Mention offal and most of the people I know will rant on about how unappetizing it is whist pulling a face, usually involving nose scrunching or tongue poking.
For all those that haven’t heard of offal, it refers to the organ meats of animals – including (but is not limited to) liver, brain, kidney and heart.
Offal has a bad reputation in today’s society. Many people associate it with negative childhood memories such as grandma’s grey chewy liver and onion recipe or that one time they were ‘forced’ to eat tripe and how disgusting it tasted. Unfortunately these stories have spread throughout society and even those who haven’t tried offal are reluctant to do so.
So given offal’s bad reputation, why would anyone eat it?
Because, it is the ultimate superfood. Offal is Nature’s multi-vitamin – it is a very nutrient dense food – which is readily bio-available (meaning that’s its nutrients can be easily assimilated by the digestive system). It has been revered for centuries – however, like many traditional foods and practices, eating organ meats has unfortunately fallen out of fashion in the Standard British Diet. Highly nutrient dense organ meats have given way to the now popular muscle meats, things like the breast and thigh, pieces of meat that were rarely consumed, and definitely never made up the bulk of protein in our diet, as they do now. There are recent studies that show eating an excess of muscle meat can lead to a myriad of health problems, including thyroid suppression.
Offal contains an abundance of B vitamins, including vitamin B12, in fact beef liver contains a whopping 17 times more vitamin B12 than beef mince (ground beef)! B12 is the only vitamin humans cannot obtain from plants or sunlight. According to Chris Kresser vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to:
– Premature aging
– Brain fog, cognitive problems and mental decline
– Impaired immune function, autoimmune disease and cancer
Offal is also abundant in iron, copper, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium, chromium, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E. The list really does go on and on.
Do you still need more reasons to eat offal?
Hunter gather cultures prized offal. Offal was often saved exclusively for the upper echelons of society including hunters, pregnant women and elders. Offal is cheap! Eating good quality, grass-fed organic meat can be expensive, so incorporating more offal into your diet is not only a good way to increase your nutrient in take, but it also a good way to save money.
Where to start?
Some types of offal can have a very strong taste (which is why it has such a bad reputation). I recommend starting with the cuts that are easiest on the palate. Below I have categorised offal according to the strength of its flavour. If you’re new to offal start with Mild. If you’ve sampled offal before try Getting stronger. And if you are looking to be adventurous go straight to Strongest.
1. Mild – Tongue, heart
2. Getting stronger – Kidney, brain (a similar taste to scrambled eggs), live
3. Strongest- Tripe, sweetbreads
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