Is there such a thing as fresh, healthy sausage? To cut to the chase, not really. Pigs are known to eat just about anything and are fed a lot of corn and grains to fatten them up. Pork is high in saturated fat, and very high in omega 6 which tends to be inflammatory to the body. In addition, sausages are sometimes cured, high in sodium, and usually contain nitrites which is a dangerous preservative that when eaten frequently, can increase your risk for cancer.
Now for some better news. Besides staying away from sausages with nitrites added, you can actually find some that are quite lean, have not been cured, nor contain MSG or “spices”, (which can also mean MSG). I have even read that some pig farmers feed their pigs flaxseed to increase the Omega 3 content in their meat, but I haven’t found any brand, nor butcher in particular that advertises this as of yet.
The place I prefer to get my sausage is at The Butcher Shoppe in Ponte Vedra. The butchers trim the fat off the cap, add only some peppers, onions, garlic and parsley. They are proud of the fact that there is hardly any grease when grilling or sautéing, and tout the fact that they are antibiotic, hormone, and gluten free.
My second choice would be the Fresh Market meat dept. They have finally removed the MSG from their sausages, and from the label recently I didn’t see anything suspect. Keep in mind though Fresh Market will change things up from time to time, so check before ordering to keep them honest as I have been tricked in the past.
And last but not least, I do get my andouille from time to time at Beachside Seafood on 3rd Street (close to Beach BLVD, across from McCancer). It is cured, and there are nitrites, but no MSG. Unfortunately I also see the word “spices”, so I’m not too excited about that, but I mention this place because I adore Timothy who is the Manager. He is a great cook, and so helpful. Besides, they have the freshest FISH in town. As for the sausage, Timothy says “awe don’t worry about it”. He shrugs his shoulders and I laugh.