Yesterday, we discussed a baseball player whose team doctor “prescribed” him potato chips. Today, we’re finding out that during your next trip to China, you might be able to ask a local physician about medicinal meats.
According to the New York Times, the latest health craze in China is meats from livestock raised on a diet of ancient Chinese medicines. These aren’t the antibiotics or hormones that many food safety crusaders have been fighting to keep out of our food chains. Instead, these farm animals have been fed medicinal plants and herbs – things you may already recognize as therapeutically suspect according to Western medicine like ginseng or licorice.
These herbally-enhanced meats come with a wide variety of promises from being delicious to curing what ails you. Though science reportedly hasn’t supported these claims, a slab of medicinally enhanced pork definitely comes with an enhanced price. One farmer said he’s able to charge about $200 more (or getting close to double the price) for a pig that has been fed his special blend of 22 herbs along with its normal feed. “In the old days, we used traditional methods to feed the animals,” the 53-year-old farmer was quoted as saying. And apparently the results were positive. He went on to say, “People’s longevity was very long.”
These meats contribute to a Chinese health food market that, as the Times points out, is currently worth over $1 billion and growing rapidly. Hey, if the medicinal meats don’t work, at least the farmers who sold them can use all the extra cash they earned to find a good doctor.