(Editor's note: the following is a letter to jerky lovers the worldwide from Lawless Jerky, a maker of 100% all grass fed, purely natural beef jerky, in response to the World Health Orgranization issuing a warning that processed meats cause cancer. Lawless Jerky is a top rated jerky brand here on Best Beef Jerky and has been outspoken on the healthful goodness of natural, grassfed beef...)
by Matthew Tolnick, Founder
Lawless Jerky (http://www.lawlessjerky.com)
As a disclaimer, I clearly have a horse – err cow? – in this race. Following a recall of Krave Jerky in 2014, in which cows with cancer were made into a purportedly gourmet jerky, I decided that my company, Lawless Jerky, would craft our jerky exclusively with 100% grass-fed beef. We take great effort and expense to produce truly premium jerky in gluten-free and all-natural flavors, and I resent our product being lumped together with old school “processed” jerkies that still add nitrites and preservatives. It is critical that we beef jerky lovers think a little bit more about what the WHO report said…and what it didn’t.
Unfortunately, the WHO report linked cancer to processed meats without going into detail about which specific part of the processing was found to be the cause of increased cancer rates. There is a significant difference between large-scale, conventional curing processes (which add sodium nitrites) and the processes used by more ingredient-conscious companies like Lawless Jerky. While the largest beef jerky processors still use nitrites and added preservatives, the undeniable trend in beef jerky is to move AWAY from the unnatural chemical additives commonly found in mass-produced sausage, ham, and bacon products.
Moreover, the report less conclusively suggested that red meats may cause cancer. By grouping all red meats into one category, the study fails to even consider differences in the ways in which animals are raised, an established and important difference between red meats. The old axiom “you are what you eat” is as true today as ever, and it equally applies to the animals that we eat and the foods that they consume.
For example, there are widely accepted and significant differences between grass-fed beef and “conventionally raised” beef. From a nutritional standpoint, the omega fatty acid ratios (good for the heart and brain) are far more ideal in 100% grass-fed beef than in grain-fed, factory-farmed beef (MayoClinic). Moreover, the amount of heart-healthy CLAs (conjugated linoleic acid; a type of fat believed to decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer) is greater in 100% grass-fed beef (MayoClinic). From an ethical standpoint, bovine left free to graze in pastures, eating the food nature intended for them, should be distinguished from the unnatural “conventionally raised” cows, which are plumped with a man-made diet of corn, soy, and antibiotics, which seek to combat illnesses associated with the horrid conditions found on factory farms. In sum, failing to distinguish how various red meats are raised is a critical misstep in the purported link of red meat to cancer.
For an increasing number of consumers, 100% grass-fed beef stands for better health, nutrition, ethics, and, ultimately, quality. Just this month, the cover story of Consumer Reports (which strongly recommends 100% grass-fed beef as being worth its premium price) showed another, less frequently discussed way that 100% grass-fed beef is different and better: 100% grass-fed cows are 3 times less likely to harbor superbugs, strains of multidrug-resistant bacteria.
The further our food gets away from how it evolved over time in nature (i.e. cows evolving as plant, not grain, eaters), and the more foreign substances that we introduce into our bodies (i.e. ingesting chemicals not found in nature), the more we run the risk of our bodies rejecting these choices (i.e. cancer). It is my hope that the millennial generation continues to champion the slow food movement and getting away from the “quantity over quality”, “convenience/cheapness over all else” mindset that has left so many children and adults victims of diabetes, heart disease, and other diseases of Western Civilization.
(Editor's note: Give Lawless Jerky a try, it's one of our favorites: http://www.lawlessjerky.com)