Homesteading with Hyacynth: Bring on the Beef and Butter!


It’s what’s for dinner.

Unless it’s not.

Because, you know, there’s lots of people saying that perhaps beef isn’t all it’s beefed up to be.

Same with eggs. And bacon.

Lots of people and agencies and doctors are squawking about how eggs aren’t all they once were cracked up to be either and that we should steer clear of that evil temptress bacon.

I agree. Well, sorta.

But for different reasons than the people and the agencies and the doctors.

They say it’s not healthy because of things like saturated fat and cholesterol and lipids, oh my!

But I’m convinced that the only reason these things aren’t so good for us anymore is because what many of our livestock producers are feeding our food doesn’t work!

There’s this whole concept of food chain that we seem to be ignoring with the mass production of our animal products.

It’s a whole lot of cages and crates and whole lot less of home on the range.

And that’s important. Because when we take animals off of their intended food, their nutrients, fat ratios and a host of other things change — so while we’re eating a hamburger, it’s not the *same* hamburger great grandma used to it.

Ready to liberate yourself and get back to some of the best meals you can think of, chicken off the bone, full-fat ice cream and whole eggs? Stick with me for a few minutes and you might be shouting “steak’s on” again, too!

Food chain

Great grandma lived well into her 80s, and I think {along with a whole lot of medical professionals who are nutritionally minded} that I know one thing that certainly helped.

Great grandma ate a nutrient-dense diet — full of good fats, a moderate amount of proteins, good helpings of veggies from her garden and whatever grains and fruits she could harvest here in the plains of Illinois. Of course, she enjoyed eating the pies she and the like, too, but those pies were chalked full of real ingredients: butter, lard, fruit, honey, grains and probably some nuts. All good stuff.

And all of these foods came from nutrient dense soil and animals who ate what they were intended to eat.

Guide to pasture animalsCows grazed on grass and ate hay and alfalfa in the winter. {Did you know cows can’t actually digest corn? If you’re really interested in what happens when they eat corn, watch Food Inc. If not, just trust me and know that grass-fed beef is less likely to be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria.}

Chickens were fed vegetable and fruit kitchen scraps and left to peck insects, bugs and whatever else they could manage from the dirt.

Pigs were the natural composters of all the other food scraps and slop.

As a result of eating their natural diets, their bodies and byproducts were extremely nutrient dense, and importantly their fats were all in the preferable ratio. Maybe you’ve heard of Omega 3 fats being touted as heart healthy? Well they certainly are! In fact, we want our Omega-3 fats to outnumber the rest of the fats like Omegas-6.
But Olive Oil isn’t the only way to get good fats in!

Things like butter, milk, cheese, yogurt, steak, eggs and bacon all provide some seriously good fats and in preferable ratios WHEN the animals eat their natural diets.

Also, pasture raised animals don’t experience crowding, get adequate sunshine {Vitamin D!} and fresh air and generally experience less illnesses and stress.

If we are what we eat, then we definitely want to eat healthy animals. And healthy animals eat healthy, natural diets themselves.

Long story short: the first rule of thumb for buying quality animals products is to find out whether the animals are eating their natural diets.

Key words for buying quality meats, eggs and dairy: Pasture raised, grass fed {not just grass finished}, pastured
Words that don’t mean quite as much without proper context: grass finished, cage free, organic, free range, outdoor access, no crowding, natural

At the Farmer’s Markets: Get friendly with some of the farmers. Ask them questions. Most farmers are happy to share what happens on their farms. And many will invite you to the farm. Often, you can buy meat in bulk and split with other families or even join a Community Supported Agriculture share.

A few local animal farmers our family trusts:

  • Farmer Nick
  • Yaw Yee Farm in Mundelein
  • The Meat Goat
  • Wallace Farms in Naperville
  • Prairie Crossing Learning Farm for Eggs
  • Barrington Natural Farms

At the grocery store:

  • always look for the term pasture-raised or grass fed when it comes to poultry, cows and dairy. Organic Valley is notorious for their grass-fed dairy products like cheese, butter, cream cheese and even milk.
  • fish should be wild caught
  • pork products should come from pasture-centered practices or free-to-roam barnyards
  • butchers often can tell you much more about their meats than the grocery story. If you don’t know a farmer, find a butcher!

A Word on Fat and Dairy

Fat and dairy, they go together like bees and honey. We’ve got to stop separating the two!

Fat is full of flavor. It’s full of nutrients. And it’s especially healthy for us in the correct ratios, as we discussed above. In fact, we really, really need fat in our diets — our brains are made up of fatty acids and cholesterols! The low-fat diets we’ve been on are actually hurting us more than helping! Maybe you saw the recent research from a Harvard expert who argues that low-fat milk and milk products are actually increasing the obesity epidemic? 

Here’s what happens when we take fat out of our food: we have to add more sugar to things like yogurt, desserts and even breads. Thus, these things are touted as “low fat,” which we’ve been tricked into thinking is healthy! But fat has flavor. And lots of it. So when we subtract the fat, we’ve gotta make up for it by adding sweet in its various forms.

And here’s the problem with switching fats for sugar: we actually need fats to fuel our brains and we need the nutrients in fats to nourish our bodies. It’s not quality fats that actually make us fat — the more likely culprit is excess sugar.

When we consume whole-fat dairy, our body processes the food as a fat. This is ideal. We’ve consuming the fats we need, in the right ratio, with all of its deliciousness and nutrients. Good stuff!

When we consume low-fat dairy, our body processes the food as a carbohydrate. This is less than ideal. We are then trading a more nutrient-dense food {fat} for for a less nutrient-dense food {sugar}.

We won’t get into raw dairy this time around, but rest assured that we’ll discuss it soon! I have to introduce you to Joy! And Sapphire!

Long story short: Fat and dairy together make a happy love story we don’t want to break up!

So pass the {full-fat, pasture-raised} butter in confidence and flip those {grass-fed} steaks with a smile because {pasture-raised} beef?

Well, it’s what’s for dinner again!

{Curious about this whole full-fat dairy thing? Dr. Mercola has a wonderfully rich article about it here.}

Next time, we’ll be talking about seasonal eating and preservation. But in the meantime, let’s talk about this whole quality animal products issue. Your thoughts? Tips? Questions? Spill ’em!

New to this? Start with one thing!

  • switch to whole-fat dairy
  • Or buy pasture-raised eggs
  • Or look for pasture-raised dairy.

One step at a time! Add more when one thing becomes a habit!

Hubby says I look like a bag lady. Thoughts?

Hyacynth Worth is wife to John and mother to two little boys. She writes about motherhood, healthy living and faith at Undercover Mother. Her intent with Homesteading with Hyacynth is to offer genuine, practical experiences and humorous and helpful tips. She promises to be candid, amusing and only slightly neurotic. Most of the time.


Dance academy of Libertyville
About Hyacynth 33 Articles
Hyacynth Worth is wife to John and mother to two boys and two girls. She writes about motherhood, healthy living and faith at Undercover Mother. She is Little Lake County's managing editor and the author of Homesteading with Hyacynth. She promises to be candid, amusing and only slightly neurotic. Most of the time.

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