Few of us hunt or fish to obtain our own animal proteins, so we are at the mercy of intermediaries for our supplies. Yet mass-produced livestock are often treated with growth hormones and antibiotics our bodies don’t need or want.
If you must purchase meat, poultry and fish products from a store, the best advice for those who are following a Paleo Diet is to choose cuts from animals that were raised as close to nature as possible, such as grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and wild-caught salmon.
Try to avoid prepackaged or processed meats. Hot dogs and lunch meats like bologna are chock full of additives. If you have never read the ingredients that go into something as seemingly innocent as turkey bacon, have a good look at the list on the package.
You might be surprised to discover that besides turkey, water, canola oil, salt and sugar, “fake bacon” also contains sodium lactate, sodium diacetate, sodium phosphate, sodium ascorbate, sodium nitrate, dextrose, soy lecithin, “smoke flavor” and autolyzed yeast extract—a virtual chemistry project.
Make friends with your local butcher. Buy cuts of beef you can put through a grinder at home to produce hamburger or sausage. Get a smoker and make your own bacon from pork belly, cured at home with salt and brown sugar and perhaps flavored with herbs from your own garden.
You can also broaden your menu by ordering “exotic” meats from your butcher, not just venison or mutton but also buffalo, wild boar, elk, rabbit and other game that was once abundantly available. Try different types of poultry, too, such as duck, goose, wild pheasant, squab, Cornish game hen or ostrich perhaps.
Shellfish, of course, are perfectly fine on the Paleo Diet, so feast away on shrimp, lobster, clams, mussels, crab, crayfish, oysters, abalone, sea urchin, etc.—the fresher, the better.
Most types of fish are fine, too, and the small ones with soft, edible bones contain lots of calcium. The basic rule of thumb is that if a caveman could find it, catch it and eat it, so can you.
And don’t limit your meat choices to common cuts of beef or pork like steaks, roasts and chops. The Paleo Diet encourages eating entrails (internal parts), just like cavemen did, from liver, heart, kidneys and tongue to gizzards, chitlins, tripe and even lung if you’re up to the challenge.
Anyone familiar with Asian cuisines knows that the range of ingredients used in Far East kitchens is astounding, if occasionally shocking. There’s a saying that the Chinese will eat anything with four legs except tables and chairs.
Pig snout, horse meat, squirrel, bull’s balls, bear paw … if you are hungry enough, any mammal can serve the purpose. Nor are the options limited to four-legged animals—snakes, sea slugs, sea horses, jellyfish, insect larvae and grasshoppers are all fair game.
None of those should make you feel any more queasy than your mayonnaise. It most likely contains calcium disodium EDTA, which is short for ethylene-diaminetetraacetic acid. That’s a preservative used in cosmetics as well as food, made from such poisons as formaldehyde and sodium cyanide.
This all-too-common ingredient is suspected of causing intestinal upset, kidney damage, blood in urine and muscle cramping. That’s a real stomach turner—unlike bee pupae, which tastes a lot like licorice.
Over in Europe, the French eat escargot and frog’s legs; Greeks enjoy lamb’s brain; and the Irish have their blood puddings. American Eskimos make a kind of “ice cream” called akutaq of fat from reindeer, seal or moose.
We’re not saying you should turn in your T-bones for head cheese or chicken claws, but a true caveman would not reject any of nature’s bounty out of hand. Give yourself permission to experiment. You may discover some new favorites along the way.
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