Saturday, April 18, 2009

Real Food: Liverwurst

I've been reading this book about "Real Food" and how industrialized foods lead to poor health. The argument is simple: Americans who eat industrialized "health" food are found to be far less healthy than those who eat traditional foods--thus industrialized foods (soybean oil, white flour, all things "refined") are likely to blame and not traditional "unhealthy" foods (like butter, beef, and saturated fat in general).

My plan to becoming a healthier person actually involves eating way more meat. In Korea, I was going through a kilo of chicken by myself a week. This meant roughly three cuts of chicken breast a day. Also, for the first time in ages, I was consuming a lot of milk--not skim milk because they didn't have it, but real milk, often fortified with DHA. I felt good. I wasn't exhausted all of the time, I slept well, and I steadily lost weight despite consuming more fat than I used to. Most importantly, I was not eating a lot of refined sugar, flour, or oils. So I know that this works for me.

Today we are going grocery shopping and I plan on loading up on animal products and when they become available, a ton of local products too. Local means not only lower carbon-footprint but also higher immunity to local allergens and diseases. Om nom nom local. Today, we're going to buy our meat at the meat market instead of the supermarket. Local eggs from the co-op. If I could find local, grass-fed, raw milk, I'd be on top of that too.

What I look forward to most about today's shopping: liverwurst.

As kids, we ate a lot of liverwurst. At the time, it was just some sort of sandwich spread and I thought nothing of it. Due to my family's pretty epic New England meets Long Island accents there were a lot of words that had no meaning to me because I didn't actually understand them. I knew that grapes grew on the gray-barber not the grape arbor. We put libahwuhst on our sandwiches, didn't everybody? As I grew older, I read the label and discovered that we were eating some sort of liver paste. Unacceptable. When my dad joked with his friends that the first solid food he fed us was liverwurst I was mortified. I considered it one of the many ways in which my dad chose to torture us throughout childhood.

As it turns out, liver is traditionally a child's first solid food because it is rich in iron which is lacking in breast milk. Granted, liverwurst is not exactly organic calf's liver, but it's liver nonetheless. Cassady says in response to this news, "Our father, the accidental parent." (one of my favorite websites) has this to say about liverwurst's health properties:

The good: This food is a good source of Protein, Riboflavin and Iron, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B12 and Selenium.

The bad: This food is high in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol.

A lot of what I have been reading praises the virtues of eating saturated fats--after all, these are the fats that we have been surviving off of for millenia not industrialized trans and polyunsaturated (processed omega-6, in particular) fats. So, is it just me or does the good completely outweigh the bad?

Additionally, on the glycemic load scale (0-250) liverwurst gets a 1. A 1! You want to stay generally under 100 a day and some foods are up near 250... liverwurst is a 1. It is considered a "complete protein" because it has a balance of amino acids. Om nom nom liverwurst! I am also a fan of its high levels of B-12 because some time in the near future I want to have strong, healthy babies. Most importantly, this is not a food that was brought to my attention as a "health food" or a miracle of real food, just an average food that I decided to look up the value of. It is simply a real food that I grew up on. Strip off the layers of Little Debbie, Fritos, and diet soda--what are some of the real foods that you grew up on that are surprisingly beneficial?

(Next up: wheat germ or coconut)


Nicole said...

While the meat thing doesn't work for me, I can agree with you that this whole fear of saturated fats is kind of stupid. Mostly because whatever nutritive value we're supposed to avoid changes every few years and avoids the whole picture. Avoiding one specific "bad food" won't make you healthy if you're not eating a balanced diet of REAL food to begin with. Real food, as in things that don't have 5000 ingredients that're designed in a lab. Have you read anything by Michael Pollan? I'm taking a class at Hampshire called Food, Health and Law and a lot of his stuff is on the syllabus. I'd definitely recommend him to read.

Sarah said...

I absolutely love liverwurst. And liver, too, for that matter! I find it tasty and delicious. Wouldn't eat it every day, but I wouldn't eat ice cream every day, either!

sandybeach85 said...

Thank you for this! I fed my kids liverwurst as their first meat, but my mom (who was born and raised in Germany, and grew up eating liverwurst and other organ meats) threw a fit that it was bad for them. My kids still love it and ask for it. Now I feel better about feeding it to them again that they are older, especially when you see the Vitamin A. Carrots, sweet potatoes, and mangos are the only other places my kids get Vitamin A, and we don't eat those weekly.