Nose to Tail Eating is Bad for Everyone – The Surprising Truth
Nose to tail dining has become a huge trend in high end dining. More and more chefs are encouraging their patrons to eat every part of the animal as a way of preventing waste and getting more familiar with food. But is “nose to tail” dining really environmentally friendly? Or is it just a boon to the meat industry? And what are the health consequences of eating organ meats?
In my video on Anthony Bourdain, I mentioned that at least Bourdain has a passion for offal and other, less common types of flesh. This trend is on the rise throughout the west, and you probably know at least one person that regularly indulges in less mainstream forms of animal consumption.
I always as assumed nose to tail eating was good for the environment. After all, the meat isn’t wasted!
But after posting the Bourdain video, one of my viewers, Tri Vegan brought nose to tail eating to my attention.
As this article from the Economist reveals, nose to tail dining is a tremendous boon to the meat industry. Items like “pork trotters” (pigs’ feet) are a huge addition to the profit margins of these industries.
How does that work? I thought nose to tail eating prevented waste!
Well, there was a time when it did. A long time ago, butchers needed to sell every part of the animal as food in order to prevent waste.
But today’s slaughterhouses are experts at making as much money as possible. There is very little waste, as even bits of skin and bone go into making gelatin. Waste meat products (eyes, tongues, etc., that aren’t always eaten) are converted into animal food and the grade of meat that goes into frozen dinners and soups (yum!) or sausage.
But now, people have once again developed a taste for things like tripe and tongue, meat producers are happy to oblige. And when humans are the end market, they can make a lot more money than they do on dog food or “mystery meat.”
Exports to China
British pork exports to China were up 92% in 2013. This has been particularly helpful in light of the fact domestic pork consumption in Britain is in decline. And because the Chinese consume all parts of the pig, from hoof to tail, it’s much more profitable to export.
If you start to think about it from an economic perspective, nose to tail eating actually encourages factory farming, because if you eat fancy free range pigs head, that’s meat that otherwise would have been made into pet food. Of course, nobody will pay top dollar for animal feed and mystery meat, so by buying free range meat you are in fact contributing indirectly to the proliferation of high profit factory farms.
Nose to tail eating might be trendy, but it doesn’t reduce animal consumption or discourage factory farms. Instead, it perversely increases demand for meat and profitability. But there is an additional dark side: Offal may increase cancer risk.
I figured Offal wasn’t healthy, but I didn’t know it was any worse than any other kind of meat. Offal naturally contains a high concentration of tumour causing chemicals, particularly a sialic acid called Neu5Gc. The Daily Mail reports that Neu5Gc consumption is correlated with cancerous tumours as well as “cardiovascular and other inflammatory diseases, including some bacterial infections.”
As if that weren’t bad enough, the chemical becomes even more potent after cooking. Research shows that when humans eat offal and get this chemical in their systems, the immune system sees Neu5Gc, the immune system sees it as a threat and responds by producing antibodies. This can lead to chronic inflammation, and increased risk of immune diseases.
Bottom line? Nose to tail eating is bad for our health and for the environment. Far from being a kind, green “solution” to the problem of food waste, it lines the pockets of meat producers. It also expands the meat export market and causes cancer. If you, or those you love, believe nose to tail eating is a way to “have your meat and eat it, too”, think again. I encourage you to look at the additional resources and realize the real impact that nose to tail has on our health and the planet.
Link between Neu5gc and cancer: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25548184
High Profit from Offal: http://beefmagazine.com/retail/offal-meats-good-gold-us-beef-market