Answering the question “Is it dangerous to eat liver because it is a filter for toxins?

I am an omnivore and I am a fan of eating the whole animal. This is not just for nutrition’s sake, but also because it is a more sustainable practice; not wasting any of the animal that we have taken for our own nourishment.

The liver is extremely nutritious. Historically, it is one of the prized, if not the most prized part of the animal.

When I tell people that I eat liver (beef and chicken) I get a mix of reactions. A couple of related questions that have come up are: “Isn’t the liver full of toxins? Is it good for you if it is the filter of toxins for your body?” Good questions.

As far as storing anything, the liver stores nutrients (a lot of them). The liver does work to neutralize and process toxins, but it’s job is not to hold on to them and store them. The liver breaks down the bad stuff so it can be excreted. It’s job is not to store or hold on to the bad stuff. So, as long as you are eating high quality liver, you are good to go. Cut up those onions and get the spices ready (and turn the vent/fan on when you cook them).

Most resources you find out there will echo this sentiment. However, if you look hard enough you can find reports and/or opinions that report large amounts of toxins found in liver. This may be true in some cases, but these cases are surely animals that are exposed to heavy doses of toxins, heavy metals, antibiotics, pesticides, chemicals, pollution, etc. So, it’s the entire animal that is filled with toxins in this case, not just the liver. This is why eating pasture-raised, grass-finished beef is so important. If the animal is eating what it is naturally supposed to be eating and clear of chemicals and antibiotics, it will be a healthier animal and its liver will be much cleaner too.

If you are eating liver from industrial feed-lot beef or chicken, you should worry about any kind of cut of meat you are eating. The entire animal is full of toxins.

When I eat organ meat, or any meat, I select free ranging/roaming pasture-raised & grass-finished cattle or pasture raised and non-GMO-fed chicken. The liver is abundant with nutrients.  This is the kind of liver I eat. I do not ever hesitate to eat high quality liver.

When in doubt, go to the source and ask your rancher what the animals eat and how they are treated. Visit your local farmers market and ask around. Then you’ll know just how clean their liver and the rest of the animal is.