Before I went to the recent Weston A. Price Foundation Conference, I decided I would blog about the most important thing I learned there, and share what I had learned. I thought it would be a difficult decision. I was wrong.
The recent Weston A. Price Conference had many lectures, and many themes. They covered a huge variety of topics involving food and the raising of food, disease and ways to avoid or cure it Yet one of these topics was so vital, so important, so overwhelming, that it dwarfed all the others. I learned this at a fantastic talk given by Chris Kerston, of Chaffin Family Orchards, a true real farmer, whose farm uses no chemicals.
This is a concept that most people have never heard of, yet it holds the solution to almost everything that is wrong with the condition of our planet , our food supply, and our water supply.
This concept was not created by scientists, and uses a technology older than humanity. It uses the very laws of nature to build soil, increase green vegetation, sequester carbon in the earth, bring water back to long-dry streams and rivers, enrich the soil, and provide a healthy and nutritious food supply.
The concept is to use large herds of grass-eating animals, grazing them in a manner that mimics the patterns of nature, to rebuild the soil and create grasslands and forests. This method is how the grasslands and forests were created in the first place, and was invented by nature, not humans.
Modern Agriculture Destroys the Soil and Creates Deserts
We have become so seduced by technology and science (and the quick profits it can bring), that we have forgotten one of the oldest rules of every civilization. The rule that nature’s laws must be obeyed.
Instead of using the hard won agricultural knowledge of our ancestors, we have poisoned the soil with a huge variety of chemicals, using them to kill insects and undesirable plants, along with crucial microflora that are vital for the health and nutrition of the soil. We have used techniques like monocropping and artificial fertilizers to produce huge crops of plants like soy and corn, without giving the land a chance to rest and renew.
These methods have led to huge amounts of once fertile grasslands and farmland turning into desert, as the soil blows away, and is not replaced. The lack of grass and growing green plants has disrupted the balance of the atmosphere, and led to increasing water shortages. The food that is grown on the declining soil lacks the nutrients it should have, and animals grazing on such soil are less healthy than they should be. Artificial feed compounds the problem, as food animals are fed species-inappropriate food that reduces their health and nutritional value, while making them grow at an unnaturally fast rate.
The loss of soil and green plants cannot be sustained. If this trend continues, the food supply will be greatly reduced, more and more land will return to desert, and the future will be very bleak.
It should be mentioned that nothing developed by science or the greedy biotech companies has done anything effective to solve this problem. Instead, their theories and products only make things worse, and hasten the decline of the soil.
The Natural Solution—Properly Managed Herds of Grazing Animals
Dr. Weston A. Price, the greatest nutritional researcher of all time, said“Life in all its fullness is mother nature obeyed.”
Even in the early twentieth century, Dr. Price knew that the soil was depleted of nutrients, and that every generation of his patients was sicker and weaker than their parents. He knew the key was in nature.
Alan Savory, the founder of the Savory institute, made a very important discovery about the laws of nature. Herds of grazing animals, moving from place to place, staying tightly packed to protect against predators, renewed the soil.
The process bears a stunning resemblance to traditional farming, and works as follows.
The herds eat all the old growth, digging up the earth with their hooves, trampling the grass seeds deep into the soil, and fertilize the soil with their rich manure. This creates ideal conditions for the growth of new grass. The herd moves on, letting the land rest and renew its life and richness. The growing grass holds water in the soil, with lead s to the creation of streams and watercourses. This leads to the growth of trees, which promote rain and release beneficial elements into the atmosphere. When the herd returns, it is greeted by lush green living grass, the perfect food for grazing animals. And the whole cycle repeats itself, resulting in even richer soil, greener grass, and more water, trees and plants.
This is nature’s way, and nature’s law, and we can work in accordance with it, and prosper, or ignore it, and ultimately perish.
Alan Savory and his Institute have turned millions of acres of desert into lush grasslands, by using herds of cattle, grazed and managed in accordance with the techniques he developed that follow the laws of nature. Long dead streams and rivers have come back when this program is followed, and the rich grasslands provide the perfect food for grazing animals, grass.
And these grazing animals provide the perfect food for humanity, grassfed meat, grassfed fat, real milk, and real dairy products. This has always been humanity’s richest, most valuable food source.
In summary, I cannot think of anything that could help us more than to follow the Savory Institute’s method of renewing the land, the soil, and the water supply by using properly grazed herds of grass-eating animals. This is the solution to our problems with soil and food. It is right before us, and has been proven to work, with none of the horrifying side effects of modern, chemical agriculture.
Eating the grassfed meat and other foods from animals grazed in this manner is one of the best things we can do to support nature’s way of healing the planet. Many grassfed ranchers use these methods, and supporting them by buying the food they raise not only helps their soil, but gives us some of the healthiest, life-supporting food we could possibly eat. Food like this makes you strong and healthier, and is utterly delicious.
Every year, I follow an old American custom. When Thanksgiving comes around, I think about what I am thankful for.
The list is very long, but there are some things that really stand out. This year, I am particularly grateful for grassfed meat and grassfed fat. These wonderful traditional foods are so good for our health, and so delicious. There was a time when I could not get them. And there was a time that I did not know how to cook them.
That has changed, and I am thankful for that.
I Am Thankful for the Good Farmers Who Raise Real Grassfed Meat
Few people realize that it takes much more skill, knowledge, trouble, time, and effort to create grassfed meat. It is much easier, cheaper, and faster to raise a factory cow, and ship it off to the feedlot to be turned into factory meat.
Raising a grassfed cow is something different. It takes a knowledge of what breeds will fatten on grass. It takes an understanding of the magic of soil and pastures, and how to graze and when to graze, and when to rest the soil. It takes knowledge of the seasons and weather patterns, of the needs of the cattle, of the unique peculiarities of the land used for grazing, and the plants on that land. It takes an ability to adjust to changing conditions, which can change the whole dynamic. It requires creativity, intelligence, ingenuity, and decisive action. It is as much an art as it is a science, and the parameters are always changing.
I have talked with some true experts on raising great grassfed cattle. Ranchers like Chris Kerston of Chaffin Family Orchards. John Wood of U.S. Wellness Meats. Lee Mora of Humboldt Grassfed Beef. Ed Wimble of Homestead Natural Foods, and others. I am amazed by the great intelligence, know how, practicality, determination, and creativity of all of these ranchers. Every day is a challenge, and they always manage to meet it, raising some of the most wonderful food in the world. They know the magic of pasture, the ways of their cattle, the impact of the weather, and a thousand other things that are vital for raising great grassfed beef. They know how to improve their land by managing the grazing of their herds, and how to make the soil richer and better.
The meat they raise is healthy and delicious, being some of the finest food we could ever hope to put in our bodies. I can only hope that they will pass on their special knowledge, and that it will not be lost. We have a desperate need for good grassfed meat in a world where inferior factory meat dominates the market.
I am very grateful for the meat they raise, and for the fact that I am able to get it and feed it to my family and myself.
I Am Grateful for the Cooking Knowledge of Our Ancestors
It is not enough to be able to buy grassfed meat. You also have to know how to cook it. I learned this the hard way, and I mean that literally. You would be able to break windows with some of the first grassfed meat I ruined.
The first grassfed meat I cooked was good meat, and I ruined it. It was tough and tasteless. Everything I knew about cooking and marinating factory meat failed, when I tried to apply it to grassfed meat. After many failures that resulted in tough, bad tasting meat, I gave up.
But I still wanted, I still needed the many health benefits of grassfed meat. My body needed to rebuild after many years of illness, and factory meat just was not doing the job. It occurred to me that our ancestors must have known how to cook it. And they must have enjoyed it, because the histories and novels and legends were full of accounts of wonderful feasts of meat. And that meat was grassfed, through most of history, everywhere in the world. It was only in modern times that factory meat became available.
An old memory came to me. My Dad grew up on the prairies of Canada. When he was ten, he and his younger brother were put on the train, and given money to buy food in the dining car. They would be going a long way, to stay with relatives. My Dad and his brother had heard stories of the wonderful steaks in the dining cars of the railroad, which were very expensive. They decided to blow most of their food money for the trip on a steak dinner. That steak was so wonderful that my Dad never forgot it. He remembered it eighty years later, when he was dying, and that memory brought one of his last smiles. I realized that this magnificent steak had to have been grassfed.
This inspired me to read hundreds of old cookbooks, novels, and histories. While most of the recipes assumed that the reader already knew how to cook, and gave very vague instructions, certain themes were repeated over and over. I began to experiment with them, and the time came when I learned how to cook grassfed meat, and make it tender and delicious every time. I focused on easy methods, as I did not have the time or interest for the more elaborate ones. I also learned many other things about ancestral cooking, especially about how to combine different foods to create a very nourishing meal. This knowledge became the foundation for my cookbooks, Tender Grassfed Meat, and Tender Grassfed Barbecue, and the basis of so many wonderful meals.
I am thankful for the cooking knowledge of our ancestors, and how it enabled me to learn how to enjoy the benefits and awesome taste of grassfed meat.
Many people have heard of the health benefits of grassfed meat. Just as I once did, they will buy some grassfed meat, cook it the same way they cook other meat—and ruin it. Many of these people will never try grassfed meat again, convinced that it is tough and tastes bad. This can happen even to professional chefs. It certainly happened to me.
Yet I will tell you that grassfed meat is incredibly tender, with flavors that make conventional meat taste like cardboard. I now find the taste of grain-fed meat to be totally blah, and the texture of grain-fed meat to be repulsive.
The difference is all in how you cook it, though the meat itself is just as important. Knowing what meat to select, and how to cook it, has resulted in hundreds, perhaps thousands of wonderful grassfed meals for me and my family. And the meat is always tender.
When I became frustrated with my failures in cooking grassfed meat, I realized that our ancestors knew how to cook it. They had to. There was no other red meat. And I read many accounts of how humans have loved and cherished red meat for thousands of years, and used red meat to recover from wounds and illness.
I went to work, researching many older cookbooks, histories, and old novels. I came to understand that our ancestors cooked grassfed meat very differently than we cook factory meat, and decided to use the old ways, adjust them for modern kitchens, and see what I could do. After years of research, experimentation, and cooking hundreds of meals, I finally learned how to cook this wonderful meat.
And I discovered a secret—properly cooked grassfed meat is not only much healthier for us, with large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, CLAs, and vital amino acids in a form that our bodies easily absorb—it tastes much better than conventional meat. And it is more tender, with wonderful mouth feel and texture.
Each book contains over a hundred detailed recipes.
In response to a request from my good friend Kimberly Hartke, I have decided to share some tips on cooking grassfed meat. These tips will be useful for most people who are learning to cook grassfed meat.
Here is the link, to my article on Kimberly’s great blog, Hartke is Online:
I am happy to announce that I have been selected as the U.S. Wellness Meats Featured Chef for November. This is quite an honor.
Being the Featured Chef means that I was asked to develop four new recipes that will be posted on their website. The first of these recipes, a magnificent prime rib with an herb crust that would be ideal for a special holiday dinner is already up. The other recipes will be posted later this month.
U.S. Wellness Meats holds a special place in my heart. They sold me the first grassfed meat I successfully cooked. Since then, I have been a regular customer.
I am also an admirer of John Wood, the founder of U.S. Wellness Meats. John has made quality grassfed meat available through the Internet in an astonishing variety of cuts, along with a wonderful line of organ meat sausages that make it easy to get the unique nutrients of organ meats in a tasty form. There are many other great products available from U.S. Wellness Meats that are hard to find elsewhere, such as grassfed beef tallow and grassfed lamb tallow. John has also used holistic land management techniques developed by the Savory Institute to constantly improve and enrich the soil of his farm, while raising quality cattle. This is a model that I would like to see spread throughout the entire country, replacing the CAFOs and factory farms.
U.S. Wellness Meats is a longtime sponsor and supporter of my favorite organization The Weston A. Price Foundation, which spreads the truth about food and nutrition. John will be speaking at the WAPF Wise Traditions 2012 Conference that will be taking place November 8 to 12th, in Santa Clara, California.
I am also grateful to John Wood for the great support he has given me in the creation of my books. Not only did John give me valuable information about raising grassfed meat, he gave me constant encouragement and support while Tender Grassfed Meat was being written. When the book was published, John immediately bought a large number of copies, and U.S. Wellness Meats began selling the books.
Here is the link to my Featured Chef page at U.S. Wellness Meats, which also includes some interesting food questions and my answers:
Here is the link to the four recipes I hinted at last month. They are delicious, and free. A magnificent prime rib, a Spanish short rib dish, a tender brisket, and the ultimate Paleo meatloaf, with organ meats. Enjoy!
This post is part of Weekend Gourmet blog carnival.