumps to reducing waste, that's certainly an important part of it. Eating the whole animal helps people raising or eating animals to value the animal's life at the highest possible level. Everything is sacred, even the tougher or less desirable cuts.

There's also an economic purpose behind it. Traditionally, people raised just a few livestock, which they butchered in the fall and then cured or preserved to last all year. Knowing how to utilize every part of the animal ensured that they had enough food to make it to the next harvest.

But as it turns out, our bodies actually evolved to consume the whole animal.
Eating organs and bones isn't just economic or waste-conscious. It's actually necessary to help our bodies thrive and properly absorb nutrients.

If you compare muscle meat and organ meats pound per pound, organ meats are more nutrient-dense.
This means they have higher amounts of protein and more amino acids.

However, the make-up of muscle meats and organ meats differ in important ways.
Lean muscle meats are high in essential amino acids like tryptophan and methionine, and low in glycine. Eating only muscle meat creates an imbalance in our body: too much of some amino acids, and not enough of others.

Why does this imbalance matter?
For one, it can interfere with our absorption of B vitamins, particularly B6, and trace minerals. For another, high levels of methionine can lead to health problems.

When we consume too much methionine, and too little glycine, our body produces higher levels of another amino acid, homocysteine. This can cause a host of problems, but the biggest concern is heart disease, which has been associated with high blood levels of homocysteine.

However, organ meats and bones counteract this imbalance.
The collagen in the connective tissues, tendons, skin, cartilage and bones produce glycine, which helps to regulate methionine levels in our body, and prevent excessively high level sof homocysteine.

In short: eating organ meats and bones helps our bodies balance the nutrition we receive from meat.
If we only eat part of the animal, and not the whole animal, we risk accumulating too much of some nutrients and not enough of others.

And as a bonus: organ meats are an excellent source of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, and K.

So, how should you get started?

My first two tips are always the same: make some bone broth and try paté.

Bone broth is easy - just bones, veggies, water, and seasoning. You can make it on the stovetop, the pressure cooker, or the slow cooker. And there's no shortage of ways to use it. We cook our rice and beans in it, use it as the foundation for nourishing soups and sauces, and even add some to smoothies.

And if you think you don't like liver, I challenge you to try paté! it's one of the most delectable dips that we make in our house. It's so good, in fact, that when I made it for our 1st Saturday on the farm event this month, our attendees couldn't stop eating it. In fact, the only reason they did is because we ran out of crackers to spread it on.

Ready to try your hand at incorporating the whole animal into your diet? Check our our bone & organ variety bundle, which features a free recipe guide that will help you master these cuts.

And if you already eat the whole animal, tell me -- why do you love it? And which recipes are your favorite?

Michelle Sroka

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