Conscious Dining

January 29, 2018

New Year & New Food Habits

Happy New Year! With a new year comes new food trends, new diets, and new restaurants.  Hooray for all of these things! A new year may also be a great time for a new approach to eating out. While many people begin strict diets which eliminate some foods and bulk up on others, it is also beneficial just to take a hard look at the foods you are already eating and the foods that your favorite restaurants are serving. Where do they come from and how were they made? Do they source from local suppliers or from mass distributors? And what does all of this mean to your diet?

Looking specifically at the meats a restaurant serves is a very good place to start. There are only two places where a restaurant can get its meat – through a distributor or directly from a farm. You may already know which one of these is the best option (hint hint: from a farm), but what is really so bad about meat from a mass distributor? Well, let’s take a look.

Most meat which ends up in the hands of large restaurant distributors comes from factory farms. To keep production costs low, these large farms feed animals the cheapest food possible (you don’t even want to know how municipal waste can end up in the food troth…). When animals eat poorly, they get sick easily and are frequently given antibiotics even before they are sick. All those chemicals going into the animal go right into the meat.

The end result of the bad diet and poor living conditions the animals have on these factory farms is very low-quality meat. A factory farm cow produces meat that is lower in vitamin E, beta-carotene and has barely any omega-3 fatty acids. You may think you are getting some nutrients from that big steak but, depending on where it came from, you might be incorrect.

Low-cost production means cheap meat for restaurant suppliers which then means a low cost to the restaurants themselves and that is why many restaurants buy this meat. So many restaurants simply purchase their meat from a distributor with little thought to where it came from and they assume the restaurant diners won’t care either. Isn’t it all about the price?

Luckily, restaurants can choose to purchase meat directly from certified humane farms. To continue with the cow analysis, a steak from a grass-fed, antibiotic-free cow has less total fat, cholesterol, and calories than a steak from a different cow. Doesn’t that sound better?

Most restaurants that use high-quality meats sourced from farms will advertise this; it is, after all, a great selling point! You can also always ask your server or restaurant manager where the meat comes from. If the answer is a restaurant distributor, you may want to consider skipping the meat this time out.

In this new year, look into where your food comes from and become a more educated eater. If low-quality meat is your only option when dining out, consider a vegetarian diet for the day. HowUdish can help you find some best foods for dinner in restaurants near you. Make 2018 a year of conscious dining!

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