Be Kind to Your Dinner

Sharp-eyed shoppers and dedicated diners are starting to notice the words "wild salmon," "free range chicken," and "grass-fed beef" showing up more frequently. Increasingly, culinary consumers are not just interested in healthy ways to cook--they want to know the origins of their food before it even shows up in the kitchen. While many people do not care about the previous living conditions of the chicken, beef or fish that arrives on their plate, enough do so that chefs are responding to these concerns by altering their menus.

Home on the Range: Compelling Reasons For Any Chef

The majority of meat, poultry, egg, and dairy products in the U.S. originate from animals which are confined in pens and fed only grain-based diets. The genetically modified grain often contains unhealthy by-products, and the tight living quarters contribute to exceptionally large amounts of manure which can pollute the soil and water. Furthermore, these animals tend to be unhealthy and consequently require antibiotics, leading to greater antibiotic resistance in humans. Also, chefs are becoming aware that the end products of factory farms have fewer nutrients and more fat.

Something's Fishy Here: Why More Chefs Are Serving Wild Salmon

A debate also rages concerning the advantages of wild salmon over farmed salmon. Chefs and consumers appreciate the better taste, texture, and natural color of the wild salmon. Health advocates like the increased omega-3 fatty acids, less saturated fat, and the absence of antibiotics typically administered to farmed salmon. Farmed salmon also contains large amounts of dioxins and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), an industrial chemical by-product found in the salmon's food supply.

With growing awareness about the origins of our food supply, the culinary world is adapting with chefs and stores offering more choices to consumers. Cooking--and eating--healthy is about more than just making a salad.