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Thread: struggling with conventional vs organic, grain fed vs grass fed, etc. page

  1. #1
    Special K's Avatar
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    struggling with conventional vs organic, grain fed vs grass fed, etc.

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    I realize the topics of organic vs. conventional, grass-fed vs. grain-fed, etc. have been discussed before on these forums, but as I've been reading MDA and learning more about the primal lifestyle, I keep getting hung up on whether or not it's worth it to pay a premium for the organic, pastured, grass fed, etc. food. Because this general topic has been discussed so many times in the past, let me give a few specific details that should focus the discussion:

    1. I consider myself to be in great health and don't suffer any apparent ill-effects when I consume grain fed beef as opposed to grass fed beef, conventional fruits and vegetables as opposed to organic ones, farmed fish as opposed to wild, etc. From reading many of the posts on this forum and the featured posts on the MDA homepage, I understand this is not the case for everyone.

    If eating the conventional version of foods had a noticeably negative impact on my health, that would obviously weigh very heavily on my decision to go all grass fed, organic, etc. Granted I am only 30 now and this may change as I age, but it is all I've experienced so far.

    2. I have found in some cases the organic, grass fed, etc. version of a product tastes better than the original, but not always. When it does taste better, it typically isn't significantly better. I realize this can vary quite a bit depending on where you shop.

    3. I'm very active and need to eat 4000+ calories per day just to maintain my weight and support my lifting, running, and other activities. As soon as I became interested in weightlifting and gaining mass I knew it would be an expensive hobby even when at the time a lot of my calories came from cheap carbs such as oats and rice. Switching my diet to a more primal one with grass fed beef, wild fish, more fruits and vegetables, etc. has caused my grocery bills to rise much higher.

    Right now I'm still holding out on organic fruit and vegetables just because I'm starting to wonder if spending this much money on food is really worth it. If I really wanted to buy everything organic, grass fed, pastured, etc. then I could and it wouldn't cause me to miss a rent payment or anything. Nevertheless, it would still be a significant amount of money that would leave me wondering if I was wasting it.

    4. Although I do acknowledge that conventional farming methods are most likely worse for the animals and the environment, I don't believe those reasons alone would be enough for me to pay the premium for grass fed, organic, etc. What really motivates me is my own health. What I really get hung up on is the fact that there don't seem to be any hard links between consuming grain fed beef, conventional produce, etc. and health problems such as cancer. Right now all we seem to have is a nebulous collection of studies that indicate there might be some correlation between eating organic, grass fed, etc. foods and a reduction in the risk for various forms of cancer and other diseases. If someone could tell me right now that I could avoid some form of cancer or other disease 20 years from now by eating all organic, grass fed, etc. now, then of course I would do it. The problem is that we don't have anywhere near that level of causation established.

    Does anyone else struggle to make the jump to organic, grass fed, etc. for any/all of the reasons above?

  2. #2
    RichMahogany's Avatar
    RichMahogany is online now Senior Member
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    Sure. We all struggle with all that stuff to some extent, I think. I do eat occasional CAFO beef and even bacon from time to time, although I try to minimize it. I have simlar caloric needs, and I drink conventional milk sometimes to help keep the weight gain moving forward. I also eat a lot of organic potatoes, yams, and pastured local eggs to make up the rest of the calories and carbs I need to support lifting.

    In other words, it's not a dichotomy, but a spectrum. I like to think I fall on the "mostly grass-fed" end of it, but there's people who manage to do a lot better than me in that regard and people who put much less thought/effort/$$ into it.

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    noodletoy is online now Senior Member
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    we can buy off-cuts and odd bits of pastured grass-fed cows for cheaper than cafo meat, so we do.

    when i eat cafo chicken or cheese, i am famished within hours and craving krap food the rest of the day. i link this directly to the cafo feed and the subsequent krap nutritional profile of the protein. the result wasn't something i realized at first, but after a couple years of very clean eating. pastured poultry is crazy spendy, so i just don't eat it. grass-fed dairy isn't much more than cafo, however.

    i don't eat farmed fish partly because they are fed mostly soy/corn -- foods that fish certainly shouldn't be eating and i don't want to be consuming them in a second-hand way. mostly i eat low-on the food chain wild fish, like sardines, smelts, whiting, etc. i eat fish a few times a week and tuna steaks @ $18 pp aren't in the budget.

    both farmed fish and cafo animals are fed antibiotics all their lives. yuk.

    i eat frozen organic berries through the winter and then just local organic fruits in the summer. my fruit consumption is pretty low.

    i do not always buy organic veggies, but try.

    i eat loads of pastured local eggs. super-cheap super-food.

    here's the thing with health: many issues take years to develop and a person may feel "fine" up until he or she... doesn't and then they are really sick.

    i prioritize my food dollars and make choices about other items in life like not having cable or the newest i-phone.
    Last edited by noodletoy; 06-24-2013 at 04:35 PM.
    As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

    – Ernest Hemingway

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    Allenete's Avatar
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    I don't stress about it but I do TRY to buy my food in its most natural state. In Australia that is much easier than in the US since our beef is mostly grass-fed anyway, and hence our butter is as well (we also have butters from New Zealand readily available, all grass-fed).

    As for what it does to your health, I've read about it and there's way too much to go into here, but perhaps do your own reading. "Primal Body/Primal Mind" by Nora T Gedgaudas goes into lots of science behind the whys of Paleo.

    The way I look at it, so many people are prepared to pay premium for gadgets, clothing and other material goods they want the best quality of, yet these same people are prepared to shove crap into their own bodies. Why? It's your BODY it's YOU, what goes into it matters greatly, more than the pair of jeans you wear ON it.

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    JoanieL's Avatar
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    Oddly enough, I didn't notice that much of a difference in the taste when switching from CAFO to grass-fed except for ground beef where the difference was kind of amazing (I don't eat a lot of steaks, but I consume ground beef probably three times a week at least). But one day, I was out of butter and didn't want to drive just for that, so I went to the corner store and bought some Land 'o Lakes butter. It tasted so bad that I brought it back - honestly, it tasted rancid.

    At 30, you have about 50-60+ years left on the planet. You have to ask yourself what you want to put in your body for the next half century. My priority is animals - I'll spend the money to eat decent animals and their by-products. I don't eat many veggies, so the occasional conventionally grown portion of produce doesn't bother me. But if I were a big salad eater, or ate a lot of produce in general, you can bet your ass I'd be at the farmers market every Saturday.

    At 30, I (and almost every professional I knew) was using cocaine on a regular basis. I still felt healthy, went to the gym regularly, etc. That doesn't mean it was healthy. It just means that at 30, your body can take a lot of abuse without showing it. I'm not saying that CAFO is as bad as cocaine, just making a point that a young body can take a whole lot more crap thrown at it than can an older body.
    "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

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    With factory farm meat you have massive amounts of antibiotics, plus growth hormones, a worse nutritional profile from what the animals are fed, and a much greater risk of e.coli/salmonella/etc from the way the animals are raised/fed/slaughtered. I've heard antibiotic resistance is developing in part to the antibiotics from our food, not just from taking them.

    With conventional produce you have greater amounts of pesticides, although organic produce used pesticides too and many of them are dangerous as well. (pesticides, after all) Also conventional produce, in the US at least, is most likely genetically modified. Maybe there's not enough proof that it's all bad for you (yet) but think about it, it's like food made in a lab, chances are it's not going to be all that good for you. Organic produce cannot be GM.

    Someone mentioned the stuff people buy. A lot of people I know buy a new phone every year. I would rather eat good food than have the latest gizmo and I'm willing to bet a lot of people here would agree with that sentiment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoanieL View Post
    At 30, I (and almost every professional I knew) was using cocaine on a regular basis. I still felt healthy, went to the gym regularly, etc. That doesn't mean it was healthy. It just means that at 30, your body can take a lot of abuse without showing it. I'm not saying that CAFO is as bad as cocaine, just making a point that a young body can take a whole lot more crap thrown at it than can an older body.
    ha! this.

    <<hangs head<< more times than i can count i was doing lines before teaching fitness classes. my diet was mostly grains, low-fat, very little animal protein. i felt invincible right until the wheels came off the wagon when i hit about 42.
    As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

    – Ernest Hemingway

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    A MRSA infection turned me off buying non-organic meat. It made me too angry- now when I see non-organic meat my first thought is "I'm not going to pay you to kill me." There is RoundUp in my city drinking water. I refuse to pay people to kill me.

    (If routine antibiotic use were stopped in farming, some models have MRSA disappearing as quickly as 9 months because it is not competitive in the natural environment. If you call MRSA a foodborn illness, eating chicken in the USA is approximately 10,000 times more dangerous than eating chicken in China during a bird flu outbreak.)
    “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” W. Edwards Deming
    Blogging at http://loafingcactus.com

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