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Tender Grassfed Barbecue: Traditional, Primal and Paleo by Stanley A. Fishman
By Stanley A. Fishman
Link to Tender Grassfed Meat at Amazon
By Stanley A. Fishman

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DISCLOSURE AND DISCLAIMER

I am an attorney and an author, not a doctor. This website is intended to provide information about grassfed meat, what it is, its benefits, and how to cook it. I will also describe my own experiences from time to time. The information on this website is being provided for educational purposes. Any statements about the possible health benefits provided by any foods or diet have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

I do receive some compensation each time a copy of my book is purchased. I receive a very small amount of compensation each time somebody purchases a book from Amazon through the links on this site, as I am a member of the Amazon affiliate program.

—Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat

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How You Can Help Save a Heritage Breed, the Guinea Hog

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue

Help save heritage breed livestock.

Heritage breed Guinea Hogs.

Once, all of our meat came from heritage breeds, who were raised naturally and had many fine nutritional, farming, and taste qualities. Some of these breeds still exist, yet are threatened with extinction. The agricultural farming industry is not interested in heritage breeds, as they do not care about nutrition, or taste, or raising animals naturally.

All Big Ag wants are animals who they can raise as cheaply and quickly as possible, to increase profits. They have developed breeds for the feedlot, who gain weight quickly, eat whatever is placed before them, and can survive CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) conditions long enough to reach a high weight before slaughter.

I have eaten meat from heritage breeds, and it is so far superior to the factory variety that I cannot begin to describe it. It feels nourishing, and it tastes so much better.

Heritage breeds are well worth preserving. Cathy and Jon Payne, who own a small farm in Georgia, are trying to save an old American breed, the Guinea Hog. They are trying to raise the money to do so with an Indiegogo campaign. This is a very worthy cause. I had a chance to ask Cathy some questions about her farm, the Guinea Hog, and her fund raising campaign.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your farm, and what your goals are.

Broad River Pastures is a sustainable, heritage, pasture-based, 11 acre family farm in Northeast Georgia. It was founded 3 years ago when I retired from teaching after 33 years. My husband, Jon, and I left suburban Atlanta with no prior farming experience and a general dream of a healthier lifestyle. We’ve had to learn each operation from scratch, and have in many ways determined what worked best for us and our animals by trial, error, research, and observation.

At Broad River Pastures, we strive to be a homestead model that benefits not only our family, but others who want to be more self-sufficient and sustainable. Many of the projects we do on the farm can be adopted on much smaller or much larger scale. We use permaculture design, promote heritage animal breeds, promote biodiversity, and apply eco-agricultural and biodynamic methods to grow nutrient-dense food.

Our goals include:

  • Leave our land in better shape than we found it.
  • Educate the wider community about the importance of real food, raised humanely and sustainably, for vibrant health.
  • Train young people interested in sustainable agriculture.
  • Promote and breed heritage livestock for their original purposes and provide high quality breeding stock for other farmers with similar goals.
  • Grow nutrient-dense food for our family and the local community.
  • Supplement our retirement income.
  • Leave the farm as a legacy to someone interested in carrying on the work we started.

 

2. Please explain the difference between heritage pigs and modern pigs.

I’m going to start with the difference between heritage livestock in general and then move to heritage pigs. Heritage livestock breeds are those that were traditionally raised by farmers before the advent of massive-scale industrial agriculture. They were raised to thrive in particular regions of the country and for particular farming styles. Many of the heritage breeds were adapted for pasture-based models. Modern breeds are developed for a factory farm model.

For example, most of the chicken raised for meat in the United States is a Cornish Cross hybrid bird. It is developed to keep its face in the feed bowl and eat all day, rarely moving, in confinement. I know several farmers who attempted to raise these birds on pasture. The result was a high mortality percentage and birds who stayed in one place with their faces in the feed bowl. They had no desire to walk more than a few feet from the feed or forage for bugs. Heritage poultry, on the other hand, are well suited for a pasture-based free-range setting and will happily seek out insects and young plants from dawn till dusk over a wide area.

Now on to pigs. Heritage pigs have traditionally been raised in dirt pens, in woods, or on pasture ranges in an outdoor, natural setting. They were processed in the fall and eaten “Nose to tail.” Some pigs were raised particularly for their lard, which provided cooking oil to the family as well as a main component of soap for washing. Modern pigs, those that produce “the other white meat,” produces a pale, lean meat that grows quickly in confinement on feed containing a plethora of antibiotics to keep them growing faster and to protect them from injuries in close confinement. Their tails are docked to keep frustrated pigs from chewing on each other, and the eyeteeth of the males are cut to minimize biting.

Jo Robinson, in Pasture Perfect, reported that confinement hog production requires an investment of $5 million and creates 40 to 45 new jobs. However, each factory puts 126 independent hog farmers out of business. In addition, health conditions for workers and for neighbors of the hog farms are abysmal due to high levels of dust, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and other gases. She also reported that pork from pigs raised on pasture have more vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids than pork from pigs in confinement. The taste is incomparable, with pasture raised pork having a much richer flavor and appealing mouth feel. Compared to dry, flavorless production pork, the pork from pastured heritage pigs tends to be more flavorful and juicy, like the pork chops and roasts of long ago. The meat of a heritage hog is red and richly marbled.

Like the poultry mentioned earlier, the “improved” commercial breeds are not suitable for free-range models and would not be as likely to thrive.

 

3. Why is it important to preserve heritage breeds?

Every year, there is less biodiversity in our food system, as large corporations seek to become more profitable. In fact, only 15 mammal and poultry species produce over 90% of livestock production. Monocultures in either livestock or produce are vulnerable to disease. This puts us in danger of situations where a single outbreak could shut down the country’s entire operation of beef, pork, or poultry production. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture organization, at least 1,500 of the world’s 6,000 livestock breeds are in imminent danger of extinction. We are losing an average of 1 to 6 livestock breeds each month. A full 50% of the breeds that existed in Europe in 1990 are already extinct. This lack of biodiversity can have dire consequences if we have an oil crisis that impacts commercial production. The good news is that in the United States, there has been a resurgence of pasture-based farms and a concentrated effort to conserve American breeds through the American Livestock Breed Conservancy (ALBC). Because the heritage breeds have been such an excellent fit on sustainable farms and because of conservation efforts, no American breed has gone extinct since 1985. That is very encouraging, but it does require that heritage farmers like me continue to register and improve and breed their stock. To do that, they must have customers to keep them in business. Your readers can support them by purchasing some of their food from small farmers and specifically seek out the heritage breeds.

 

4. Tell us a bit about Guinea Hogs, and why they are a good choice for a small farm.

Guinea Hogs are a small, black, hairy lard hog. Lard hogs are the ones you see in very old art work depicting English pigs. They are very round. The longer pigs are developed to have a lot of “belly” which is used to produce bacon. Other pigs in between, are produced more for hams and pork chops. Of course, every pig produces the same cuts, but we are talking about proportion here.

Thomas Jefferson owned Guinea Hogs, and they were very common on small Southern farms until the late 1800s. They are ideally suited for the South, where their dark pigment and hairy coat protects them from sunburn. They are extremely gentle and friendly hogs that were often tethered outside the family home to glean acorns and windfall fruit, small rodents, and snakes. Shelter needs are minimal, and they easily farrow (give birth) without assistance. They are able to produce meat and lard with very little grain inputs, making them more affordable to keep. We are currently raising heritage pigs without soy, but they do require a lot of grain in addition to pasture and windfall fruit to help them gain weight. With the Guinea Hogs, we hope to raise them with pasture, hay, root crops, and small amounts of barley and milo.

 

5. Please explain the goals of your fundraiser, and how you will use the funds you raise.

We’ve invested our savings and retirement income into the farm to install fencing, train and obtain working dogs, and develop infrastructure to allow us to do pastured production. Now we need some help to maintain our momentum. We have set a goal to raise $6,000 to provide needed items for our heritage breeds.

This includes about $2,100 toward travel, cost of livestock, fencing, and housing needed to start our Guinea Hog herd. In the event that we do not meet our goal, it is likely that all of our funds will go to the Guinea Hog project.

We need another $650 to install an automatic watering system for our heritage rabbits, to purchase replacement cages, and to improve drainage from rainwater to prevent anaerobic bacteria from growing in the barn.

We need $3,250 to modify our sheep housing, build additional sheep housing, and build a shed to keep our hay dry and free from mold and mildew that can harm livestock.

If we raise the full $6,000 goal, we can accomplish these tasks. However, if we exceed our goal we can do even more:

  • $1,000 will provide a feed storage shed close to the rabbit barn.
  • $2,000 will provide additional fencing and water lines to expand our pig production into a wooded area currently unfenced.
  • $3,000 will build a permanent shade area for livestock during handling such as shearing or hoof inspections.
  • $5,000 will purchase a used farm truck for hauling livestock, hay, manure, etc.

If contributors are very supportive and generous, we will be able to do so much more with the items listed here.

 

6. Please explain how this Indiegogo fundraiser works, and how people can contribute to your cause.

Indiegogo is easy to use! It is an International platform to raise money, and you can find it at www.indiegogo.com. My campaign is listed under the entrepreneurial: food category. You can find it at this link: Help Save Heritage Livestock Breeds with Broad River Pastures, or by typing in the city of Elberton or the title Help Save Heritage Livestock with Broad River Pastures. Anyone with a valid bank account can use Indiegogo to either raise money or contribute to other people’s passions. Since our farm is an LLC and not a non-profit, your contributions are not tax deductible. However, each level of contribution is rewarded with a perk, if desired, that gives you a nice remembrance of your participation.

The amount we actually have to use with our livestock will be reduced by costs of shipping, the costs of our perks, and the commission paid to Indiegogo. Since we are using the flexible campaign plan, we get to keep donations even if we do not meet our goal. However, the commission is 9% if we do not meet our goal and only 4% if we meet or exceed our goal. So it is very important to meet or exceed our goal to remain sustainable. We have some fantastic perks in our campaign, including organic cotton tote bags and t-shirts, Guinea Hog hat pins, and copies of Stanley Fishman’s Tender Grassfed Barbecue. We will be releasing new perks throughout the campaign so be sure to check back and see what might be new and different.

For anyone without a valid bank account or who cannot afford the minimum $5 contribution, you can still help us out by using social media to tell your friends anywhere in the world about what we are doing. Share this blog post, link to our Indiegogo site, shout us out to your friends on Twitter and Facebook, etc. We appreciate you getting the word out!

Thank you, Cathy, and I wish you complete success in this worthy venture.

If you wish to contribute to Jon and Cathy’s campaign to save the Guinea Hog, you can do so via this link:

Help Save Heritage Livestock Breeds with Broad River Pastures

Michigan Massacre Kills Freedom, As Well As Hogs

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue

We the People
Creative Commons License photo credit: Caveman Chuck Coker

The Michigan Massacre continues. Heritage pigs are being slaughtered, down to the last baby piglet. The farmers who own these pigs are forced to kill them, or watch them be killed by DNR agents. If they fail to cooperate, or resist, they face years in state prison and a felony conviction, along with huge fines. These farmers are having their herds destroyed without trial or hearing, losing their livelihoods without compensation. It is not only the pigs that are being massacred in Michigan, it is our liberty.

The fourteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America provides in part:

“(N)or shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. . . ”

Due process means a fair hearing, with the right of appeal, except in the most dire emergency circumstances.

And domestic farm animals, including heritage pigs, are property.

Heritage hogs behind a fence are not that kind of emergency, not by any means. What due process did the Michigan pig farmers get?

There was no trial, no hearing of any kind, no right of appeal. The kill-all-pigs order did not even come from the state legislature. Instead, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources issued a regulation. A regulation that is totally insane. A regulation that demands the extermination of almost every breed of pig in the state, based on how they look, including all heritage breeds raised by small farmers. This applies even when the pigs are behind strong fences, with no chance of escape. Oh, but the pigs in the CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), raised in confinement, are not affected by the regulation. The Michigan Pork Producers Association used its lobbying power to block an attempt in the state legislature to delay the implementation of the regulation.

In other words, big corporate hog farms are not affected, while small farmers raising heritage pork will have all their pigs killed, without compensation.

What “due process” do the small farmers get? Several carloads of armed DNR agents, who show up at their farm giving the farmer the choice of killing all their pigs or being charged with a felony that could put them in state prison for years. The fact that the agents may have a warrant is not due process. This is the same kind of process used in every totalitarian dictatorship, from Nazi Germany to Soviet Russia to East Germany to North Korea—those armed thugs had papers as well.

Liberty is dying in Michigan this month, while the federal government and the Michigan government do nothing.

If corporate America is allowed to destroy the production of real food by influencing state regulatory agencies, there will be no real food.

Many small pig farmers have already destroyed their herds, afraid of going to state prison for years, and being heavily fined. But a few farmers are standing strong. This article and the accompanying video, on the Hartke Is Online blog, describes how a brave man is standing against this tyranny:

On the Darkest Days of the Local Foods Movement, a Hero Takes a Stand

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday blog carnival.

 

 

Becoming a Grassfed Farmer

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat

Grassfed lambs grazing at Broad River Pastures, a sustainable farm.

Grassfed sheep grazing at Broad River Pastures.

Good food starts with good farmers. The knowledge of how to raise healthy animals on grass is priceless. Good farmers know their land, their animals, their plants, and how to manage them so that everything thrives.

Factory farming relies on “one size fits all” formulas and schedules to do everything. Factory animals are given drugs, antibiotics, and supplements on a particular schedule that is usually the same for all of them. They are fed on grass for the same amount of time, given supplemental feed containing the same ingredients, shipped to the feedlot at a precise age, and kept in the feedlot for a time that does not vary from cow to cow. No wonder their meat all tastes the same—bland, greasy, and dull.

Grassfed farming depends on the actual conditions on the farm, and knowledge of how to use those conditions to produce healthy animals with enough fat to be tender. Often the knowledge of how to do this is passed on from parents to the next generation of farmers.

But what if someone who did not grow up on a farm tries to learn how to raise grassfed meat?

Jon and Cathy Payne had successful careers in urban America. Jon had been in the security business for 35 years. Cathy had spent 38 years in elementary education. Instead of retiring to a life of comfortable idleness, Jon and Cathy decided to become farmers, producing real food on good soil, food of the highest quality.

Jon and Cathy recently bought some sheep, and plan to raise grassfed lamb. I had the pleasure of interviewing Cathy today.

Neither Jon nor Cathy came from farm families, and neither one of them knew anything about farming. They have learned a great deal by talking to local farmers, attending farm conferences, talking to people at buying clubs, and using Internet resources such as Yahoo Groups and various farming forums—and their own constantly increasing experience.

The motto of their farm, Broad River Pastures, is “promoting nutrient dense food and preserving heritage breeds.”

Heritage breeds are animals that are particularly good for specific purposes, which have been developed by careful breeding over hundreds, if not thousands of years. They are an important part of the human heritage. Yet many of these breeds are in danger of dying out as they are replaced by new industrial breeds that serve the purposes of the large industrial agriculture companies.

Jon and Cathy are preserving heritage breeds by raising them at Broad River Pastures. One of the breeds they are preserving is known as the Gulf Coast Sheep, or the “Gulf Coast Native Sheep.” These sheep are descendents of the sheep brought to the Gulf Coast by the Spaniards hundreds of years ago. They were allowed to roam the forests, and have completely adapted to the sandy soil, local forage, and heat and humidity of the region. They are immune to the local parasites, which will kill other breeds of sheep when they are still lambs. This hardy animal produces rich milk, tasty meat, and wool. These sheep need no assistance with lambing, and are able to deliver their own lambs right in the pasture. The Gulf Coast Sheep is in danger of extinction, but Jon and Cathy are raising some of them at Broad River Pastures. These sheep, purchased in June, are thriving at the farm. They will breed, and lambs will be born, and, if all goes well, some wonderful grassfed lamb will be available next year.

Raising grassfed sheep is much harder than the industrial version. The sheep get almost all their nourishment from the grass and meadow plants on the farm. Cathy told me that you need healthy soil to have healthy meadow plants, and you need healthy meadow plants to have healthy lambs, and you need healthy lambs to have healthy, delicious grassfed meat.

This means that Jon and Cathy, like all grassfed farmers, must monitor the condition of their soil, and enrich it with the minerals and manure and other substances that make the soil healthy. This can be a huge amount of work, and very expensive in buying the materials required. Jon and Cathy have fenced their pastures, so they will be able to practice rotational grazing, which will enrich the soil, but that takes time and a sizable herd, so they have had to invest a lot of time and money into soil enrichment. This time and money will ultimately be worth it, because the rich soil will support healthy grass and meadow plants that will feed healthy lambs.

Jon and Cathy have obtained an English Shepherd, yet another endangered heritage breed, to herd and act as general farm dog. Jon and Cathy are using another heritage breed of dog, a Great Pyrenees, to protect their herds from predators.

Jon and Cathy are raising other heritage breeds of other animals, and are planning to raise all kinds of fruit and crops along with the grassfed lamb. If you would like to support them in their endeavors, you can purchase some very healthy liver treats from them for your dogs. Here is the link to their farm, Broad River Pastures, where there is a contact page.

I am grateful to Jon and Cathy for becoming sustainable farmers, for saving heritage breeds, and for raising grassfed lamb.

This post is part of Monday ManiaReal Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday blog carnivals.