Top Five Reasons to Eat Organ Meats

“You Want Me to Eat Guts?

I can’t eat guts. That’s gross.”

Sadly, this is often the response when I suggest to a new client that they incorporate organ meats.

Admittedly, I used to feel the same way but when I think about it now, it makes little sense. 

With the exception of religious beliefs that may deem certain parts of an animal sacred and/or inedible, if you’re eating the breast of a chicken but not the liver or the tenderloin of a cow but not its kidneys, it doesn’t really make much sense.

Plus, chances are higher than not that you’ve eaten guts already; if a sausage or hotdog or rillettes or pate has ever encountered your palate, guess what?  You’ve eaten guts.

In the hope that no one is avoiding guts due to fear of eating fat or cholesterol, but solely because they simply think it’s gross, here are a few things to consider that may help tip the scales in favor of adding some to your menu, at least once in a while.

1. Guts are cheap.  One benefit of being in the minority, of which I’m a part, too, of those who opt in when it comes to purchasing liver, kidney, heart and the like is that they’re in far less demand than grass fed filet mignon, for example.   At my local butcher, the grass-fed filet weighs in at a lofty $28.95 while the liver is $3.89.   Hmmm… You do the math.

2. Guts are healthy. If you are looking for a densely packed concentration of a number of important nutrients, they may be for you more than you know. Organs meats include products that are unappetizing for some people: brains, heart, kidneys and lungs. “Prevention Magazine’s Nutrition Advisor” places beef liver at the top of its list of foods that are highest in vitamin A and riboflavin. Beef liver is also the highest-ranking organ meat on the book’s list for vitamins B-6 and B-12 .

3. They provide flavor.  A distinct flavor, yes indeed, but a rich, hearty satisfying flavor which, when properly prepared can serve to be the very thing that creates a better feeling of satiety versus a low-fat meal that you may have had in its proxy. If you’re a bit finicky about texture, there are ways to address that too.  Why not sauté some pasture raised chicken liver in natural, uncured bacon, let both cool and then puree into a base for a soup?

4. By eating guts, you’re staying even more in keeping with a true paleo diet.  By being picky and only eating skeletal muscle (yep, that’s right.  What did you think you were eating when you delve into that turkey leg?), you’re not only wasting part of an animal, you’re not getting the full balance of nutrients you would be able to take part of if you really implemented nose to tail.  Yes, white meat is low in fat and very easy to get, but not nearly as complete an offering as if you sometimes eat a little of each.  It’s all about the balance!

5. Eating the whole animal is more respectful to it, better for the environment and less wasteful in general.  I can’t bear to waste.  Anything. I hope you feel the same way.  But in particular, wasting meat or fish or poultry or anything from which we’ve been a part of a life that’s ended for our taking is an absolute sin. (And this is coming from someone who’s not remotely religious). It’s just common sense. Waste not want not!   This topic may be best positioned by the Cherokee tale called The Little Deer , a story in which the message is imparted by a deer, who states, “If a hunter wishes to kill a deer, they must prepare in a ceremonial way and ask permission to do so. Then after they’ve killed one, they must show respect to its spirit.”   

Nose to tail. Better for the environment, better for your body.

Need some ideas?  Here’s one of my favorite recipes for ‘bits’ as some may refer to those parts of animals we may need some getting used to eating…Pan Seared Flat Iron Steak with Roasted Marrow and Greens.