I’ve always giggled when people used the word “offal” (literally pronounced “awFUL”) as a synonym for organ meats.
Indeed, “offal” can be awful, particularly in the eyes of some people who get squeamish at the thought!
However, these nutrient-dense traditional foods are easier to painlessly add to your diet than you might think. And, the profound benefits to health, particularly for children, are downright mind-boggling.
It’s a shame that more people don’t grasp the fact that their nutrient density is not easily obtained from any other foods either alone or in combination.
In my view, raising 3 children with no antibiotics or other meds ever for the past 2 decades, it is simply not an option to exclude them. They are a critical piece of the puzzle in raising robust children.
The question, then, is how to best get these foods into your family with no fuss or complaining.
Benefits of Organ Meats
One of the most rewarding aspects of my weekly routine is running into blog readers as I’m doing my errands around town. It is always so interesting when they share their unique health journey with me. I learn something new every single time! Last week, I chatted with a young couple with a gorgeous one-year-old boy. He was so sturdy and healthy, with excellent color to his skin, clear eyes, and no dark circles.
They told me that he regularly consumed organ meats in the form of grassfed liver powder mixed in with his baby food. This is in accordance with the wisdom of ancestral societies, which greatly valued organ meats for growing children. Some cultures even used liver pre-chewed by the mother as a baby first food.
Since it is sometimes difficult to procure quality organ meats, I thought their method of using the desiccated powder mixed with baby food was a fantastic idea! I’ve always recommended grating about a half teaspoon of raw organic liver (while frozen is easiest) into a soft boiled egg yolk. Their idea works very well too!
Full of Vitamins A, D and K2
Let’s explore for a bit why organ meats rock.
Organ meats from healthy, pastured animals are the most nutrient-dense food on the planet. When this edible offal comes from fowl such as turkey or chicken it is commonly referred to as giblets.
The nutrient density is due to the plentiful amounts of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and most elusive of all, vitamin K2. There is no plant food on earth that provides the same level of easily digested nutrition. Even combining plant superfoods comes up short.
Just for grins, take a look at old cookbooks from early in the last century or before. They are loaded with recipes for all kinds of organ meats. Our forebears knew how to use the whole animal, unlike our wasteful throwaway culture of today. This not only greatly benefited the environment, but the health of the people employing the practice as well.
Animals instinctively know that organ meats are the most nutritious. Carnivorous animals and even domesticated pets allowed to hunt outside will eat the organ meats of a kill first. The liver is usually the first to be consumed. Sometimes they won’t even bother eating the muscle meats, leaving it for scavengers.
Seafood that includes the whole animal is also an excellent source. Green-lipped mussels and caviar are some of the most nutrient-dense of these sources.
Organ meats and whole animal seafood provide vitamins A, D, and K2 in amounts necessary to generate synergy. These 3 vitamins work together to protect soft tissues from calcification and nourish our bones and teeth as no other foods can. And yes, when you get sufficient amounts, it prevents and even repairs tooth decay! This is why organ meats are so important for growing children.
Healing Properties of Organ Meats
Traditional societies from multiple continents observed that eating a specific organ from an animal could help heal the very same organ of the person consuming it. This was the case in ancient China and Greece as well as several African and Native American tribes.
This traditional modality is being revived today! Numerous holistic practitioners use organ extracts to help their patients heal. Standard Process is an example of a well-respected supplement company that produces organ-based supplements used by such practitioners. These supplements are called protomorphogen™ extracts. They are extracted from animal glands and organs carefully processed to retain what Dr. Royal Lee called “cell determinants.” (1)
Organ meats are preferred to muscle meats for healing because they contain more DNA per gram as well as different starting concentration of vitamins and minerals. In addition, they contain a different protein profile that ill people frequently find very beneficial.
How Traditional Cultures Used Organ Meats as Medicine
Some examples of using organ meats for traditional healing as researched by author Stanley Fishman include:
Eating the heart of a strong, healthy animal was believed to help maintain the health and strength of the human heart. The Native Americans placed special value on the heart of a young stag, for this purpose. In the early twentieth century, some doctors in the U.S., used to advise patients with heart problems to eat beef heart as a way to strengthen their own heart.
Many peoples believed it was beneficial to eat the brains of an animal, and that this would make them more intelligent and sharpen their minds.
The liver was particularly prized, all over the world. Hunters would often eat the raw liver of their kill on the spot, as it was felt to be the most beneficial at that time. The hunters would divide the raw liver among themselves, so all could get the benefits. It has even been documented that the first part of the prey eaten by a predator, such as a lion, is the liver. Eating the liver was believed to make the liver of the eater stronger, and to purify and cleanse the body. Science has confirmed that cleansing and detoxifying the body is the function of the liver. In fact, the custom of eating liver regularly, at least once a week, was common in Europe and the United States up to the middle of the twentieth century.
Many peoples practiced consuming the eyes of an animal, particularly an animal known to have keen vision, to help their own eyesight.
Recipes Using Organ Meats
I have numerous recipes on this blog which prepare organ meats and whole animal seafood in a manner that is quite tasty! Here are a few to get you started. You can also blend in a small amount (no more than 1/4) of ground pastured pork heart in with ground beef when making grassfed burgers. Your family will never know. Pork heart is very mild tasting.
- Breaded beef heart
- Bone marrow custard
- Roasted bone marrow
- Bone marrow omelette with cheese
- Homemade gravy (using giblets)
- Mussels and sausage
- Chicken liver pate
What to Do if You Just Can’t Do the Organ Meat Thing
If following a traditional diet, eating organ meats is simply not an option. If you cannot stomach the thought, my best advice is to obtain raw desiccated organ powders that you can take with a meal.
The picture above is the three organ meat supplements I have in my own cabinet. My family takes all three regularly, typically rotating from one to the next every few days.
If you are able to purchase only one, I would suggest the desiccated raw grass-fed liver powder (3 different types). It is available in capsules and as a powder. It comes from grass-fed beef cattle and is tested for purity including glyphosate residue.
This brand is also vetted for quality if you wish to compare.
The next most important is the raw desiccated grass-fed heart.
We use both in my home. My children take them as well including those at college.
I hope this article encourages you to take the plunge to implement this most important and yet frequently overlooked characteristic of traditional diets.
LInda Collins Thomas
I have arrived at age 78 in good shape. I don’t take any medications or flu shots and only have taken antibiotics for a few UTI’s over many years. My blood work is right down the middle of normal, My B12 is in the 900’s. My D is 64. My Ferritin levels normal. Drink lemon, water and a little good salt in water every morning to keep my electrolytes and liver happy. I drink Bone Broth powder every day with turmeric and Bone Broth powder with collagen, take a green powder also and fish oils. And I cook and eat healthy and have a garden. I guess I don’t understand why you are giving your kids Three powdered organ supplements every day if they are already eating a great diet from your fridge and stove. That feels like going overboard! I understand the importance of keeping their immune systems strong and not taking antibiotics. And I applaud your long time efforts at keeping your kids healthy. But do you feel its not possible to get too many nutrients? I personally feel people with health problems in the later years can do harm by taking too many supplements and throwing things out of whack. Find your body’s own levels of balance and go with that is my opinion. That, and keep a happy attitude.
Thank you so much, your articles are a wealth of information. I have had issues processing B vitamins, makes me nauseous. I love liver in any form as well as organ meats but not enough to eat every day. Would taking liver capsules be OK for me in your opinion? Have not checked but probably have mutation that isn’t allowing me to process B vit well
Have you had anyone with similar issue?
Note that the B vitamins in supplements are synthetic in many cases. Best to avoid them! The B vitamins in liver are natural and shouldn’t present a problem. If you eat liver once a week, no need to supplement with the desiccated liver.
Organ meats can set off or exacerbate gout or worse in people whose uric acid disposal mechanisms are below par. How would you cope with this (uricase based treatments are unavailable, because the drug testing involved would cost too much).
Thank you for your article. Can seafood such as prawns and oyster be substituted for liver and mussels?
Thank you once again.
Oysters yes, prawns no since you’re not eating the whole animal.
As a child I remember eating liverworst purchased at the deli. I liked it quite a bit more than the fried whole liver.
Do you think liverworst is a health giving form of liver? In the past I have noticed that my local natural foods chain does carry it.
Liverwurst is very healthy if you can find some without additives. It is delish … I ate tons of it as a child and it is my belief that is why I didn’t need braces. The nutrients in organ meats are very difficult to get elsewhere but are critical for good bone formation and straight teeth.
Hi sarah! Thank you for all you do. I am currently pregnant taking 3 liver 3 heart and 2 dropi cold liver pills. Is this too much vitamin A? I have had some people in my family concerned and I just want to make sure I am doing what is best for baby and I.
I’ve tried eating liver but can’t get past the taste. Any tips? Other than taking it in pill form that is. Also could a 4 year old take the supplements you recommend? Thanks!
Different types of liver taste better than others. I don’t really like the taste of beef liver as it is quite strong. Chicken and duck liver, on the other hand, are tasty and mild. I would recommend the pate recipe in the article which uses chicken livers which are quite easy to source organically .. it contains bacon which makes the spread really delish (use turkey bacon if you don’t eat pork). Great for kids to spread on crackers and toast.
I’m sorry! I needed to read your above comment!
What is the difference in the three types of liver? Would you suggest just the basic one since that is what is in your picture?
All three are made from grassfed organic liver and tested for purity. One is from Argentina cattle, one is from United States cattle (gold), and one is sourced from New Zealand cattle (silver). I like the gold because it is from the USA and thus is as “local” as I’m able to procure. I also buy the silver one though and its the one I happen to have in my pantry right now. I used the white one (Argentina) for years and love it. It is the most budget friendly choice. Any of them are wonderful though! Choose what works for your budget and location.
Hi Sara! Love your great info! I personally used the gold level Liver from Radiant health when I was pregnant. Now that it’s time to order again, I’m wondering what level/grade should I get? The regular, silver, or gold!? I see you have the silver pictured here, is that what y’all use? Thanks!!
They are all wonderful. Choose whichever one you want that fits your budget. I used the plain white one for years, as it was the only one RL had available. Now, I mix it up ordering the silver and gold alternatively.