Sunday Dinner
Creative Commons License photo credit: di_the_huntress

What Happened to my Liver?  Liver Memories.

By Sylvia P. Onusic, PhD

I remember when I was a child our family sat down to liver at least once a week, usually fried with onions. It was a tradition.  My parents recognized, like their parents before them, that liver was a great buy and worth every penny.   We children didn’t really like the taste of liver, but we ate it because our parents lovingly prepared it and seemed to enjoy it.  Besides it was non-negotiable.

I was recently dining in a restaurant with a group of people and was quite surprised to see liver on the menu. George, an older man in the group, spotted the entrée and was delighted. He said, with a large grin, “Yes, indeed, I am having the liver.” He was happy.  The anticipation of liver in his tummy made him grin. Liver was a comfort food.  Not so long ago restaurant menus almost always had a liver and onions entrée as the “Special of the Day.” These days it is rare to see such an offering.  We have lost our liver memory.

Happiness and liver can possibly be chalked up to native wisdom and intuition: the wisdom that we will be giving our bodies a very fine meal and the intuition that  our bodies will feel very good after eating it.   Somehow through the sea of high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, MSG, other flavor enhancers, and new diet advice, we have lost our way to this wisdom and intuition.

I remember that my dad, a child of Slovenian immigrants, and a wonderful cook, relished organ meats, especially liver and bone marrow. He would sit down to table with his liver and be very happy to have the opportunity to enjoy his favorite food. And after preparing a beef soup, he would gently scoop the beef bones from the soup, then carefully remove the marrow to use in dumplings, but could never resist savoring a sampling along the way.  He used the boiled beef for a salad made with kidney beans and onions.  And the bones were later cooked into a rich bone broth. Yes, my dad truly loved his organ meats.

People of my dad’s generation loved their liver and looked forward to it.  But their wisdom told them to eat it once a week and probably not more.

The liver is the body’s wonder factory. It processes and detoxifies poisons, chemicals and reduces them to water soluble substances which can be excreted from the body and performs many biochemical processes necessary to our survival.

But a liver, any liver, in order to do its work properly, needs a healthy body, fed nutritious and nutrient dense food. Cows and other animals fed soy beans, corn, feathers, brewery wastes, candy factory wastes and other garbage, with a heaping helping of antibiotics and chemicals, are not going to have a healthy liver.  In fact, 85% or more of all the antibiotics used in the US are administered to animals. The liver performs many functions, among them detoxing  and preparing for excretion chemicals and medications.

Today I was fortunate to be able to purchase grass fed beef liver. I prepared it with onions, but added some garlic, fresh rosemary, cider vinegar and apple juice.  My son, Evon, decided he would eat it as ‘it was all we had for dinner.  I was surprised because, despite my diligent efforts, he likes to dine at Subway and McDonalds and is very finicky about organ meats.

Liver a most “sacred food,” contains many hard to find vitamins and minerals. According to the USDA, it is an outstanding source of  vitamins  B 12,  A, B6, other B vitamins, and choline; and the minerals iron, zinc, selenium. When wild carnivorous animals make a kill, they always eat the organ meats first, not the muscle meats.  Liver contains a considerable amount of cholesterol and this may be why the “sacred food” was put on the not-wanted list by the Diet Dictocrats, as Sally Fallon Morrell, President of the Weston A Price Foundation, calls those self proclaimed authorities on foods who are usually related to the cause of selling a pharmaceutical, such as statins.  But we know, biochemically speaking, that cholesterol is necessary for proper brain development and function, the production of bile, sex hormones, vitamin D and many other body processes.  The body needs cholesterol and traditional wisdom and intuition provided for the consumption of liver once a week.

The best way to introduce liver to our family members, as the Weston A Price Foundation recommends, is to start feeding them liver when they are infants and young children.  Infants are well equipped to digest breast milk, which contains protein and fat, and will be able to digest liver as well.


Terry Moist, Grassfed Meat Farmer

We are fortunate to have more and more grass farmers tending animals humanely and bringing the sacred liver to farmers markets.  Grass fed liver is very tasty and worth showcasing as the main entrée on American tables at least once a week. Fortunately we have many ways to prepare liver and introduce it to our families as a new taste treat, in pates, meat loaves, and sausages.  It is time to find our way back to the natural wisdom of eating nutrition-packed liver.

Terry Moist is the farmer in the photo;  his farm is Clan Stewart Farm located in Huntingdon, PA.  his web site is He raises his animals on pasture.

The photo was taken at the Farmers Market in Boalsburg, PA, near State College, the home of Penn State University, which is held each Tuesday throughout the year.

Many good liver recipes can be found in the cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon with Mary Enig.

Sylvia P. Onusic, Ph.D

Sylvia P. Onusic, Ph.D

Sylvia P. Onusic holds a BS in foods and nutrition, and a PhD in Health Education and Wellness, and has completed studies to qualify for RD (Registered Dietitian). She was a home economics teacher for many years.  Her concentration is in holistic nutrition with a focus on the evolution of food and the human body in relation to food allergies and disease.  Sylvia is the mother of two teenage sons, one on whom has celiac disease. She has several food allergies as well.

This post is part of the Fight Back Fridays blog carnival. Food activism begins on your dinner plate! See more stories of how you can revive your health with food on Food Renegade blog.

To find grassfed meat, see the Hartke is Resources page.