Farm-Raised Versus Wild-Caught Seafood

Pacific Halibut Filet

Since beef, pork and chicken tend to dominate the American diet, you may be more familiar with terms like “grass-fed” and “cage free” than with the terms used to indicate how your seafood was sourced. Seafood is either farm-raised, meaning raised much like commercial animal farms in an enclosed operation, or wild-caught in open water. But how do these processes differ, and is one process better than the other?

Wild-caught seafood involves several different fishing methods, including trawling—towing a large net behind a boat—and fishing lines. While there are great health benefits to consuming seafood sourced from its natural environment, most fishing methods pose a great risk with regard to bycatch, or the unintended capture of other species such as dolphins and sea turtles. The trawling method involves towing a net behind a boat, sometimes along the ocean floor, which not only results in bycatch, but also damages ocean floors and reefs. Fishing lines can also become tangled in the surrounding environment or around other ocean animals.

Wild fishing is also heavily dependent on fishery management to ensure that the populations of fish and shellfish aren’t being fished faster than they can regenerate. Unfortunately, nearly 85 percent of all worldwide fishing stocks are being fished at or beyond their limit, and farm-raised seafood can help to take the pressure off of wild populations.

However, because farm-raised seafood is raised similarly to commercial animal operations, there are similar health risks resulting from unnatural living conditions. Farm-raised fish are kept in cages or tanks enclosed in natural open water environments, and, similar to industrially-farmed animals, the stressful and crowded living conditions often require the use of antibiotics to prevent illness. Some farms also use pesticides and growth hormones in their operations. Those potentially harmful pollutants, and sometimes the farm-raised fish themselves can escape into the natural environment beyond the farm, posing a risk to surrounding environments and wild fish populations.

Considering these facts, even despite the risks that trawling and fishing lines present to the environment, many argue that wild-caught seafood is healthier than farm-raised seafood for much the same reasons that free-range, grass-fed animals are healthier to eat than those raised in industrial operations. Wild-caught fish contain more natural vitamins and nutrients. They are less fatty, contain less sodium, and are not subjected to growth hormones and antibiotics. However, depending on the species, wild-caught seafood can have significantly higher mercury levels, whereas mercury is not an issue in farm-raised fish.

But regardless of whether your seafood was farm-raised or wild-caught, the most important question is whether the process was sustainable. Greensbury Market ensures that all its products are approved by the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch, which defines sustainable seafood as “seafood from sources, whether fished or farmed, that can maintain or increase production without jeopardizing the structure and function of affected ecosystems.”

Why Is Grass-Fed Meat Better for the Environment?

Organic grass-fed flank steakThere are many reasons why grass-fed meat is the better choice—it’s a healthier and more humane way to raise animals, it’s healthier for you and your family, and buying grass-fed meats supports small farms and small business owners. But have you considered the many benefits of buying grass-fed meats for the environment?

When you consider the long list of seemingly unavoidable environmental impacts of raising animals for food—land and water usage, transportation, greenhouse gas emissions, feed production, air and water pollution—it seems that one easily controllable factor is time. The amount of time it takes to raise an animal until it’s ready to be slaughtered determines how resource-intensive raising that animal will be. In this regard, there is a possible benefit to industrially-raised, grain-fed animals, which is that they live shorter lives in more confined spaces and thus must have a smaller environmental impact. But is this really the case?

First, a diet of grasses is much less fossil fuel-intensive than a diet of corn. Large industrial farming operations that raise corn-fed animals rely on a tremendous amount of corn for feed, and the farms that grow that corn in turn rely on a tremendous amount of pesticides and fertilizers during crop production and transportation of the crop to farms. According David Pimentel, an ecology professor at Cornell University, the fertilizer used to grow enough corn to feed just one feedlot cow requires about 284 gallons of oil during its short life. That fertilizer is also full of chemicals, which can contaminate local water supplies and permanently damage soil. The intensive, year-after-year depletion of soil nutrients to grow the corn then leads to damaged, unhealthy soil that requires more and more chemical fertilizer to produce the same amount of crops each year.

But farms that raise grass-fed animals do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and do not require machinery for harvesting since the animals do the fertilizing and harvesting themselves. In industrial operations, the fertilizer produced by the animals is much more concentrated and poses a higher risk to contaminating local water and air quality, whereas grass-fed herds spread fertilizer equally and naturally, contributing to soil and ecosystem health.

The perennial grasses grown for grazing also protect the soil, as grasses have long root systems that reduce erosion, filter run-off and restore and recycle nutrients into the soil. Perennial grasses are also one of the most efficient ways of trapping harmful greenhouse gases, which some have argued can help to offset the fossil fuel usage of the farm.

Greensbury Market is committed to sustainability as evidenced by the carefully-chosen, small family farms that supply our meats. Healthy animals and a healthy environment go hand in hand, and Greensbury’s purveyors know that better than anyone.

Are Organic Foods Healthier?

IMG_0581_mediumPeople often ask us whether our organic meats are healthier and more nutritious than other kinds of meats. We believe the answer is definite YES. But it’s not an easy question to answer. This is true for a few reasons.

First of all, “healthy” is a broad term that encompasses many aspects of living. Also, until recently, little research had been done on the health benefits and nutritional content of organic versus nonorganic foods.  And proving the link between improved health and switching to organic meats and other foods is a complex task.

Nonetheless, the evidence is mounting that organic foods are the healthier choice. Below are some examples of recent research exploring the health benefits of organic foods.

  • A study in the medical journal Pediatrics reported that children who have higher levels of organophosphate pesticides in their urine had higher rates of attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder (ADHD). For one of the pesticides, those children who had high levels of it had almost twice the rate of ADHD as those without any of that pesticide in their urine.
  • The Miami Herald reported that Researchers at Washington State University tested both organic and conventional strawberries grown in 13 side-by-side California fields. They found that organic strawberries had significantly higher antioxidant activity and concentrations of ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds. This study supports other research showing that organic foods may have higher nutritional value than conventional food, because in the absence of pesticides and fertilizers, plants boost their production of the phytochemicals (vitamins and antioxidants) that strengthen their resistance to bugs and weeds.
  • Even low-level pesticide exposure can be significantly more toxic for fetuses and children (due to their less-developed immune systems) and for pregnant women (it puts added strain on their already taxed organs), according to a report by the National Academy of Sciences.
  • A recent Dutch study suggests that children are one third less likely to suffer from allergies before age two if they’re raised on organic dairy products. In the study, children and breastfeeding moms ate organic milk, cheese and yogurt. The study author said the connection between choosing organic dairy and less incidence of excema was clear. The risk for other allergies and asthma also decreased. Researchers believe the reason may be the higher concentrations of conjugated linoleic acids that are found in organic milk. Studies have shown that organic milk has 71 percent more omega-3 fatty acids, too, another important nutrient for growth and development.

Eating organic meats and other foods reduces your exposure to pesticides and added hormones, which studies such as those cited above suggest is good for your health. Human health is tied to the health of the environment, too, so in a broader sense you’re protecting your health by supporting sustainable organic farming methods. And if you choose grass-fed organic meats, you get the following health benefits:

  • Grass-fed meats have more “good” (unsaturated) fats and fewer “bad” (saturated) fats, and fewer calories
  • Grass-fed meats have four times more omega-3s than meat from grain-fed animals.
  • Grass-fed meats are also one of the richest sources of conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs), which may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer.

Homemade Organic Beef Meatballs Recipe

IMG_0990Who doesn’t love spaghetti and meatballs? But have you made them at home? I always thought making meatballs (and tasty ones at that) was always a lot more effort that it’s actually worth. Boy, was I wrong. A dear friend of mine gave me her grandmother’s (who is Italian, by the way) meatball recipe. It is so easy and it comes out amazing – moist and flavorful.

The recipe calls for frying the meatballs, which is great. But I’m trying to eat lighter and healthier, so I cook mine in the oven instead, and then finish it on the stove with sauce (or gravy). If you want an even lighter version, substitute the organic ground beef with organic chicken instead. I take Greensbury’s organic chicken breasts and just put them through the food processor until I get ground chicken. Add a little olive oil for the needed fat to keep it moist.

If you have any tips on how you spruce up your recipe, please leave a comment!

Organic Beef Meatballs Recipe

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of organic ground beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan or percorino cheese, grated
  • handful of parsley and basil, chopped finely
  • 1 cup of bread, cut or torn into pieces
  • 3/4 cup of milk or water
  • salt/pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (if you’re going to cook them in the oven).
  2. Soak the bread in the bowl of milk/water.
  3. Combine the organic ground beef (or any combination of it) with the garlic, egg, cheese, parsley and basil. If you’re substituting ground chicken, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. I tend to put more garlic than this recipe calls for but I love the flavor of garlic. And feel free to add different types of meat: organic ground veal, organic ground pork, etc. You should have a pound of meat.
  4. Mix the bread into the ground beef mixture.
  5. Add as much milk as you need so you can actually form a decent ball. (I typically use most of the milk)
  6. If you’re frying your meatballs, make sure you have enough oil in the pan. And get the oil + pan hot before you start cooking them so you get a really nice crust. If you’re cooking them in the oven, it depends on the size of your meatballs. But typically I put them in there for about 15 minutes.
  7. If you have a pot of sauce or gravy cooking, this is perfect time to drop those meatballs in there. It keeps the meatballs moist and flavors your sauce.
  8. Serve with your favorite pasta: spaghetti, if you’re going classic.

How to Choose the Healthiest Beef

1_stew_mediumSubmitted by: Bold Apps

By Peter K. MS, PT

What’s the difference between conventional and grass-fed beef? And what about organic, pastured, or grass-finished? Where do cows being fed genetically modified corn and soy fit in? And how do these types affect taste, the environment, and ultimately, us when we eat them?

Even as a nutritionist I was confused. To be honest, raised as a city boy, I never thought much about how a cow lived or what it ate before it arrived as a medium-rare ribeye steak on my dinner plate, one of my favorite meals. I assumed there was someone in charge feeding it well and doing the right thing environmentally. I had other things to worry about; I didn’t think I had to worry about this, or so I thought.

That is until I began to see articles and various documentaries about conventional cows being fed genetically modified corn and soy to fatten them up quickly and cheaply, living on CAFOs, which are essentially huge feeding lots where cows eat, drink, defecate, and die, shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other cows, without a blade of grass in sight, making them sick, and requiring antibiotics to keep them alive long enough for slaughter.

It seems obvious we wouldn’t want to eat the meat of an animal raised in such an unnatural environment; when we eat conventional beef, we get sick. But that’s just what many of us are doing when we don’t eat the beef from cows that have grazed on grass – aka, grass-fed.

So that brings us back to names. Grass-fed, grass-finished, and pastured beef can and should mean the same thing; cows raised on pastures and eating grass, the way they’re supposed to live and eat. The word organic alone can just mean the cows are eating organic corn and soy, not grass. To assure you are getting the best beef possible, choose organic grass-fed beef.

Studies show that the beef from organic grass-fed cows is healthier, having more heart healthy omega 3’s, and less total fat and calories. It’s also one of the best sources of protein on the planet, essential for building bones, muscles and essential to every cell in the body.

Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef

Higher omega 3 fatty acids
Less fat & calories
Reduces high blood pressure
Reduces cancer risk
Reduces heart disease risk
Better for the environment – sustainable
And, anyone who’s tried it will tell you, it just tastes better. Whether it’s a grilled flank steak, freshly ground burger, or pot roast, when you eat grass-fed beef, your getting the best taste and nutrition.

These cows are typically raised on smaller, local farms, and require more labor and resources with smaller yields. That’s why it costs slightly more. But it’s worth the cost because the farmers are stewards of the earth and uphold high animal welfare standards; raising healthy, delicious beef, in an environmentally responsible way.

When you buy organic grass-fed beef, you are getting the best product, and supporting smaller farmers, and the environment, at the same time.

Peter K. MS, PT is an international health coach, nutritionist, physical therapist, speaker, author, and college lecturer. He’s the author of Shop, Cook, Eat, and 2 other books as well as the creator of 5 Minutes to Fitness+, and has appeared on FOX, ABC, Fitness Magazine, QVC, TLC, MSNBC, and Blogtalkradio. peterk@peterkfitness.com, www.peterkfitness.com

Sources

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/expert-answers/grass-fed-beef/FAQ-20058059

The Omnivores Dilemma, Michael Pollan

http://www.webmd.com/men/features/benefits-protein

5 Reasons to Buy Organic Chicken

chicken When it’s not cooked well, chicken can be a terrible disappointment. Need we mention the famous “rubber chicken” you sometimes get at buffets on in airplane meals?

But with just a little care and attention, chicken can be an amazingly easy, versatile ingredient in any kind of meal. Chicken sausage, marinated and grilled chicken breast, stir-fried chicken with spicy Asian sauce, breaded Italian chicken cutlets…the possibilities are as varied as they are delicious.

Better yet, chicken is naturally low in fat and calories, so it naturally fits today’s more health-conscious lifestyles. Toss that grilled chicken breast on a bed of leafy greens, and you can sit down to enjoy a meal without worrying about your waistline.

If you eat chicken often – and many Americans do – choosing organic chicken can help you feel even better about your healthy diet. Plus, it can give you peace of mind to know that the animals and the earth benefit from organic farming practices.

Here are five good reasons to buy organic chicken:

1. Tried and true. For the majority of human history, organic chicken was all you could get! It was just plain old chicken, naturally free range – and free of things like synthetic hormones. High-tech industrial farming changed all that. Now, more and more research suggests that we’re better off following the traditions that were handed down through generations of small family farms. Check out the recent report by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) regarding the impact of industrial farming practices on public health.

2. 2. Rigorous standards. Organic farms are inspected by a government-approved certifier to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic meats must be certified, too. If you buy chicken with an organic label, you can be assured that qualified inspectors are keeping a close eye on how that chicken was raised and processed.

3. No hormones, antibiotics or GMOs. Organic chickens are never given antibiotics or synthetic hormones. Their feed is organic and vegetarian. Organic farmers cannot raise genetically modified crops or livestock or use production aids that are genetically modified.

4. More humane farming practices. Animals on certified organic farms are raised with special attention to their health and wellbeing. They have access to fresh air, sunshine, and the outdoors. Organically raised animals grow at their own natural pace, with no artificial hormones. By following free-ranging or free-grazing practices, organic farms not only treat animals more humanely, but also improve the animals’ health and reduce stress.

5. Better for the environment. Certified organic farmers do no use most conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation. Organic agricultural practices prevent pesticides and other chemicals from getting into the air, earth and water that sustain us. They also replenish and build healthy soil. Organic farmers emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations.

Korean-Style Organic Grass Fed Flank Steak Recipe

flank_largeOne of my favorite ways to prepare beef (especially organic beef) is to marinate it with Korean flavors. If you’ve ever had galbi (korean marinated short ribs), you know the flavor I’m talking about. It’s sweet and salty with hints of garlic. But if you’re like me and preparing for summer, short ribs are probably not the best choice. But no worries,Greensbury’s organic flank steak makes for a delicious and lean substitute.

This dish is perfect for the grill or oven. When you’re preparing it, give yourself at least an hour for marinating. The longer it marinates, the better. You want to let the flavors permeate throughout the meat. I usually marinate it overnight. And feel free to throw in some baby portobellos as well. Sometimes I throw in some sliced long green peppers just for a little kick. So feel free to add your little twist.

And CLICK HERE to get your hands on Greensbury’s organic 100% grass fed flank steaks.

Korean Style Organic Flank Steak Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1 can of coca-cola
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 of an onion, sliced
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of black pepper
  • 1 large green pepper, sliced (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine and mix marinade ingredients into a large ziplock bag or a big dish. I used a giant bowl. I know the can of soda sounds crazy but it’s the secret ingredient. The soda provides the sweetness to balance the soy sauce and it tenderizes the steak.
  2. Place the organic grass fed flank steak into the marinade and mix thoroughly. You want to make sure every inch of the flank steak is coated with the marinade.
  3. Marinate for at least 1 hour (overnight recommended).
  4. If you’re grilling, cook it for 4-5 minutes on each side (I like it medium rare) and let it rest. Or if you’re using the oven, cook it under the broiler for 6-7 minutes on each side. Make sure your meat is 2-3 inches away from the broiler.
  5. Slice thinly against the grain.
  6. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallions and serve with brown rice and kimchi!