The Importance of Quality Proteins

We all know you can buy a McChicken for a dollar, but is the consequence really worth the extra couple bucks you may have saved? The chicken breasts in the freezer section of your discount grocery store full of fillers and mystery juices may only be $1.99/lbs., but ask yourself why. Stacy of the Paleo Parents made a really good point a few weeks back about how some of us blow $5 on a fancy Starbucks drink without second thought but think spending the same amount on a dozen quality farm-fresh eggs is out of the question. A dozen eggs is enough protein for at least 6 meals, if not more.

Top 5 reasons to spend your money on quality products:

1. Beef and other ruminants that eat all grass as opposed to grain have a much better omega 3 to omega 6 ratio. We want our omegas to balance out, but most Americans are much higher in 6′s. Beef that is grain-fed or finished might have pretty marbling, but it’s that fat that is obtained that contains a high amount of omega 6′s.  An unbalance of omegas has been linked to heart disease and cancer.

2. Commercially raised animals (which includes most of the meat found in large grocery store chains and discount stores) are pumped full of antibiotics. When animals live in unhealthy, crammed conditions, disease can spread like wildfire. Hence comes in the use of antibiotics as a preventative measure. These constant remnants of antibiotics that also transfer to our systems.

3. Chickens are not natural vegetarians. Many companies boast this and print it out on their label. Chickens thrive on insects in the grass which is what makes both the meat and the eggs much higher in nutrients and those awesome omega 3′s (and they taste better).

4. As a Paleo or primal eater, you probably consume a lot of animal fat and maybe some organ meats. Fat is where an animal will store toxins. The more an animal lives in its natural environment, the less toxins build up in its system. The same goes for the organ meats. Would you really want to eat liver that has been filtering antibiotics and GMOs?

6. When it comes to seafood, wild-caught is the way to go. Wild salmon can be more expensive than farm-raised but you don’t have to worry about it being fed antibiotics, grains (who decided fish should eat grains anyway?), or artificial coloring.

5. The animals themselves have a much better life when they are from family farms and fully pastured. I’ve seen chickens happily pecking in the grass out in the sun from the farm where I purchase my eggs instead of trapped in cages, literally going insane and pecking each other to death. The pigs are wallowing in mud in the field rather than their own waste while living their whole lives on wire grates. The environmental impact is also a lot less when the waste is put back into the farm instead of piling up creating loads of methane gas. Keep in mind you will also be supporting small farmers, hopefully some in your own town.

Tips for making this whole expensive meat thing affordable:

*Sometimes you might just have to settle for less. If money is really tight, choose smaller portions of the meat and fill up on veggies and healthy starches.
*Use all of the animal. Save the bones from everything. Yes, I will save the chicken wing bones after everyone eats off them. It’s totally normal, right? Save that turkey or duck carcass for stock.  Use your leftover braising liquid to make a hearty stew or soup. I have made an awesome gumbo soup from leftover crawfish heads.
*There are plenty of inexpensive cuts of meat and organs. Choose turkey and chicken leg pieces over the breast. Chicken and beef livers are super cheap and create a nutrient dense meal. Ask your butcher for leftover animal fat to make lard and tallow.
*Keep an eye out for coupons and sales at your health food store and stock up. Most meat freezes well for months.
*Consider sharing a quarter or half a cow or hog with someone if you have the freezer space.
*Try buying direct from the farm. The eggs I buy are 50 cents more if I were to pick them up from the local health food store. It may not seem like a lot, but that’s $52 a year on just one item if I buy two dozen eggs a week.
*Cut out other expenses. When my less than healthy friends ask how I afford to buy the groceries I do, I remind them that I do not spend money on cigarettes or very much alcohol.  Remember when you cut out all the packaged foods, you may be saving a lot more than you realize by buying fresh proteins and vegetables and cooking them yourself.
*Consider maintaining a healthy diet part of your health insurance. Medical bills are ridiculous. The more time and energy you spend on your health right now can save you thousands upon thousands of dollars spent on healthcare in the future. Diabetes and cancer (although for some inescapable) aren’t cheap.

I hope this has influenced some of you to go out and explore the world of local farms and markets. There are options out there even if it seems tiring at first. There are many great sources online if you can’t find one in your area. Remember, the healthier the animal you consume, the healthier it makes you! is simply thrilled to welcome our second guest blogger, Jen Williams. We’ve loved following Jen’s blog and look forward to learning more about her and her journey with Paleo living! You can also read more about her here.