What are organ meats? Also known as offal, they are the consumable organs of animals. The most commonly consumed organ meats including liver, tongue, heart, kidneys, thymus gland, and pancreas come from cows, pigs, lambs, goats, chickens, and ducks.
A lost tradition: eating organ meats is a practice that dates back to ancient times. Just look at the anthropological record of humanity, and it is hard to dismiss that organ meats were once a cherished and prized food source. Across the world, many different cultures still use an animal in its entirety for food. You may even remember your parents or grandparents preparing organ meats in your home. So why did we drift away from this prized ancient practice? The idea in itself may be repulsing to some. Perhaps the taste is less than palatable, or we no longer need or want to live by this practice because we have other options.
Unfortunately, we are facing the progressive issue of depleted dietary nutrients in the very fruits and vegetables we rely on due to agricultural practices (Kopittke et Al., 2016; Davis et Al., 2004).
Why eat organ meats? They are incredibly healthy and nutrient dense, packed full of a wide range of highly-bioavailable vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and essential amino acids such as:
Organ meats are also rich in several different forms of a nutrient called vitamin K2 (previously known as “Activator X” ) which has the ability to activate bone and teeth development. A benefit of adequate levels of K2 is….perfect teeth! These key nutrients for growing bodies make organ meats the perfect addition to modern healthy and balanced diets.
Organ meat quality is key. Buy only grass-fed grass-finished organ meats. Organ meats sourced from stressed, unhealthy animals is not healthy for the human body either.
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How to feed kids organ meats:
When it comes to introducing new foods to kids, I normally would say to include them in the taste worthy and idyllic journey. As adults, we think and plan our meal. We touch, smell, and select the foods. We clean, chop, sizzle. With the tasty flavors and aromas etched into our minds, we not only savor the flavor of the food, but the journey that got us there in the first place. BUT when it comes to organ meats- taking your kiddo along for the ride may not be very romantic and counter intuitive here, considering that touching and smelling organ meats can make most adults noses turn. However, try to set an example and don’t give them any reason to believe it will be disgusting. And remember, like any other foods, it may take 15 tries before your kids will enjoy eating the organ meats.
You can still consider having little Johnny or Suzie join you at the coop to select the organ meats whilst explaining the amazing anthropological history of our ancestors and how we did things in the past. You can also try skipping all parts of the journey and go straight to the good part by setting the prepared heart and liver, perhaps without telling them what it is at first. Can also try combining it with other foods the kids normally eat. Try hiding in hamburger, meatloaf, meatballs, or any other dish that uses ground beef. Carrot-liver-and-sweet-potato purée for the littles. Liver pâté is very delicious as well. Simply boil an onion in a pot of water, add liver until it is cooked thoroughly, transfer to a food processor with grass-fed butter, purée, then use an ice cream scooper to put a scoop of the puréed liver and butter onto a tray covered with a baking sheet and freeze. Once your individual pâtés are frozen, transfer to a bag and keep in the freezer until ready to use for multiple meals. These are great to add to soups along with your sauté, spread on a sandwich, or the foods described above. Can also pair nicely with cut up vegetables, toast, and bacon. If eating organ meats is out of the question, you can consider grass-fed grass-finished desiccated encapsulated organ meats, simply opening up the capsules and sprinkling the contents into your child’s favourite food or mixed into a smoothie. Make sure to discuss this with your pediatrician first and they can help you decide which products and dosing to start with. Some people may be more vulnerable to organ meat consumption due to certain conditions such as hemochromatosis, sensitivity to dietary cholesterol, gout, and pregnancy.
Love and health,
Nadia Kravchuk DNP, FNP-C
Pediatric Functional Practitioner