Tender Grassfed Meat

Jump to content.

Search

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

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

Archives

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

Follow

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

Let Them Eat Grass

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

Baaa
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jeff Pang   Grassfed sheep thriving in rocky pastures.

Yet another arm of the United Nations is demanding that we stop eating meat, “to save the planet.”

It is valid to be concerned about artificial fertilizers, which have caused great harm. But the UN solution, to stop eating meat, is, to be polite, nonsense.

The UN Scientists reason that eighty percent of artificial fertilizers are used to grow crops fed to meat animals. Thus, they think, if we stop eating meat, we will use less artificial fertilizers. But the truth is that if we stop eating animal foods, we will all suffer from severe malnutrition, and the myriad illnesses that come with the lack of vital nutrients. The research of Dr. Weston A. Price established that we need good animal foods to be well nourished and healthy.

My solution is practical, and will greatly increase the food supply. Stop feeding grains and other crops to meat animals Let the animals eat the their natural food, the food that makes them healthy.

Let them eat grass.

 

Is There Enough Grass?

Yes, there is enough grass to feed all grass-eating meat animals, and we can greatly increase the supply.

Most of the scientists and government officials who attack the eating of meat dismiss the grassfed solution by claiming there is not enough farmland to feed grazing animals. But they are ignorant of one key fact—you do not need farmland to feed grazing animals. You need grazing land, which is not the same thing. Animals can graze and thrive on land that is not suitable for crops, and the earth is full of such land, largely unused. And the earth is full of deserts and wastelands than can be turned into great grazing land by the techniques created by the Savory Institute, which has turned millions of acres of desert into rich grazing land, with trees and streams. The techniques involve using concentrated herds of cattle to engage in a pattern of rotational grazing, the same system used by nature to create the grasslands in the first place.

We can use these techniques to greatly increase the grazing land available. It should be noted that several grazing meat animals, like sheep and goats, can thrive even in poor grazing land, but do even better in great grazing land.

We do not need any artificial fertilizer to grow grass and restore watercourses. But we do need grazing animals to do this, and the meat and milk of such animals is our best and most nutrient-dense food source.

 

But What Will They Eat in the Winter?

There are huge areas of unused grazing land in areas where animals can graze all year round. In other areas, where there is good land but cold winters, grass can made into hay and dried, and provide adequate food for the animals.

 

But Isn’t Grassfed Meat Tough?

Properly grazed grassfed meat is tough only when it is cooked wrong. Our ancestors knew how to cook grassfed meat, and celebrated this wonderful food in their traditions, literature, and stories. Unfortunately, most have forgotten how to cook grassfed meat, as cooking grain-finished meat is very different. The techniques developed to cook grain-finished meat ruin grassfed meat, which is why grassfed has a “tough” reputation.

I ran into this problem when I started eating grassfed meat to rebuild my body. After ruining much good meat, I researched the traditions of our ancestors and learned how to cook it. I have made much of this knowledge available in my cookbooks, Tender Grassfed Meat , and Tender Grassfed Barbecue.

I eat only grassfed meat, and it is always tender and delicious.

 

Grassfed Meat Is More Nutritious and Satisfying, So Less Is Needed

Grassfed meat has far more nutrients than grain-fed meat, and has these nutrients in perfect balance. Even the fat is different, with grassfed meat having an ideal ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids, while grain fed meat has a huge imbalance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. An excess of omega-6s has been linked to inflammation, and to many illnesses.

This means that grassfed meat is much more satisfying to the body and appetite. I have found that I am satisfied with eating only half the meat I used to, if it is grassfed. I did not intend to reduce my meat consumption, it happened naturally, because my body got the nutrients it needed and was no longer hungry. Based on my experience, people will be satisfied with less meat, but be much better fed.

We can solve so many problems, if we just let them eat grass.

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

Grazing Animals Are the Solution—Eat Grassfed Meat

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

Rich, healthy land at Chaffin Family Orchards.

Rich, healthy land at Chaffin Family Orchards.

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.

Related Posts

Grassfed Farmer Renews the Land

A Better, Sustainable Way to Farm

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

 

When Organic Tests No Better, Check the Soil, and the Bias

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

Magnificent olive trees thriving on the rich soil at Chaffin Family Orchards.

Magnificent olive trees thriving on the rich soil at Chaffin Family Orchards.

Recently, another study claiming that organic food has no more nutrients than conventional food was published. Since this study appears to defend the chemical-laden conventional food, it has been widely spread by the mainstream press. Yet several important factors should be noted about this latest study.

First, it provides no new data, but is a review of approximately 200 previous studies.

Second, nearly all studies of this nature, including most, if not all, of the studies they reviewed, are done by universities who are completely committed to supporting conventional agriculture, and receive large donations from Big Ag and the biotech industry, including Monsanto.

Third, and most important, it completely ignored, as do nearly all studies of this type, the most important factor in how many nutrients will be in food—the soil.

 

The Fatal Flaw in Conventional vs. Organic Studies

Have you ever been puzzled about why almost every study comparing organic food to conventional food finds no difference in nutrients? I have. It just does not make sense. Yet university study after university study finds no real difference. The answer was given to me by a farmer who attended a famous agricultural program in a well known university. I will honor my promise to keep his identity confidential.

This farmer, while a student, assisted with agricultural studies and is completely familiar with how they were conducted. Universities and food research organizations have their own land, or land that they use to raise crops and animals for studies and experiments. When they study the qualities of crops or animals, they raise them on their particular research land. Since nearly all of the research they do involves conventional farming, this land is heavily spayed with pesticides on an ongoing basis, and artificial fertilizers are regularly used. This has the effect of greatly depleting the natural nutrients in the soil, and filling the soil with substances that block the absorption of nutrients.

When “organic” farming is done on this land for the purpose of a study, the same blasted, depleted soil is used that had previously been used to raise conventional foods.

Since the nutrients are not there in the soil in the first place, plants that are grown with organic methods on that dead, depleted soil do not have more nutrients than conventional food raised on the same soil. The plants and animals cannot absorb nutrients which are not there. The same chemical residues that block the absorption of nutrients in conventional agriculture will block the absorption of nutrients when organic methods are used on the same poor soil.

This fact alone makes all of these studies fatally flawed.

 

The Database for the Study Is Flawed

A study relying only on other studies has all of the flaws of the studies it relies on. Most of these studies were conducted by researchers beholden to Big Ag.

So many studies these days are nothing but an analysis of other studies. I do not consider this method to be of value, since studies of this type rely on all the bad information gathered and interpreted by the previous studies. This is particularly true in this case. The agricultural research done in this country is completely dominated by conventional and high-tech methods, especially GMOs and Bio Tech. Chemicals rule, and GMOs are touted as the solution to every problem. The reason for this bias is obvious—money. Big Ag and the biotech industry make huge grants to agricultural schools, with Monsanto leading the way. In fact, one of the largest and most respected agricultural schools in the nation has been called “Monsanto U” by its students. My anonymous friend was openly mocked by his professors when he questioned the desirability and safety of GMOs. Funding is also provided by the Federal government, which appears to only fund research of conventional agriculture and GMOs.

Just about all agricultural research done in these institutions is on conventional methods and GMOs. The extent of how bad and biased this really is was shown during debate on the most recent farm bill. Senator Jon Tester of Montana introduced an amendment that would require that just five percent of federally-funded agricultural research be devoted toward the development of classic non-GMO seeds and biological diversity in seeds, as opposed to the current zero percent. That amendment was killed. Which tells us that one hundred percent of federal agricultural research funding, which goes to the very institutions that do agricultural research and studies, is devoted to GMOs and similar unnatural methods.

Do you trust institutions whose funding is targeted solely toward supporting Big Ag and GMOs to be unbiased when it comes to research that affects the value of Big Ag and GMOs?

 

The Healthy Peoples Studied by Dr. Price Got Far More Nutrients than We Do

Dr. Weston A. Price spent ten years traveling the world to learn about nutrition. He studied a number of traditional peoples who ate the diets of their ancestors. Dr. Price sent over twenty thousand samples of their foods to be studied in the U.S. It was found that these peoples got far more vitamins and minerals than modern peoples, often five times as much or more, depending on the nutrient. All of their food was organic. All of their food came from soils and environments that had never been sprayed with chemicals, or subject to artificial fertilizers. All these peoples were careful to rest, restore, and fertilize the soil they used, using totally organic methods. Dr. Price wrote that many of the nutritional deficiencies suffered by modern peoples were due to the poor, depleted soil that was used for farming. I might add that the soil he wrote about was far less depleted than the soil we use today.

Dr. Price considered good soil to be the foundation of nutritious food, and devoted an entire chapter to this subject in his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.

Yet this latest study totally ignored the quality of the soil used to raise the food in the studies.

 

Grassfed Meat Is Far Superior to Factory Meat, and Depends on Good Soil

Like almost all such studies, the issue of whether the meat people ate was grassfed or factory meat was totally ignored. But the truth of the matter is that grassfed meat contains far more nutrients than factory meat, containing far more omega-3 fatty acids, much higher levels of CLA, and many other nutrients. This has actually been established by studies, whose information is superbly presented and summarized in this excellent article at EatWild.com, Health Benefits of Grass-fed Products.

While most grassfed beef is not organic, it is raised with methods that are the equivalent of organic, and it must be raised on soil that is rich enough to support good grass, or the cattle will not thrive and fatten. Many grassfed ranchers use traditional rotational grazing methods to enrich their soil and improve their grass.

 

Truly Organic Food, Grown on Good Soil, Is Much More Nutritious than Conventional Food

I have eaten organic food that seemed quite ordinary, and organic food that filled me with energy, made symptoms disappear, and made me feel like I had just taken a drink from the fountain of youth. The difference? I am convinced it was the soil. Much organic food is grown on soil that was once used for chemical agriculture, which ruins and depletes the soil.

But some organic food is grown on clean soil, free of chemicals, which has been carefully nurtured with traditional methods. I have eaten fruit and meat raised at Chaffin Family Orchards. The fruit, eggs, and meat from this farm is raised on land that has never been sprayed with chemicals. Land that has not been tainted with artificial fertilizer. Land whose fertility is carefully nurtured and preserved by traditional methods, such as rotational grazing.

The first Chaffin food I ate was some organic apricots. The skin on two of my fingers was quite dry and was peeling and cracked in a few small areas. I thought it was due to the hot, dry summer and not drinking enough. While apricots are not my favorite food, these apricots were delicious beyond dreams, I felt so good and renewed when I ate them. Within two days, the skin on these fingers had healed completely, as if it had never been damaged. I had been eating plenty of organic fruits and vegetables before I ate the Chaffin apricots, and I am convinced that it was the good soil that made the difference. There was some nutrient in those apricots that my body used to heal the dry skin. Anecdotal? Totally.

But let us remember something. Humans have been learning and passing down information for tens of thousands of years, maybe longer. All of that knowledge was anecdotal. Modern scientific studies have been around for less than two hundred years, and would have never been invented if it were not for the anecdotal information that came first. There is old saying—experience is the best teacher. What I learned from the Chaffin apricots taught me to appreciate the value of food grown on pure, rich, chemical-free soil. I trust this experience far more than any number of flawed studies.

Based on the knowledge of how agricultural research is conducted today, the work of Dr. Price, and my own experience—I am convinced that organic food, or the equivalent of organic, raised on good soil—contains far more nutrients than conventional foods.

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

Why Grassfed Meat Is Good for the Planet

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

Bison herd
Creative Commons License photo credit: gr8dnes These magnificent bison and lush grasslands support each other in nature’s balance.

The World Water Conference is now taking place, and misinformation rules. A report came out claiming that meat must be reduced to five percent or less of the world’s diet, so the increasing population can be fed. The report claimed that there will not be enough water to feed the planet without this dietary change. Vegan and vegetarian diets are now necessary to save the planet? Nonsense!

The fact of the matter is this. Vast herds of grazing animals made agriculture possible, by creating and supporting grasslands and soil. The world’s water supply can be greatly increased by increasing the number of grazing animals, and having them follow proper grazing practices. Not only will this greatly increase the water supply, but it will result in the creation of great amounts of new soil suitable for growing crops, and increase the size and richness of grasslands, allowing even more herds to graze. And the grassfed meat made available by following this path will provide the food that is far more nutrient-dense and nourishing than a plant-only diet.

This is not a fantasy. Properly managed grazing has already reversed desertification in many areas of the world, which has resulted in the restoration of dried out streams and rivers and the formation of rich soil.

Grassfed meat is not the problem. It is the solution.

 

The Vegan Fantasy Holds No Water

This is true in more than one way. The theory that we must reduce meat eating to five percent or less of the world’s diet is based on several misconceptions, ideology, and a lack of understanding of the vital role played by grazing animals.

The assumption is made that most meat will be raised by the factory model, with large amounts of food plants such as soy and corn used to feed the animals. This process is harmful, in that the animals are fed an unnatural diet that makes them far less nutritious, and a lot of water is used to grow these crops that are fed to animals. Even worse, when the animals are not grazing in dense herds, they are not performing their proper function of enriching and creating soil, and creating and recreating grasslands, which hold water in the earth, and prevent desertification and the wastage of water. Properly managed grassfed grazing avoids these problems, and rebuilds the earth and increases the water supply. Grassfed animals need no crops to be grown for them, and proper grazing practices create plant life that holds water in the soil, increasing rainfall and the water supply.

If the world’s supply of grazing animals is greatly decreased as recommended by the report, the world’s soil will literally hold no water, and desertification and a great reduction in the world’s water supply will occur. This could lead to mass starvation.

 

How the Grasslands Were Created

Once, there were huge herds of grazing animals on the grasslands of our planet. A perfect example was the huge herds of bison, estimated at seventy million or more, that once roamed the Great Plains of the United States. These herds moved in tight groups, as a defense against predators. When they grazed on a particular area of land, they would eat all the old growth, dig up the earth, stomp the grass seeds deep into the churned up soil, fertilize the soil with their manure, and leave. It would be months before they returned, and the rich crop of grass they planted in the earth they dug up with their hooves, and fertilized with their manure, grew and thrived. This rich grass held water in the soil, creating more rainfall that resulted in the creation of rivers and streams that provided more water for richer grass and for the grazing animals to drink. When the herds returned, the whole process was repeated.

The herds supported the grass and the grass fed the herds. This was the perfect balance created by nature, and it resulted in the creation of rich soil that could support food crops. Grazing animals were the key to the health and life of the soil, and still are.

 

How the Grasslands Are Being Turned into Deserts

The great wild herds of grazing animals are largely gone, replaced by modern monocrops, which suck the life out of the soil and destroy many of the grasses and plants necessary for the land to hold water. Small modern herds do not follow proper grazing practices, and do far less to help the land. Pesticides and chemicals are used to kill many of the native grasses, and the few crops planted by humans take huge amounts of water to grow, without returning any water to the land. Croplands are not rotated, and the land is given no chance to rest and regenerate. These practices have resulted in large amounts of grassland turning into desert. Deserts that cannot be used to grow crops. Deserts that cannot hold water. This is a huge problem all over the world, including the U.S. Reducing the number of grazing animals will only accelerate the process.

 

The Natural Solution

Since herds create and support grasslands, the solution is herds of grazing animals. This is not theory, it has already been done. Holistic Management, a system created by Allan Savory, uses properly managed herds of grazing animals, including cattle, to rebuild and support soil through an ingenious system that actually reverses the desertification process. You have only to look at the before and after photos maintained at the Savory Institute website to see what a huge difference this process can make.

The Holistic Management system works with and honors the laws of nature to restore grasslands, using grazing animals as a vital part of the process. Many grassfed ranchers have been inspired to use similar grazing practices to improve their land and soil. This includes John Wood of U.S. Wellness Meats, who has greatly improved the grass yield and quality of his soil, as shown in Grassfed Farmer Renews the Land. I can attest to the excellence of the meat he raises, having eaten it many times.

We can support these ranchers and their efforts to heal and restore the grasslands by buying and eating the wonderful grassfed meat they raise. In fact, I submit that one of the best things any of us can do to increase the food, soil, and water supply of the planet is to eat grassfed meat from ranchers using proper grazing practices. This is the most delicious and nourishing “burden” I can imagine.

We need far more grazing animals, not less, and their meat and fat is the most nourishing food humans have ever eaten. We do not need the factory meat system, which goes against the laws of nature and truly wastes resources.

Eating grassfed meat is not the problem. It is the solution.

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

 

Ancestral Wisdom — An Ancient Food Safety System that We Can Learn From

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

These healthy grassfed cattle will provide good meat.

These healthy grassfed cattle will provide good meat.

The first food safety system allows the meat from animals too sick to stand to enter the meat supply. The second food safety system does not allow any meat from a sick or diseased animal to be eaten.

One is modern, and one has been in use for three thousand years. Which is more advanced? The answer is obvious. Common sense alone tells us that nobody should be eating meat from an animal to sick to stand. You might be surprised to learn that it is our own modern U.S. food safety system that allows the meat from animals too sick to stand to be eaten, and it is the ancient food safety system that forbids it.

We are taught that our modern society is far superior to all previous societies in every respect. We are taught to think of our ancestors as primitive and ignorant, especially when it comes to matters like food safety. Yet that is simply not true.

Of course, with our advanced technology, we could do much better than a three thousand year old food safety system. But we do not. Because our system is set up to maximize speed and profit, and the ancient system was set up to maximize safety.

 

A Tale of Two Food Safety Systems

About three thousand years ago, the kosher dietary system was set up, as part of the Jewish religion. This system has probably been modified over time, but most of it appears to have not changed. While the kosher system is better known for its restrictions on what foods can be eaten, it has definite food safety provisions relating to meat inspection that we can learn from. It is likely that many other ancient peoples followed similar principles, but what they did is not documented.

One of the key goals of the kosher inspection system was to prevent the eating of meat from sick animals. We know that many ancient peoples shared this goal. It stands to reason that nobody would want to eat the meat from a sick animal, for obvious reasons.

Every animal was inspected before slaughter. If the animal showed any signs of illness or ill health, it was rejected, and could not be used for meat. If the animal was dirty, it was rejected, and could not be used for meat. This inspection was carried out carefully, by a man who was trained to notice signs of illness. There was no time limit for the inspection. It took what it took.

If the animal passed the first inspection, it was inspected again after slaughter. Most of the internal organs of the animal were carefully examined for any sign of disease. If any sign of disease was found, all the meat of the animal was declared unclean, and could not be eaten. Again, no time limit was placed on the inspection of the internal organs of the animal. It took what it took to do a thorough job.

Our own American meat inspection system is very different. For reasons that can be only related to profit, our government allows meat from animals too sick to stand to enter the meat supply. Recently, the state of California tried to stop this practice by outlawing the use of meat from such animals. The federal government tried to stop this law. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which overthrew the California law, ruling it was preempted by Federal law. And the federal government simply has failed to ban such meat.

The other great problem is that meat animals are slaughtered and their meat is usually processed at great speed, which the industry has constantly increased, as speed means profit. What this means in reality is that the carcasses and meat from slaughtered animals move quickly past the meat inspectors on a conveyor belt, and the meat inspector is supposed to be able to see any problems as the carcasses whiz by. When it comes to chickens, a meat inspector is supposed to examine 90 chickens a minute, and it has been proposed that the rate be increased to 180 chickens a minute. Some inspectors have been quoted as saying that they cannot really notice much when they are responsible for 90 chickens a minute. Expecting anyone to be able to examine so many chickens in so short a time is beyond absurd.

 

Is All Kosher Meat Superior?

Not necessarily. It does not matter what the system is, unless its requirements are followed. An animal can be raised on unnatural feed and show no signs of disease. As I have written many times before, I consider grassfed meat to be far superior to grain-fed meat, and almost all kosher meat is grain-finished. Allegations have been made that not all producers of kosher meats follow the required procedures. I have no way of knowing what the truth is. The point of this article is not to advocate kosher meat, but to point out how it forbids the use of the meat of sick animals, and that we should do the same.

 

What We Should Do

I consider safety to be far more important than profit. Surely we can take steps to identify and remove the meat of any sick animal before it enters the food supply. We can do at least as well as a system devised three thousand years ago.

The processing of meat animals can and must be slowed down enough to allow for a thorough examination of each animal. Animals should be examined both before and after slaughter. Any that show any signs of illness should be banned from the meat supply. The meat industry should change its practices to raise healthier animals. They will do this if the meat from sick animals cannot be used. The federal government should put the safety of the meat supply above the profit of the big producers.

For now, I only eat grassfed meat. I believe that meat animals fed their natural diet, grass, grazing naturally on living grass, are healthier than factory animals. Factory animals are penned in a feedlot for months and fed GMO corn, GMO soy, and other species-inappropriate feeds. Besides, grassfed meat tastes much better, and I feel good and renewed after eating it.

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

Only Small Farms Produce Magical Food

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

Dry-aged grass-fed Porterhouse steak

Grassfed Porterhouse steak aged to perfection. Cut by master butcher Robert Webster.

I had pre-ordered a grassfed Porterhouse steak for a special occasion. My butcher had dry aged the meat for several weeks. I waited with anticipation as he finished trimming off the dark, dry exterior, while leaving a healthy fat cap on the steak. When he presented me with the finished steak, I was stunned. I had expected it to look good, but not like this.

You can see the steak in the accompanying photo, with a deep, beautiful color, well marbled with fine flecks of life giving grassfed fat. It was one of the most beautiful steaks I had ever seen. I could only imagine how good it would taste. It looked even better in person than in the photo.

I have had plenty of great meat from this particular rancher, but nothing that looked like this. I asked the butcher why this meat looked so outstanding. He told me that they had been getting some beautiful meat from this rancher recently, even better than his usual excellent grassfed meat. And he told me the secret. The rancher said that there was a special pasture that he could use only part of the year. There was something about that particular pasture that his cattle thrived on. Every year when they grazed that pasture, they produced outstanding meat even better than usual. And meat that had a great deal of beautiful grassfed marbling. And the taste was also much better. The rancher just knew that this particular parcel of pasture produced magnificent meat. He finished as many of his cattle as he could on that pasture.

We had that steak for a special occasion, and I can tell you that it tasted even better than it looked. The tenderness was outstanding, and the flavor—that flavor would have won a prize anywhere. If that steak was a wine, it would have been a prize vintage. It was like magic. The magic of a special pasture, used wisely by a skilled rancher, enhanced by the art of two master butchers.

No factory meat, fattened on industrial feed, could come close to tasting like this.

Real food raised by artisan farmers is good beyond belief, Industrial food has no magic.

One of the worst things about industrial food is that we lose the joy, the magic of food. . Once, in America, farmers just did not use an industrial mix to grow food or feed animals. They used the unique magic of the land itself. The local people knew what farmer had particularly good cherries, or corn, or beef, and these farmers used their knowledge of the unique aspects of their land to produce food that was so good it was magical. Fruits and vegetables were eaten in season, at the peak of their perfection. Cattle were finished on special pastures chosen for their richness and wonderful effect on the cattle. Cattle and sheep might graze in a particular meadow, whose plants would give a nice flavor to the meat. Every farmer and rancher had their own special knowledge, often passed down from father to son, mother to daughter. And they would use this special knowledge to create food that was so much tastier and nutritious than the industrial food of today that there is no comparison. Eating this artisan food will renew your body and energy, enabling all the natural functions of your body to perform perfectly.

Industrial agriculture produces food that has no soul. This food, raised with chemicals from a lab, has a mediocre taste that is the same no matter where it grown, and no art, no magic. Just fodder that people eat because they have gotten used to the mediocre taste, and know no better. Food that is inferior in taste, in appearance, in texture, and in nutrition. Food with no magic.

My father, who grew up in rural Canada many years ago, constantly told me how much better the food was, and how modern fruits, vegetables, and meat had hardly any flavor, and never made you feel good. I thought he was old, and lost his sense of taste. I realize now he was right all along.

Magic food only comes from small farms and ranches.

I have been blessed in being able to eat some unbelievably wonderful food on many occasions. Grassfed beef, grassfed bison, grassfed lamb, and heritage pork that have the magic that only a master rancher, with great pasture, can produce. Vegetables with so much flavor that they make even organic supermarket vegetables taste like cardboard. And I have experienced the wonderful nutrition you get from food like this. Not only do you have the great pleasure of eating magical food, your body feels wonderful and renewed. You never feel stuffed or bloated on food of this quality.

But you can only get food of this quality from one kind of place. A small farm or ranch, where the farmer knows the magic of producing superior, real food. Every farm and ranch like this is a treasure, one well worth preserving. The quality of food from such a place ranges from excellent to even better. And sometimes, if you buy just the right food at just the right time, you will experience the food magic that most modern people have lost.

Let us do all we can to support our great small farmers, so the magic will not die.

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

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.

 

 

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.

Next Page »