I've been corresponding with Erin over at www.athleticmindedtraveller.com and it got me thinking about how to reconcile my love of heirloom foods with eating healthfully. Seems like so many of the great old food treats just aren't good for us. Well there's at least a couple of things worth thinking about there.
First, if we're talking about treats, we should remember that they're supposed to be just that - treats, not staples. The occasional pastrami - and if you hold out for truly great pastrami and don't live near Carnegie, Katz's or Langer's or some such* it will be very occasional - isn't going to define your diet.
Second, if we're really talking about heirloom foods then there may be substantive health benefits to the old-time genuine article. Take a look at American Grass Fed Beef for a quick overview of the dramatic nutritional comparison between grass finished beef vs. commercial feed-lot beef. I also recommend you take a look at the folks at Heritage Foods USA for a variety of traditionally produced beef, pork, lamb and poultry products.
*Following up now on that asterisk - If you know of someplace other than Carnegie, Katz's (NY) and Langer's (LA), and of course I should also mention the Niman Ranch product available by mail or at Zingermans (who helped develop it), that offers especially good pastrami, please let me know the particulars, who, where, what's special about their meat or other notable aspects of the experience. Ah - I've just been pointed at a piece talking about (of all things) noshstalgia in the SF Bay area that mentions some apparently good deli's out that way. A great read. Check it out at: http://www.themonthly.com/food-02-07.html