Welcome to the
Top of the Food Chain!

Know Where The Toxins Hide

cartoon shark

Hello, and welcome to the top of the food chain. Congratulations, you get to eat whatever you want!

But should you?

Let's talk about meat

I am not a vegetarian. Meat has its place in my diet (as a source of healthy protein), but it's a small place. After all, the body needs only so much protein, and I want to make sure that overconsumption of one food group doesn't lead to underconsumption in another!

Too many people - in this age of increasing obesity - are letting meat (and cheese) edge out the vegetable component of their diet. This is not a healthy trend!

Just because you sit atop the food chain and can be a full-time carnivore doesn't mean you should be. Be an omnivore! (Someone who eats lots of fruits and vegetables in addition to animal products.)

Red meat in particular is high in the saturated fats that contribute to heart disease and other ills. Most people should cut back on their red meat consumption!

There's another big reason to keep meat consumption moderate

Here's some bad news: animals' bodies don't do a very good job of filtering toxins out of their food. These toxins - like pesticides, herbicides and chemical waste - get stored in an animal's fat.

And get this: we're animals too! So we store those toxins in our fat, where it builds up over our lifetimes as our "toxic load."

Do you ever wonder why rates of cancer and other diseases are soaring? Well, our toxic load is an excellent suspect, don't you think?

So when we eat meat, we're eating some other animal's toxic load. We're eating all the pesticides, herbicides, lead, mercury, etc. that animal stored up over its lifetime!

To top it off, much of the growth hormones and antibiotics that are given to factory farmed animals in order to make them grow faster and bigger are still in the animal when we eat it!

In essence, you're eating prescription drugs with your dinner. Yuck!

Does all this mean that when we eat plants we don't take in any toxins?

No, I'm afraid it doesn't. But it does mean that we take in a much lower concentration of toxins (which we can further reduce by shopping smart).

Eating animals that eat other animals

So here's another food chain fact: if you eat animals that eat other animals, then you're getting that concentration of toxins we've been talking about twice!

That means beef and chicken should be better than fish, right? After all, chickens and cows are fed grain, while fish eat other fish.


Modern farming often involves slipping meat products (for protein) into the feed of animals that would never even think of eating another animal! It's another way to grow them faster. And bigger.

So when you eat conventionally raised red meat, poultry and eggs, chances are you're dosing yourself with a much greater toxic load than if you were to pay the extra $$$ for organic alternatives.

And with fish, it gets even more complicated

The food chain facts of life go like this: big fish eat little fish. So the bigger fish you eat, generally, the greater the toxic load. That's why the government warns us to limit our intake of:

Eat Food...Not Chemicals!

Looking for other ways
to lighten your toxic load?

Avoid mercury in fish
Consider organics when possible
Use this organic produce priority list
Improve Omega 3/Omega 6 ratio
Steer clear of food additives
Limit processed foods
Drink clean water
Know where toxins hide
Don't let label claims mislead you
Top 10 detox foods
Be scared of Frankenfoods!

  • King Mackerel
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish

(Mercury is notorious for storing up in the fatty flesh of big fish. Read more about the mercury implications of eating from the top of the food chain.)

We also need to be cautious about our consumption of freshwater fish, because some of our waters aren't so fresh!

And sometimes we have to be wary of farmed fish, too. The farm ponds can be polluted, and the farmers often serve fish meal to the fish, so they end up higher up on the food chain (bigger toxic load) than they would in the wild.

I try to stay as safe as I can by making wild-caught salmon my fish of choice. Salmon is high in healthy Omega 3 oils, and non-farmed salmon tends to be low in contaminants. Consider making the same choice for yourself!

Take your food chain responsibilities seriously

After all, it's your health - and the health of your family - we're talking about!

More on healthy eating.

Your Personal Nutrition Guide home.