Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
7 Nov

Dear Mark: Vitamin K2, Washing Eggs, Tapioca Flour, Short Term Grain Feeding, and a Raw-Fed Pack

I both love and hate the time change that just happened. Those first few days are magical. You wake up on Sunday at around 5:30, and you’re raring to go. Full of energy with a whole day ahead of you, plus an hour. It’s like time slows down and you’re ahead of schedule on everything. It’s always an hour before you thought it was, no matter what time it is. But then you get used to the time change, and you notice it’s getting dark out at like four in the afternoon. The afternoon ceases to feel like the afternoon. You get sleepy earlier, which is a good thing in some ways, but I also like to get in something outdoorsy later in the day. Maybe a hike, maybe some paddling. I can’t do that anymore.

All that said, the time may have changed, but Mondays stay the same: Dear Mark question and answer sessions. Today, I discuss the fate of vitamin K2 during dairy pasteurization, explain why I don’t wash my eggs, and give my thoughts on tapioca flour. Then, I field a very sad story from a reader in Argentina and try my best to assuage him. Finally, I discuss the potential costs of feeding a pack of large dogs the raw diet.

Does pasteurizing dairy destroy its Vitamin K2?


While there’s no smoking gun of which I’m aware, it appears as if vitamin K2 is retained during pasteurization. See Chris Masterjohn’s definitive article on vitamin K2 (or “Activator X,” as Weston Price knew it) where he notes that everything he’s seen suggests that it is heat-stable. Price himself found that “Activator X” survived pasteurization. And according to Real Milk (a pro-raw, anti-pasteurization dairy site), this article sees “no evidence” that pasteurization affects “Activator X”  status.

If anyone has evidence to the contrary, I’d like to see it, though.

Dear Mark,

Is it safe to eat farm-fresh eggs without washing them? If they should be washed, what is the best method?

Steve L

If you trust the conditions of the farm, I don’t see a reason to wash the eggs. I don’t even always refrigerate the pastured eggs I get, let alone wash them. The farmers don’t wash them either.

Premature washing of an egg removes the “bloom,” the thin protective layer that prevents bacteria from entering the egg (which is actually slightly porous, believe it or not). Excessive handling can also remove or degrade the bloom, but most farm fresh eggs – in my experience – don’t undergo a lot of handling. Besides, if eggs didn’t come equipped with natural, protective shielding and instead required the loving hand of a farmer, some running water, and a dollop of bleach to survive until hatching, chickens never would have made it to 2011.

Washed eggs actually go bad quicker than unwashed eggs. Don’t wash your eggs.

I was wondering about tapioca flour. I have found it locally. It is gluten free. I was wondering if it could be used like coconut flour. Thanks.


Tapioca flour is one of the “safe starches.” That is, it’s a toxin-free, antinutrient-less, dense source of carbohydrate. I wouldn’t exactly compare it to coconut flour, which is extremely high in fiber, low in digestible carbs, and really soaks up the liquid in a recipe. Tapioca flour can be treated more like potato or rice starch. It’s a classic carby flour, albeit one without gluten and other noted toxins.

For someone with good glucose control, tapioca is a decent source of carbs. If you’re looking to add carbohydrates, or your activity level warrants it, go ahead and try it out. Since tapioca comes from cassava, which is perhaps the most popular source of starch across the entire world, it’s not like it’s a dietary unknown. To venture into tapioca territory is to travel a well-beaten path. Just realize that anytime you turn something into flour, you massively increase the speed at which it breaks down into usable energy. High energy burners in need of a quick hit may find that to be a plus, while more sedentary individuals might react poorly to a quick infusion of glucose (especially if it’s not going to be utilized right away or sequestered into already swollen muscle glycogen stores). Your call based on your context.

Please help me get this straight: I asked my butcher and he told me the meat he sells comes from cows that are pastured their whole life and then are sent to feeding lots for the last 15 or 20 days before being butchered; he referred to this as “supplemented cows”. To me is quite clear this is “grain-finished” meat.

My questions are: Does this beef still counts as “grass-fed” or should I take it as plain and simple “grain-fed”? Do those last 20 days of eating corn nullify the previous 3 or 4 years of grazing? From a nutritional point of view, does this kind of grain-finishing cause the same result as ordinary grain-feeding (I mean, keeping the cow in a feed-lot for longer periods of time)?

I would REALLY appreciate some answers and/or any piece of information you could point me to in order to clarify this situation.

As always, thanks a lot!


Juan (writing from Argentina, once known as the-land-of-grazing-cows! Well done, civilization!)

Juan, I feel your pain.

But don’t despair. I wasn’t able to find any data on the effects of 10-20 days of grain feeding on otherwise grass-fed cattle, but I did find a study that compared the nutritional content of beef raised three ways: grass-fed for life, grass-fed and grain-finished for the last 80 days, and grass-fed and grain-finished for the last 150-200 days. As you might expect, grass-fed for life contained the most omega-3 fatty acids and CLA, while feeding grain reduced omega-3 and CLA. No surprise there. Grain-finishing decreased omega-3 and CLA content. Also no surprise.

However, it wasn’t as if that first mouthful of corn and soy immediately removed omega-3, lowered CLA, and irrecoverably altered the nutrient density for the worse. The benefits of grass-feeding weren’t totally undone, and grain-feeding didn’t work like an on/off switch. Rather, it’s a spectrum. Cattle that were grain-fed for the last 80 days of their lives had more omega-3 and CLA than cattle that were grain-fed for 150-200 days. In other words, the longer you grain feed, the more you impact the nutritional content of the animal’s meat. That would leave me to believe that 10-20 days of grain feeding is probably enough time to negatively impact the nutritional makeup of the meat (and especially the omega-3/CLA content), but not enough time to undo all the good of grass feeding.

It’s also worth noting that one of the biggest problems with feeding cattle grain for life is that it usually requires the use of antibiotics. If you feed them a diet they aren’t genetically adapted to for long enough their health will suffer and drug intervention will become a necessity. Grass-finished cattle (the shorter the period the better) are less likely to need antibiotics.

So, 10-20 days appears to be on the low end of the spectrum. I’d say eat away.

And I was planning on visiting Argentina sometime, too. Dang. (Kidding; I still want to go!)


I accidentally ran across your article about the raw diet for dogs. I am interested in it. However, with feeding 9 large dogs (wt 70lbs to 120lbs) will it be cheaper than what my pet food bill is now? I currently spend 450 a month on the dog food, with one of my dogs having a special diet because she is allergic to everything, and I do mean everything, except veggies (green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes) and fish. Also, do you know of any websites where I can buy organ meat? Thank you in advance.


I doubt it, but it really depends on your sources.

I’ll give an example. One of my Worker Bees has a 70 pound dog who eats all raw. He’s lucky, because he has access to a raw-feeding co-op which gets incredible deals from local small farms. All the meat is human-grade, pastured, grass-fed, and often organic, and it’s very affordable. His dog gets about one and a half pounds of food a day, mostly meat, bones, and various innards (liver, tripe, spleen, trachea, all sorts of cool stuff), supplemented with yogurt, fish, berries, shellfish, and sometimes vegetables. For convenience, he also buys preformed raw meat chubs of ground meat, bone, organ, and vegetable for $2/lb. He feeds his dog on $3 a day. And that’s grass-fed, high quality stuff. Very doable with one dog. With nine, though? That would get really expensive, really fast. Say all nine dogs are 70 pounds (which yours aren’t) eating $3 worth of food a day. At 28 days a month (allowing for a few days of intermittent fasting, which dogs are naturals at), that’s $756.

However, said Worker Bee lives in the SF Bay Area, where prices are generally higher than in other areas of the country. Things might be, and probably are different in your neck of the woods.

Here’s what I’d recommend: find a butcher or meat counter and get to know the people who work it. Tell them you need a steady supply of muscle meat, organs, and bones for your pets (many butchers will have experience preparing pet food for customers) and tell them your budget. Figure about a half pound of food for every 25 pounds of dog and go from there. Don’t worry too much about grass-fed this or pastured that; even conventional meat is better than kibble (especially considering the kibble makers use the cheapest “meat” possible in their products). There are online sites that sell organs and even pre-mixed raw dog food, but they run around $2 a pound at the least. At those prices, your monthly bills will run over $450, no question. I think you’ll end up paying more than $450 a month regardless, but I suspect you’ll save a ton on vet bills.

Join this Yahoo raw feeders’ group. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, and it’s very active with a lot of helpful members wiling to give advice. There’s a good chance you find someone near you who can give more specific advice. Good luck!

That’s it for this week, folks. Keep sending the questions along, and chime in with any new ones related to today’s topics in the comment section. Thanks!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. When my cat was diagnosed with diabetes I decided (with research) to put him on what they call the “Catkins” diet. Just meat, no wheat or dry food. He reversed out of diabetes and his brother lost a few pounds too. Apparently cats are obligate carnivores no grains or veg required.

    MissZ wrote on November 7th, 2011
  2. Well, thank goodness someone else out there has noticed this. I have instant mouth irritation, as does a celiac friend of mine, from tapioca. She described it as peppery. And when I used it to mix a baking flour before I wnt grain-free, it puffed out of the bag and I ended up sneezing for 2 hours. That pretty much made it no mas for me.
    I did a little research, and it appears that tapioca is cross reactive w/ latex, to which I am allergic as well. My MD just rolled his eyes when I mentioned it, but I stuck to my guns. Thanks for the vindication.

    Nannsi wrote on November 8th, 2011
  3. We feed a raw diet to 15 dogs (at most, we’ve had 18 on raw). With multiple dogs, investing in a good set up is your best bet. We have a deep freeze and fridge just for our dogs’ food. We called around to various processing plants (they won’t all work with the public) and found a chicken processor that will deliver to us…about 300lbs every two weeks.

    It’s actually cheaper for us to feed raw than to feed a grain free kibble. We pay more for the beef and non-chicken parts of their diet (ie, green tripe), but we get the chicken so inexpensively it all balances out and is still cheaper than kibble (plus healthier dogs!)

    kennelmom wrote on November 8th, 2011
  4. I just dug up our last delivery receipt and we pay .76/lb for chicken leg quarters (the basis of our diet for our pack of all greyhounds). Offal (gizzards, hearts, livers) are .95/lb. (the prices do vary a little each week)

    Each dog gets about 1 lb of food/day with each dog being an average of 60lbs. That’s one or two leg quarters, plus some offal, tripe and/or eggs every day.

    We also get green tripe and a mix of beef/beef offal from a company that sells pet food mixes (blue ridge beef)…that’s more expensive and runs us about $1.25/lb and we split a 5lb tube amongst the dogs. Eggs we get for “free” from our own pastured flock of hens. Plus the dogs (and hens!) get SALOs (species appropriate leftovers) from our meals, kitchen trimmings, etc (I never have much to compost!).

    When it’s all said and done and I divide costs per dog, it comes out to be about $1/day/dog.

    kennelmom wrote on November 8th, 2011
  5. Juan,

    Argentina has some of the best beef in the world. All cattle are fed some grain. Grass contains little calories so nearly all cattle need a bit of grain to be fattened.

    However, there is no comparison between Argentine beef and US CAFO fed beef. The Argentine beef is far superior.

    Mike wrote on November 8th, 2011

    jill wrote on November 8th, 2011
  7. Sorry – found it! :-O

    jill wrote on November 8th, 2011
  8. And I, too, feed my beautiful greyhound raw. She loves chicken quarters, pastured chicken livers, a bit of grass-finished beef and eggs. When I switched her over, at age 10 she started playing again and her coat and eyes got really glossy. She is now 13 and looking fabulous.

    Penny wrote on November 8th, 2011
  9. I’ve been trying to convince my mom to at least buy grain-free kibble for her dog. He’s some type of Irish terrier, around 40 pounds or so, and he’s been throwing up all of his food (Pedigree or Kibbles N Bits stuff). She tried giving him just yogurt and chicken and he was fine, no puking. Then she mixed some rice into it and bam, puke. I’m like, see Mom!? Try the grain free food! Her roots run deep in CW though (she worries about my paleo eating habits/raw milk consumption) so she just bought some other food that didn’t have rice in it… had plenty of corn and potato though… :facepalm:

    BTW my two cats used to have itchy skin/open sores until I switched them to grain free food. I’d LOVE to get them on a raw diet but haven’t invested the effort or money yet. I’m getting some great ideas from this post and all the responses though :)

    Laura B wrote on November 8th, 2011
  10. So many replies to this thread but I just wanted to add that I am feeding my dog raw meat/bones/organs. I am also on a forum who got very experienced raw feeders and most of them live in the US. If you want more information send me a pm on this forum. My username is Pimzilla.
    Rawfed dogs are happy dogs :)

    Pim wrote on November 9th, 2011
  11. I’ve fed multiple dogs (and now 2 cats) on a raw diet for over 12 years now. FWIW, chicken does not provide the best nutrients for dogs. I feed lots of green tripe, buffalo, turkey necks/carcasses/feet, grass-fed beef, offal, and deer/moose/elk. Whole eggs (shell included), an Omega 3 oil, Vit E round out the menu. I only sell my puppies to families that will do the same and so far, all the puppies I’ve raised over the last 10 years are in excellent health, with beautiful teeth. Even if the food is more conventionally raised, it will be better for your pets than kibble.

    All the suggestions for sourcing on your own are excellent and I employ them all! I also run a small raw-food co-op, with only 15 or so customers, but the handling fee that I charge to those customers nearly offsets the cost of food for my own crew.

    Laura Norie wrote on November 9th, 2011
  12. I have been feeding my dogs RAW for years. The best resource I’ve found is K9JOY.COM. I order “green tripe” from…it’s the best form of protien for your dog. I find the cost for raw is comparable to feeding a high quality Dog Food.

    David wrote on November 9th, 2011
  13. I switched my first dog to raw about 1 year before his death – and he really enjoyed his food. When we got our new dog, he switched from whatever food he had been getting to the raw food – and now I am a goddess in his eyes, because I provide such delicious food!

    I add some frozen ground beef patties many mornings with fish oil capsules frozen in the middle – alternately I feed him frozen liver (liver is his one hang up – doesn’t do a thawed one due to texture) – and his fur is lovely, his breath and teeth are great, and he has unending energy (even for a GSP, which is saying something). Best of all, he is the right weight and absolutely gorgeous (even for a rescue).

    My mom’s dog is fed glorified cardboard (a prescription diet that has a meat-like substance as 8th ingredient on the list) and would love some of our dog’s food – I think she’s jealous whenever I feed him.
    But for those worrying about the teeth – even though many of her teeth are worn, she can still chew bones – so it’s just a matter of developing the jaw strength.

    But yes, I have seen tremendous improvement in both of the dogs I put on raw – and a definite joy in eating.

    Kerstin wrote on November 10th, 2011
  14. We feed our rottweiler a raw diet! INCLUDING BONES! He is gorgeous, perfectly healthy, no bad breath, clean teeth, softest fur. We mostly give him raw poultry from a local farmer. Sometimes some raw milk/yogurt. Never, ever grains.

    Dani wrote on November 10th, 2011
  15. There is some evidence that cassava/tapioca impacts thyroid function so anyone who has a family history of thyroid disease or hypothyroidism (like me) should steer clear of cassava.

    Mark – I wonder if a food that is known to impact metabolism should really be high on anyone’s list, family history or not. On the other hand folks in the Africa and South America have been eating it for centuries to millennia and some studies suggest that with adequate intake of iodine their bodies compensate for the plant’s anti-thyroid effects.

    Have you checked out those claims? Would love to hear what you think.

    Danielle Meitiv wrote on November 11th, 2011
  16. Mark you referred to tapioca as one of the “safe starches”. Can you do a post on safe starches in general, such as rice, potatoes etc?

    Randy wrote on November 15th, 2011
  17. I’ve tried getting my cats to transition to raw but one refuses to eat it. I have since started using a holistic vet and she has a cookbook that pet owners might be interested in. I’m just now trying it out! Prior to that they’ve been eating EVO or similar canned food.
    Dr Cathy Alinovi -Dinner Pawsible, visit Missy

    Missy wrote on November 17th, 2011
    • I should mention that there are some non-paleo recipes in there but I haven’t used them. Just FYI.

      Missy wrote on November 17th, 2011
  18. I recently started my dog (6 year old shih tsu mix) on a raw diet mixed with Blue Buffalo Wilderness (which is grain free.) Checkout for some great prices on turkey and chicken raw food diet by a company called Paw Naturaw. She is loving this food and fortunately she is small enough that I can get by with feeding her 4 medallions per day. You can also get beef for animals on US Wellness Meats, but you have to mix it with fruits and/or veggies to make it more balanced. I did this, mixed it with blueberries and red and green peppers I had on hand and my dog ADORED it! i made little meatballs, froze them, and defrosted a few a day for her. Raw is definitely the way to go.

    Robin wrote on June 7th, 2012
  19. Just a thought, I recently watched a documentary, I think it might have been Farmageddon, but I’m not sure, but anyway, they said that since cows don’t naturally eat corn, they have to gradually feed it to them in ever increasing rations, so for 10-20 days, they might not be eating an all grain or even mostly grain mix yet.

    BetsyJT wrote on January 20th, 2013
  20. Yikes, Mark — I highly recommend you refrigerate your eggs. Consumer Reports found out that eggs left out at room temp. started showing signs of deterioration as quickly as within 2 hours, with the yolk flattening and the egg white thinning.

    To the person who never washes anything, like not even produce. You don’t know who’s been handling that produce before you — it could be a homeless person with no access to bathrooms or toilet paper. Or a snot-nosed kid who’s shedding polio viruses after their vaccination. Eww!

    bouncedancer wrote on October 7th, 2013
    • eggs in american supermarkets are already washed, so the protective cuticle is removed. yes, they should be refrigerated for longer shelf-life.

      if you’re buying eggs direct form a farm they can be kept at room temp. scrape off any bits or wash just before using.

      noodletoy wrote on December 19th, 2013

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