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  • Writer's pictureMary Shackelton, MPH, ND


Chicken Burn Out?

If you understand the impact that raising beef has on our planet (e.g. using 1300 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef) and whose intake contributes to inflammation in the body, you may try to reduce your red meat intake, which I am definitely a fan of. However, there aren’t many options left, besides chicken, which I personally get burnt out on.

Fish, which of course is “healthy,” as long as you don’t consider the mercury contamination. And god forbid you should eat farmed fish, which is so toxic with PCB and dioxin levels that you should run in the other direction if offered this food. Always inquire whether the fish is farmed- don’t buy it unless it says “sustainably farmed,” which is thumbs up, but unfortunately, the mercury content is still there. Wild caught fish is a better option, but alas, we are over fishing our oceans and need to be concerned about this as well.

Shrimp and other crustaceans? Well, I like these options because they are lower in overall mercury content, but one cannot eat shrimp every night either.

Lamb? Well, you decide about that one. I stopped being able to eat lamb after driving by a local farm in the spring and watching young lambs frolicking in the hills with 10 yellow lab puppies on their heels. It was ridiculous, as if almost planned and choreographed with the Sound of Music playing in the background. That was it for me. No more lamb.

Other poultry, such as turkey and duck, can provide a reprieve from the normalcy of chicken, and each has different fatty acid profile and taste profile, which could make you feel like you’re on vacation from chicken also.

Veal? Uh…no. Besides, I'm guessing that’s not a good substitute for a nightly chicken meal.

Wild game? Thumbs up all around. It has more omega 3 fatty acids, is not grain fed, and is not commercially raised. Therefore, you will be avoiding antibiotics and hormones. And the environmental impact.

Faced with these complicated environmental and health questions that surround our food choices, organic chicken is a family fall back and a mindless option. You can do any number of crazy things with a chicken dish, but eventually, you might just feel B-O-R-E-D, locked in to this option, and craving something more exciting.

One option is to minimize animal meat intake all together in favor of a few more meals per week that are not animal based. Hmm…why don’t we consider this more often? Your children will still thrive, you will be treading more softly on the planet, and you will be lowering your overall acidity to a place that your body will appreciate.

This doesn’t mean you are forced into “salad jail” either. There are numerous great websites for vegetarian recipe options (If you have a family of meat-eaters, you don’t have to call your meals “vegetarian.” Meatless might go over better).

I for one am going to make more soups, roasted veggies, lentils, quinoa, and stir fry. Join me!! (this is a fantastic Instagram account with videos and recipes, you will not be hungry!!)

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