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Good Meat v. Bad Meat. How to make the right choices…

Good Meat v Bad Meat. How to make the right choices….

If like us, you are an ‘out and proud’ carnivore you’ll love your meat. But with so much in the news at the moment about MEAT it’s hard to know what to believe and what not to believe. In the last few years we’ve learnt so much about the meat industry that we felt it was time to share all our knowledge with you so that you too can make an informed choice about the meat you buy and the meat you eat.

What we’ve known since we were children is that good meat is unquestionably a super food amongst super foods.  Unfortunately, however, not all meat is created equally and knowing the difference between good and bad meat is key if you want to be able to make an informed choice about the food you eat. 

In the last few years we’ve we’ve visited the farms where the cattle are reared, spoken at length to the farmers and been to the abattoirs where the animals are slaughtered; we’ve been re-assured by the good bits and appalled at the bad bits. But it’s not just the farms and the welfare of the animals that concern us – it’s also the way that meat is be treated during the processing period that can  be very questionable.

Here are our 3 ‘go rules’,which we hope will help unravel the confusion and help you make better choices when choosing meat.

1. Go welfare

In our view it’s better to eat less meat in favour of better quality meat that guarantees compassionate farming and avoids animal cruelty & factory style farming at all costs. Morally, we hugely care about the lives of the animals that feed us and keep us healthy. Cruelty to animals is shocking and without question there is a right way and a wrong way to farm animals. We have to put a stop to pigs jammed into sow crates unable to turn; chickens caged in their thousands with urine burns on their knees from unclean bedding; cows with IBS having been forced to eat grains to fatten them up.

Look for the badges like RSPCA Freedom Chicken or Grass Fed Beef or Organic. While these cuts of meat are more expensive, the more we choose and create a demand for these higher welfare meats the more affordable they will become. At Top Herd we pride ourselves in using meat which comes from small family farms in Austria, where arguably farming adopts some of the most natural practices in all of Europe.

2. Go Lean 

There has been a lot in the news about fat in recent years. There was once a time when we were all told to stop eating fat full stop. This has now changed and we know a lot more about fat and its health benefits. But putting this simply, fat is everywhere  – it’s used in cakes, pastries, and of course lots of processed meat products because fat makes food taste nice.  And we like food that tastes nice.

However, the thing about fat is that its very calorific with 9 calories per gram, compared to 4 cals for a gram of protein or carbs. And because it tastes so darn good,  its really easy to eat a lot and therefore put on weight.

So when it comes to meat, we always go for the lean meat option which is a much healthier choice. There is lots on the NHS website about this, but put simply, the more white you can see on the meat, the more fat it contains. So for example, back bacon has less fat than streaky bacon.  Another tip – look for less than 7% fat, which is by definition lean meat.  Minced beef, pork and turkey can all be bought lean these days and pork medallions, venison, turkey, and chicken can be really lean too. Our Love Lean Salamis are only 6% fat and taste amazing!

3. Go Cleaner

There has been a lot in the media headlines recently about the addition of added sodium nitrate to processed meats like hams, bacon, salami and jerky. According to the World Health Organisation added sodium nitrates and nitrites in processed meats has links to colonic cancer, which we know sounds scary, but we just want to make you aware. We will never add sodium nitrate/nitrite to any of our products as they simply aren’t necessary. Makers of the mighty fine Parma Ham made a conscious decision 25 years ago to not use sodium nitrate and you can’t dispute their quality!

Our advice is always, always check the ingredient deck of any food you buy. Just because it is displayed in the chiller cabinet does not make it clean. These are some of the ingredients you may find in other very popular products (but never in Top Herd!).

  • Avoid meat snacks that use flavour enhancers like MSG, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate.
  • Avoid meat where water has been pumped into the meat to make it weigh more – food manufacturers use this process all the time as it means they can charge more per kilo for the meat. You find this process in everything from bacon and sausages to cooked meats and salamis. Even some whole chicken and turkey breasts have a solution of water, salt and starch forced into them.  Just check the ingredient deck.  You’ll be amazed at what you find if you look. And you can really tell when you cook it – ever cooked some juicy bacon and then seen a lot of juice sizzle out of the meat – thats the water!
  • Meat Glue & Slurry – salamis can be stuck together with meat glue using an enzyme called transglutaminase. Meat manufactures will often pull together scrappy bits of meat to make salamis or sausages and they use this meat glue to pull all the meat together. In Salami manufacturing it can reduce the traditional drying and maturing time needed for cured meats by up to 40 per cent.  We mince all our own meat and then our Love Lean Salamis are air-dried for a full 6 days – no short cuts.
  • Phosphates & Binding Gums – another useful tool in the meat processor’s chemical arsenal. Derivatives of phosphoric acid, phosphates dissolve the protein in meat, making it tacky and sticky, so that it binds with water — which makes it weigh more, adding to manufacturers’ profits. Look out for them in processed hams etc. The most common binding gums are carrageenan and agar, gum acacia, guar gum, inulin, cellulose; and xanthan gum.
  • Starch and Soya – used in products like meatballs, sausages, nuggets and kievs, these are basically cost cutting ‘meat extenders’. They can have innocuous names such as wheat flour or pea flour or soya protein.

Our advice – Always check the ingredient deck before buying meat.  And if you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it and certainly don’t eat it.

Top Herd #proteinfromnature

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We believe that healthy food should taste (and make you feel) amazing. Here are some delicious everyday recipes which use our yummy 100% natural Love Lean Salamis and Jerky.

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