Eat This Kind of Flesh

Long-suffering readers of my weekly screeds here — and my monthly diatribes in Natural Health Solutions — know that I advocate eating animal flesh.

Politically, socially, and spiritually incorrect as that may be.

My basic premise: Refusing to eat it is, essentially, heaping contempt on a million years of hominid evolution. Fat and protein from animal tissue powered the emergence of our relatively humongous brains.

That, in turn, allowed us to break away from the largely vegetarian primate pack.

Fun fact: As a percentage of body weight, the human brain is 15 times larger than a gorilla’s. Had proto-humans never found this concentrated nutrient source, we’d still be picking nits with the Ugandan silverbacks.

These days, our flesh-derived brains still need flesh-derived nutrients such as carnosine, vitamin B12, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and creatine to cogitate cogently.

What kind of flesh provides these best?

Not the kind that’s most familiar.

Nowadays, the only animal tissue most of us encounter is a shrink-wrapped filet of lean muscle from a cow, pig, chicken, or fish.

That’s unfortunate.

For much of human history, hunters, and later herders, ate their animals nose to tail. In fact, in some cultures, hunters emulated four-legged predators. They ate only the nutrient-rich organs, leaving the muscles behind for scavengers.

However, if the prospect of eating blood or brains or any other awful offal offends you, here’s a baby step into the world of visceral-nutrient nirvana.

Eat liver.

“Throughout most of recorded time, humans have preferred liver over steak by a large margin, regarding it as a source of great strength and as providing almost magical curative powers,” points out the estimable Weston A. Price website.

Specifically, beef liver is one of the most concentrated food sources of vitamin A yet discovered, and has all B vitamins in abundance, especially B12 — the one in which many Americans are deficient.

It’s an excellent source of minerals: copper, zinc, and chromium. And it contains abundant coenzyme Q10, vital for proper heart function.

While the proportions vary, pork and chicken liver are chock-full of nutrients as well.

In short, if you value getting your essentials from food rather than pills, a twice-monthly meal of liver from beef, pork, or chicken is an excellent idea. (So is a daily spoonful of cod liver oil — that’s a post for another day.)

But now I must be responsible.

Before we leave this topic, let’s examine the terrifying danger of eating liver — one that virtually every person with whom I’ve broached this subject has brought up.

It’s this: The liver is a filter that “traps toxins.” Eating it is essentially munching on concentrated environmental poisons, such as pesticides, herbicides, and/or heavy metals.

Now, it’s true that in animals, the liver does the same job it does in humans — pulls toxins from the bloodstream. (It also repackages beneficial nutrients for the body’s use, but we’ll keep this brief.)

This does not mean, however, that the liver accumulates more toxins than other tissues.

Rather, it separates and shunts them for excretion.

A study by Pakistani researchers showed, for example, beef liver was slightly more likely than muscle tissue to be contaminated with the pesticides chlorphyrifos and lambda-cyhalothrin…

But slightly less likely to be contaminated with endosulfan and methyl-parathion…

And exactly as likely to be contaminated with cypermethrin!1 Research into heavy metal contamination yielded a similar helter-skelter result.

Bottom line — toxic environments lead to toxic contaminants in animal flesh, but liver, on average, has no more or less than any other anatomical part.

So eat liver — and steak, and pork chops – from animals raised in nontoxic environments. Seek out products from grass-fed, grass-finished cattle and from pasture-raised pork and chicken.

Final frontier? Liver tastes weird! So how do I get my family to eat the stuff?

The answer to that one is found in this month’s Brad Lemley’s Natural Health Solutions in the form of “The Ultimate Liver Dish for Liver Haters.” If you’re not already a subscriber, get signed up here.

See you there!

Brad Lemley
Editor, Natural Health Solutions

[1] Muhammad, F., M. Akhtar, Z. U. Rahman, H. U. Farooq, T. Khaliq, and M. I. Anwar. Multi-residue Determination of Pesticides in the Meat of Cattle in Faisalabad- Pakistan. Egypt. Acad. J. Biolog. Sci. 2010.

Brad Lemley

Written By Brad Lemley

Brad Lemley is a science and health writer and former senior correspondent for The Washington Post and Discover magazine. He is a tireless advocate for safe, natural, self-directed healthy living practices and therapies.

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