All of us have to do the work in some way, shape, or form for our food. Whether that be getting and/or preparing our food, we all have to put in this work to give our future selves the best we can.
But, it's a damn good feeling- knowing that we give enough shits about our FUTURE selves to give them the best we’ve got every single day.
That builds real-authentic confidence, instead of feeling like we’re always letting ourselves down by eating like shit.
We do it today as a gift for tomorrow.
There was a time when I spent less than 10 dollars per day on my nutrition & still managed to perform as a competitive athlete day in and day out.
I used to go to this restaurant in DTLA next to a fashion school- Panini-Cafe- notorious for heaping huge breakfast plates. Loaded with greens, eggs, taters- the works. At 10:30am the skinny fashion girls would start pouring in to buy brunch that they would proceed to eat maybe 1/6th of their entire plate & the rest would go to waste. A 1$ coffee was my ticket to the bar & an opportunity to consume 2500+/- calories of unfinished food that would otherwise go into the dumpster. I wound up getting banned from Panini-Cafe for soliciting- I didn't even know what that meant, I was just trying to live resourcefully. Oh well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions I guess.
What the hell does this have to do with anything..?
Maybe.. i'm not sure, that is going on the mental shelf of things that I have no immediate answer for yet, stay with me and i promise we might get to it. [**I vehemently despise food waste… Fun Fact: this was actually the reason for the first fight between Remi & I]
Shortly after being banned from Panini-Cafe I was eating through my emergency rations of MREs that I had smuggled from the Marine-Corps and reading some book like the ‘Paleo-Manifesto’. I was new to crossfit and all the cool kids were drinking cave-man kool aid, talking about keto & primal eating. I had enough trouble making friends as it was and I didn't want to get banned from another facility for weirding paying customers out, so I needed to fill my brain with all the neolithic-nutrition jargon to have any chance of making it in a cut-throat crossfit-"box.”
I had a lightbulb moment when I started reading about alpha males in a wolf pack, or alpha-females in the case of lion prides. I was really influenced by how they valued the heart, kidney & liver for the nutrient density, leaving the muscle meats for the weaker & lower ranked in the pack. The alphas instinctively know that these are the most nutritious parts of the animal and that these nutrients will help fortify its body.
… And so it began- my own journey into the consumption of dirt cheap, but highly nutritious organ meats in the attempt to fortify my own body.
I didn't realize it at the time, but this approach to nutrition has a name:
Growing up hunting and raising livestock, my family was adamant that we never wasted any part of an animal. As a kid, nutritional value was far beyond my grasp, but I understood the ethical philosophy quite assiduously as a sign of respect for the animal.
Since moving to Texas, raisin’ my own livestock & working with local farmers and ranchers- I have become more intimately intrigued with this particular way of … eating(?) … life(?) … [life-style?]
I wanted to share my musings and some tips on how to implement a little nose2tail for better health outcomes and less waste. Just an FYI: you can thrive eating different parts of the animal that aren’t just the chicken breast and ribeyes.
Nose-to-tail eating is an approach to consuming nourishment that encourages us to enjoy as much of the animal as possible and derive incredible nutrition from it. (Nourishment we should consume more of includes: organ meats, eggs, dairy, collagenous tissue, fat, unpopular and uncommon cuts.) It is how we used to eat before we had the option of buying the same cut of meat, from the same supermarket, on the same day each week, every week.
For a while there, few of us (myself included) stopped to think about the fact that farmers raise whole animals, not just chicken breast, filet mignon & pork chops. The truth is, these “choice-cuts” make up a very small portion of the whole animal, for example: an entire 1000 lb grass fed steer will yield only roughly 12 ribeyes after processing– leaving a whole whopping 600+ odd pounds of other useable, nutrient rich nourishment. Convenience took over common sense—But, thanks to entertaining characters like @liverking- organ meats are beginning to get some much deserved attention. Eating nose to tail does not and SHOULD not look like an episode of fear factor though. You don't need to eat your liver raw and drink brain juice to reap the benefits of a nose to tail diet.
Eating nose to tail honors our ancestry, our body, our animals, and our planet.
[*note-the quality of life for grassfed & pasture raised animals directly reflects the quality of organs you are consuming. Organs from the healthiest animals CAN be consumed safely raw, but it’s not necessary.]
It’s a funny world we have arrived at.
When exactly did the human diet start falling apart anyways?
Why & how exactly have the most nutrient dense foods on the planet become forgotten?
We might think that organs fell out of favor because they taste funny. But maybe our taste buds just became accustomed to eating shit food like cookies and cake. These nutrient dense cuts fell out of favor right around the time chronic diseases took flight. The argument goes that the rise in junk food consumption led to an explosion in chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity. Some experts point to the sugar or fat content of processed foods as the primary driver of chronic diseases. Others argue that it's just the hyper-palatable combination of both fat and sugar.
Modern international trade allows both plant and animal foods to be flown all around the world. Our diet is more diverse than ever, yet we’re not reaping any health benefits from it. We might be eating more tropical fruits than ever, but the less popular, nutrient dense cuts of meat are nowhere to be found really.
We are given the luxury of choice, and we can choose to eat solely chicken breast for our protein if we want ( i have)--but is it optimal? It might work. You may gain a lot of muscle doing so (i did), bet we could be potentially missing out on the whole range of nutrients found in the other parts of the animal… I think that the same can be said when we attempt to make an egg “healthier” by separating the yolk from the white- we wind up throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Eating nose to tail is an optimal way to obtain the near-complete nutrient requirements that humans need to thrive…Traditional diets around the world include the off-cuts and organ meats that the Western World has sadly left behind because “they don't taste good.”
Take a wild guess at which populations are healthier..
Organ meat delivers a diverse set of nutrients not available in common cuts of meat- it's undoubtedly the most nutrient dense food on the planet, they're a concentrated source of just about every nutrient, including important vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and essential amino acids.
As if the health benefits are not enticing enough– Inflation can't touch organ meat.
Cost of food is up, but you don't need an Erewhon to eat well. You don't need to live off pasta to eat economically, and you don't have to hang out in a restaurant soliciting for leftovers either… though I still don't see anything wrong with it.
You can cut the cost of your grocery bill & get far more bang for your buck opting to go with the less desired cuts such as: organs, bones, roasts, chucks, shoulders & shanks.
I have had a spark of creativity in the kitchen experimenting outside of my baseline. Last week I bought 3 lbs worth of wagyu bottom round roast at $4 per pound. “Rump”-roasts are another less than appealing cut of meat & for $12 i had enough meat to toss into 10 bowls of food for added calories and nutrition the next 3-4 days. The even better part—the effort required to prepare it: practically none. I added bone broth to a crockpot, did a quick broil in the oven on both sides of the meat, tossed whatever random leftover vegetables I had- carrots, celery, vegetable stems, beets, yams, chard etc.–tossed it all into the pot with the meat, forgot about it and let it slow simmer for 12 hours. The flavor was impeccable, satiating, and loaded with all of the collagenous vitamins and minerals from the bones. That leftover bone broth- excellent for adding flavor and nutrition to steamed veggies… 12 bucks well spent in my book.
We really have no excuses to eat crappy cheap food that makes us feel equally crappy- just because it's cheap(er)... Liver and heart are dirt cheap and loaded with nutrients.
If you have never eaten organs, it's not your best bet to just start slamming them plain. They are an acquired taste, but also the quality of the animal they are coming from is absolutely integral to the flavor profile. Grassfed / pasture-raised is a must.
I know that there are certain butchers and even online meat joints that market “ancestral-blends” “primal-blends” “caveman-blends”... These are just simply ground beef ground up with the organs. If I were to take a guess, I would say the standard ratio would be something like 70/30 ground beef to organs. They could be a really good starting place if this is something that interests you. I’m old-school so I like to do the ratios myself- I also prefer my mixes a little closer to the 60/40 organs to ground beef blend.
A shopping tip that I have been using to incorporate more of the animal is simply offsetting a favorable cut with the organs. If I buy a package of chicken thighs, I will also grab a package of hearts for an extra 2 or 3 bucks. Subsequently, preparing those two items together with some fresh produce gives me top notch energy and keeps me full for a long time. This method will make those choice cuts taste even better too.
As of late I have been making a breakfast bowl with my organ blend that is tasty, nourishing and very satiating. I cook some regular grass fed ground beef sirloin, and then chop up the liver and heart into tiny pieces. Because I know that the quality is superb and the animals are very healthy, I do a very light sear on a pan with ghee with some salt flakes and Jennifer Fishers- all seasoning salt.
Organ Blend Breakfast Bowl- Top it with:
…I know, it sounds crazy- but the apple is a nice little sweet kick with the organs.
Use the internet to its full potential to order your meat if absolutely necessary, but I implore you to find a rancher & shake their hand.
I would like to point out that there is a wave of progressive & sustainable farming practices rolling across our nation. Younger, healthy, vibrant, energetic, fit individuals that are blending some of the practical old school farming techniques with new, hip & regenerative ranching practices.
The rancher that I buy much of my meat from is an ecologist who appears to be as fit, if not fitter than me. I follow their farm online & see how they are rotating their animals onto different pastures each week & I look forward to hearing how his pigs, sheep and chickens are doing each week as he provides me with a week of nourishment. Networking can be used for more than sharing tiktoks & linkedin profiles. It can be used for securing valuable resources like food- make it work for you. But, if at all possible- meet your rancher. Shake their hand, build a relationship with them, learn as much as you can from them- “what breeds do they raise, what are some of their favorite recipes/cuts, how do they recommend cooking this particular cut” etc…
The way i see it- I will gladly give my hard earned money to someone who has their best interest invested in prioritizing the health and wellbeing of the animal(s) they care for on a daily basis- as opposed to large corporations that make billions on meat, but couldn't tell you the difference between a steer and a heifer. It brings a whole hell of alot more appreciation & awareness to the food you're eating when you substantially shorten your supply chain like that, and I don't know, maybe I think we could all use a little more of that. Appreciation for our food… & not wasting it.
Eating nose to tail has some profound health benefits. It honors our ancestry, our body, our animals, and our planet.
…a potentially radical idea that i am pondering at the moment-
What would it look like if we reverse engineered our lives? So that our health- fitness, diet & sleep are always prioritized first.
…Then whatever time we have left-over is used for work & everything else.