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November 12, 2010 at 1:00 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

The Truth about Animal Organ Meat

By Helen More Blogs by This Author

In Native American folklore, organ meat was thought to be the essence of the animal. Following a kill, a Native American hunter would show his respect to the animal by eating its heart.

Many other hunters also feel inclined to make use of every inch of the animal, including organs. Even today, venison liver and pickled venison heart are considered delicacies and served in gourmet restaurants. Raw venison heart doesn't sound appetizing to the masses, but it is said to have a mild gamey flavor and be excellent in tartar dishes. Though the heart is an excellent source of amino acids that may improve metabolism and assist in the production of collagen, and is high in vitamin B, CoQ10, folate, phosphorus, selenium, thiamin and zinc, some people would prefer a nice juicy steak over organ meat any day of the week.

Native Americans used every part of the buffalo. Even the brains were eaten or used to tan hides. Despite being banned by the United Stated Department of Agriculture in 2005, the delicate yet crumbly consistency and texture of animal brain continues to be a delicacy in other areas of the world. Even though members of the deer family, including mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose can be infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD), which may or may not transfer to its human host through consumption, people still continue to consume this animal organ. It is important to point out that while anorexic animals may have CWD, the only way to determine for sure is to test the animal's brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils, or lymph nodes for contamination.

Transference of Disease

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly referred to as "mad cow disease," is a fatal brain disease that was first diagnosed in the 1980s in the British Isles. This disease affects the nervous system and is transmitted by contact with animal organs and meat from contaminated animals. While people do not get the same type of disease, there is a link between mad cow disease and a rare brain condition called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), which has the same type of symptoms and diagnosis.

Scientific studies point toward a link between people eating contaminated beef and the development of vCJD. As of 2009, approximately 217 individuals - two in the United States - were diagnosed with this very rare brain condition. The best way to avoid getting "human" mad cow disease is to avoid eating organ meat - such as the brain and/or spinal cord - from a contaminated animal. Currently, the U. S. requires the brain and spinal cord of suspect cattle be removed before the meat is processed.

The Merits of Liver

Despite the fact that most children this side of anywhere would rather not see that tiny slice of liver on their dinner plate, mothers the world over are still right: Liver is an excellent source of nutrition. High in protein, vitamin A, vitamin B, folic acid, iron, and copper, liver also contains CoQ10, an enzyme that is necessary for proper cardiovascular functions. When purchasing raw liver, avoid liver that smells bad or has dry or slimy spots on it. As a relative rule of thumb, the paler the liver, the younger the animal.

Turkey Giblets

Turkey giblets consist of the heart, liver, and gizzard. When purchasing a raw turkey, the giblets can be found inside a paper packet tucked in the cavity of the bird. Boiling the giblets in chicken broth with celery and onions and then chopping them up into tiny pieces and adding the entire pot to a bowl of stuffing will enhance the turkey flavor of the dish. (Some people omit the liver as it can have an off-putting taste.)

Odd Uses for Animal Organs

Did you know:

  • Bison brains have been used to tan hides
  • Yellow pigment is created with gallstones from bison
  • Needles and thread can be made from deer bones and spinal cords
  • Animal gallstones were used in 15th pagan ceremonies to call forth rain

References:

http://islet.org/24.htm

http://www.washington.edu/alumni/columns/dec07/content/view/53/42/

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/165964

/organ_meats_what_you_should_know_before.html?cat=70

http://kidshealth.org/teen/infections/bacterial_viral/mad_cow_disease.html

http://geekygourmet.com/2006/09/19/turkey-giblets/

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