Simple Questions About What We Eat

I spoke briefly with another local HyVee dietitian, Kym Wroble, asking her simple questions we may all be wondering about what we eat. She also gives some suggestions on which brands of meat to buy!

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An Interview on Meat with Midori Gingerich- HyVee Dietitian

Brianna Sudrla:

In recent years there has been a sparked debate about the industrialized meat market and whether or not the new methods are causing negative affects on the health of it’s consumers.

Today I am speaking with Midori Gingerich about this issue.  Midori is a registered dietitian at the Coralville, Iowa, Hy-Vee.

Well thank you for talking with me today about this Midori.

Midori Gingerich:

Sure!

Brianna:

Just to jump right into it, my first question was do you believe that food additives affect our hormones and our health?

Midori:

A long time ago we didn’t even have to worry about that because people grew their own food and made their own product, and we weren’t as concerned with the hormones and additives and things that were added into food. And, as we become more industrialized in this country, that has become more of an issue. It may affect our health. There definitely needs to be more research done on the topic.

Brianna:

Does meat like chicken’s with added steroids to make them grow faster and larger have an affect on our bodies?

Midori:

They have done some studies where they kind of linked that the steroids in the chickens is leading to early puberty in girls, but there’s been semi links. It has not been concrete I guess I would say. So, they definitely need more research in that area is what I was picking up on. And also, what else is different in their environment than say 10 20 50 years ago as well? So is it just the hormones or is it other things we’re doing in our environment as well? But, “A” more studies need to be done, and “B” finding out what are the other causes or other things that may be causing that as well too.

You know being aware of those kinds of things, and trying to choose the lean cuts of beef as far as for our health more whole foods, staying away from the fattier cuts of beef as well.

Brianna:

Do you think there are certain types of meats we should sort of steer clear from?

Midori:

As far as health, we want to be choosing the leaner cuts of beef like a loin or a round cut is going to be our more lean cuts. It’s not that I can’t have that porterhouse steak, but definitely monitoring how often I’m having it and what’s my serving size. But, just making sure we’re getting a variety too. I mean you can eat lean beef everyday and that’s great lean beef can actually be very good for the heart, but also making sure we’re getting in the omega-3’s from the salmon, and getting some variety in with the pork, the chicken, and the turkey as well.

Brianna:

Okay, would you say meat is still essential to our diet though?

Midori:

Um, yeah! Meat is definitely still essential as a part of a well-balanced plate and a well-balanced meal. I mean obviously meat fits in as part of the protein portion of our diet. And, there’s other things besides meat that we can use for well-balanced protein source, but meat does offer a lot of vitamins and minerals. I mean there are people who are vegans and vegetarians for different personal reasons and that’s not a bad thing. It’s definitely about them getting a balance in their diet. But, if someone was going strictly vegan or vegetarian strictly because they think it’s healthier, you can still have a very healthy diet incorporating meat. Beef for instance, since I’m talking about that one, has a lot of iron, has B vitamins, B6 and B12, it has phosphorus, and zinc. It has a lot of essential nutrients that we wouldn’t find in our beans and starchy vegetables and things like that.

Brianna:

When purchasing meat is there things we should look out for?

Midori:

We used to think that it was the big thing was looking at the cholesterol in the meat and food in particular for it’s effects on our heart health. We’re finding more and more cholesterol, it is important we want to monitor how much cholesterol we are taking in through dietary means, but one thing that is even more of a factor is saturated fat. So checking out for the saturated fat content in the different cuts of meat, looking for more of those lean cuts, watching for the portion sizes, or remembering the size of the palm of my hand, or the size of a deck of cards that’s one portion size. Typically your fresh meat coming out of the case, it’s again less processed than the frozen or the canned ones.

Brianna:

So which meat do you buy and eat?

Midori:

All of the above to be honest. I’ll do the lean beef, but I do chicken, turkey, salmon and fish, here in the Midwest we don’t eat enough of that. Just trying to get the lean cuts of beef, get the plain cuts, and then I season it up when I go home too. I can marinate it myself at home, and then I know exactly what’s going on my food too.

Brianna:

What lunchmeat would you recommend to college students who makes sandwiches three times a week?

Midori:

Yeah, yeah! And lunchmeat is a great source of protein. It tends to be, well depends what kind you buy, but there’s like the roast beef, there’s the chicken and turkey, they’re leaner cuts of meat, which is great. So I would say sticking to more of the sliced lunchmeats.

Brianna:

Well thank you for taking time out of your day to talk to me, I really appreciate it.

Midori:

Yeah I’m glad it worked out!

**For more information on Midori Gingerich, please visit her profile on the HyVee webpage**

**Below you can find the full unedited interview**

From There to Here – What happens to my meat before I swallow it?

Since the year 1906, when Upton Sinclair’s novel “The Jungle” exposed the disturbing conditions within America’s meat packing plants, there has been constant transformation in the nation’s meat industry.

Whether or not the changes have always been for the better is a very ethical question that is swayed by opinion of what is right and what is wrong.

I invite you to watch a recent graphic video uncovering the real conditions in meat packing plants around America. I came across the video on meat.org when doing some research, and even though they encourage you to become vegetarian, it is a useful tool to understand why some meat is bad. Please watch at least the first eight minutes of “If slaughterhouses had glass walls we would all be vegetarian” because it might change your opinion forever.

Your stomach might be a little sour now, but it’s important to remember there is hope in the meat industry, and eating meat is not the problem. The problem is how the animals are treated during their lifetime, and the moments leading up to their death. There are actions you can take to still eat meat, but eat “happy” meat, and to support the farmers who truly raise their animals.

An article by Lynne Curry explains her research behind her novel “Pure Beef.” She makes the point that anyone who loves ice cream, or cheese, or any other dairy product participates in beef production. It’s inevitable. But, she also goes on to explain that we shouldn’t condemn the meat itself, but the production.

This brings me to Rita Pray. A Des Moines native who hadn’t really made a change with her eating habits until her daughter turned vegetarian. Rita is a member of the Iowa Food Cooperative and a food blogger herself.

Growing up Rita lived in a family that had meat with every dinner. Her uncle was a cattle farmer, so there was always a lot of beef in the freezer. Her husband loves beef and sausage, and Rita said she eats more chicken and turkey in greater amounts because of a family history of heart disease.

“When my older daughter became essentially vegetarian, I looked for new ways other than meat to incorporate protein into our dinners,” Pray explained.  “I also found that she would eat high quality meat in small portions, such as organic or naturally raised.  So that guided my move toward purchasing more locally raised, small farm meat and poultry.”

Pray also emphasized an important barrier – cost.

“It is considerably more expensive than supermarket, mass-produced meat.  But there are hidden costs to buying any mass-produced, highly processed foods, such as the eventual health tolls from hidden chemicals, and the environmental impact of excessive packaging and shipping,” explained Pray. “I think it’s important for consumers, when possible, to seek out the highest quality food they can afford and not complain about food costs.  You really do get what you pay for.”

Growing up in Sioux City, Iowa, I am in the middle of the cattle and hog industry – whether that is dairy farms or farms for mass production of animal meat.

Myself at the Sioux City Museum in the meat packing plant area.

Myself at the Sioux City Museum in the meat packing plant area.

Just 20 miles south is Dakota City, Nebraska, which hosts one of the biggest meatpacking plants in the United States, Iowa Beef Processors (IBP). Who, in 1988, was fined for than $3.1 million by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for exposing it’s workers to cumulative trauma disorders resulting from highly repetitive meat cutting tasks.

It’s all about mass production of animals to feed the consumers. These are animals we are talking about here, not cars. These statistics I found might be a little bit striking for you too.

Wouldn’t you like to know where your food is coming from, who raised it, how it was handled from start to finish?

In closing, Michael Ruhlman, a food blogger, expressed, “This I believe: to eat humanely raised and slaughtered animals is not only ethical,” Ruhlman stated, “it’s important to our humanity.”