Monday, January 12, 2009

For the Love of Beef

I went through a phase where I rarely ate red meat. Like all things good, beef has been shunned as unhealthy from time to time. I think now that beef is experiencing a rennaissance of sorts. People are remembering how deliciously juicy, savory and satisfying a steak can be. And lean cuts, in particular, can be quite healthy --- Beef is high in protien, iron, zinc, selenium and B vitamins.

My strong preference is for natural or organic beef. Tastes better, looks better, smells better, and better for you. Most people do not understand the difference between organic and natural beef. I was a little confused myself, so I checked into this a bit.

To be labeled as "Natural" beef, the USDA has required that the beef is minimally processed with no artificial additives or preservatives. There are no official standards as to how the animals are raised or what they are fed, so they are not necessarily free-range or grass fed. Generally, natural means that the cows have not been given and antibiotics, artifical hormones or steroids.

"Certified Organic" beef means cattle that is raised on land that is certified organic. That means that chemicals (such as pesticides and herbicides) have not been used on the land which has been used for grazing the cows for at least three years. Cows also are not grain-fed and have not been given growth hormones, antibiotics or steroids.

Natural beef is easier to find than organic. Some retailers, such as Whole Foods have implemented their own high standards for acceptable beef and other meat products. In Hawaii, Costco and the Military Base Commissaries are now carrying some organics, but mainly you have to go to health food or natural food specialty stores to find a selection of natural or organic meat products. And, with the exception of Whole Foods, most of what you find is frozen.

The farmers' markets are another resource for free-range, natural and organic products.

On Oahu:

Sunday Farmers' Market in Mililani
Mililani High School Parking Lot
Sundays8am - Noon

Hawaii Kai Farmers' Market (produce)
Hawaii Kai Towne Center
Mondays & Saturdays 7:30am - 3:30pm

Waikiki Farmers' Market (produce, island-style foods)
Waikiki Community Center
Tuesdays & Fridays7am - 1pm

Fort Street Open Market (produce, flowers & plants, arts & crafts)
Tuesdays & Fridays Wilcox Park (in front of Macy's Downtown) 8am - 2pm
Pauahi & Fort Street 8am - 2pm

Farmers' Market in Kailua (produce, flowers, dinner foods)
Thursday Kailua Town Center Parking Garage (behind Long's)
5pm - 7:30pm

Saturday Farmers' Market (produce, flowers, breakfast foods)
Kapiolani CC Parking Lot C
Saturdays 7:30am - 11am

He'eia Open Market (produce, flowers & plants, arts & crafts)
46-465 Kamehameha Hwy Kaneohe He'eia State Park
Sundays 9am - 3pm

The best place to go, though expensive, is Whole Foood in Kahala. Another WholeFoods is coming to Kailua in 2110. Hawaii still has a long way to go before natural and organic meat products are readily available.

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