How Did Your Food Live? Know the Health Behind Your Food

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I don’t post enough content on nutrition.  But I should, especially after reading THIS walking ball of fail of an article yesterday – in which the woman who wrote it, a registered dietician mind you – linked egg consumption to colon cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and probably global warming for all I know.

It was a glowing example of cherry picking data. Example:  I’m pretty sure all the studies she linked to about egg consumption causing the next apocalypse were debunked by a lot of people much smarter than myself.  Namely the fact that many of the aforementioned studies, as quick as they were to demonize eggs, and not coincidentally backed by vegan or vegetarian groups with an agenda, used surveys to extrapolate their data.  

Surveys, as we all know, most of the time, and especially as it relates to research studies, are about as useful as a poop flavored lollypop, and not much more valid.

Okay, people who eat eggs have a high(er) risk of diabetes and heart diseases.  But is it the eggs that are the issue or the fact that these same people fail to note that they also smoke like a chimney, don’t exercise, and eat a ton of highly processed, sugary, gooped up foods as well?

Nevertheless, I was pretty dumbfounded that someone who gives nutritional advice for a living would write something so off-base and overtly biased. Then again, given the context and the site for which it was written, I’m not surprised.  

Still: it’s disconcerting to think that this article is no doubt making its rounds around the internets and people are probably throwing out their eggs and high-tailing it to their local bomb shelters.

On the bright side, I was very happy to see that many, many, MANY people chimed in in the comments section to debunk many of the author’s claims.

In any case, today (and tomorrow) you’ll be treated to some good ol’ fashioned nutrition content.  

I want to introduce everyone to Luke Serwinski, who was an intern at Cressey Performance earlier this year and who is now a Strength and Conditioning coach in Connecticut.

Luke has a Bachelors in Strength and Conditioning from UCONN, as well as an Associates degree in Culinary Arts.  So, ladies, Luke can lift heavy things and make a killer duck confit….;o)

In this two-part article Luke goes into details about how the health and lifestyle of our food directly impacts us and ways to correct and operate damage control in an imperfect world.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I hope you do too!

If I offered you a bowl of rice from my fridge and as you ate it explained that it was collected from 30 different restaurants around town, cooked at different times to different standards, scraped off bottoms of pots and then thrown together in one bowl, would you eat it?

If I assured you that each restaurant had conducted their own inspection of their rice to unknown standards and added some cleaning agents to keep bacterial growth from occurring on it, just to be safe, would you eat it?

Ever since attending culinary school and getting hands-on experience in a real functioning butcher shop (what we’d call meat fabrication), I have had an affinity for animal products.  All of our classes were taught hands-on in working kitchens for pastry, baking, buffets, fine dining and so on.

One class I couldn’t wait to take and loved more than any other was meat fabrication.  The term meat fabrication itself sounds very industrial and out of touch with humanity but in fact it was quite the opposite.

While I never got the experience of helping to butcher an entire cow, I had the opportunity to work on half a cow all the way down to dicing chunks of fat for sausage making and pate.  There were plenty of classmates who were not very keen on handling so much dead animal and plenty more who tried to act like it didn’t bother them but I felt like it put me in touch with food on a deeper level.

If you get the chance to watch, like I did, a butcher turn half a cow into edible portions you’d understand how important it is to know more about what you are eating and not distancing yourself from where our protein comes from, as it is an awe inspiring experience.

While it sounds like I might be some meat wunder-kid, believe me, I’m not and I had the smallest understanding of animal products when I began(I wasn’t even sure if meat was the actual muscle of the animal or not!).

Every passing day I appreciated more and more how important it was to treat the products with absolute care, never wasting a piece of meat, bone or fat.

Duck fat would be rendered for cooking with, beef and pork fat would be ground with lean meat for sausage, and bones would be simmered for stock.  My instructor, Chef Danny was very well versed in physiology and I remember him telling our class that we tumble meat with a little water before grinding it into sausage because the tumbling works the myosin to the surface of the meat and helps to create a consistent texture.

The same myosin I learned years later was partly responsible for muscle contractility. That is the kind of understanding I always desired and continue to pursue.  These lessons now illuminate issues for me that would have otherwise gone unnoticed, such as seeing inter and intra-muscular fat in chicken breast.  Poultry, as a whole, store fat almost exclusively subcutaneously, or under the skin, rather then in and between the muscles as in beef.

Over the years I have noticed chicken breast in supermarkets with what looks like marbling and see color shading from pink to gray.

What happened to the meat I used to know, and what is causing these changes?

Part of the problem is that our grocery stores now serve ground meat that is combined from many cows, poultry or pigs, up to 100+.

Note from TG:  I knew this, but still……….groooooooosss.

A package of chicken breasts could come from God knows how many birds and the same goes for milk, yogurt and cheese products.

No longer does our food come from one singular animal that lived a good life, was slaughtered humanely and became food to nourish and sustain us.

If you’ve read Eating Animals (TG:  I still eat animals, but this book made me think twice about where my animal sources come from. And I wouldn’t recommend reading it if you have a weak stomach) or The Omnivores Dilemma (TG:  easily one of my ten favorite books I’ve ever read), then you have heard the same type of story and much worse.

The goal of this article isn’t to list the animal treatment horrors of factory farming but give some insight into why we should be more skeptical about “assured” food production practices and possible health concerns.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve discussed with my grandfather why it’s important to pay attention to where our food comes from now.  He just can’t seem to understand that meat today is not the meat he used to eat, and likewise for vegetables and dairy.

He used to work for a milk delivery company in his 20s and 30s and delivered milk from specific small farms to people in the community.  He also grew up on a farm and grew most of his own produce, which was not heavily sprayed or laden with chemicals.  He also didn’t breathe air from pollution caused partly by automobiles and mostly by factory farming.  While he doesn’t understand the changes in food he will note how many more obese and sick people he sees at all ages these days…

To understand our food we must understand our own bodies.

Reading work by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, I’ve come to a greater understanding of how we are raised and even more telling, how we’re born affects our entire lives and health.

For instance, when a baby is born it has a sterile gut.  It’s first exposure to bacteria, good or bad, comes from a mouthful of flora inside the mother’s vagina.  The mother’s ( as well as father’s) reproductive organ flora is directly influenced by their own gut flora.

If a child is born into C-section, not breast fed and/or exposed to antibiotics at an early age, its immune system is devastatingly compromised.    Dr. Campbell-McBride n0tes that any women with chronic yeast infections invariably have compromised digestive flora; one aspect of our health reflects the rest of the system.

Great, what does that mean for our food?

To start all baby chickens born for egg production, known as “layers,” and those born for meat, known as “broilers” are born from chickens raised in absolute filth and fed a heavy dose of antibiotics.

These baby chicks are grown apart from their mothers and do not get passed any beneficial gut flora that they would be exposed to from sharing feeding space with the parents.

If you look at what abnormal gut flora, or disbysosis, does in humans, you can correlate what it might do to animals.

Symptoms of disbyosis in humans are chronic infections, autoimmune diseases, lack of neurotransmitters, food malabsorption, allergies, skin conditions, arthritis, Celiacs and so on.

Imagine eating an animal with one or many of those symptoms, not very appetizing.

You might even notice that your food cooks differently now too.

Staying with the chicken example, most birds are now slaughtered around 40-45 days old, one third what it takes naturally.  Young birds often retain light-red and pinkish hues around their joints even when fully cooked.

My mom asked me a while back why a chicken she roasted just didn’t seem like it was fully cooked no matter how long she had it in the oven, I believe she threw it out without eating it.  I explained the natural phenomena occurring with young birds, most likely because the bones have not fully formed and leak marrow.

I don’t think this is problematic and makes sense from a physiological standpoint until you also consider that in addition to this, many of these birds are too large to stand on their own legs and spend most of their lives on their knees.

This creates what is known as “hock burns”, burns caused by ammonia from the litter on the floor.  Now we have partially formed, burned and arthritic bones in chickens two months old….yikes.

Note from TG: And on that cliffhanger, I’ll post part II of Luke’s article tomorrow.  In the meantime I hope part I at least spurned a dialogue in your mind which gets you thinking about where you get your food from. There’s much more to the equation than just purchasing what’s on the shelves in your local supermarket, or what’s on sale.

As the saying goes, you are what you eat…….eats.

Author’s Bio

Lucas Serwinski is a Strength and Conditioning coach and nutritional consultant for athletes and weekend warriors alike. Lucas holds a Bachelor’s in Strength and Conditioning from UCONN as well as an Associate’s in Culinary Arts from NECI.

Lucas has interned at Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA, worked on low-carbohydrate research for fat loss and health,and  trained and competed in powerlifting. He extensively studies the roles of digestion, sleep, nutritional habits and homeopathic medicine to help people of all walks achieve greater health. Lucas has also worked in multiple award-winning restaurants, including Arrow’s which was named 14th best restaurant in the country by Food magazine. Lucas incorporates knowledge and skill from cooking experience into creating a comprehensive plan for those he works with. Lucas has also worked as a social worked for years and takes mental and emotional considerations into each person’s plan and goals for success.  You can visit his blog HERE.

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Comments for This Entry

  • Glenn McElfresh

    It's funny because I just started a business that is designed to lift the veil off of what people eat. The Bos Life is all about bringing people kick-ass grass-fed beef, and free range chicken and pork. This video tells you what we are about. I have been a long time reader, and it really blew my mind to have this post come up yesterday!

    September 6, 2013 at 7:58 am | Reply to this comment

  • Brent

    It should be a requirement in high school to have to take a class titled: Correlation DOES not equal causation! The entire class repeats the phrase everyday, the entire school year. It's really not that complicated. Meat eaters on avg. eat shittier food WITH their meat compared to vegans. They also are more likely to smoke, and probably have explosive diarrhea. This is 4th grade logic, that grown adults can't seem to understand.

    September 7, 2013 at 1:52 am | Reply to this comment

  • Ryan Andrews

    Thanks for posting. I really enjoyed the book Eating Animals too.

    September 7, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Derby City CrossFit | DarkSide Strength | Louisville Wednesday 9/11/13 - Guy Leaves Class After Being Coached by a Girl

    […] 1 & Part 2 CrossFit Nation How Did Your Food Live? Know the Health Behind Your Food – Part 1 & Part 2 Psychology in the Weightlifting Arena, Part 6 – […]

    September 10, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Brian LeBreton

    Great post. Omnivore's Dilemma changed my life, once I really started understanding what was happening with our food it forced me to change my lifestyle. Now I insist on knowing where my food comes from.

    September 11, 2013 at 5:09 am | Reply to this comment

  • A Lady

    Tony, you started this blog post with a rant about pseudo science... But you let this little gme slip thorough your radar. "If a child is born into C-section, not breast fed and/or exposed to antibiotics at an early age, its immune system is devastatingly compromised" Are you really supporting the claim that a person is "devastatingly compromised" if he/she isn't born with a mouthful of minge? C'mon. Think it through before you hit publish.

    September 14, 2013 at 12:28 am | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      So, I have to agree with EVERY statement in order to publish something on a BLOG? Honestly, I don't have any opinion on that statement either way because I haven't read much on it. All told, that one statement wasn't the "crux" of the post in the first place, and I certainly don't feel it takes away from the main message.

      September 14, 2013 at 6:12 am | Reply to this comment

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