First Do No Harm

Kale

I love my readers. They send me the neatest articles.

I got this one called, “7 Reasons Kale Is the New Beef.”

I not naïve enough to think that all the beef eaters out there are suddenly going to change their habit of eating beef 4 to 8 times per week because of an article like this. As a student of human behavior, I realize that change is very hard. In fact, we know two things about change:

  1. Nobody wants it.

  2. It’s inevitable.

All that being said, we do have to change the farming practices we employ to raise our livestock in this country along with our meat eating habits; all of which are unsustainable.

For one thing, we have to stop raising livestock on antibiotics. Did you know that turkeys are on antibiotics every day of their lives up until ten days before butchering?

We mentioned in a newsletter a few years ago that the CDC finally admitted that strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria were showing up specifically because of the over-use of antibiotics in raising our livestock. Here’s a page of FAQ’s about antibiotic resistance:
http://www.cdc.gov/narms/faq.html

Secondly, raising beef costs us 11 times the amount of fossil fuels used in raising vegetables.

Fossil energy is used for the production of feeds (land preparation, fertilizers, pesticides, harvesting, drying, etc.), their bulk transport (rail and/or sea freight), storage (ventilation), and processing (milling, mixing, extrusion, pelleting, etc.) and their distribution to individual farms.

Once on the farm, and depending on location (as in the climate), season of the year and building facilities, more fossil energy is needed for the movement of feeds from the storage to the animal pens; for control of the thermal environment (cooling, heating or ventilation); and for animal waste collection and treatment (solid separation, aerobic fermentation, drying, land applications, etc.).

Transport of products (meat animals to abattoirs, milk to processing plants, eggs to storage), processing (slaughtering, pasteurization, manufacture of dairy products), storage and refrigerated transport also require fossil fuels.

Finally, the distribution to the consumer and the final cooking process may also require expenditures of fossil fuels. [http://www.fao.org/agriculture/lead/tools/fossil/en/ , http://vegetarian.about.com/od/vegetarianvegan101/f/fossilfuels.htm

Thirdly, we raise our beef on grains. Cattle were never meant to eat that much grain; they were designed to eat grasses. Feeding cattle grains has three major drawbacks:

  1. The e-coli in their digestive tract is ridiculously high due to being fed grains (in fact, one way to lower the e-coli count is to feed the cattle grasses for two weeks prior to butchering; however, the meat industry prefers to spray the meat with ammonia).

  2. Eating beef that has been fed grains increases our consumption of omega-6 fatty acids; when our ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 are out of balance, our inflammation indices climb increasing our odds of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes (just to name a few chronic illnesses). And since most of our conventional grains are Genetically Engineered, well, we are the final consumer of GE foods that have never been tested by the FDA and we have no idea what the long term effects are.

  3. The grains that go into feeding our cattle could feed over 800 million people. [Link]

Finally, we cannot forget the impact of raising all this beef on the environment. Livestock Account for 51% of Greenhouse Gases is a great article to read, but greenhouse gasses are just one side of the problem. You’ve got land degradation and water pollution. We’ve destroyed so much land to make room for cattle; rainforests have been decimated, grazing lands in Montana and Wyoming trashed by wiping out the indigenous plants and trying to plant grasses that never took hold.

We truly must cut back on raising livestock to make our food production sustainable. Period.

So let’s get back to kale. The original article can be found here: http://www.organicauthority.com/health/reasons-kale-is-the-new-beef-nutritious-sustainable.html, but I’m going to add a few things.

  1. Kale is an anti-inflammatory. Served either steamed or raw, you get the same anti-inflammatory fighter: Vitamin K. Vitamin K is not only an anti-inflammatory, it helps your bones absorb free calcium (that could damage your arteries), and protects the myelin sheath that wraps around your nerves leading to your brain, thus protecting brain function. I mention steamed or raw simply because “most” of kale’s nutrition is made more readily available steamed. See below.

  2. Lowers cholesterol (though no one has ever been able to convince me that hypercholesterolemia [high cholesterol]) is actually a disease.

  3. Calcium: kale has more calcium per ounce than/per calorie than milk. And it comes in a form (along with vitamin-K) that is more easily absorbed than milk.

  4. Iron: kale has more iron than beef (per calorie).

  5. Fiber: fiber rich food keep your blood sugar from rising following a meal, and keep your digestive tract healthy. Diets high in fiber have been shown to lower your chances of heart disease and cancer.

  6. Protein: one serving of protein provides two grams of protein.

  7. Omega-3 EFAs: one serving of kale provides 121 mg of omega-3 and 92.4 mg of omega-6. A very good ratio, by the way.

  8. Cancer protection: kale provides our bodies with glucosinolates that build isothiocyanates (many of which we’ve discussed at this site, including indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane) which are powerful cancer fighters, lowering your risk of bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate cancers.

  9. Antioxidants: kale is a rich source of carotenoids and flavanoids (over 45 different), including quercetin and kaempferol, which all add up to boost your immune system.

  10. High sulfur content: our diets today lack sulfur. Sulfur helps keep our inflammation low and it also helps detox our bodies. Sulfur is part of glutathione, one of the most powerful antioxidants we know of but is made by our bodies (thus we need the building blocks). Sulfur helps the body detox environmental toxins, pharmaceuticals, and heavy metals such as aluminum. [http://www.livestrong.com/article/317807-sulphur-detox/]

It seems that most nutritionists recommend steaming kale before serving to get the full benefit of its nutrients, though it can be used in a salad raw. If steamed, make sure you don’t steam it too much. The recommended time is about five minutes, then you can toss it into a salad; serve with a nice Mediterranean salad dressing (vinaigrette).


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