Blog posts of '2014' 'April'

Being Vocal About Local - By IndiePlate & Daphne Olivier, R.D.

The “eat local” movement that has taken hold all throughout the country has several practical and logical reasons that support this trend. So what’s behind it? Why would someone go out of their way to eat foods that have been grown locally? With the change in our food system over the past decades our shift on what is needed for a healthy, nourishing meal has also changed. Eating locally is the beginning of bringing back the connection to our food. Here are ten reasons why eating local is beneficial.

  1. Food Safety: The government estimates one in six Americans get ill from eating contaminated foods each year with nearly 3000 deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control there were 10 E. coli outbreaks between 2010 and 2012. They were linked to everything from cheese and bologna, to hazelnuts, peanut butter, and spinach.  These outbreaks occur because of a complicated food system-from growth to travel to purchase. The incidence of contaminated foods is significantly decreased when the foods are grown and harvested near you.

  2. Quality:  Foods that are grown locally don’t have to go through the rigors of transportation across states (or countries) and storage for long periods of time. Consequently they are much fresher when they get to your plate. They are picked at their peak, right before they get to your plate, which ensures the highest quality.

  3. Nutrition: Eating locally ensures you will be eating with the seasons. In any given area farmers are subject to grow what the season will support. Nature has a way of telling us, based on the food it supports, what is best for us to eat during each season of the year. For example, early spring is all about tender, leafy vegetables like chard, spinach, lettuce, and parsley. Warmer climates support cooling foods like summer squash, zucchini, berries, peaches and plums. All cooler fall and winters warming foods like winter squashes, sweet potatoes, carrots and kale.

  4. Taste: Eating with the seasons ensures that we get the tastiest foods on our plate. Foods that are in season just taste better. Consider how good strawberries taste when spring blossoms, full of sweetness and crispness or how delicious a big red tomato tastes in the peak of summer!

  5. “Shelf Life”: On big issue often discussed is that produce in the fridge has to be thrown away before it can be consumed. Our local producers harvest their produce right before it is delivered to us after which it is delivered to you – A total time window of 72 hours or less. Therefore, once you get it home it has a longer shelf life.

  6. Local economy:  Every time you purchase something that is not from a locally owned business your money is leaving your community. Shopping local keeps money in the community to create local jobs, and protects our local culture. Research estimates that every dollar spent on local commerce generates nearly twice as much income for the local economy than if that dollar were spent on a multi-national business.

  7. Environmental Impact: According to Michael Pollan, the average food item travels approximately 1500 miles to get to your table.  Buying local means you eliminate a large part of the supply chain that requires fossil fuels for transportation.

At IndiePlate we want to enable this Farm-to-Table movement. Come join us and support your local food producers, your local economy, and your environment. Shopping at IndiePlate is just a small part of this bigger good!

Daphne is a food passionista, farm girl wanna-be, and registered, yet unconventional dietitian. She has worked in a variety of clinical nutrition settings before deciding to start her practice, My Food Coach in Lafayette, LA. Through her practice, Daphne focuses on providing the body with the nutrients it needs to bring itself into balance. Her practice revolves around providing education, empowerment, and support to allow you to make changes necessary to maintain optimal health. Click here to visit her website and read more about a variety of food and diet-related topics.

A Case For Grass-fed Meats, Part 1 - By Daphne Olivier, R.D.

Over the past several decades, red meat has faced a lot of criticism. It has been blamed for medical conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and now diabetes. There are growing amounts of people who eat meat, but not red meat because of the bad rap that red meat has gained. We want to clear up a few things in defense of red meat. Part 1 of this series will identify what red meat is and part 2 will discuss what red meat is not.

What Red Meat Is
Just to clarify, red meat comes from a small variety of animals which include beef, lamb, venison, and buffalo. Like many other protein sources, these meats offer a varied nutrient profile. While all meats are good sources of protein and B vitamins (niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin); red meat is higher in iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. Another place that red meat is beneficial is based on the fatty acid profile. While these nutrients can be found in other places, red meat offers a source that is natural, absorbable, and approved for regular consumption.

Fatty Acid Profile
Fats come in many forms, and they are not all created equal. Saturated fat, although it has been criticized for its role in heart disease, it is actually a very healthy, necessary fat for our body. Did you know that if saturated fat is not consumed through the diet it will be made by the bacteria in the large intestines? Wild, isn’t it!? On the other hand, unsaturated fats are either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. The monounsaturated fats are they types found in olive oil and avocado. While polyunsaturated fats (vegetable oil, canola oil, soybean oil) have been touted for several decades, research has proven that this praise was misplaced. Polyunsaturated fats are now known to cause inflammation.

The fatty acid profile in beef is primarily saturated (remember, this is good) and monounsaturated. While grass fed beef is ideal, the digestive process of these animals allows the saturated fat and monounsaturated fat to remain consistent despite what these animals are fed. However, the omega-3 and CLA fats are significantly higher in grass fed beef, but there will be more on that to come in part 2.

Iron is a metal that is essential to support the human body. It is necessary for oxygen transportation throughout the body; it is essential for building proteins, enzymes, and regulating cell growth. Generally speaking, the intestines regulate the absorption of our iron and we absorb only a fraction of the iron we consume. Red meat provides the body with the most efficient form of iron, with a higher amount and higher absorption percentage than other food sources of iron such as vegetables and legumes.

Zinc is one of the most abundant trace elements in the body. It is used for various functions including building numerous enzymes and proteins; it is also crucial for optimal brain development in children and function in adults, DNA gene expression, and cell death. Low zinc levels can be associated with type 2 diabetes, depression, various forms of cancer, and infertility. There are various food sources of zinc, but as you may have guessed, red meat ranks up there as one of the highest.

Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin which must be consumed through our foods, as the body cannot make it on its own. B12 is absolutely necessary for nerve and brain function, cellular metabolism, and building DNA. B12 deficiency has been linked to fatigue, depression, and, in extreme cases, mania and psychosis. Red meat and liver are some of the highest sources of vitamin B12, which are highly absorbable.

A Case For Grass-fed Meats, Part 2 - By Daphne Olivier, R.D.

Red Meat Isn’t the Cause of Heart Disease
Red meat's reputation began its decline in the 1970s. With the increase of heart disease there were many studies undertaken to determine the cause.  It was during this time that Ancel Keys famed "Seven Countries Study" started gaining traction in the consumer world. To summarize, the Seven Countries  study suggested that saturated fat is what causes heart disease. This idea was adopted by the major medical and governmental agencies in the 1980s and has been viewed as valid ever since. However, the Seven Countries theory has been disproven numerous times. Just one example is this meta-analysis study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition which analyzed 21 previous studies and concluded that saturated fat is not associated with increased risk of heart disease. And this study in the British Journal of Medicine wants to “bust the myth of saturated fat’s role in heart disease.”

Red Meat Isn’t the Same as Processed Meats
Many early studies evaluating the correlation between heart disease, diabetes, and stroke included red meat and processed meats together, as if they were the same thing. By definition, processed meats are changed from their natural state, usually with the addition of a varying food additives. Once it was recognized that red meat and processed meats (like hot dogs and lunch meats) are not the same, they began being studied that way. This meta-analysis study  published in Circulation Journal evaluated 20 studies. They broke up processed meats and red meats into two different categories and concluded that processed meats, not red meats, did contribute to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  This study also differentiated between red meat and processed meats and concluded that processed meats increase the risk of diabetes, specifically in young and middle aged women.

Red Meat Isn’t Created Equal
When we recognize the difference between red meat and processed meats, we can then further differentiate them into conventional red meat (grain fed-what you typically find in the grocery store) and grass fed meat. Most studies look specifically at beef, since it is the most common type of red meat. Beef cattle are fed two different ways-the conventional feed is grain based (corn, soy, wheat), or what a cow naturally eats, which is grass. Grass fed beef is lower in overall fat than grain fed. And while the saturated fat content remains about the same, the specific fatty acids differ greatly. Grass fed beef is higher in stearic acid, which does not raise cholesterol levels. Grain fed cows have higher myristic acid and palmitic acid, both of which are known to raise cholesterol. In addition, grass fed beef is higher in CLA (conjugated lineolic acid), which is a fatty acid that protects against certain types of cancers and helps decrease body fat. And lastly, grass fed beef is significantly higher in omega-3 fatty acids which are related to decreased incidence of depression, memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, heart attack, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancers. As if all of these were not enough, grass fed beef is a good source of the fat soluble vitamins A and D, and the beef has the appropriate amount of fat available to allow for absorption of these vitamins (Click here for more details about fatty acids in grain vs grass fed beef). 

So we can see that it’s easy to put a blanket statement out criticizing red meat, but the critics should distinguish between types of red meat (processed vs natural; and grain vs grass fed) because, like people, not all red meats are created equal. The quality of- and nutrition in meat is determined by what the animals eat, and often, by how they are analyzed in research studies. While it may all look the same from the outside, the quality of the meat you purchase will make a difference in your overall health and well-being.

Red meat is more than just a great protein source. It is filled with various nutrients that are essential for proper physiology and function of the body and brain. Grass-fed meats are a great source of not only proteins, vitamins, and minerals, but they are also significantly higher in Omega 3's and CLA's (the "good" fats) than grain-fed meats. When cooked right, grass fed meats offer a delicious source of nutrition. Shop for some of the highest quality meats (in terms of both taste and nutrition) here in our meat market.

Daphne is a food passionista, farm girl wanna-be, and registered, yet unconventional dietitian. She has worked in a variety of clinical nutrition settings before deciding to start her practice, My Food Coach in Lafayette, LA. Through her practice, Daphne focuses on providing the body with the nutrients it needs to bring itself into balance. Her practice revolves around providing education, empowerment, and support to allow you to make changes necessary to maintain optimal health. Click here to visit her website and read more about a variety of food and diet-related topics.