I also mentioned the cost benefits of including offal in your carnivorous repertoire - first, because bought separately it's very cheap, and second because if you bought the whole animal in the first place, you are getting more food for your money.
The same arguments apply to another part of the animal people routinely squander - the fat.
For example, when you buy a lamb chop, very often there is a fairly thick rind of fat on it. This probably contains more calories than the meat (as most of you know, fat has 9 cals/g whereas carbs and protein has 4) - but how healthy that fat is depends very much on how the animal was reared.
Quality MattersAs I wrote in part 1, it's not wise to compromise to eat the fat from industrially farmed animals: they are fed with food like corn and wheat, and kept in unnatural conditions, as a result of which their fat contains more omega 6 and less omega 3 than wild or free-range animals. Eating the fat from such meat is probably not very good for you, though ironically this is not for the reasons the sat-fat-heart brigade claim.
|Some Photos of My Fatty Meals|
Eating the Fat Makes the Meat CheapAnother irony lies in people's tendency to avoid buying organic, pastured or free-range meat because of the cost. Very often these same people can be seen scraping the fatty offcuts into the bin after a meal or carefully separating the skin from a duck or chicken leg.
The point is that if they bought high quality food, and therefore were able to eat all of the serving, they would need less to be satisfied because of the additional calories from the fat - and it would taste nicer too.
When Mrs M and I buy a small organic chicken, it makes up to four meals. There are all kinds of fatty parts to the animal, many of which become crispy if cooked properly. Personally, I am happy to guzzle the fatty parts whether crispy or not, so I can be satisfied by a much less meat than I would otherwise need.
A £10 organic bird therefore means £2.50 per meal. If we bought a crappy, industrially farmed bird for £5 we'd have no choice to but to avoid the fat, so the cost would be the same because we'd only get two meals out of it.
As an aside, I do appreciate some people may be getting their meals for £1.25 because they eat all of the chicken, in spite of the conditions it was raised in, and that for some this is the only way they can afford to live.
Conditioned AvoidanceWe have been conditioned to cut the fat off our meat.
The diet-heart hypothesis - the idea that eating saturated fat leads to heart disease - is so thoroughly entrenched in the psyche of most people that there is an instinctive urge to avoid conspicuous animal fat.
I won't bore you with the science here, but regular readers of the blogs in my blog roll will know this is a notion that's being quietly and systematically demolished by authors, commentators and researchers, leaving an ever-dwindling group of establishment die-hards holding aloft a tattered flag.
Even Mrs M, now a fully paid up Paleo queen, cuts the fat off meat when it's not crispy or when there is what she perceives to be 'just too much of it.' As for my Mum and Dad, who themselves have been Paleo for some time, it took them quite a while to get used to the idea that fat is good.
The Power of IndoctrinationWhat gets me is that nobody wants to leave the crispy skin from a chicken breast. I don't know many people who'd pass up a pork scratching (albeit accompanied by ooh, I shouldn't) and the crispy fat from a lamb or beef steak is surely divine.
Yet the same people who seem unable to exercise the willpower necessary to stop eating sugar, cakes or chocolate, appear suddenly to have this iron resolve when it comes to animal fat. As I recall, I was just the same some years ago. I guess this is testament to the power of indoctrination. No one wants to die. You die of heart attacks. We are told fat gives you a heart attack. I don't remember anyone ever saying that about sugar, albeit that it may turn out to be true.
Paleo SubtletiesIt would be remiss of me not to mention that there are differing opinions among advocates of Paleo/Primal eating about how much animal fat we should eat. Some say that wild animals are relatively lean and that our liking for fat was naturally regulated when we were evolving by its relative scarcity. Others say we should freely consume it.
I just wing it. For me, variety is the watchword. On some days I eat white fish or offal, which contain relatively little fat anyway - on these days I get most of my fat from olive or coconut oil. On days when I do eat fatty animals I eat the fat freely.
In part 3 - soups and bones. Yes I said bones - you can eat them. Really.
Making the Most of Animals: Part 1 - Wonderful Offal
Making the Most of Animals: Part 3 - Beautiful Bones