As a student, there is always a pressure to budget and stretch out your loan as much as possible. There may even be a slight feeling of guilt when you buy expensive things. But are the savings from spending less on food worth it when you consider the quality? With meat products being particularly pricey, here’s what you need to know about buying meat on a budget.
The cheaper packs of meat you see on the shelf (think Tesco value…) are probably factory farmed. Coming from a meat supplier’s perspective, this is the logical route to take: more output with fewer production costs. These conditions can mean little space for animal movement, and although federal regulations have made it illegal for growth hormones to be used for chicken and pork, there have not yet been regulations set for beef production.
These growth hormones are implanted and can cause beef to be produced 20% faster and milk 15% faster. They can also be found in fish, and cause salmon, in particular, to grow to twice its original size. No direct link has been found between negative side effects and the ingestion of these hormones in humans. However, the presence of larger numbers of growth hormones can lead to an increase in another hormone, insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which is associated with increased risk of certain cancers in humans. Despite this, the federal regulations still state that these implants in the food we eat have no significant impact on our health. What you choose to do with this information is up to you…
Poultry and pork products don’t have these hormone implants – does this mean it is safe to buy the budget versions? To bulk up the weight for selling, the less-expensive packs you find on the shelves may be injected with water and collagen. Ever sliced right into a chicken breast only to have some liquid squirt right at you? That’s probably the water… Although this isn’t necessarily harmful, it can weaken the flavour of the meat which is why when you buy the more expensive, organically farmed meat, you can really “taste the difference” (if you pardon the pun).
Generally, all products sold at a mainstream supermarket level should be safe to eat; the more expensive versions will be more organically farmed and will have purer meat content whereas cheaper packs may use other ingredients to bulk up weight or will have more gristle and fat.
As a student, I would say, for those looking to eat good quality meat without paying too much, to go to local butchers as they may have offers on where you can bulk buy and freeze. If you are really worried about buying meat as a student, maybe only use it as a treat and have replacements such as pulses and eggs in other meals to keep costs down. It is, in the end, a case of personal preference so if you are happy eating cheaper meat, there are no known risks associated with it – you shouldn’t be in danger!
What are your thoughts and feelings on cheap meat? Let me know in the comments below…
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