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Friday, July 21, 2006

'Frankfarters'--I Mean, Organic Hot Dogs

That’s the question on everyone’s lips this summer as they search for a not-so-questionable alternative to the traditional hot dog. Long the staple of baseball games, summer barbecues, and families with finicky children, these tubes of meat scraps (usually eaten with blind faith) are now involved in the organic revolution.

Just what makes these American favorites healthier? For starters, most organic hot dog brands are made of beef from cattle raised entirely on grass (pasture), instead of grain. Not only is the meat leaner, but it also delivers a higher helping of omega-3 fatty acids, famous for their abundance in fish like salmon.

The curing process has also been improved. Instead of relying on sodium nitrates or sodium nitrites, hot dog manufacturers are achieving the same color, texture, and shelf life of standard dogs with a natural mix of celery juice, lactic acid, and sea salt.

The result: a hot dog that’s pretty doggone close to our beloved sticks of mystery meat.

Now, does this mean you can introduce hot dogs into every meal? Not at all. Meat certainly is an important part of a balanced diet, but you want to make sure you’re ingesting lean, high-quality, unprocessed cuts. (Just try finding “hot dog” on a butcher’s chart.)

Still, since I know I can’t erase hot dogs entirely from the Standard American Diet with one post, I’ll just say this: If you have a choice between an over-processed, refined product, and an all-natural, minimally processed one, go for the latter.

The healthier the source of your food, the stronger your GI tract—and your body—will feel. That way, you’ll be in great shape for all summer barbecues yet to come.

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