Organ Meat

Calf Liver alla Veneziana from Eat Real Food or Else

Most Americans say “yuck” and turn up their noses at the mere mention of organ meat. This is cultural. A fancy Parisian restaurant would likely offer both tripe and kidneys.

Most remaining hunter-gatherer societies (about 200) are far healthier than us “civilized” people in terms of degenerative diseases. Cancer is rare, adult onset diabetes, heart disease, and dementia are practically unknown. The Paleo Diet is a dietary attempt to mimic this lifestyle. While we don’t entirely agree with this diet (we think dairy is good, for instance), we do like major portions of it.

But how close can we get to the hunter-gatherer cuisine? This is a little tricky in two regards. First, hunter-gatherers eat what they can catch. Most of these animals are not found at your local supermarket, and second, they eat the entire animal—at least as much of it as they can. Besides the muscles, this includes all the organs, the gristle, and often the marrow inside the bones.This may be key.

In many cases, hunter-gatherers will eat certain organs immediately after a kill—as sort of a reward, we suppose. Inuit will consume the contents of the small intestine (chyme), a source of carbs mainly. Other societies will divvy up the liver before dragging the carcass back to HG headquarters.

There are many sorts of organ meat

Different organs have different properties. Some facts…

Brain. Brain is rather fatty and hard to eat if the larger veins aren’t properly removed. It is quite tasty. It is loaded with omega-3 oil and has many nutrients that, unsurprisingly, are good for the nervous system.

Heart. Basically a dense, chewy muscle, it is fairly loaded with B-vitamins and other nutrients.

Liver. This is the only organ meat regularly served in America. Simply fried, it isn’t very appealing, but if combined with onions and garlic, and not overcooked, it is delicious. It is extremely nutrient-dense, and a good source of iron.

Kidney. Another nutrient-rich organ. Also a source of omega-3.

Tongue. Basically a nutrient-rich muscle. In many societies it is used medicinally to speed recovery.

Sweetbreads. They are neither sweet nor bread. Normally sweetbreads are made from the thymus, and sometimes the pancreas. Fried in butter, they are delicious.

Tripe. This is cow’s stomach lining and is popular in France. It also provides B vitamins.

One other item: hunter-gatherers chew and swallow the gristle. Gristle (connective tissue) is almost pure collagen and having an external source may be important.

We would recommend you try some of these foods as there are clear health benefits, but a) get good quality, i.e. grass fed, etc., and b) find a tasty recipe on the internet. Be brave. Be daring. Bon appétit.

If you have Dr. Mike’s cookbook, there is a section on organ meats, along with a few tasty recipes.

A note about nutrients.

The spectrum of nutrients found in the above list vastly exceeds those found in a multivitamin capsule. In fact, many of those vitamins have been shown to be harmful in excess. (Vitamin D and B12, are the notable exceptions, but take them separately.) Our bodies do not get all they need from the limited assortment available from in a vitamin pill. They expect the broad range available from captured food, and in particular, from foods that many of us no longer eat.

A warning about organ meat.

In many cases, toxins can accumulate in various organs. Hence, one should insure that organ meat is cleanly sourced—grass fed, or wild.

True confessions

I doubt I have convinced you to dive in, but I’ll be honest. I do like some, but not all organ meat. Tripe I won’t touch. I’ll avoid kidney if possible. I like brain a lot, especially fried in butter. Liver somewhat, preferably grilled with onions. Sweetbreads (thymus) are ok. I am fine with tongue and heart, basically chewy muscles, as well as chicken giblets.

  1 comment for “Organ Meat

  1. Dan
    September 8, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    I’ll eat whatever organ meats (“offal” derived from off-fall from the butchering…) I can find. Sweetbreads and brains are pretty uncommon, but tripe is generally available in ethnic marts. Try Trippa alla Romana, which is tripe cooked in tomatoes, garlic, and onion – and topped with grated cheese and mint(!).

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