The World Health Organization recently issued a vague and irresponsible statement:
"Consumption of red meat may cause cancer."
What does that mean?! What are the specifics? What kind of red meat? How was it raised? What was it fed? Where did it come from? How was it harvested? How was it cooked? Where did the samples for this study come from, from industrial agriculture or artisanal? Who conducted the study and how was it financed? Was this process subjected to "peer review"?
Is the W.H.O.'s statement any different than asserting that: breathing air or walking in the sun may cause cancer? Aren't statements like this a form of indefensible hyperbole?
Scientific study has yielded great new possibilities for life on earth. But it is a very young and incomplete discipline, despite high rigor applied by best minds. Science is better at determining what is not rather than what is. Understanding what is requires identifying all parts of the whole and explaining complete interaction among them to produce given outcomes. This is an impossible task in the biological and natural world, where events are moving too fast to be contained and defined. Scientific methods are reductionist by nature and can not incorporate holistic dimensions of the problem being analyzed.
How do we live with this statement by the World Health Organization? How do we make sense of it, so we are not propelled by fear, nor totally dismissive, nor wandering in ignorance?
My approach is to consider the issue by looking to Mother Nature to see what she has to say. Mother Nature has been at work in her laboratory for billions of years and has been successfully feeding human beings for 2 million of them. Two million years! Modern science has been at work for 100 years, perhaps 150 on the outside. Which data do you trust more - that from 150 years of intermittent research by an elite number of disconnected scientists in western countries, who sleep at night, or that from 2 million years by Mother Nature produced every day, 24 hours a day, with constant interactive feedback from all over the planet? There is no comparison.
One conclusion that has evolved from her exacting research is that grass-fed meats nourish the human body and are part of the solution to living a long and productive life. This is demonstrated by many examples of octogenarians and centenarians in aboriginal cultures, who lived off of migrating grassfed beasts - buffalo, wildebeests, antelope, camels, yak, sheep, and goats...
Farms like ours and those at farmers markets are replicating Mother Nature's time-tested model. Livestock are fed grass, some exclusively and others in supplement, and animals are constantly in motion. This motion replaces chemicals and hormones employed in feedlots to maintain health. This motion also requires a level of daily management the industrial food system can never provide.
None of us at farmers markets wants food from the industrial food system, which is why we interact with each other. The scientific study cited by the World Health Organization has to be employing data derived from industrial food because there isn't enough data available to date on the artisanal option. So, the study is basically irrelevant to us.
But use your intuition. When you look at these pictures of grassfed animals, how do you feel? Don't we resonate with visions of savannas, because that is the eco-system we originally came from, that originally provided most of our food? Aren't we drawn to grass-fed animals because of ancient imprints? This is powerfully true. We do not need to concern ourselves with hyperbole derived by myopic science on tangential and unrelated topics.
We are returning to our roots by eating grassfed meats, roots that are 2 million years old. These are roots we can trust; they are sound; they are tested; they are ones I am willing to bet my life on. And you can too. Mother Nature knows best...
Pastured thigh & leg of chicken, creamed sweet potatoes, baked apples, and asparagus - by Susan's deft hand.
We look forward to seeing you at Clark Montessori, 3030 Erie Ave, this Sunday, November 8, from 10 - 1.
On-line purchases are now being delivered to Wyoming as well as Hyde Park every other Wednesday afternoon. Please check the website for details.
In ancient rootedness,
Drausin & Susan