Ideally, the healthiest meats (and butters) come from animals raised in their natural environment (on pasture, or free- ranging or swimming), not exposed to any artificial contaminants (like antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and other environmental toxins) and fed their natural diet (foods the animal would eat in the wild). To read a nice synopsis of the benefits of eating meat from such sources, refer to the Eat Wild web site: http://www.eatwild.com/basics.html
Tip: If you seek out grass-fed/pastured and organic animal protein sources, feel free to purchase and eat fattier cuts. A healthy animal produces healthy meat, containing more vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and a number of health-promoting fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). And we have no issue with you eating that kind of fat.
Look for words like “grass-finished”, “grass-fed”, “pastured”, “wild-caught”, “organic” and “sustainable” to help you choose these the healthiest cuts of meat, fish and eggs.
Conversely, many of today’s farms are actually large industrial facilities, not the green pastures and red barns that most of us imagine. These consolidated operations (called “factory farming”) are able to produce food in high volume, but have little to no regard for the environment, animal welfare or food safety. Factory farmed animals are raised in a less than healthy environment (contaminated with pesticides, heavy metals and other environmental toxins), are given unnatural food additives (like antibiotics and hormones), and are fed diets that don’t support the animal’s health (like corn, grains, soy and other animal by-products). For more information about the factory farming system, visit the Sustainable Table web site: http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/factoryfarming/
Tip: If you are purchasing factory farmed meat – your typical $0.99 eggs, grocery store ground beef or chicken and farmed fish – then the healthiest option is to buy the leanest cut possible, and trim and drain all the visible fat. Some additives and contaminants from the factory farming system – like pesticides, antibiotics and hormones – are fat soluble. Those things make their way into the animal, and into the meat. These unhealthy contaminants can be concentrated within the fat of these animals, which is why we recommend you buy a leaner cut.
Understand our recommendations for “lean cuts” aren’t because we’re fat-phobic – anything but, in fact! But not all fat is created equal, and fat from an unhealthy animal is best left on the cutting board, not put in your body. For more information about making high quality meat, fish and egg choices, see the Conscientious Omnivore series of posts on our web site (http://whole9life.com/category/conscientious-omnivore/). And refer to your Shopping Guide for additional guidelines, broken down by animal protein source.