Mini-Med 20176 Whole Foods: the Re-discovery of Nature-Beef/Pork/Lamb
Stephanie Taylor MD PhD
June 3, 2017
“Rather than focusing on more product for less price, we must focus on replenishing the soil. The weakening of our nation’s soil contributes to an unavoidable chain reaction leading to the destruction of energy and Life as we know it. A depleted soil begets our foods lack of nutrients. Food without proper mineralization begets bodies that lacking the energy and minds lacking the clarity to live a fulfilling life……Statistics from the USDA reveal that today’s food has 30-70% less nutritional value than food 50 years ago…..An unhealthy soil grows unhealthy plants.” from Son of a farmer, child of the earth, by Eric Helm, pg. 104-5.
Our Third Mini-Medical School asked the question-Is some “organic” better than others? The answer was a resounding YES. The Washington Post recently published an expose of the organic factory dairies. In addition to data collection and aerial photography, they also compared the composition of the milk to conventional, non-organic milk. In this analysis, organic factory farm milk was essentially identical to non-organic milk, despite commanding a premium price.The full story can be found at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/why-your-organic-milk-may-not-be-organic.
In an effort to level the playing field, the Organic Animal Welfare Standards were finalized under the Obama administration, but implementation has been delayed by the current administration. The USDA requested an additional public comment period and this was completed today, June 9, 2017. The improved regulations will clarify overly broad definitions and guidelines. For example, chickens labelled “cage-free, organic”can be running in a grassy pasture or spend their entire life in large buildings. They are un-caged, but certainly not “free range”. While we wait for better regulations, you can use the Cornucopia scorecard results that follow to guide your shopping.
The following chemistry lesson reviews three key markers of good organic animal products in the essential fatty acid family, and then lists candid recommendations for consumers. The scorecard was accessed at Cornucopica.org June 2, 2017.
First some chemistry:
Good fats are the Omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFA): alpha linolenic acid (ALA), EPA and DHA.
Omega 6 essential fatty acids: Linoleic acid (LA).
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA): isomers of LA.
Health Benefits of EPA/DHA: decreases cardiac arrhythmias, coronary heart disease, lowers triglyceride levels, diabetes, modulates immune function, improves mental health, and facilitates neural development.
Health benefits of ALA: Coronary heart disease and possible cancer risk.
Health Benefits of CLA: Cancer, heart disease and possibly diabetes and immune function.
Health benefits of LA: heart disease. Note ratio of Omega 6/3 is important. Historically this was 1:1 and now is 10:1.
Current Private Party labeling standards for pastured ruminants:
American Grass-fed Certification: Diet — Animals are fed only grass and forage from weaning until harvest. Confinement — Animals are raised on pasture without confinement to feedlots.
Antibiotics and hormones — Animals are never treated with antibiotics or growth hormones.
Origin — all animals are born and raised on American family farms.
Food Alliance Certification: Healthy and humane animal treatment – with no use of growth promotants or sub-therapeutic antibiotics, Integrated pest, disease and weed management, Soil and water conservation, Safe and fair working conditions, Wildlife habitat and biodiversity conservation. Grass-fed option available.
Animal Welfare Approved: Continuous outdoor pasture access is required for all beef cattle in addition to extensive animal welfare requirements.
The Union of Concered Scientists (UCS) reviewed 13 studies on Fatty acid composition of beef. Here are the conclusions:
Total fat was significantly lower in pastured (grass-fed) beef.
Pastured beef has higher levels of ALA, EPA/DHA and CLA. The Ration of Omega 6/3 is more favorable in pastured beef.
Is it possible to consume meat and dairy in a way that is good for the environment?
Recent research on soil remediation shows that rotation grazing and careful management of ruminants actually improves soil quality and that healthy soil can trap significant quantities of atmospheric carbon. California has initiated a Healthy Soils initiative which will be implemented in the late fall of 2017. This will bring the research directly to ranchers and provide an incentive for conservation practices.
Here are pertinent general references if you wish more in depth coverage or research data support:
California Healthy Soils initiative: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/healthysoils/
From the Union of Concerned Scientists-
UCS: Greener Pastures. How grass fed beef and milk contributes to healthy eating.
A shorter version with cooking advice.
California State University at Chico Grass fed Beef research data and recipes.
Books-The references in each book are most edifying.
Herm, Eric. Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth: A path to Agriculture’s Higher Consciousness. Dreamriver Press, 2010.
Miller, MD, Daphne. Farmacology: What Innovative family farming can teach us about health and healing Harper-Collins, 2013.
Salatin, Joel. Folks, this ain’t normal: A farmer’s advice for happier hens, healthier people and a better World. Hatchett, 2011.
Gibbons, Euell. Stalking the Wild Asparagus: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition. Alan Hood & Co., 1960. This is a favorite book, but be careful wildcrafting plants as they may be sprayed with herbicide. Only highly experienced persons should ever gather mushrooms. We have several poisonings annually and some are fatal. This includes your dogs!
Shopping and Sourcing
Where to buy pastured meats on the internet:
Mini-Med 2017 June Whole Foods: the rediscovery of Nature-Dairy
Stephanie Taylor MD PhD
Ranking of Organic Dairy Producers (incorporating Animal Welfare measures)
Five Cow rating (Outstanding): All ratings from Cornucopia.org
Organic Pastures Dairy Company Milk, cheese, butter, colostrum, kefir
Green Valley Organics- goat milk yogurt
Four Cow rating (Excellent):
Supernatural (Kalona Organics)-Yogurt
Organic Valley (CROPP)-Full line of dairy products
White Mountain Foods-Yogurt
Julie’s (Oregon Ice Cream)-Ice Cream
365 organic (Whole Foods)-Fluid milk
Straus Family Creamery- Full line dairy
Clover Organic Farms-Fluid milk products
Sunnyside Farms (Save Mart, Lucky, Food Maxx)-Milk
Sierra Nevada Cheese Company-Cheese
One Cow-Private Label
NO COWS (Ethically Deficient) Most produce or purchase factory farm milk and/or refused to participate in the study: Alta Dena, Back to Nature (Kraft), Borden Dairy (Dean Foods), Challenge Dairy products, Earth’s Best (Hain, Celestial), Green Mountain Creamery (Ehrmann Dairies), Horizon (White Wave), Humboldt Creamery (Foster Farm Dairy), Pavel’s Yogurt, Source Naturals (Protein Powder), St. Benoit Yogurt. See more at: https://www.cornucopia.org/dairysurvey/index.html
Yogurt Yogurt is a superb health food but not if it has multiple additives. Recommended daily intake of added sugars is 24 Grams for women and 36 grams for men. Yogurt scores based on organic score, and the presence of thickeners, carrageenan, artificial sweeteners, added sugar ( 4 grams=1 teaspoon), added coloring, added artificial flavors, synthetic nutrients, milk protein concentrate, or preservatives. Printable yogurt scorecard at:
Mini-Med 2017 June Whole Foods: the rediscovery of Nature-Eggs
Ratings below are reported by Cornucopia.org
Data Accessed June, 2017 at:
“5-egg” rating (2260-2700): “Exemplary”—Beyond Organic
Producers in this top tier manage diverse, small to medium-scale family farms. They raise their hens in mobile housing on well-managed and ample pasture or in ﬁxed housing with intensively managed rotated pasture. They sell eggs locally or regionally under their farm’s brand name, mostly through farmer’s markets, food cooperatives and/or independently owned natural and grocery stores and sometimes through larger chains like Whole Foods.
Stueve’s Certified Organic
by Stueve’s Certified Organic
by Vital Farms
“4-egg” rating (2000-2250): “Excellent”—Organic Promoting Outdoor Access
Producers in this category provide ample outdoor space and make an eﬀort to encourage their birds to go outside. They provide an excellent outdoor environment, often either rotated pasture or well-managed outdoor runs, with an adequate number of popholes/doors for the chickens to reach the outdoors.
Mary’s Organic Eggs
by Pitman Family Farms
3-egg” rating (1800-2000): “Very Good”—Organic, Complying with Minimum USDA Standards
Brands with a three-egg rating are very good choices. Eggs from brands in this category either come from family-scale farms that provide outdoor runs for their chickens, or from larger-scale farms where meaningful outdoor space is either currently granted or under construction. All producers in this category appear committed to meeting organic standards for minimum outdoor space for laying hens.
by Noble Foods
2-egg” rating (1000-1800): “Fair” —Some Questions Remain Concerning Compliance with Federal Standards
These are either industrial-scale operations or others with outstanding questions or concerns regarding their compliance with USDA regulations. One of the primary features that distinguish these organizations from the ethically challenged brands below is their willingness to share with their customers (and Cornucopia researchers) some of the details as to how their chickens are cared for and how their eggs are actually produced.
“1-egg” Rating (Name Brand) 0-1000: “ethically deficient – industrial organics/no meaningful outdoor access and/or none were open enough to participate.”
Brands with a “1-egg” rating are generally produced on industrial-scale egg operations that grant no meaningful outdoor access. “Outdoor access” on these operations generally means a covered concrete porch that is barely accessible to the chickens. Means of egress from the buildings are intentionally small to discourage birds from going outside, and make it possible for only a small percentage of birds to have “access” to the outdoors. No producers in this category were willing to participate in The Cornucopia Institute’s project, and none shared their production practices with Cornucopia researchers. This is disturbing to many organic consumers, since transparency has always been viewed as a hallmark of the organic food movement.
by Dean Foods
Barnstar Family Farms
Glaum Egg Ranch
by Glaum Egg Ranch
Judy’s Family Farm
by Petaluma Farms
by National Food Corp
“1-Egg” Rating (Private Label) 0-1000
Private‐label, or store‐brand, eggs rated with one egg are sold by grocers or distributors who have the obvious desire of wanting to grow their presence in the organic marketplace. Unfortunately, there is an inherent limitation in private‐label organic products: organic consumers tend to want to know where their food is coming from and how it is produced, and private‐label products are anonymous by their very nature. Our research indicates that the vast majority of organic eggs for private label brands are produced on industrial farms that house hundreds of thousands of birds and do not grant the birds meaningful outdoor access.
by Whole Foods
by Associated Wholesale Grocers
Trader Joe’s by Trader Joe’s