You're not overstaying your welcome at all! Feel free to ask as many questions as you like!
Just remember, with regard to my previous post, reading a lot of books/blogs and listening to lots of lectures/podcasts doesn't make me right. I could have easily listed as many sources that were pro-dairy.
The only way I could reasonably try to ascertain if dairy (or, anything else) is healthful or harmful to me is to try abstaining from it for a certain period of time (a month? three months? six months?), keep everything else the same (sleep, stress, diet, exercise, etc.), get some baseline health labs run, re-introduce the item, make no other changes, and repeat the same health labs at regular intervals to compare results.
Of course, that's something that most people (especially me!) will be unlikely/unable to do. Therefore, that's why I think it's helpful to look at what researchers have concluded.
the information is obtained is critical. Is it a Meta-Analysis? Systematic Review? Randomized Controlled Trial? Cohort Study (Prospective Observational Study)? Case-Control Study? Cross-Sectional Study? Case Report? Animal Research Study? Test Tube Lab Research? Those are a few examples I pulled from one page on Google. There may be other types. So, study design and interpretation of the results is important to understand. Which, largely, I do not.
Then, you get into things like Relative Risk vs. Absolute Risk. This is something that pharmaceutical companies, supplement manufacturers, food producers, and, really, anyone can use to make their products look better. Or, make them appear less bad.
So, with all this in mind, in the end, we all have to do the best we can do.
If a person is going to eat animal products, then I say eat the best quality that can reasonably be expected and afforded. For example, while grass-fed, grass-finished, local, and organic beef might be considered the gold standard, I certainly wouldn't advise anyone to purchase it on a credit card with a 29% interest rate. I'm being over-the-top, I realize, but the point is we all have different considerations.
At this point in my journey, I feel that the stress and worry about
a particular food may be more harmful that the actual food itself. As the old adage goes: "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."
In fact, the obsession with "clean eating" led Steven Bratman, MD to coin the term Orthorexia Nervosa
in 1996. While not an officially-recognized clinical diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), many recent diet fads (such as the Paleo Diet) has led people to identify with the traits of Orthorexia.
For example: "obsessive focus on food choice, planning, purchase, preparation, and consumption; food regarded primarily as source of health rather than pleasure; distress or disgust when in proximity to prohibited foods; exaggerated faith that inclusion or elimination of particular kinds of food can prevent or cure disease or affect daily well-being; periodic shifts in dietary beliefs while other processes persist unchanged; moral judgment of others based on dietary choices; body image distortion around sense of physical "impurity" rather than weight; persistent belief that dietary practices are health-promoting despite evidence of malnutrition."
Personally, I had a close call with Orthorexia, from 2009 to 2013. While I wouldn't say I had an eating disorder, I definitely had disordered eating. For me, it was easy to fall into and difficult to escape. All the competing diets, studies, theories, opinions, books, videos, etc. make it all the more challenging.
So, for me, I now try not to get too reductionist or zoom-in too closely on any one thing. I try to zoom-out and look at things with a wider lens and attempt to apply what I hope is common sense.
For example, I ask myself: "What would I eat, if I were dropped naked into a forest?
I think that's an approximation of something I heard or read from Robb Wolf or Nora Gedgaudas, but I don't recall, as it's been many years. That question makes me realize, though, if I were starving, I wouldn't have time to plant a crop and wait for it to grow and harvest it. I would eat whatever I could catch (animals), pick (fruit, nuts, plants), or dig-up (tubers) in the wild.
So, I can start with that as a base and reasonably assume those will sustain me. From there, because I'm NOT starving in the wild, I can experiment in my own kitchen with other things like grains, legumes, etc. Just because a food wasn't around 500,000 years ago, I don't think that means we shouldn't eat it or we haven't adapted to it. Conversely, just because a food WAS around 500,000 years ago doesn't mean it's necessarily optimal for us. The fact is, our ancestors (however far back you wish to go) would have eaten ANYTHING to survive. Now, fortunately, we don't have to do the same. We can let our history provide some general direction and allow science to help us fine-tune things.
Geez, there I go again. You ask me what time it is and I tell you how to build a clock!
In the end, I'm not a Doctor, Scientist, or Nutritionist. My degree is in engineering, so all this dietary diatribe is simply my opinion. I don't believe a unified theory of diet exists. Everything we know is through the lens of our own ego, so I don't believe there's any complete objectiveness. It's been suggested that even the act of observing an experiment can influence the outcome. If that's true, then how much can we really know?"What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet."
I hope you find something helpful in this brain-dump of random thoughts!
p.s. I agree with Traveler that you're lucky to raise your own beef! Do the best you can. That's all any of us can do.