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Why the Turkey is So Special

In 1621, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags celebrated their “first” Thanksgiving together. According to many historians, though, turkey may have not actually been the main dish of their feast. Although there are some records that indicate that turkey was prevalent in North America at the time, venison, fish, or other small fowl were most likely served. However, in the journal of William Bradford, the first governor of the Pilgrims, recorded that turkey was a part of the meal. His journal indicated that turkey was readily accessible at the time.

Sarah Josepha Hale, the poet of “Mary Had a Little Lamb, was an advocate for making Thanksgiving a national holiday She personally wrote a letter to President Abraham Lincoln and the Secretary of State, William Seward, to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. Her writings proved successful; in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. Hale also promoted turkey as being the main part of the Thanksgiving feast. In her book, _Northwood_, she spent an entire chapter discussing the eating of turkey.

Unbeknownst to the Pilgrims and early settlers of the time, the turkey they were consuming was the healthiest version of it. According to [The World’s Healthiest Food ](http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=125) website, pasture-raised turkey is ranked third on the protein richness list. One could find about 34 grams of protein in a skinned, baked turkey breast, totally up to over two-thirds of the daily value. The protein content will vary depending upon which part of the bird one consumes. This is due to the workload of the muscle and the fat content found in the muscle.

In terms of the fat content in turkey, omega-3 fats are prevalent. Pasture-raised turkey is recommended for consumption because the turkeys are able to graze upon these fatty acids in plants, insects, and other resources in pasture settings. A unique omega-3 fatty, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), can be found in pasture-raised turkeys. This fatty acid has the ability to aid in nerve function. Adding to the nutrient content, all of the B vitamins can be found within. These would include B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folate, biotin, and choline.

It is important to note that the nutrient content of the turkey is sensitive to its diet. The numbers listed above are based off of turkeys that have been naturally raised. It is also important to note that a label that reads “organic” in the store does not mean that it has been raised naturally.

Unfortunately, there has not been as much research conducted on turkeys as there has been on its neighbor bird, the chicken. The studies that have been conducted report that turkey can help regulate blood sugar levels and does not cause an increased risk in cancer. 

Thank you to all of those who purchased one of our pasture-raised turkeys this year. We hope that you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thank you to all of our customers who read the newsletter, visit us at market, and let us deliver to you. Each of you are a blessing to our business!

Happy Thanksgiving!



Understanding the common beef and pork cuts.

I find it important to be knowledgeable of the different types of cuts of meat that come from our animal carcasses. It can be overwhelming when deciding what type of meat to buy (beef, pork, or chicken), and then from there deciding what kind of cut you want to get. In one beef carcass there can be over 50 types of cuts. To add to the confusion of consumers, many of these steaks and roasts are referred to using different names. The jargon can be quite confusing.
Considering the beef carcass, composed of 8 “primal cuts.” They are the: chuck, rib, loin, round, flank, short plate, brisket, and shank. From those primal cuts, it can further be broken down into varying steaks, roasts, and other retail cuts. The original tenderness of the cut is based upon where on the animal it comes from. Traditionally, the rib and tenderloin are the most tender because they are the furthest away from the head and the feet of the animal. Muscle groups surrounding the head and hoof are used most by the animal, therefore, they are typically the “tougher” choices of meat because they are the muscles that are used the most by the animal. However, in the cooking process, nearly any cut of meat can become a tender and delicious meal. [Click here](https://www.thespruce.com/cuts-of-beef-chuck-loin-rib-brisket-and-more-995304) to find a thorough break down of each of the primal cuts and where they are located on a beef.

[This video](https://www.thespruce.com/cuts-of-meat-beef-pork-lamb-995843), explains the importance of keeping the end result in mind when choosing a cut of meat. The loin section is typically the most tender, but the cuts of meat that are located near the head and hoof have more fat and collagen running through them. These original “tougher” cuts of meat are often cheaper, as well. [This link](https://paleoleap.com/all-about-gelatin-and-collagen/) explains the health benefits of collagen in our diet. Through the cooking process, these cuts become quite tender.

When considering four-legged animals, the general knowledge of one species can be correlated with the other. For example, in comparing the cuts between beef and pork, the beef round steak is to ham steak as the beef chuck roast is to the pork shoulder roast. Often times, the same cut of meat comes from the same area, but labeled with a different name. [This link](https://www.thespruce.com/cuts-of-meat-beef-pork-lamb-995843) offers excellent explanation and break down of beef, pork, and lamb.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of cuts. Our beef round steak is on special this week. Try out [this delicious recipe](http://allrecipes.com/recipe/49591/slow-cooker-swiss-steak/print/?recipeType=Recipe&servings=6&isMetric=false)! (Slow Cooker Swiss Steak)


The first step in choosing what type of pork meat you want is to look at the quality of meat itself. Meat that is pinkish in color and firm in the package is high quality meat. Meat that is damp, pale, and soft are most likely to be your factory-finished pigs.

Like beef, the muscles that are located further from the hoof are more tender than the cuts of meat that are located closer to the hoof of the animal, primarily the loin and tenderloin. The meat that is closer to the leg is tougher and fattier. These cuts of meat require a little longer cooking times and lower cooking temperatures, but the end result is still a delicious meal. [This is a good resource](https://modernfarmer.com/2014/03/pork-101/) to refer to when cooking each cut of meat.

There are five primal cuts in the hog. They are the shoulder butt, picnic shoulder (commonly known as the picnic ham), loin, ham, and belly. Some of the names are misleading. For example, the pork butt and picnic ham are found towards the front of the hog in the shoulder and not towards the rear of the hog where most people would assume that it comes from. To add to the variety of cuts, a roast can often be cut up into 1/2 or 1 inch thick steaks. Take the ham for example. A ham can either come whole, halved, cut into roasts, sliced into steaks, sliced and tenderized into pork cutlets, or ground into sausage or ground pork. The options really are limitless. [Here is a great interactive website ](http://askthemeatman.com/hog_cuts_interactive_chart.htm) that breaks down the five primal cuts into more detail.

I have just discussed the cuts of the pork, but the types of sausages from the ground meat also offers a large variety of options. Here at Wholesome Farms, our sausage selection is breakfast sausage, Cajun, Italian, Chorizo, bratwurst, or garlic. We offer ground pork, as well.

In our modern health world, pork has had a bad reputation of not being a very healthy meat to consume based upon the fat content. Fats of the wrong kind are, indeed, bad for you. There is such a thing as healthy fats, though. This is a great [educational article](https://www.countryworkforce.com/not-all-fats-are-created-equal/) explaining the different types of fats and the healthy fats that our pork has to offer. Here is another [article ](https://www.countryworkforce.com/fertility-our-ancestors-and-the-future-of-our-food/) on our [home website](https://www.countryworkforce.com/) that discusses why we raise our meat the way that we do. The healthier the animal is raised, the healthier it is for you to consume. Here at Wholesome Farms and Gardens, our pork is pastured, all-natural, and fed non GMO feed. [This is another great article](https://www.countryworkforce.com/we-go-nuts-over-forest-fed-pigs/) written by Dr. Craig Turczynski explaining why our products are different than those raised on concrete and corn.

Try one of our special pork packages! It comes with health benefits, wonderful taste, and a discount. We can also deliver it straight to your door.

We’ve Learned the Secret to Boiled Eggs

As most of us know, there are few things better than farm-fresh eggs. There are seemingly hundreds of ways to cook an egg: fried, boiled, poached, deviled, omelets, scrambled, and the list goes on. For many of our customers, myself included, boiled eggs seem to be a popular option. I find that these naturally raised eggs are creamy, nutritious, and delicious. It is one of my favorite ways to eat them. However, when I go to peel them, they do not always peel as easily as I would like them to. Sometimes the shell slips right off, sometimes the shell sticks to the white of the egg, and other times there is a presence of a filmy membrane underneath the shell. I have done a little research to answer some of the mysteries about eggs when it comes to boiling them.

Although the egg may be small in size, there are a lot of parts to it. In fact, there are 8 different parts to the egg. From the outside in, there is the: shell, inner and outer membrane, air cell, albumen, chalazae, vitelline membrane, and the yolk; each serving a unique function. There can be as many as 17,000 pores that cover the shell of the egg. It is a semipermeable membrane that is made mostly of calcium carbonate. Because it is semipermeable, air and moisture can enter into the egg. The purpose of the bloom or cuticle on the outside of the egg is to serve as a guard to keep bacteria and dust out. (This is why we do not wash our eggs.) The inner and outer membranes are found between the eggshell and the egg white. They also serve as a protection against bacteria. They are made up of the protein keratin which is also found in human hair. Once the egg has been laid and cools, an air cell is formed between the inner and outer membrane. This air cell is easily located at the larger end of the egg once it has been boiled. As the egg ages, this air cell increases in size. The albumen, what is typically referred to as the white, is made of up 40 different proteins and water. Next, there is the chalaze. These are clear ropes of the white of the egg that anchors the yolk in place; the more visible they are, the fresher the egg. In the center of the egg is where the yolk is located. The yolk is made up of water, protein, fat, and contains most of the vitamins and minerals of the egg. The color of the yolk varies depending upon the diet and breed of the chicken.([Here is a short article](https://www.countryworkforce.com/some-science-behind-our-egg-production-methods/) about our eggs.) Enclosing the yolk is the vitelline membrane.

So why is peeling fresh eggs so difficult? In eggs that are only a couple of days old, the inner and outer membrane holds fast to the shell and the albumen (egg white) sticks to the inner shell membrane more than it does to itself. This is caused by the pH environment of the egg. In freshly laid eggs, the pH ranges between 7.6 and 7.9; carbon dioxide gives the white a cloudy appearance. Once the bloom or cuticle is washed off, the pores are opened up and oxygen begins to enter the shell while some of the carbon dioxide is lost. The loss of carbon dioxide increases the pH to about 9.2. The higher the pH, the easier it is to peel off the shell because the inner membrane does not cling as tightly to the egg white. Also, as the egg ages, it shrinks, causing a bigger air space between the shell and membrane. This process typically happens after several days in the refrigerator.

Research has shown that increasing the pH of the egg aides in the peeling process.The older the eggs gets, however, the further from the middle the yolk will get. This is because the white looses some of its strength and is not able to hold the yolk in its original place. In order to have a centered yolk and an egg that peels easily, use eggs that have been laid on their sides for a week to ten days.

[Here are more tips] http://www.scienceofcooking.com/eggs/boiled_eggs.htmon how to peel and cook your boiled eggs.



By Dallis Bailey, M.A. 

Three Recipes That Use Mint.

Garlic and Mint Chicken Breasts


  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds total)
  • ½ cup fresh mintleaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Hot cooked couscous (optional)
  • Grilled whole green onions* (optional)
  • Fresh mintleaves (optional)


  1. Place chicken in a resealable plastic bag set in a shallow dish.
  2. In a blender, combine the 1/2 cup mint leaves, the lemon juice, oil, soy sauce, garlic, chili powder, and pepper. Cover and blend until smooth; pour over chicken. Seal bag; turn to coat chicken. Marinate chicken in refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours.
  3. Drain chicken, discarding marinade. Place chicken on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill for 12 to 15 minutes or until tender and no longer pink (170 degree F), turning once. If desired, serve over hot cooked couscous. If desired, serve with grilled green onions and garnish with additional mint leaves. Makes 4 servings

Thai Stir-Fried Beef with Mint

Serves 4 to 6

1 pound tenderized round, flank or skirt. Can also use flat iron or sirloin.                                                                                                                                  

14 (2 ounces) finely chopped Serrano chilies

1/4 cup (2 ounces) finely chopped garlic

1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely chopped yellow onion

1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 cup water (more if needed in Step 5)

1/2 cup loosely packed mint or basil leaves

Green lettuce leaves

1.  Slice the beef across the grain into strips 1/4 inch thick and 2 to 3 inches long.  Set aside. 

2.  Pound or grind the chilies, garlic, and onion to a coarse paste in a mortar or blender.  If you use a blender you may need to add the oil to aid in grinding. 

3.  Heat a wok or large pan, add the oil, and swirl it over the surface of the pan.  (Do not add more oil if you have ground the chilies, onion, and garlic in oil.)  Add the paste from Step 2 and stir-fry until it is light golden. 

4.  Add the beef and stir-fry until it is a uniform tan color, but do not overcook it. 

5.  Add the fish sauce, sugar, water, and mint (or basil) leaves. More water may be added if the sauce is too dry.  There should be about 1/2 to 3/4 cup sauce, depending on how much water you added. Ahead of time note:  The dish may be prepared a day in advance to this point.  To do so, proceed through Step 5, omitting the mint or basil leaves.  When you are ready to serve, heat the mixture and add the leaves.  If the meat has absorbed the liquid, add just enough warm water to bring it back to the original consistency. 

6.  Arrange a single layer of lettuce leaves in a serving bowl and put the beef mixture over them.  Serve the beef immediately or keep it warm while preparing other dishes. 

7.  Serve with rice.

Grilled Pork with Mint Chimichurri

  • 4 PORK CHOPS or pork leg cutlets.
  1. To prepare chimichurri, place the mint, garlic, salt, pepper, vinegar and oil in bowl of food processor; pulse until smooth. Add enough water for a pourable consistency.
  2. Reserve half of chimichurri, cover and refrigerate. Place chops in large plastic bag, add remaining chimichurri, seal bag and toss to coat chops. Place chops in refrigerator and let marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours.
  3. Prepare a medium-hot fire in grill. Remove chops from marinade; discard marinade. Grill over direct heat for a total of about 12-16 minutes, turning once, until internal temperature when measured with an instant-read thermometer is 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a 3-minute rest time.
  4. Serve chops or cutlets garnished with mint and reserved chimichurri on the side.
  5. Serves 4.


By Craig Turczynski, Ph.D.

     It is extremely intriguing to me how food, lifestyle and health are linked. I have been blessed with good health, except for an orthopedic birth defect which I have lived with all my life. I attribute that good health to growing up on a farm in Iowa. My parents moved us from Chicago to the farm when I was a skinny 12-year-old and my diet changed significantly. We raised our own pork, chicken, eggs, lamb and beef. We grew our own vegetables (which I never ate before moving to the farm) and hand milked a jersey cow which provided plenty of raw milk, fresh cream and butter. It wasn’t long before neighbors commented how quickly I was growing and filling out into a sturdy young man. So, 40 years later when my wife and children were diagnosed with cancer, various autoimmune diseases and hormonal problems I knew we needed to get back to the farm diet and lifestyle I grew up with. We more aggressively began producing our own food and became more careful with what we were purchasing. We realized that buying food that was good for the budget was not good for our health. Living on the farm also provided a lesson in lifestyle. Working outside, being active, getting fresh air and sunshine is more natural and effective than working out in a gym. Farming also teaches you to accept things instead of stressing out about them. Try controlling when the rain comes or getting angry at a litter of pigs that keep escaping the fences. Going back to these basics has contributed to me becoming leaner and having more energy, even into my mid 50’s. My family members have also become healthier and are “survivors” of their illnesses. Interestingly, many of the chronic diseases we suffer from today were not what people experienced in the early 20th century. The attached graph contrasts what the major causes of death were in 1900 vs 1997 https://www.cdc.gov/Mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4829a1.htm .

Clearly our diet contributed to the rise and prevalence of heart disease, cancer and diabetes so common today http://www.rush2013.com/magazine/read/heart-disease-in-the-united-states-after-1900_7.html . In the early 20th century people lived on farms or close to a farm and had access to naturally raised fruits & vegetables and fresh meat, milk and eggs from grass fed animals. We also prepared our food differently and ate all the parts of the animal, not just the prime cuts such as steak and skinless chicken breast. We are still learning every day, but some dietary components we adopted from life on the farm include:

  1. Eating more freshly harvested fruits and vegetables that are vine ripe. Fresh, ripe vegetables that are not sprayed with pesticide don’t always look pretty and frequently need to have bad spots cut off before eating. The nutrients found in vine ripe fruits and vegetables, grown in healthy soil are what is missing in many diets. Our food system doesn’t allow it because the produce would spoil in the time it takes to get them sold in the grocery store.
  2. Avoiding food produced with chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides or synthetic fertilizer or processed with ingredients such as MSG’s. No matter how safe these chemicals have been reported to be, residue can alter your gut health, and repeated consumption leads to chronic disease.
  3. Eating a diverse diet. Many diets have become a pattern of the same foods. Eating the same foods causes an abundance of some ingredients and not enough of other nutrients. Diversity applies to both plants and proteins. It includes eating different parts of the animal or preparing food with fermentation or slow cooking, which releases components not normally digested.
  4. Consuming whole grains and nuts and reducing consumption of processed carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners and refined sugars.

Some of the nutritional components that are more prevalent in this traditional diet that are now backed by science include:

  1. Healthy fat- Whole milk, butter, cream and lard where abundant in the diet of our ancestors. The following link is one of the best explanations for how our understanding has changed about fat https://draxe.com/the-truth-about-saturated-fat/?cCq . Furthermore, when an animal is raised correctly, the fat content is balanced for health naturally. For example, when we tested our pork fat content, we discovered that 100 grams of ground pork had 200 mg of omega 7, also called palmitoleic acid. The medicinal qualities of omega 7 are more effective than medicines such as statins for control of metabolic syndrome, and can help prevent diabetes and heart disease http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2014/4/Omega-7-Protects-Against-Metabolic-Syndrome/Page-01 .
  2. Collagen- Collagen and gelatin which are found in high concentrations in bone broth, slow cooked roast drippings and gravies contribute to the health of our gut, skin, and bones as well as assist with wound healing https://paleoleap.com/all-about-gelatin-and-collagen/ . Collagen is high in the amino acid glycine which has medicinal qualities reversing the reported negative effect of eating too much meat https://www.marksdailyapple.com/10-reasons-to-eat-more-collagen/ . Different species of animals contribute different types of collagen proteins which is why you should keep your diet as diverse as possible.
  3. More complete vitamins, minerals and healthy microbiota. Found in produce grown in healthy soil, and when grown without the chemical input, these foods are real medicine. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/04/09/soil-microbes-intracellular-communication-affects-health.aspx ;



To learn more about a traditional diet, we recommend reading the dietary guidelines from the Weston A. Price foundation.



Some science behind our egg production methods.

As we have mentioned before, we like to base our animal husbandry methods on science and common sense. The customers who cook our eggs, hard-boiled have raved about them the most, but the color of our yolks may not be as orange as some because we do not feed corn. Also, instead of feeding soybeans, our protein source is peanut meal. The article by Pesti et al., 2003 explains that although interior egg quality is improved when feeding peanut meal, the color of the yolk is less red. Our eggs yolks are more of a “lemon” color instead of a dark yellow-orange for this reason. They are never-the-less, healthy and delicious. https://academic.oup.com/ps/article-pdf/82/8/1274/4434186/poultrysci82-1274.pdf

Another article confirms the reason we don’t wash our eggs unless they are very dirty and when we do wash them, it is with cold water only. Gole, et al., 2014 found that washing eggs damages the cuticle (also called the bloom) from the outside of the shell allowing unwanted bacteria to more easily penetrate the shell and contaminate the egg. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0090987

Epigenetics: An explanation for how your diet can lead to disease and even be passed down to future generations

What if we told you that what you ate today could affect the health of your great grandchildren?

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about the increased diagnoses of diseases like diabetes, cancer, auto-immune disorders, and infertility over the past ten to twenty years. We’ve discussed how diet may be a huge factor in the overall health of society. But there’s a particular branch of science that deals with how diseases may be propagated and passed down through generations.

Epigenetics is the study of what happens to the expression of a person’s genes over the course of his or her life, and if and how those changes get passed down.

It turns out that what your grandmother ate before she became pregnant with your mother may have had an impact on how healthy you are today.

What is epigenetics?

Let’s start with a simple break down of genetics:  

Each cell in your body contains DNA, which is made up of genes that tell your cells how to make proteins.

Epigenetics controls how genes are read by cells. In other words, the epigenome is like a set of instructions that tell your cells how to read DNA. The epigenome tells each cell in your body whether or not to express certain genes; it doesn’t change your DNA, just how your genes are expressed in different cells. That’s why we can have so many different cells with different functions in our bodies—the epigenome tells some cells to be skin cells, others to be brain cells, still others to be muscle cells by expressing the right genes.

Why should we care?

It turns out that while the genome stays the same over the course of a person’s life, the epigenetic “tags” that tell your cells which genes to express can change throughout your lifetime. And those changes are based on environmental factors. For example, scientists are finding out that a bad diet can lead the epigenome to give the wrong instructions—or the wrong “tags”—to cells. Bad instructions cause the cells to become abnormal, and that abnormality can lead to disease.

What is more, scientists are learning that some of the “epigenetic tags” created in a person’s lifetime may get passed down from one generation to the next. In other words, the bad instructions created by a person’s environment (her eating habits, exercise habits, lifestyle etc.) may be hereditary.

What we eat today affects our future children and grandchildren. It’s time we get back to eating natural, clean foods rather than heavily processed foods.

Remember when we said that what your grandmother ate may have affected your health? There’s a very specific reason for this. You were formed from an embryo that grew from your mother’s egg and your father’s sperm. While a man’s sperm get produced throughout his lifetime, a woman is born with all of the eggs her body will ever produce. That means that her eggs are formed while she is in utero—inside her mother’s body. In other words, the egg that created you was formed inside your grandmother’s body. Therefore, the inherited epigenetic tags you were born with not only came from your mother and father; they are also a result of your grandmother’s diet and lifestyle, while her body nurtured the egg that formed you.

When we look at the rise of diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders in our society, the facts revealed by epigenetics become more disturbing. The mid-twentieth century saw the mass introduction of processed foods into the world’s diet. That means that many of our grandparents and parents were among the first generations to eat processed foods. With the knowledge that comes from epigenetics, and with what we are now learning about the dangers of processed meats and artificial ingredients, is it any wonder that so many more people are suffering from these diseases? This TED talk we posted on our Facebook page reveals some of these startling statistics.

All of this doesn’t mean that we should blame our grandmothers for our health disorders. They, like many of us, had no idea about the dangers of processed foods or the power of epigenetics.

But the news isn’t all bad. The fact that we can alter our genes for the worse also means we can alter them for the better. Even if you’ve inherited bad “tags,” it’s not as though you are stuck with them. You may only need to be more proactive in how you combat those health risks. Clean eating, exercise, and reducing stress are the first steps to a healthy lifestyle.

If anything, epigenetics only drives home the need for a healthy lifestyle, not just for ourselves, but for our children and our grandchildren. Let’s be the generation that stops the cycle of inherited diseases and that, instead, passes on the “instructions” for healthier bodies.