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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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Rely on Real Food, Not Labels

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

Organic food is better for health and taste. Fresh cabbage and onions shown here.

Local organic produce

Most of us believe that all ingredients will be listed on the label when we buy a food. After all, the USDA and the FDA are there to make sure our food is safe, and that we know what is in our food, right?

Wrong. Food labels do not contain many of the ingredients that have been added to the food. The federal agencies allow a host of chemical additives to be added to packaged foods, without labeling. As long as the amount of the ingredient is below a certain percentage, it is not required to be listed on the label. This has led the food and chemical industries to develop a number of chemicals that are so strong that even a tiny amount can have a dramatic effect on the food. Since the amount used is so small, the ingredient need not be labeled.

In addition, ingredients added to packaging are not labeled as an ingredient, since they are considered to be part of the packaging, not the food. But these ingredients are in direct contact with the food, and get into the food.

Many products labeled as “organic” may not actually be organic.

Rather than making our food safe and informing the public of ingredient content, the mission of the federal agencies seems to be to protect the profits of the large food industry at all costs. This is apparent if you look at what they actually do, rather than listening to what they say.

The only solution I have found is to buy as much of my food as I can from farmers and ranchers I know and trust. And to buy local whenever possible. I do not trust food labels, but I do trust real food, as raised by the farmers I know and trust.

What Is Not on the Label

The food industry has developed a number of preservatives, sweeteners, and flavor enhancers that are so powerful that even a tiny amount will have a huge effect on the food. None of these compounds occur in nature, and all of them have been developed in a lab. Many new ones are developed and added to food every year. Because they are so powerful, they can be added to food in amounts so small that they do not have to be labeled. Yet no one really knows what effect long term use of these substances will have on the human body. Do you want to be a guinea pig for the food and chemical industries? I do not. But you cannot rely on labels to protect you from being a guinea pig for these artificial, lab-made substances.

The ingredients in the packaging are not labeled, either. For example, many kinds of food packaging have nanites added. But you will not find nanites on the label. If you think nanites sound like something out of a science fiction novel, you are right. Currently, they are incredibly tiny particles that are used to kill bacteria in food. What will these tiny particles do when they get into the human body? Will they kill the beneficial bacteria we all need to digest food and be healthy? Will they enter our cells and damage them because they are so tiny and can penetrate cell walls? Will they interfere with the vital functions of organs like the heart, lungs and kidneys by penetrating them? All these concerns have been raised, but there are no clear answers, and no long-term testing. Once again, we are guinea pigs without even knowing it.

In addition to nanites, BPA and many other chemicals are added to food packaging. BPA and other chemicals have been shown to interfere with human hormones. But you will not find them on a label.

GMOs are not labeled, either. In Europe, the presence of GMOs must be placed on food labels. But not in the U.S. In fact, I have yet to see a single label that discloses the presence of GMOs. GMOs are plants that have been modified by biotechnology to have certain characteristics, usually a heightened tolerance to pesticides. They do not occur in nature and are designed in a laboratory. Most people do not want to ingest them. Yet almost all non-organic packaged foods contain GMOs. Almost all food animals are fed GMO crops as feed. If you eat a conventional diet, you are getting plenty of GMOs in your body.

Finally, the feed and chemicals that have been used to raise a food animal are not on the label. Factory beef, for example, is usually raised with artificial growth hormones, artificial steroids, non-therapeutic antibiotics, GMO corn, GMO soy, and can contain a number of other “feeds” that are approved by the government, including chicken manure, processed restaurant waste, candy bars, and many other ingredients that no ordinary person would ever think of feeding to cattle. But none of these substances is on the label.

But Can You Trust Organic?

You should be able to trust the organic label. It means that everything in the bottle or package is organic, without pesticides or chemical additives, right?

It should. But it doesn’t always. The label “organic” now means that only ninety-five percent of the ingredients must be organic, with the other five percent coming from an approved list of non-organic materials. If it says “100% organic,” then everything in the box or package is supposed to be organic. But is it?

Again, not always. A lot of organic food comes from foreign countries, particularly China. The safety of food from China has been a subject of controversy for years. Food safety outbreaks have happened in China so often that the government has actually shot people who were deemed responsible for tainting food. China has generally not allowed foreigners to inspect food plants in China, so most of the food that is certified organic is inspected by a Chinese company. Many people have raised concerns over whether organic food from China is actually organic, or contaminated with pesticides and chemicals. This issue became particularly identified with Whole Foods Market, the giant multi-billion-dollar grocery conglomerate. Whole Foods used to get most of its organic foods from China. After an ABC news story in 2008 that questioned whether foods from China were actually organic, a huge controversy broke out, with Whole Foods steadfastly insisting that its organic food from China was in fact organic, while critics claimed it was impossible to adequately verify whether food sold in China was actually organic. In 2010, Whole Foods announced that most of the organic fruits and vegetables sold under its 365 label would be purchased from countries other than China. However, it was unclear whether other foods sold under that label such as sauces, condiments, etc, had organic ingredients that were not from China.

The issue of whether foreign foods labeled “organic” actually are organic has risen in regards to foods from other foreign countries besides China. So what is true? I do not actually know. But, since avoiding pesticides and chemicals is very important to me, I do not buy organic food that does not come from the United States, or Canada, or the European Union. I am familiar enough with their certification programs to believe they are usually enforced, whereas I just do not know about the standards in the other foreign countries. I prefer not to take the risk. I also like the idea of supporting local farmers, and food from foreign countries is the opposite of local, especially when it is shipped thousands and thousands of miles from China.

Another problem with organic foods in the U.S. is the packaging. The packaging can contain various chemicals that can enter the food. For example, even organic tomatoes can have BPA in the lining of the cans they come in. For this reason, I only buy organic foods that come in glass jars, as I think they do not have chemicals added to the glass.

The Best Solution—Buy Local, Buy Trusted

Because of the many problems with labeling, along with the widespread use of chemicals and pesticides by the food industry, I have found that the best solution is to buy as much food as possible from local farmers and ranchers I trust. It is worth getting to know the people you buy food from, to understand their values, and to feel that they are raising the kind of food you want to eat. In this case, the use of organic farming techniques, often called the equivalent of organic, is much more important than certification. Organic certification can be very expensive, and some of the best farmers cannot afford it. There are many great farmers and ranchers out there, but there are some who have lower standards, and it is crucial to know your farmer. It takes some time and effort, but I have found it to be worth it, as the food my family eats is so important to me.

This post is part of Monday Mania, Fat TuesdayReal Food Wednesday. and Freaky Friday blog carnivals.

 

Why Grassfed Meat Costs More and Is Worth It

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

Humboldt Grassfed Beef cattle grazing

My local source for grassfed beef: Humboldt Grassfed Beef.

If you buy grassfed meat, you know that the price is rising. Every producer I know has raised their prices. If an Internet producer charges you the price of shipping, that cost has increased as well.

Nobody likes to pay higher prices, especially in a tough economy. But in this case, I am going to continue to buy just as much grassfed meat as ever, and even more when I can. Why?

Because I want to be able to get grassfed meat, now and in the future. If I want to have the unique health benefits of grassfed meat for my family, I am going to have to support the ranchers who raise it, even in these tough times. And I invite you to join me. Because if we do not support them, grassfed meat could no longer be available.

 

Why the Grassfed Industry Is in Danger

There are a number of reasons that have worked together to cause the rise in prices. The rise in prices threatens the very existence of the grassfed meat industry, as will be shown.

The Increasing Cost of Fuel

Everyone knows how much the price of fuel has risen. This means that the cost to ship feed, cattle, and meat have increased enormously. In fact, the cost to ship ANYTHING is much more expensive. Shipping costs are a big expense for every rancher, and they continue to go up.

The Increasing Cost of Soy and Corn

The cost of soy and corn  has greatly increased. Soy and corn are used to feed factory cattle. You might ask, “What does the cost of soy and corn have to do with grassfed cattle?” After all, the grass is free. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. With soy and corn being so valuable, a number of farmers that used to raise cattle have decided they can make more money raising soy or corn, and have sold their herds, converting their pasture to cropland. It is much easier to grow seasonal crops than to nursemaid a herd of cattle 365 days a year. Less cattle being raised has created the most crucial part of the problem—a greatly reduced supply of feeder cattle.

The Shortage of Feeder Cattle

Feeder cattle are steers that are old enough and large enough to go to the feedlot. Again, you may ask, what do feedlot cattle have to do with the price of grassfed beef? Quite a lot, unfortunately. Because the high cost of feed has changed what the feedlots are looking for. The feedlots now want cattle to be kept on pasture longer, so the feedlot needs less feed to bring them up to slaughter weight.

For example, in one area, the feedlots would only buy a steer at the weight of 500 pounds. Today, the price of feed is so high that the feedlots want to buy steers at 1000 pounds—twice the weight. That greatly reduces the amount of feed the feedlots will have to buy to bring the steer to market weight. This situation makes the pasture that the steer eats to reach 1000 pounds very valuable. Obviously the steer sold at 1000 pounds will raise a lot more money than the 500-pound steer.

Steers destined for feedlots are competing for pasture with grass-finished steers. The shortage of feeder cattle has caused the price to rise to the point where a grassfed farmer will not make much more money for raising a grassfed and grass-finished steer. It takes about twice as long to finish a steer on grass as it does on feedlot feed, and requires much more work and effort from the rancher, for not very much more money.

In other words, selling cattle to a feedlot has become much more attractive financially. Selling more cattle to feedlots reduces the supply of grassfed meat, and causes the price to rise.

The Danger

And this is the great danger. If more and more grassfed farmers give up on raising grassfed beef and sell to the feedlots, the supply of grassfed beef will be reduced. The price will continue to rise to the point that only the truly rich can afford grassfed meat. If that happens, the movement is dead. The best way we can keep this from happening is to pay the prices charged by the quality grassfed producers who charge the least, so they can stay in business and thrive.

We are lucky that there are many grassfed ranchers who are doing their best to keep the price down, because they want people to be able to afford this wonderful food.

We need not sacrifice quality to do this. In fact, most of the best meat is raised by those small ranchers who try to make their meat affordable for most people, rather than focusing on catering to the super rich. All of these dedicated farmers have had to raise their prices, and I will pay them, because I know what is at stake. Grassfed meat is one of the healthiest foods we can eat, and is irreplaceable, in my opinion. Health Benefits of Grassfed Meat

Careful Shopping Can Help

Comparison shopping can help reduce the cost of grassfed meat. There is a huge difference in price among various producers and retailers.

For my area, the best buys I have found are these:

I buy all of my local grassfed meat from Humboldt Grassfed Beef, which sells its wonderful grassfed meat at Lunardi’s markets, an eight-store chain in the San Francisco Bay Area, and to other retailers in California. Their meat costs much less than the meat carried by Whole Foods, for example, and tastes much better.

When I shop on the Internet, I buy most of my meat from U.S. Wellness Meats, which charges only $7.50 for shipping and handling for most orders, has many of the lowest prices on the Internet, a huge selection of wonderful grassfed meat, regular sales, and a number of ways to save.

You can also save a lot of money by buying a whole steer, a half steer, or a quarter steer from a local farmer, though you will need a lot of freezer space. Eatwild.com has a list of such farmers, by state.

I am going to continue to buy just as much grassfed meat as ever, even at the higher prices, because I want to preserve the availability of humanity’s oldest and most valuable food. And because I love to eat it!

This post is part of Monday Mania, Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, and Freaky Friday blog carnivals.

Avoiding Pink Slime: The Grassfed Solution

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

Grassfed cheeseburger. 100% grassfed and grass-finished with no pink slime!

No Pink Slime in this delicious grassfed cheeseburger.

Pink Slime, also known as “Soylent Pink,” has been in the news recently. Pink Slime is made from slaughterhouse scraps and inedible parts of the steer, which are so heavily contaminated with bacteria that the government requires that it be treated with ammonia, before being processed into a pink glop that is added to meat products, usually hamburger. The sole purpose for doing this appears to be to increase the weight of the hamburger, with this dirt cheap additive, to increase profits.

I cannot think of a single reason why anyone would want Pink Slime in their hamburgers. Even McDonalds and Burger King stopped using it. Yet the Department of Agriculture bought seven million pounds of Pink Slime for the school lunch program. And it is estimated that seventy percent of the hamburger sold in the United States contains Pink Slime.

Nobody wants to eat it, but it is not that easy to avoid. You will not find it on the label, because the government does not require that Pink Slime be labeled. But I have found a good way to avoid it—buy only grassfed hamburger, from a trusted source, preferably a small rancher.

 

Why I Avoid Pink Slime

Pink Slime is made from slaughterhouse scraps, parts of the steer that are exposed to fecal matter during processing, and inedible parts of the animal such as tendons. These animal parts can be made edible only through heavy processing.

These animal parts are so heavily contaminated with bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella, that the government requires that they be processed with ammonia, a caustic chemical. The U.S. government claims the processing makes it safe. But the U.S. government strictly limits the percentage of Pink Slime that can be added to meat products. If Pink Slime is totally safe, why limit the amount that can be added? And I do not want to ingest ammonia, which is a caustic poison, even in the amounts the government considers safe. Pink Slime is banned for human consumption in Great Britain.

Finally, even if the U.S. government is right, and Pink Slime is totally safe—why would anyone want to eat it? At best, it is nothing but a cheap filler material that increases the weight of the hamburger so the seller can make more profit. Do you want to eat a filler material? I do not. I don’t know anybody who does.

Pink Slime Is Not Labeled

The U.S. government refuses to require that Pink Slime be disclosed on food labels. They claim it is meat, and no further labeling is necessary. Of course, if Pink Slime was on food labels, in a way that customers understood, nobody would buy the product, and profits would suffer.

I think our basic human freedom to choose what we eat is denied when industry is not required to disclose the presence of ingredients that nobody would want to eat, but the government does not see it that way. So, if Pink Slime is not labeled, how do you avoid it?

How I Avoid Pink Slime

My method is simple. I buy grassfed hamburger only. Not only is it much tastier and healthier, it almost certainly does not contain Pink Slime. I found this out when I polled every rancher whose meat I eat.

I am happy to report that US Wellness Meats, Homestead Natural Foods, Alderspring Ranch, Gaucho Ranch, and Humboldt Grassfed Beef do not use Pink Slime, and never have. My rancher friends explained to me that the economics of using this kind of filler material have little or no benefit for a small operation. Even more importantly, none of these fine producers would want to ruin the quality of their terrific grassfed hamburger by adding processed glop to it.

While I will be sure to ask if I buy grassfed meat from another ranch, I am confident that I will not find Pink Slime in grassfed hamburger. And that is yet another reason to eat grassfed meat. After all, we are what we eat, and who wants to have any part of their body made from Pink Slime?

I want to recommend the Facebook page started by my friend Kimberly Hartke of the Weston A. Price Foundation—No Pink Slime in My Burger—as a great source of information about the Pink Slime issue, with many excellent links to informative articles.

This post is part of Monday Mania, Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday blog carnivals.

Great Soil Makes Great Meat and Great Vegetables

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

Rich grass on John Wood's farm.

Rich, nutrient-dense grass on John Wood's farm—the perfect food for cattle.

I was in a hurry Saturday afternoon. I had to make a pot roast, but I had very little time. So I decided that we would settle for a meal that was good and nutritious, but simple and easy to prepare. I browned the grassfed roast in grassfed beef suet, took it out of the pan, and browned an onion and some shallots in the drippings. I returned the roast to the pan, added some water, salt and pepper, covered it, and stuck it in a low oven. The whole procedure took about ten minutes. Several hours later, we ate what I thought would be a mediocre but acceptable pot roast. I was wrong.

The roast was absolutely delicious, with a wonderful rich flavor, and a great texture. We all remarked on how wonderful it was. I was shocked that it tasted so good. After thinking about it, I realized what made the meal so wonderful—the quality of the ingredients.

But why were the ingredients so good? After all, all the meat we eat is grassfed, and all the vegetables we eat are organic. After some thought, I realized that all the ingredients came from farms that had particularly great soil, from farmers who really cared about the quality of their food The lesson I learned is that even in the world of real food, some food is exceptional.

The Importance of Soil

Every plant and grass gets its nutrition from the soil—the richer the soil, the more nutritious the plant. Grassfed cattle get their nutrition from the grass. Grass growing in rich soil makes great feed for cattle, resulting in great flavor and nutrition, and fatter cattle, which are more tender and flavorful. Factory agriculture depletes the soil, relying on chemicals and artificial fertilizer to produce plants that are far inferior to plants grown on rich soil. Yet even good soil is not as desirable as great soil.

The Wonderful Meat

The roast came from U.S. Wellness Meats. I have been ordering grassfed beef from U.S. Wellness Meats regularly since August 2006. They sold me the first grassfed meat I successfully cooked. Their meat was excellent then. The business has grown a great deal since 2006, and the quality of the meat has changed. It has become steadily better, more tender, more flavorful, more energizing. While the quality of most companies’ products suffer as they grow bigger, U.S. Wellness Meats is an exception to the rule. I credit the fact that their meat is getting steadily better to their founder, John Wood, who constantly takes measures to improve the quality of the soil on his farm, and to raise even better meat. This blog post I did on how John is improving the soil on his farm shows how he did it:  Grassfed Farmer Renews the Land. The improving quality and terrific flavor of his already superb meat show the results. The wonderful natural flavor of the meat was a huge factor in producing this easy, yet delicious roast.

The Amazing Onion and Shallots

There is a farm at our local farmers market. A couple months ago, I passed their stand and was struck by the beautiful vibrant color of their organic Italian peppers. We already bought our produce from another organic farm in the market, and were very happy with their produce, but these peppers looked so wonderful, I bought a few. After sautéing the peppers simply, we were completely blown away with their incredible flavor and pleasing texture. And we felt good after eating them, a feeling I usually get only when eating grassfed meat.

Next week, we stopped at the stand, and bought all kinds of gorgeous produce. I talked to the farmer, and told him how much I enjoyed the peppers. He said, “This is the food I feed my family.” He said it seriously, with pride and satisfaction, as if feeding his family was the most important thing in the world, and it was his duty to do it well, and he knew he was doing his duty. We talked a bit more, and he spoke about the natural measures he took to improve his soil, which he did every single year. No chemical fertilizer or pesticides for his family! No wonder his produce was so wonderful.

The onion and shallots came from his farm, and their rich complex flavor blended perfectly with the fantastic meat from U.S. Wellness Meats.

All factory foods taste pretty much the same. Factory beef has the same flavor, no matter where it comes from. All factory vegetables taste pretty much the same as well. But grassfed beef had a wide variety of tastes, and grassfed beef from cattle raised on healthy grass growing on rich soil has incredible flavor and tenderness. Organic or the equivalent vegetables also vary widely in flavor, but the very best comes from those wise farmers who improve their soil. When you eat food of this very high quality, even a simple, easy recipe can result in a magnificent meal.

This post is part of Monday Mania, Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday blog carnivals.


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.

Rich Pasture Means Delicious, Fragrant, Grassfed Meat

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat

Rich grass on John Wood's farm.

Rich grass on John Wood's farm.

Recently the issue arose on Facebook as to why some grassfed meat might have a strong, almost fishy smell. The opinion was expressed that the steer might have eaten wild onion or wild garlic, which are known to give a bad taste and smell to milk. Should a good grassfed farmer remove wild onion and wild garlic from their pastures?

As I do not raise grassfed meat, (though I certainly cook it and eat it), I posed the question to two of the best grassfed ranchers I know: John Wood of U.S. Wellness Meats, and Chris Kerston of Chaffin Family Orchards.

John qualifies because his meat is always delicious, and smells great while it is cooking and even better when it is done.

Chris qualifies because his meat is also always delicious, and also smells great at all stages of cooking and eating.

John has never had an issue with wild garlic or wild onions, and has not noticed them on his land. John is of the opinion that a good stand of grass usually chokes out wild garlic and wild onion. John’s pastures have some of the richest, greenest, most beautiful grass I have ever seen. John has substantially increased the density and richness of his grass by rotational grazing techniques, and by enriching the soil with ancient vegetable matter. Meat from his farm, raised on that wonderful grass, is in a class of its own, in my opinion. I have eaten a lot of John’s beef over the last six years.

Chris said that what the animal eats has a huge effect on flavor. Eating a lot of wild garlic and wild onion will have a big effect on the taste and smell of the meat However, Chris is opposed to removing wild garlic and wild onion from grazing land. As Chris pointed out, removing any natural plant from a pasture will affect the natural balance, and something else will take its place. Chris stated that cattle will not eat pungent plants like wild garlic and wild onion in normal conditions. They prefer sweet grasses. Cattle will eat pungent plants for medicinal purposes, and Chris has observed his cattle treating themselves by eating certain pungent plants and grasses when they have a need. However, this is only done on a short-term basis. Also, the amount of pungent plants they eat for this purpose is in small quantities, not enough to interfere with the flavor or smell of the meat. The other situation where cattle will eat wild garlic and wild onion is when they do not have enough other suitable feed (like grass) to eat, and will eat anything out of hunger. This could certainly affect the taste and smell of the meat. I have visited Chris’s farm, and seen the beautiful rich, green grass the cattle graze on. Grazing is rotated to enrich the soil and the grass. The soil on Chris’s farm is particularly rich, and has never been sprayed with chemicals. It provides dense, sweet, green grass that the cattle love. The grass gives the cattle a deep, beefy flavor that I love.

It is clear that having plenty of good sweet grass, and providing adequate pasture prevents the problem.

You can buy John’s meat at U.S. Wellness Meats.

Chaffin Family Orchards does not sell its meat over the Internet, but you can buy it directly from the ranch or at the farmer’s markets where Chaffin sells meat, or some buying clubs. Chaffin does sell its magnificent olive oil over the Internet. This olive oil is my absolute favorite, and my first choice for marinating meat.

While John’s Missouri grassfed beef tastes different from the California grassfed beef raised by Chris, both tastes are wonderful, and I love to eat both of them.

This post is part of Monday Mania and  Real Food Wednesday blog carnivals.

Food Freedom Is a Basic Human Right

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat

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

The recent premiere of the movie Farmageddon, which details the ruthless persecution of small family farmers by various government agencies, inspired this post.

We have the right to free speech. We have the right to freedom of religion. We have the right to freedom of association. We have the right to privacy. The government recognizes these rights. But there is a vital right that is just as crucial, just as fundamental, just as personal as these other rights—the right to choose the food we eat.

There is no human activity as important as eating. If we do not eat, we die. If we do not eat the foods needed by our bodies, we suffer from nutritional deficiencies. If we eat foods that are toxic to us, we get sick or even die. Everyone is an individual with different needs. Each of us has the right to make the decision as to what we eat for ourselves. There are any number of conflicting theories on what people should eat or should not eat—and many of the theories are based on greed more than anything else. But the point is this—the choice as to what to eat belongs to each individual, and to nobody else.

The government denies this basic human right, citing “safety.”

Safety is often inconsistent with freedom.

We can skydive. We can drive cars on dangerous freeways, though tens of thousands are killed in accidents every year. We can drink known poisons such as alcoholic beverages, though alcohol contributes to hundreds of thousands of deaths every year. We can hunt, though many die in hunting accidents. We can bungee jump. We can ride motorcycles. We can fly small planes. We can take part in a huge number of dangerous activities, all allowed by our government. But we are not allowed to drink a glass of raw milk, or eat a slice of raw cheese.

Government agencies are trying to prevent us from eating these foods by destroying the farms that produce them.

The freedom to choose what food we put in our mouths is a basic human right. If we do not have the freedom to control what goes into our bodies, what we choose to eat and drink, what freedom do we have? Who could possibly deny us that basic human right?

The government agencies can. The FDA has actually stated, in court documents, that we have no right to choose our food, and that we have no right to obtain the food we choose to eat. Is this the United States of America? The land of the free?

The freedom to choose our food is a basic human right, which no government agency should interfere with. The freedom to have access to the food of our choice is a necessary part of the right to choose our food, which is why the freedom of farmers to raise real food must be protected.

We must convince our elected representatives that the freedom to choose our food is a right just as important as freedom of speech, or any other fundamental right.

Freedom is basic to this country, and that includes the freedom to make our own choices about food.

This post is part of Save Farm Freedom Friday blog carnival.

Earth Day, Grassfed Meat, and Dr. Weston A. Price

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat

Chest high ice cream grass at US Wellness gives superior grassfed meat.

Happy cows grazing on rich grass grown on soil restored by John Wood of U.S. Wellness Meats.

Earth Day was created to appreciate and encourage the preservation of the natural blessings of our planet. Perhaps the greatest threat to our planet and ourselves is the massive loss of good soil that has been going on since the last century. Without good soil, most life cannot ultimately survive. The attack on our soil has been led by the chemical industry, and factory farmers who abuse the land, killing the very life in the soil, causing erosion, and a reduction in usable water. Massive soil erosion leads to deserts. Yet it is not too late to save and restore our soil.

Conventional science, with its incomplete knowledge and obsessive focus on grants and profits, is not going to save us. In fact, it is the products of conventional science, such as pesticides, artificial fertilizers, modified plants and germs, and massive chemical pollution from artificial chemicals that are the greatest cause of the problem. But nature itself can save us, if we have the humility and wisdom to follow nature’s laws.

Nature itself has left a blueprint on how to make good soil, and tens of millions of desert acres have been turned into fertile grasslands, with long-dead rivers and streams coming back to life as part of the process. This was accomplished by following nature’s laws.

Dr. Weston A. Price, the pioneer who discovered the truth about nutrition, said it this way:

“Life in all its fullness is nature’s laws obeyed.”

Why Good Soil is Crucial for Life

Soil that will nourish healthy life is much more than just dirt. It is a magnificent combination of minerals, bacteria, insects, microbes, and many nutrients (including unknown substances), all coming together to form the very source of life.

Plants need soil to grow, and soil needs plants to hold it in place against wind and rain, or it just erodes away. The nutrients in the soil grow the plants that keep the soil in place.

These nutrients nourish the plants that grow in this good soil, and the nutrients go into the plants, which pass these nutrients on to the people and animals who eat them. Food plants grown in good soil contain many vital nutrients that we all need to be fully healthy. Animals grazing on these rich plants develop nutrients in their flesh, fat and organs which are crucial for human health, and which are only there if the animals get all the nutrients they require.

It is crucial to understand that science has not identified all of these nutrients, and does not know everything about how they work together. But our bodies know, and expect all these nutrients to be there in the food we eat.

Dr. Weston A. Price discovered that traditional peoples eating the diets of their ancestors, foods from animals grazing on rich soil, plants grown in rich soil, or seafood taken from the rich ocean, were immune to tooth decay. This immunity went far beyond tooth decay, as these people did not have cancer, heart disease, asthma, allergies, birth defects, mental problems, or any of the host of chronic diseases that torment modern humanity. Dr. Price understood that good soil was the mother of good food, and included a chapter on the vital importance of soil in his magnificent work, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.

How the Soil is Lost

Growing and harvesting certain crops depletes the soil of nutrients. Farming the same soil year after year could lead to erosion. The traditional solution was to rotate fields, to let the land rest and renew, or plant certain crops that would restore nutrients to the soil. Natural fertilizers like animal manure were also used. These solutions worked, but part of the land could not be used for food crops while it rested. Science supposedly “solved” this problem by using artificial fertilizers. These fertilizers enabled crops to grow in depleted soil. The same land could be used for crop after crop, without rest. But these fertilizers only provided some minerals and nutrients, not all of them. In fact, some of these fertilizers interfered with the ability of the plants to absorb nutrients. The plants that grew from the depleted soil were weak and far less able to resist pests, so artificial pesticides were introduced. Pesticides are poisons that kill plants and insects. The introduction of these poisonous artificial chemicals into the soil changed it, having a dramatic effect on the life in the soil, and killing much of that life. Soil is also damaged and changed by artificial chemicals created by industry, which are not part of the natural cycle.

Soil is also damaged and contaminated by the huge amounts of manure and liquid created by CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). The miserable animals in CAFOs are crammed together in a small space and not allowed to graze. They are fed grains and other species-inappropriate feeds. This cruel and unnatural practice creates huge lagoons of manure and urine that greatly exceed the ability of the land to absorb them.

The result of this artificial tampering with the soil was less nutrients. Plants cannot have nutrients that are not in the soil. Food animals cannot have nutrients that are not in the plants. People cannot get nutrients that are not in the plants and animal foods we eat. Our bodies cannot function properly without all the nutrients we have evolved to need.

Artificial agriculture has caused a huge loss of useable soil, a serious loss that is continuing. And the soil that remains has far less nutrients. Even in the 1940s, studies showed that fruits and vegetables had far less vitamins and minerals than vegetables grown in the 1920s. The situation is much worse today. For example, researchers have tested commercial oranges that contained hardly any vitamin C.

How Nature Makes Good Soil

We can restore the health of the soil by following nature’s laws. The Great Plains of the United States were some of the richest land ever known on earth. Before the plains were fenced and farmed, more than 60 million bison roamed the plains. The bison traveled in tightly packed herds, so they could defend each other against predators. The herd would travel into an area, eating all the grass, and breaking up the earth with their hooves and concentrated numbers, using their hooves to expose more grass. As they ate the grass, seeds would fall off and get trampled into the earth by the hooves of the massed bison. They would deposit their manure on the soil, returning the nutrients to it.

In effect, the bison actually farmed the land. They harvested the grass by eating it. They plowed the land by breaking it up with their hooves. They planted the new grass by trampling the seeds into the earth. They fertilized the land with their manure.

Then they would move on, leaving the land to rest and grow. By the time the herd returned, they would be greeted with a new crop of rich green grass, and the cycle would begin again.

All of the great grasslands in the world were created in this manner, with different types of animals and herd sizes.

But the blueprint remained the same—the animals were concentrated into tight herds, the herd grazed in a concentrated manner, then moved on, allowing the land to rest, recover, and regrow.

Many grassfed ranchers follow these methods, concentrating their herds, doing intensive grazing, then moving the herds so the land can recover. Some of these ranchers add additional natural nutrients to their soil as well. (See Grassfed Farmer Renews the Land.) Every time I buy grassfed meat, I am supporting these ranchers who are restoring the soil with their herds. Every time I eat the meat and fat from animals raised on rich grass, I am blessed by receiving a full natural range of nutrients, giving my body exactly what it needs to function properly.

These methods have been adapted and used to literally change millions of acres of desert into grassland. Even long-dead streams have come back.

We can restore our good soil to the earth, by following nature’s laws.

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

Corn Shortage? Let Them Eat Grass

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat

Cows on a hillside eating green grass.

Grass—the ideal food for cattle

A meat shortage is coming. I hear this a lot from butchers and ranchers. The price of meat is already rising. The demand for meat is much greater than the supply, and the supply will not increase because of the rising price of corn. You would think that corn is necessary to raise livestock.

Corn is not a vital part of the diet of cattle, bison, or sheep. In fact, corn is an unnatural food for all of these species, which were designed to thrive on grass. My solution to the corn shortage is simple—let them eat grass.

The Price of Corn

The price of corn has been rising steadily in recent years. This has resulted in record corn crops, but the increased supply has not lowered prices. Why?

The answer is ethanol. The United States government supports the production of ethanol as an alternative fuel. Many other countries also favor the use of ethanol. While ethanol could theoretically be made from any plant matter, the U.S. has decided to support ethanol made from corn. Many farmers and large agricultural operations now grow corn solely for the purpose of making ethanol. These farmers invariably use massive amounts of artificial fertilizer, which requires substantial amounts of oil to produce and transport. The profitability of making ethanol has led to huge profits. It has also caused the cost of corn for animal feed to skyrocket. The use of corn for ethanol is blamed for a substantial increase in food prices all over the world.

The increase in the price of corn has made it much more expensive to raise animals in feedlots.

The Feedlot System Depends on Cheap Corn

Corn is an important component of the feed given to animals in feedlots, along with soy. The whole feedlot process is dependent on corn. The feedlot system was developed to make it much cheaper to raise and fatten meat animals. Cheap corn raised on artificial fertilizer was the basis of the whole system.

The feedlot system came about as a result of World War II. The war caused a huge demand for explosives, which created a number of large companies to fill the demand. These large and wealthy companies faced ruin when the war ended, because the demand for their product was greatly reduced. A plan was devised to use explosive products as artificial fertilizer. Farmers were sold on the idea that artificial fertilizer would enable them to grow huge amounts of corn. Of course, a market had to be found for all that corn. The feedlot system was the answer, as it was found that cattle could be fattened much faster if they were confined to a pen and fed huge amounts of corn. The U.S. government supported the new system with subsidies, and nearly all meat production in the U.S. was quickly switched to the feedlot system. Meat became cheaper and more abundant, and profits became higher.

But there was a hidden price—grass eating animals like cattle and sheep were not designed to be stuffed in a stall for six months, eating corn. They were designed to graze on grass and meadow plants. Large amounts of antibiotics were used to keep them somewhat healthy. The corn growers used massive amounts of pesticides and weed killers. These poisons, along with the artificial fertilizers, killed much of the life in the soil, depleting its mineral value.

Corn feeding in feedlots, later supplemented with soy and other unnatural feeds, greatly reduces the nutritional value of the meat. Eatwild.com has an excellent description of this process: Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Products. The taste and texture of the meat were also affected, as feedlot meat lacked flavor, was watery, and had a mushy texture.

The industry dealt with this problem by an intense marketing campaign designed to convince the public that corn feeding resulted in better meat. This campaign succeeded, and it became almost impossible to find beef that was not finished in a feedlot. Cooking techniques were invented to deal with the watery, flavorless meat. The very knowledge of how to cook grassfed meat was lost to most Americans, and most ranchers lost the knowledge of how to raise tender grassfed meat.

The traditional ways of raising grassfed meat used by humanity, developed and perfected over thousands of years, were almost completely abandoned in the rush for profit.

Now the very heart of the feedlot system—cheap feed—is being threatened by the high price of corn.

In the long run, this may be a blessing in disguise, as grassfed meat is a far superior food, and proper grassfed ranching restores the land, rather than depleting it.

The Grassfed Solution

Grassfed beef, grassfed bison, and grassfed lamb have the proper balance of nutrients that our bodies expect. Grassfed meat shrinks much less in cooking, has much more flavor, satisfies the appetite, and can be very tender if properly cooked.

Raising and finishing grassfed meat requires no corn. It requires grasslands and skill. Many ranchers have rediscovered how to raise terrific grassfed meat. There are huge amounts of unused grasslands in this country that can be used for grazing. In fact, proper rotational grazing actually restores and enriches the land. Innovative ranchers in this country have been successful in increasing the richness of their soil. See Grassfed Farmer Renews the Land.

Cooking grassfed meat also requires knowledge and skill. That is why I wrote Tender Grassfed Meat. Cooking tender and delicious grassfed meat is actually simple, and it tastes so much better than the feedlot variety.

I call on all ranchers to learn how to raise grassfed meat, drop the feedlots, and free themselves from their dependence on corn.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday and Monday Mania blog carnivals.

My Podcast Interview at Our Natural Life

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat

Cover of Tender Grassfed Meat: Traditional Ways to Cook Healthy Meat by Stanley A. FishmanI had the pleasure of being interviewed by Jon and Cathy Payne of the Our Natural Life blog. Jon and Cathy are amazing people. After retiring from successful careers, they became farmers. They describe their fascinating new life as homesteaders in their fine blog. I really enjoyed the interview.

In this interview we talked about how I used real food to resolve my health problems; the crucial role grassfed meat played in restoring my health; how I learned to cook grassfed meat by researching traditional cooking methods; health and cooking characteristics of grassfed meat; and a little preview of my upcoming book on barbecuing grassfed meat.

The interview was a lot of fun to do, and I think you’ll enjoy it. Jon and Cathy also have a giveaway contest for a copy of Tender Grassfed Meat. Here is the link to the podcast and the giveaway:

Cooking Tender Grassfed Meat (Podcast ONL072) and a GIVEAWAY!

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