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Hot Diggety Dog
With summer now in full swing I got to thinking about Hot dogs.  They are synonymous with summer, backyard barbecues and baseball.  Growing up in Chicago, I ate a lot of Vienna Beef Hot Dogs.  There’s nothing like biting into a good kosher dog, the skin pops and a burst of delicious juice pours into your mouth. Topped with mustard (never ketchup), pickle spear, tomato, onion, sport peppers, that famous bright green relish, and celery salt, well, you just can’t beat it. That’s why I was so surprised to find that my partner wouldn’t go near them. I didn’t understand, nor did I really want to know why. I wanted nothing standing in the way of my enjoyment of this delectable treat.
However, since I’ve gone primal and made an effort to be more conscious of what I eat and put in my body, I decided to look into the matter more closely.  I wasn’t happy with what I found out, but, wait, all is not lost, I’m here to tell you that you can still enjoy this American favorite without the guilt.
Whether you call it a wiener, a frankfurter or hot dog, I was surprised to find out that the USDA actually has standards that regulate this American favorite. Hot dogs can be made from beef, pork, turkey, chicken or any combination of the above.  The finished products may not contain more than 30% fat or no more than 10% water, or a combination of 40% fat and added water. Up to 3.5% non-meat binders and extenders (such as nonfat dry milk, cereal, or dried whole milk) or 2% isolated soy protein may be used, but must be shown in the ingredients statement on the product’s label by its common name.  Most hot dogs contain MSM (mechanically separated meat). Mechanically separated poultry is a paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue, through a sieve or similar device under high pressure to separate bone from the edible tissue.  In 1995, a final rule on mechanically separated poultry said it was safe and could be used without restrictions. However, it must be labeled as “mechanically separated chicken or turkey” in the product’s ingredients statement. The final rule became effective November 4, 1996. Hot dogs can contain any amount of mechanically separated chicken or turkey.If that’s not enough to get you thinking about the next hot dog you eat, read on. 
The quintessentialal American hot dog, the Oscar Mayer wiener has the following ingredients: mechanically separated turkey, pork, mechanically separated chicken, water, contains less than 2% of salt, flavor ,sodium lactate, corn syrup , dextrose ,sodium phosphates, sodium diacetate, sodium ascorbate, sodium nitrite. Surprised? I guess I wasn’t, I just didn’t want to know this. As a primal eater, this just doesn’t work. The addition of corn syrup is problematic enough from a primal standpoint, but I was equally concerned about the last ingredient, sodium nitrite.
I had little knowledge about this ingredient or its effects, but was curious as more often these days I see labels that tout the fact that they are nitrite free. So I did a little checking.
Nitrites are found in most cured meats like bacon, ham and hot dogs. But, according the Cancer Prevention Coalition, nitrites have long been linked to a variety of cancers. “Peters et al. studied the relationship between the intake of certain foods and the risk of leukemia in children from birth to age 10 in Los Angeles County between 1980 and 1987. The study found that children eating more than 12 hot dogs per month have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia. A strong risk for childhood leukemia also existed for those children whose fathers’ intake of hot dogs was 12 or more per month.  Researchers Sarusua and Savitz studied childhood cancer cases in Denver and found that children born to mothers who consumed hot dogs one or more times per week during pregnancy has approximately double the risk of developing brain tumors. Children who ate hot dogs one or more times per week were also at higher risk of brain cancer. Bunin et al, also found that maternal consumption of hot dogs during pregnancy was associated with an excess risk of childhood brain tumors.”
Can you still enjoy hot dogs. Of course you can. You just need to be conscious about what you are buying. Read the labels and try to avoid cured products that contain nitrites.
There are lots of alternatives. Applegate Farms makes a great hot dog that’s healthier for you and delicious  Compare their hot dog’s ingredients with the Oscar Mayer wiener. The Applegate Farms hot dog has the following ingredients: Organic Grass-Fed Beef, Water, Contains Less Than 2% Of The Following: Sea Salt, Organic Spices, Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Paprika, Celery Powder, Organic Onion, Lactic Acid Starter Culture (Not From Milk). Not only are there no nitrites, its made with organic grass fed beef which will provide you with plenty of healthy omega 3 fatty acids. With that combination, you can’t go wrong. In addition, with summer farmers’ markets in full swing you can likely find a variety of locally made, nitrite free hot dogs, sausages and bratwurst from a local purveyor.

Applegate Farms' Sausages

So abandon the corn syrup, nitrite, mechanically separated meat versions of this American classic for the healthier versions and you’ll be amazed at how good a hot dog can really be, even without a bun!  Yes, I said without a bun.  Try it wrapped in a piece of lettuce with your favorite toppings, and you will be pleasantly surprised.

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Monday, June 21st, 2010 Uncategorized

2 Comments to

July 18, 2010

My family loves the US Wellness Meats hot dogs…google them. Great quality meat and short, real ingredient list from a conglomerate of family farms. Plus, DELICIOUS! (I promise I’m just a happy consumer)

It’s not local (to us), but we bulk buy the hot dogs (and often the beef sticks) and freeze them. We use them to supplement all the yummy sausages we can buy from the local farms.

I’m enjoying the blog, BTW. 🙂

Steve A
July 18, 2010

Thanks Whitney. glad you are liking primalocity.

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