Deli meat is a staple for most Americans’ diets. Deli meats are convenient, easily accessible, and taste great. According to the USDA’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 49 percent of Americans consume at least one sandwich daily. (1) As if processed bread is not a big enough problem (another topic that deserves its own attention), the processed deli meat in most sandwiches makes matters worse. Much worse. Outside of traditional sandwiches, even low-carb and keto dieters use deli meats as a regular part of their meals.
I must first preface this topic by saying that the MaxLiving Nutrition Plans exclude pork and shellfish. In a nutshell, they are both prone to toxins and parasites; they are inflammatory and acidic. For more information on this topic, see this article. https://eatsmartmeals.com/2014/08/13/why-dont-the-maximized-living-nutrition-plans-recommend-pork-shellfish/. Of many reasons for this stance, it is further supported by a study done by the World Cancer Research Fund in 2007. The report declared that “processed meats are too dangerous for human consumption.” This extensive study reviewed over 7,000 clinical studies over a long period. Processed meats include things like hot dogs, bacon, sausage, salami, ham, pepperoni, deli meat, and any meats in frozen prepared meals. The primary problem with processed meats in terms of causing cancer is nitrites. These additives help preserve meats and enhance their color. Unfortunately, they are highly hazardous to health. In addition to nitrites and their link to cancer, deli meat has other significant problems.
The first major issue with deli meat is how the animals used as raw materials are raised and processed. Most deli meat comes from conventionally raised animals that come from factory farms. The conditions of these facilities are cramped and unnatural for animals. Many of them never see the light of day. The animals are also injected with constant antibiotics to counteract the unhealthy living environment. The use of vaccines and growth hormones is also routine practice.
These animals are also fed unnatural diets. For example, feedlot cows are fed pesticide-sprayed, genetically modified corn, stale candy, and animal by-products. Cows were designed to roam pastures and eat grass, clover, and other greens. Chickens are often maimed by having their beaks and claws cut off not to do damage when attacking other chickens. Chickens are natural omnivores but receive a diet of corn, soy, and other grains instead. These diets are not ideal and result in unhealthy, sick, and diseased animals. Then they end up on people’s plates. The old saying “you are what you eat” is not entirely accurate; it is more correct to say “you are what you eat ate.” I wrote this in the Maximized Living Nutrition Plans book back in 2009.
The general process for making the deli meat that ends up in your grocery store deli case is as follows:
The meat is typically injected with flavorings and broths to make them tastier and moister. These additions can contain things like monosodium glutamate (a known neurotoxin), sodium nitrite (as mentioned above), excess sodium, sugars, and toxic flavorings.
The meat is emulsified into a smooth mash using grinders and blenders.
The mixture is pressed into molds. (Surprise, the neat little cylindrical turkey breast was not on the body of a turkey before it ended up in the deli case)
Once set, the meat is removed from the mold.
The molds are often put in a smoker to add flavor and start the cooking process.
Typically, the meat is put through a fryer filled with unhealthy oils like canola to get a nice browned effect on the final product.
Watch this video to see this process in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rir0gfBcQ7w
Here are some ingredient labels from a very popular deli meat brand:
Tavern Ham – pork cured with water, salt, sugar, dextrose, sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate, and sodium nitrite.
Honey Maple Turkey – Ingredients: Turkey Breast, Water, Salt, Sugar, Dextrose, Pure Maple Syrup, Honey, Sodium Phosphate, Natural Flavorings, and Sea Salt.
Coated with: Water, Honey, Cacao Seed Powder, Sugar, Turkey Broth with Natural Flavor, Gelatin, and Maple Syrup.
BBQ Chicken Breast – chicken coated with fructose, dried garlic, sugar, salt, molasses, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce powder ((distilled vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, salt, Carmel color, garlic powder, sugar, spices, tamarind, natural flavor), maltodextrin). Paprika, tomato powder, citric acid, dried onion, leek chips, Carmel color, smoke powder (maltodextrin, natural hickory smoke flavor).
For people trying to avoid processed foods, deli meat must come off of the shopping list. If you purchase deli meats from a grocery store, here are some general guidelines: look for organic meats, free of msg and nitrites and fillers and flavorings. These products are hard to find and tend to be very expensive. If you still want to enjoy deli meat but want to elevate the quality and nutrition. Try making it yourself. The process is simple but requires a bit of time and effort. The investment is worth it both in terms of nutrition and affordability. You will be amazed at how much better it tastes than store-bought deli meat. Your health will be better off as well. All you need is a meat press and some basic ingredients (Order a Meat Press Here: https://amzn.to/3L9wBBh)
- Buy 2 pounds of organic, free-range chicken or turkey.
- Cut into chunks.
- Add to a high-powered blender like a Vitamix.
- Add 1 tablespoon grass-fed gelatin (this can be left out but makes for a better consistency) (Order Grass-fed Gelatin Here: https://amzn.to/41C9gxz), 1/2 cup free-range chicken broth, and 1 tablespoon of your choice of seasonings (sea salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, etc.)
- Blend until smooth.
- Coat the inside of the meat press with avocado oil.
- Put into a meat press and press down with a spatula to eliminate any holes or pockets.
- Add the spring loaded plunger and add the lid.
- Boil a large pot of water. When boiling, add the meat press to the water (do not submerge!) and boil for about an hour or until the thermometer reads 155 degrees.
- Let cool.
- Remove the plunger (otherwise, it is hard to remove when refrigerated) and put it in the refrigerator overnight.
- The next day, run a knife around the edge and turn the press upside down on a cutting board to remove it.
- Slice with a very sharp knife.
Use this on a sandwich (use lettuce for a breadless version), put it on a salad, eat it as a snack, use it in an omelet, or cut it into larger chunks for an antipasto or charcuterie board.
It is past time to do your due diligence in reading labels, knowing where your food comes from, and demanding better quality from food manufacturers. Your health is too important.