Tag Archives: grass-fed meat

Why I don’t like (Meatless) Mondays!

Cows on pasture at Polyface Farm

Cows on pasture at Polyface Farm

Hello dear readers! Happy New Year to all of you!

I am writing because it is Monday…a Monday suggested to be “Meatless” by Food, Inc. and others.  (Yep. All over FB today.) Heck, there’s a whole website and movement dedicated to it. It’s the start of a new year, and I’d just like to clear something up from the get-go.

I would LOVE “Meatless Mondays” if it was specified that the meat we are being asked to go without on Mondays was CAFO meat. That is, meat from animals raised in confinement–specifically, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, “CAFOs”. You see, a CAFO burger is not a burger…a CAFO steak is not a steak…one cannot compare meat from a CAFO operation with that from a pasture. CAFOs are also known as feedlots.  (There are a  lot of them out here in Colorado; I have the distinct displeasure of driving by them and the stench of them permeates the air some mornings, depending on how the wind blows. Ever put your head into a diaper pail filled with dirty diapers and taken a sniff? You get the idea. Repulsive. Hundreds and thousands of cows crowded on a dirt lot, standing in their own excrement, eating grain full of soy and corn and more–which is probably GMO. And that’s the meat we get to eat here in the USA.)

The vast majority of meat eaten in America comes from CAFOs. Yes, it does. That burger at your favorite burger joint, that filet mignon at that fancy French restaurant, the taco at your favorite Mexican restaurant…nearly all the beef in every supermarket in the country including Whole Foods Market (unless it is marked “grassfed” and “grass-finished”.) But let us not confuse meat from CAFOs with meat from animals raised on pasture as they are meant to be. Grassfed and -finished meat is good for the planet, good for the animals and good for you and your health. One just cannot compare CAFO meat with grass-fed and -finished meat. So let’s not lump them together, shall we? The health problems attributed to meat is not the meat that is raised on pasture, sustainably.

Grass-fed meat is good for the planet. Grass farming sequesters carbon! This knocks out the popular argument that eating meat contributes to global warming… “if you care about the planet, stop eating meat”. Oy.  If all cows were on pasture, we would not have the methane gas problem that we do today, nor many of the other problems that feedlots produce including runoff and water pollution. The High Priest of Pasture, one of my heroes, Joel Salatin, talks eloquently about carbon sequestration all the time.  Here’s a great talk Joel gave at TEDMED in DC April 2012.  Chris Kerston of Chaffin Family Orchards  also spoke on How Grassfed Beef will Save the World last November at the Weston A. Price Foundation annual conference.

Grass-fed meat is good for the animals because…well, duh. Animals are meant to express their “animal-ness”, to paraphrase Joel Salatin. Cows and bison are meant to eat grass. Chickens are meant to eat grass and bugs. It’s “humane” if that fits for animals, it’s ethical, and it’s natural. What’s good for the animals is good for us. Read on.

Grass-fed meat is good for us to eat because it is more nutritious, leaner, and chock full of Omega 3s (those Essential Fatty Acids your brain and your body needs) and CLAs (conjugated linoleic acid…with anti-cancer properties and many other good things!) Everyone knows that the nutrient profile of meat depends upon what the animal (or bird or fish) is fed. Meat from animals raised on pasture is simply more nutritious because it comes from animals that ate what they are supposed to eat. Grass.  Also, you know this food is more nutrient-dense because you are not hungry an hour or two after you eat! You are satisfied.

But again, this is America, and the vast majority of meat eaten in this country is from animals in CAFOs.  Not kidding. We can continue to patronize our crazy food system that perpetuates the confinement model, or we can make another choice; take a different path. Truth is, I would love it if EVERY day were declared a CAFO-meatless day! Can you imagine if everyone stopped eating meat from animals raised on feedlots or in cages? The entire fast-food industry would come crashing down…supermarket meat shelves would bulge with burger patties and steaks and hot dogs and sausages…and chicken tenders and breasts until they rotted past their expiration date. People would be healthier! Hospitals and doctors and prescription drug makers would have no takers! We would have more energy due to more nutrients in our bodies AND less toxins from our food. Heck, I daresay we would have a revolution on our hands!

Let’s do it.

Let’s make EVERY day a CAFO-meatless day! Or to say it differently, let’s make every day a pastured meat day! Vote with your pocket book, folks! Seek out meat from local sources (or not so local when necessary) that raise their animals on pasture. And make it a CAFO-meatless Monday! And Tuesday! And Wednesday! And…you get it. 😉 Eat Wild is a great site to find local grass-fed meat. And check with your local WAPF chapter for farmers, farmers markets, and CSAs near you.

(Don’t even get me started about all the milk Americans drink from confinement dairies. That will have to be for another time.)

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August and September classes!

Hey folks, visit the 2011 Class Schedule page…I just added classes for August and September. These are the last classes I will teach in the DC metro area for a while, as I am moving in late September. If you would like to take a class with me in this area, *now’s the time*!! I did my best to incorporate the class requests that came in. Thanks to everyone who will be hosting these two months, to those who offered to host, and to those who have hosted me over the years!

Classes include:

Enzyme-Rich Sauces! The Secret Ingredient to Satiety

Beans and Grains for Autumn

Greens-GLORIOUS Greens- and Squash!

and 

A Week of Healthy Breakfasts!

You will also find information about the weekend of classes in Charlottesville, VA in September: Nourishing Healthy Children. If you know anyone in Charlottesville, kindly *spread the word*!! Thanks!

As always, I look forward to cooking with you!

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I’m in the desert. The “food desert*”.

I am currently in the desert, or one of them. Stranded in Phoenix, AZ on the way to San Francisco. (Okay, “stranded” is a bit severe, but you get my point.) On my way to the 2011 Fourfold Healing Conference that starts today. One of the planes I was to be on had some mechanical issues, so there was a new plane, and yes, delays. And I landed here. In Phoenix, on the way to San Francisco. I have no problem with Phoenix, or with deserts, per se. I do have a problem with what I have been experiencing, however. A food desert. I’ll tell you more.

I woke up today in my airline voucher room feeling stranded. Stranded between two islands…or oases. I became aware of my thought that I was between two points…two places or “oases” (yes, get the visual here)…and I am. I am between my home and my destination point. I am between my home and a conference. But it is more than that. I am lost in a desert, a food desert, between my home, where I create, serve, and eat nourishing, REAL food, and a conference where they will serve and I will eat nourishing food. (Yes, locally sourced, organic, nutrient-dense, prepared traditionally so the nutrients are available to the body. At a conference!) In between, there is not much REAL food to eat! Oh, a banana or an apple or two at the airport…I even found an organic yogurt (albeit the second ingredient was organically milled cane sugar). But that was it folks. It is a FOOD DESERT OUT HERE between these two points. And I’m in it. (Temporarily, thank God.) The scary thing is, this is “what is” for the average American, and certainly the average American traveler. Heck, even those in business class are out here with me. No REAL food to be found. Or very little. NONE on the plane and the food from the restaurant at the airport in DC gave me a racing heart, dry mouth, deep thirst,  and smelly flatulence! BTW, flatulence means that your body is having difficulty digesting the food you have eaten. The smell reflects the amount of toxins your body is having to process. So if you’re smelly often, you may want to review what you are eating and how your body is digesting or failing to digest your food. :))

As I said previously, I have no problem with the city I’m in. (In fact, if I had a longer layover, I’d get to see a dear cousin who lives here.) The hotel is nice, and they will do their best to serve a lovely, typical American breakfast…continental or “full”. The folks with whom I am traveling, all seventeen of us sharing this unplanned stopover–will probably say it is wonderful, bountiful and delicious. But I am blessed and cursed with “eyes that see”…or just with “knowing” what REAL food is, and what our bodies need to thrive. I am HOPING for REAL BUTTER…but I have a feeling that even if I find it, all that I will be able to spread it on will be refined wheat products…no sourdough, no sprouted grains, no soaked oatmeal.  I am HOPING for REAL CREAM…but that is hard to find in these days of full fat fear…if I am able to find even “half and half”, bet your bottom dollar it won’t be organic, it won’t be from grass-fed cows, and it will be UHT (ultra-high temperature pasteurized). I KNOW I won’t find any ferments…I may be able to find some plain yogurt. But again, it will be from cows raised on grain, not organic, certainly low-fat or no-fat…Perhaps I’ll find some bacon or sausage–but locally sourced and nitrate free? Think again. So…what to do? Not eat? Not an option today, folks. I am living on 4 plus hours of sleep after a very choppy day of travel, with a full day and weekend ahead of me. So I have to eat something. At this point it’s just “fuel for the body” to get to my final destination point…where I KNOW the food will be nourishing, whole, REAL, and truly satisfying. Until then, I’ll do my best to pick and choose the best of what I am presented with. Until I am out of the desert.

The bigger question of course remains…how to populate the food desert between the two points with REAL food. With the ability to discern what is nourishing and nurturing food that will help the body thrive. And that, as you know my dear readers, is the point of all I do. On to the conference and back into my life to “teach, teach, teach!” and do my best to make the desert fertile with REAL food. For all of us.

*Note:  I am borrowing a term that is usually used these days to describe urban areas where there is no fresh food to be found for sometimes miles. Yes, miles. Those “food deserts” must also be addressed, and some of the efforts of “urban agriculture” are doing so. For examples, see the city of Baltimore and San Francisco. Future Harvest offered good information about urban ag at their conference this past January.

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Why I don’t eat out often…aka one secret to the obesity epidemic

Yes, folks, it is true. I do go out to a restaurant every once in a while.  Everyone needs a break from the kitchen, right? I, too, get lulled into the somewhat dreamy idea of someone else preparing the meal and being served instead of serving. I have noticed, though, that every time I eat out (or we order in–again very seldom),  I AM HUNGRY two hours later. HUNGRY HUNGRY HUNGRY. Gotta eat. I am foraging through my very own refrigerator for some nutrient-dense REAL food.  “Why?” one might ask. Because most restaurant food is not nutrient-dense*. Most is processed or otherwise “dead” food that is cooked and served up…and we pay them for it. It is supposed to be a treat: food filled with preservatives, SALT, (and not even good salt at that), MSG, and other things I would never have in my pantry.

I would submit to you, folks, that this is part of the obesity epidemic we have going on in our country. Eat out, eat out, eat out, eat out. Prepared foods. Frozen foods. Fast foods. Microwaved foods. And then WE ARE HUNGRY ALL THE TIME. So we eat. So we eat more. And what do we eat? What they (the USDA food pyramid) tell us to eat…low fat, no fat, high carb…chips and crackers and rice cakes and veggie puffs. And because all of these are nutrient-poor and do not satisfy our body’s need for nutrients, WE EAT MORE. Of the same. And we are still not satisfied. So empty calories pile up and we are getting fatter and we don’t understand why and worse, WE ARE STILL HUNGRY.  And the newest USDA food pyramid is more of the same…recommending more and more foods that will not satisfy. And our children are getting fatter. Obese. Diabetic. And no one sees the connection. This really is nuts folks.

So what to do?…eat more REAL food. Feed your children more REAL food. Eat more REAL food and you will eat less of it because your body will get what it needs. What is REAL food? Nutrient-dense food. Fresh from the farm or your garden food, live food, food that has no labels…non-GMO food, fermented and cultured food…food free from pesticides and herbicides and fertilizers…healthy fats, nutrient-rich eggs from pastured chickens…meat from grass-fed animals, if you eat meat.

I figure if we start teaching kids early about REAL food, they may have a fighting chance to have a healthy life. Rachel Cross and I will be “serving up tools for a lifetime of healthy eating” to kids 9-12 in our It’s All About REAL Food: Cooking, Art & Music in Celebration of Healthy Eating summer camp in Takoma Park, MD next week, August 2-6.

Here’s wishing you more REAL food in your life…more satisfaction…more nutrient-density…and less hunger!

(*Disclaimer: I am not talking about those restaurants that source fresh, local, sustainably raised food (like those that use Polyface Meat) and serve REAL butter.)

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