Farm-raised food has gotten a bad rap lately, and for good reason. Whether we’re talking about beef, pork or fish any living creature taken out of their God-ordained environment is not fit to be consumed by humans.
Because the manufacturing processes used to prepare these farm-raised foods for the grocery shelves are absolutely deadly! And it all starts with how they are fed.
Let’s illustrate this point with seafood.
In 2008, Wake Forest University researchers wrote an article that made it crystal clear why farm-raised fish is definitely not a “health food.” In fact, according to their research, they are actually quite harmful to you.
Tilapia and catfish, two of the most popular on the market today were found to contain the richest amount of Omega-6’s and least amount of Omega-3’s compared to other fish. (1)
This is important because, according to a study published in Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy, our Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acid ratio should be 1:1, According to this research:
“Several sources of information suggest that human beings evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA) of approximately 1 whereas in Western diets the ratio is 15/1-16.7/1. Western diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and have excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids compared with the diet on which human beings evolved and their genetic patterns were established.” (2)
This Omega-3 to Omega-6 mismatch has led to a dramatic increase in the most troubling health concerns seen today including: (2)
- Autoimmune disease
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Inflammatory diseases
In the words of Wake Forest University researchers, this can be explained by the “marked changes in the fishing industry during the past decade have produced widely eaten fish that have fatty acid characteristics that are generally accepted to be inflammatory by the healthcare community.” (1)
Yet, don't think that the only danger is with tilapia. All farm-raised fish is bad for you. Even our beloved Omega-3 rich salmon.
We eat what they ate
The reason farmed fish (and all farmed meat) is bad for you is primarily that of the feed that is given to the animals.
For example, in most Fish Meal Labels you’ll find:
- Feather meal
- Fish meal
- Fish oil
- Gluten meal
- Poultry meal
- Poultry fat
- Rapeseed oil
- Soybean meal
- Whole wheat
In addition to being filled with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), this mix of death foods leads to intentionally fattened farm-raised fish containing 50 percent more fat than wild varieties and a concentration of Omega-6 fatty acids that is literally off the charts.
If this weren’t bad enough, farm-raised fish are fed contaminated food that is full of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs). According to an expert panel at the National Academy of Sciences, these PCBs can accumulate in fish tissues, which are then transferred to humans. (3)
Other contaminants of farm-raised fish
In addition, to PCB’s and GMO’s, farm-raised fish have been shown to contain:
- Cancer-causing dioxins
- Banned pesticides toxaphene & dieldrin
In the words of the Environmental Working Group:
“After testing fishmeal and fish oil, a team of U.K. scientists noted that, ‘While diets based on marine fish oils are currently favored by the aquaculture industry, it is likely that these oils are contributing greatly to the contamination of farmed salmon by [persistent organic pollutants].’” (4)
It goes without saying that the risks of eating farmed fish overshadow any benefit that you may gain from eating them and we see the same danger in eating farm raised beef, pork, and poultry.
Is all meat bad?
Of course not, just the varieties with harmful chemicals in them.
To help ensure that you’re getting the best product, however, keep a look out for the USDA “organic” label, which helps to ensure that the meat is free of antibiotics, growth hormones, used 100 percent organic feed, and provided animals with access to the outdoors. (7)
What about pasture-raised eggs?
The same concept as meat and fish, if the chickens producing the eggs have been given nutritious feed, have enjoyed the freedom to range freely free around the farm, and have lived a healthy life then you’ll benefit from eating their eggs.
If they’re cooped up in tiny cages, literally going stir-crazy with thousands of other chickens, you’ll end up eating all the poison feed that they are fed and also will be affected by the extreme stress that they experience. (8)
This is why most ancient slaughtering practices were performed in a very humane manner.
Do I need to be a vegetarian to stay healthy?
There are several answers to this question.
First, there are conflicting data supporting the consumption or abstinence of meat eating. The most logical advise would be to take a common sense approach, avoid all toxins as much as possible and do what’s right for YOUR body.
Everyone is different and, evolutionary speaking, humans have eaten meat for a millennium. However, most couldn't afford to eat meat regularly so they generally ate fruits, veggies and sprouted whole grains.
Second, for many vegetarians and vegans, their eating habits are a way of life. Whether for health reasons or because they see animals as sacred, millions of people all across the globe have chosen to abstain from animal products to a varying degree.
Third, the terms “vegetarian” and “vegan” mean so many different things to so many different people.
Although we’ll never really know the reason behind everyone’s decision, we can get an insight into their diet restrictions by seeing how they identify themselves.
Oftentimes, people on the road to vegetarianism and veganism take this pathway:
- Flexitarians/Semi-vegetarians – Usually chosen first, flexitarians are those who “mostly” eat a vegetarian diet, but will sometimes dabble in meat. Generally chosen for health reasons, people under this category are trying to take a balanced approach to nutrition and try to limit their animal product intake to focus on fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
- Pescatarians – Once people have limited meat, people on the road to vegetarianism and veganism tend to take it one step further, refraining from eating meat in the literal sense of beef or chicken, but still eat fish. Oftentimes, those who choose this option do so for health reasons and believe that fish is the healthier option for red meat or poultry.
- Lacto/Ovo-vegetarians – The next step is when someone identifies themselves as vegetarians who refrain from all animal products, but dairy and eggs. Essentially, they only eat foods that don’t require anything to be slaughtered. This is the first BIG step toward choosing vegetarianism as a way of life, not just for health reasons. Lacto-vegetarians do not eat eggs but eat dairy. Ovo-vegetarians do not eat dairy but will consume eggs.
- Vegans – One of the strictest varieties of vegetarians, vegans will not consume anything animal-derived. This, of course, includes all meat, dairy, and eggs. The term is used loosely, however, and some purists will refrain from even using wool and honey because of the potential threat that a living being could be harmed in the harvesting or manufacturing process.
- Raw vegans – An even more strict variety of veganism where followers will not eat anything heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit.