Amber posted on our sister blog site a recipe for Venison Tacos that she cooked for us on vacation. Since she has been focusing on weight lifting, she is constantly looking for healthy foods that give her “more bang for her buck” in terms of fat, protein, and carbohydrates (known as macros). She posted the macros for the entire meal and her readers were surprised about the breakdown of nutrients in venison meat. This led us to wonder, why do people specializing in healthy eating lifestyles not know about venison?
Let’s be honest, chicken gets the reputation for being the best lean meat choice, followed closely by fish. Just take a look at any meal program on the internet today and I bet that you will see a lot of chicken and fish options, but not a lot of red meat. What people seem to be unaware of is that there is more than one kind of red meat, so that means that the term “red meat” is not always synonymous with beef.
Another reason that chicken and fish hold the title for being the best meat protein choice for your diet is availability. You can walk in any grocery store and buy a package of chicken or a fillet of fish. Now, yes, you do have options about free-range and hatchery products, but for the most part, you can walk in a store and come out with dinner. Venison is a little different. Andy spends some quality time in the woods to harvest our deer and even then, we opt to take our deer to a butcher. Amber loves that is comes back to her in neat little packages of ground, steak, roast, sausage, etc.
ElkUSA has explained it best about why you cannot purchase deer meat in the grocery store in their post “Buying Venison, What’s Up with the Rules”. It is basically a supply and demand situation. According to ElkUSA, “In order to forestall the complete extinction of the various venison species, most states declared that wild game were the "peoples" (State's) property and passed hunting rules that were designed to control the numbers of animals harvested and what people could do with the elk meat or deer meat (Venison) harvested. To eliminate "market hunting" (the shooting and sale of deer meat to third parties), various states instigated licensing procedures which allowed the taking of game meat for personal consumption, but prohibited the sale of this meat to third parties. Essentially, the State sold the venison meat to selected individuals via licensing. These rules decreased the hunting pressure by removing the profit motive from market hunting and were additionally set up to punish those involved in the poaching (or illegal taking) of game meat animals. The various state rules were hugely effective, and as a result, the game meat animal populations have been steadily increasing for several decades now. Almost to the point of a wild deer nuisance in some areas.” The article explains that the only venison (whether deer or elk) that is allowed to be sold on the open market is meat acquired from deer farms and these deer are actually categorized as livestock. That being said, deer farms are some of the most highly regulated and enforced area in agri-business.
So what about Maryland? Can you buy venison in Maryland? The short answer is yes, but where you can lawfully buy it is a little trickier. Where you buy the venison from has to be a licensed dealer with meat that has been inspected by the proper authorities. All documentation about where the meat came from and inspection records are the responsibility of the seller. For those of you that love Maryland General Assembly Law jargon. We will quote the section regarding sale of venison. “In this section, “officially inspected” means venison inspected and passed in accordance with standards established by the:
(1) U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); or
(2) U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
(b) (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (c) through (e) of this section, a person may import, sell, offer for sale, purchase, offer to purchase, barter, or exchange domestically raised, officially inspected, and processed venison that the person lawfully obtains, other than white–tailed and sika venison.
(2) A person who imports, sells, or offers for sale venison shall maintain records documenting the lawful origin of any venison imported or sold, including the species of deer, country or state of origin, the person from whom the venison was obtained, date of delivery, by whom the venison was officially inspected, and quantity of venison.
(3) These records shall be kept by the importer or seller at the importer’s or seller’s place of business for a period of 1 year following delivery of the venison.
(4) The importer or seller shall allow the Department to inspect these records at the importer’s or seller’s place of business at any reasonable time”(GAM-Article-Natural Resources).
Back to the nutritional components of venison, Amber went and dug around in some academic journals to find empirical proof to back up her claim that venison is the perfect meat. She found an article in the journal of Veterinary World that published a very scientific article about the composition of venison called the “Study of morphology, chemical, and amino acid composition of red deer meat” (Okuskhanova et el, 2017). According to the abstract, the results of the study found that “maral meat, with a pH of 5.85 and an average moisture content of 76.82%, was found to be low in fat (2.26%). Its protein content was 18.71% while its ash content was 2.21%. The amino acid composition showed that lysine (9.85 g/100 g), threonine (5.38 g/100 g), and valine (5.84 g/100 g) predominated in maral meat, while phenylalanine (4.08 g/100 g), methionine (3.29 g/100 g), and tryptophan (0.94 g/100 g) were relatively low in maral meat compared to other meats. The average WBC was found to be 65.82% and WBC was found to inversely correlate with moisture content”(Okuskhanova et el, 2017).
Did you stop reading? Its ok, we have the simplified outcome too, but in an effort to give our readers all the facts, we wanted to provide the scientific jargon of the article too. Basically, the study found that venison has a “low-fat content, high mineral content, and balanced amino-acid composition qualify venison as a worthy dietary and functional food” (Okuskhanova et el, 2017).
There you have it folks. If anyone says you can’t eat healthy, workout, lift heavy and eat red meat, just send them our way. We have the facts here. Guess venison steak on the grill is dinner tonight.
Buying Venison, What’s Up with the Rules. (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2017, from https://www.elkusa.com/Buying_Venison.htm
Okuskhanova, et el. (2017). Veterinary World [Abstract]. Study of morphology, chemical, and amino acid composition of red deer meat,623. doi:10.14202/vetworld.
GAM-Article-Natural Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2017, from (http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmStatutesText.aspx?article=gnr§ion=10-404&ext=html&session=2015RS&tab=subject5)