Why We Love Maybel (4 Moo-tastic Reasons)

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In case you haven’t already heard us shout it to the rooftops on facebook and instagram, I’m going to take one more opportunity to really hammer the message home — WE GOT A COW!

And now that she’s here, it’s hard to imagine how we went so long without her big brown eyes, her loud “MOOOOOOO”, and the massive cow pies that she leaves all over the pasture.

Oh, and did I mention that she’s pregnant!?

You know what that means — lots of delicious, raw, beyond organic, grass-fed milk come April. Yup, we’re pretty excited about Maybel around here. Here’s a few more reasons why:


Why We <3 Maybel

  • MAYBEL FACT #1: She’s a Jersey. The Jersey breed comes from — you guessed it — New Jersey! Researchers aren’t quite sure how Jersey cattle were first brought to Jersey Island, but they generally suspect that Jerseys originated from the adjacent coast of France (cattle resembling Jerseys are found in Normandy and Brittany).

    The Jersey breed are said to be more efficient producers of milk, less susceptible to a number of diseases and conditions, and can adapt extremely well to a variety of climates. They also have…

    • Greater fertility and little to no calving problems.
    • More nutritious milk that contains 18% more protein, 20% more calcium, and 25% more butterfat than milk from other cows.
    • A2 Milk (read more about this in #3).

  • MAYBEL FACT #2: She’s a sweetheart.

    maybel2
    According to this website, “Jerseys are thought to have one of the best temperaments among the dairy breeds.” If this picture isn’t proof of that, I don’t know what is.

  • MAYBEL FACT #3: Milk — raw, delicious, beyond organic milk! This could be an entire blog post in itself (and probably will be at some point). But for now, a summarized version of why Maybel’s milk will be a-mooo-zing will have to do.

    In addition to having a higher protein and nutrient content, Maybel’s milk also contains the beta-casein A2 (not A1). I knew nothing about this distinction until we got Maybel (and am still learning the details of it), but I do know that ALL cows produced A2 Milk back in the day. Around 8,000 years ago, and a new type of milk (A1) came about as the result of a mutation.

    There’s compelling research that links A1 milk (most of what’s available in the U.S.) to a slew serious health problems including heart disease, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, autism, schizophrenia, and more (check out this video series by Sean Croxton for more information on the difference between A1 and A2 milk).

    Maybel’s natural diet of organic grass along with the raw, unpasteurized state of her milk (pasteurization destroys the good bacteria in milk that allows our bodies to digest it properly) will also contribute to it’s nutritious and wholesome goodness.

    We couldn’t be more excited to try her milk and pass it along to our neighbors in So-Cal!

  • MAYBEL FACT #4: Maybel is (and will always be) a very happy and healthy cow.

    maybel3
    She’ll spend the duration of her life on fresh pasture, soaking up the sun and grazing on delicious green grass. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Anything else you want to know or share about Maybel, milk, or the Jersey breed? Ask/share it with a comment!

Behind the Craft: Butchery

Photo cred: The Heart & Trotter

Photo cred: The Heart & Trotter

The Primal Pastures family recently helped to put on an event hosted by Green Flash Beer and The Heart & Trotter called Behind the Craft: Butchery. It took place in Green Flash’s tasting room in San Diego and consisted of a live butchering demo, expertly prepared dishes (many of which included organ meats from Cook Pigs) that were paired with various beers, and loads of info on butchery, beer, and sustainable farming.

Organization isn’t one of our strong suits as a family (we’re working on it). And as Farmer Jeff and I, Farmer Rob and Liz, and Farmer Tom were driving to the event, we realized that none of us had a clue what we were getting ourselves into.

The only one who really knew anything about the event ahead of time was Farmer Paul, and he was out of town. From the little he had told us, we knew that the event would include a live lamb butchering demo (with a Primal Pastures lamb we had provided ahead of time), and we knew that Farmer Jeff and Farmer Rob would be expected to give a little shpeal about Primal Pastures.

That was it.

Unsure of what to expect, we continued on to Green Flash. A few minutes after arriving, it became pretty clear that we were about to embark on a pretty incredible evening.

The tasting room.

The tasting room.

Liz and me sipping on Green Flash beer :)

Liz and me sipping on Green Flash beer :)

Dave Adams, Green Flash Director of Beer Education, kicked off the event by giving the crowd a run-down on what beer is, how to taste it, and how it’s made. I was super impressed by the distinct and cutting-edge beers that Green Flash had to offer. They put a ton of effort and creativity into their craft, and it shows. All of the beers I tried that evening were quite tasty. The rest of the family thought so too!

The Heart & Trotter (a whole animal butchery) co-founders James Holtslag and Trey Nichols also spoke to the crowd about their mission to “provide San Diego with the highest quality, local, and sustainable meats and products.” They ONLY work with local farms (like us!) that are dedicated to providing their community with meat that has been raised and slaughtered in the most humane way possible.

They’re passionate about educating others on the benefits of sustainable butchery and supporting local, community-based agriculture. James and Trey are also big advocates of using the WHOLE animal and wasting nothing in the butchering process (something that was reflected in the dishes we were served throughout the night).

Needless to say, these guys are awesome. And after a successful kickstarter campaign, they’re super close to opening their own shop in North Park on the corner of Utah and El Cajon Blvd. Be sure to check them out and pay them a visit if you’re local or visiting the area!

James then began the lamb butchering demo, which went on for the remainder of the evening. A live video feed of the butchering was shown on a large projector screen so that the audience could see him cut, carve, and slice.

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Photo cred: The Heart & Trotter

Photo cred: The Heart & Trotter

During part of the demonstration, Jeff & Rob talked about Primal Pastures (who we are, how we started, what we’re all about, etc.). It’s always fun to hear them share our story!

In the midst of all of this, dishes were being brought out — each one of which was carefully paired with a Green Flash brew. Dave walked us through flavor profiles and tasting notes of each dish/beer combo.

This was not an event for the timid, picky, or unadventurous eater. Thankfully, I am none of those things when it comes to food and enjoyed every dish immensely.

The first dish to come out was pork scrapple topped with a poached egg and paired with Citra Session, a deliciously citrusy beer. I had never heard of “scrapple” before and just assumed that it was some kind of sausage, since that’s what it looked like. It wasn’t until after I had finished it that I found out that scrapple is made from ground up leftover pork scraps and trimmings mixed with spices and sometimes cornmeal, wheat flour, and buckwheat flour. Whatever it was, it tasted darn good!

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The second dish was blood sausage (made from blood & fat mixed with onion and garlic) paired with Le Freak, a 9.2% beer that I had to remind myself to drink VERY slowly.

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Next up was Pork Head Cheese served with petite greens and a Belgian-Style Pale Ale with Brettanomyces (no idea what that means, but it was good). Head Cheese was another first for me. And the name kind of says it all — as it includes shredded up parts of pork head. I know — I’m making your mouth water profusely with these descriptions! Anyone? No? Okay — almost done.

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Lastly, we were served Primal Pastures lamb sliders topped with caramelized onions and paired with the “Road Warrior” beer, another dangerous nine-point-two-percenter. The sliders were amazing — I love our lamb! It’s the best ever. Seriously. And in case you’re wondering, I didn’t eat the bread. Not that it would have been a big deal if I did, but it’s just not worth it for me to “cheat” on very much of anything these days (except for beer — that was worth it).

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Would you have tried these dishes? Or did you decide to become a vegetarian halfway through reading this post? Let me know with a comment!

Recipe Spotlight Contest — Paleo Meatballs

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This recipe spotlight contest entry is brought to you by Megan Harris! Megan works in software sales and lives in Huntington Beach with her 4 year-old son Nigel. She is always looking for fun and creative ways to teach her son about healthy eating habits and living well! *Remember to comment on this post to help Megan win a $50 gift card to Primal Pastures! Take it away, Megan!

I’ve been a customer of Primal Pastures for some months now and have been eating primal/paleo for almost three years…mostly ;). I’m a huge fan of NomNom Paleo, PaleOMG and Civilized Caveman but I’ve never made any of their meatball recipes since I’ve been making mine so long and never get bored of them. (I also realized how hard it is to take a good food picture!! How do they do that?!?!)

My son, Nigel, is 4 years old and an amazing eater for which I’m eternally grateful. He’s had a ‘foodie’ palate since he began eating solids so I try to foster that as much as I can. I work full time and love to cook but sometimes it’s hard to do everything so sneaking veggies in everywhere I can and making quick, healthy meals are my priorities. I’ve always loved meatballs (who doesn’t???) but never really understood the milk/bread or breadcrumb thing. Eggs work perfectly well as a binder and use the right meat to make them moist and delicious! This is super easy and it passes the Nigel test every time.

Makes approximately 24 meatballs.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Primal Pastures ground beef
  • 1 small zuchinni
  • 1 medium carrot
  • ½ lb mushrooms
  • ½ small onion
  • 1 Primal Pastures egg
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ cup homemade or jarred marinara sauce plus more for serving (I like Victoria’s I find at Costco or Rao’s. All natural, short list of ingredients and NO added sugar.)
  • 1 T Fat of choice for sautéing veggies (I tend to use olive oil or ghee for these. Coconut oil just doesn’t seem to taste right*)
  • 1 T Fat of choice for sautéing meatballs for crusty exterior (I tend to use olive oil or ghee for these. Coconut oil just doesn’t seem to taste right*)

Materials

  • 1 large bowl
  • Food processor or grater
  • Rimmed cookie sheet
  • Nonstick liner or parchment
  • 1 ½ “ diameter cookie scoop
  • Sauté pan

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line cookie sheet with liner or parchment.

  2. Finely chop mushrooms and shred zucchini, carrot and onion (I use a food processor). Transfer to sauté pan on medium with fat of choice for about 10 minutes until veggies are soft and moisture has evaporated. Stir regularly. Meanwhile, whisk egg through tomato sauce on the ingredients list in a large bowl then add ground beef and mix well. Let veggies cool slightly and incorporate into ground beef mixture (your hands work best!)

  3. Line the cookie sheet and grab that scoop! Use scoop to portion meat mixture and roll into balls with your hands. I fit about 24 on my half sheet pan. Cook for about 20 minutes until cooked through. I use the oven initially because it gets them all cooked evenly at the same time. Let the meatballs cool and freeze for future use. Once you are ready to eat defrost the amount you need. I like a crusty exterior so I sauté them for a few minutes in 1T of fat. Add sauce and server alone or with your favorite veggie! We are partial to spaghetti squash.

I typically use organic locally grown veggies but use what’s best for you. Also, this recipe is scalable and adjustable… I make 3 lbs of meatballs at a time so I have more. Are you pressed for time? Chop up half a bag of Trader Joe’s organic broccoli slaw and proceed straight to sautéing the veggies. Like more of an Asian flavor? Omit the tomato sauce, add green onion, dried ginger and a drop or two sesame oil. (*Coconut oil works here.) Not into meatballs? Stick in a pan and make a meatloaf. Most importantly, experiment and adjust for your taste!

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Grass-Fed Beef (And What to Do Instead)

feedlotcows

I know what you’re thinking.

“You guys SELL grass-fed beef, and now you’re telling us not to buy it!? What’s going on here?”

Hear me out — I’ll make my point soon. But first, let me clear up some of the confusion that this post’s title has probably already caused.

Cows are indeed supposed to eat grass — not the genetically modified corn/soy/grain mixture they’re given in feed lots. Grass-fed beef contains 2-5 times more omega-3s and 2-3 times more Conjugated Linoleic Acid (a polyunsaturated fat that’s high in antioxidants and protects against heart disease, diabetes, and cancer).

In addition, the extraordinarily higher antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral content of grass-fed beef compared to grain-fed beef isn’t anything to scoff at. According to Chris Kresser,

Grass-fed beef also contains significantly more of the antioxidants vitamin E, glutathione, superoxide dismutase (SOD), and catalase than grain-fed beef. These antioxidants play an important role in protecting our cells from oxidation, especially delicate fats in the cell membrane such as omega-3 and omega-6.

Antioxidants such as vitamin E and beta-carotene also work together synergistically to protect the meat itself from damage during the journey from butcher to plate.

Sadly, grains aren’t the only harmful substance fed to factory farmed cows. It isn’t uncommon for cows in feedlots to also be given candy (often jumbled up with the wrappers), stale pastries, rotten potatoes, and other harmful industrial products that are extremely damaging to the health of the animals (and the humans who eat them).

Cows fed grain-based diets are also known to develop unnaturally acidic gut conditions — an environment that has allowed E. coli O157:H7 to thrive (and kill those who consume it in the form of under-cooked hamburger). Researchers have demonstrated that when cattle were abruptly switched from a high grain diet to a forage-based diet, total E. coli populations declined 1000-fold within 5 days.

You probably already know all of this. And that’s why you’re most likely already buying grass-fed meat from the supermarket.

So why the confusing title? Because grass-fed beef isn’t always exclusively grass-fed.

In fact, you might be paying upwards of $4 extra per pound for beef that’s not a whole lot better than the stuff that comes from feedlots.

The Grass-Fed Fallacy

Almost all cows raised in the U.S. were grass-fed at some point, but only a small percentage of the beef produced in the U.S. is actually grass-finished. The overwhelming majority of cows that were once grazed on pasture are sent to a feedlot to be fattened up with grains and synthetic growth hormones for the last portion of their short lives.

Companies who label their meat as grass-fed should know this, as the USDA standard for grass-fed beef demands that “grass and forage shall be the feed source consumed for the lifetime of the ruminant animal.”

While the “lifetime” part of the standard is good, there’s another part of this sentence that deserves a closer look — “and forage.”

Although forage (hay) is technically grass, it’s grass that’s been cut, dried, and stored for an indefinite period of time before being used as cattle feed. Some would argue that grass and forage are one and the same, but that just isn’t the case. Imagine if (instead of consuming fresh, whole vegetables) you only ate veggies in a dried-up powder form for the duration of your life. Do you think you’d be as healthy? Heck no! Forage is definitely a step up from grain, but it can’t compete with a natural diet of fresh grass.

And since forage-fed cows aren’t required to consume a single blade of fresh grass for their entire lives, the’re often kept in feedlot-like conditions — not exactly what consumers picture when they think of “grass-fed” cows.

Primal Pastures Cows

What Grass-Fed SHOULD mean (Primal Pastures cows)

But it gets worse — there’s another loophole in the USDA’s standard that should cause us to further question how healthy “grass-fed” beef really is. As pointed out by David Maren of Tendergrass Farms in his guest post on Mark’s Daily Apple,

One of the problems with the USDA definition for grass fed beef is that it has a loophole that allows for the use of grain “to ensure the animal’s well being at all times during adverse environmental or physical conditions.” One local grass fed beef company here in Virginia once disclosed to me that they have an internal policy with regard to this loophole that allows their farmers to feed up to 2% of the animal’s weight in grain per day during the winter months. Assuming that their cows weigh about 1000 pounds and given the fact that there are about 5 “winter months” in this part of the country, their policy would allow for each grass fed cow to be fed about 1.5 tons of grain per year. Amazingly, it can still be marketed as “grass fed beef.”

Sketchy practices such as these are more of the norm than the exception when it comes to the “grass-fed” beef market. And even when grass-fed beef is actually grass-fed, the standard says nothing about a number of additional factors that have a dramatic impact on the cow’s health. Things like…

  • Hormone & antibiotic intake. Unless also labeled organic, it’s perfectly permissible for grass-fed cows to be given antibiotics to prevent infection and synthetic hormones to promote faster growth.

  • Quality of life. The USDA standard requires that grass-fed cows must “have continuous access to pasture during the growing season.” Hmmm. Sounds a bit like the “cage-free” scam, which requires that chickens have “access” to the outdoors, which (for most large scale operations), means opening a window in the feed house for a few hours out of the day. My point is, there’s plenty of room for deceptive interpretation in this sentence.

  • Toxin Exposure. Even if grass-fed cows ARE actually eating grass, that grass is probably being treated with herbicides and fertilizers on a pretty consistent basis. YUCK.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Organic Shmorganic.

The organic label does matter, but not as much as one might assume. Though the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) prohibits the use of hormones and antibiotics in organic animals and ensures that the animals’ feed has not been treated with pesticides or harsh chemicals (both of which are absolutely important), it misses other critical markers of health.

For one, it’s acceptable for organic cows to live in feedlots. The fact that the NOP does not allow organic cows’ time in the feedlot to exceed 120 days is of little consequence, as most non-organic cows are also grazed on pasture for the first part of their lives and are then moved to feedlots for about the same amount of time to be fattened up before slaughter.

Cows labeled organic aren’t always fed a natural diet of grass that’s necessitated by their species. And more often than not, organic cows are raised on corn, soy, and other grain mumbo jumbo. And by now, we’re all familiar with why that’s a BIG no-no!


Moral of The Story

Labels can be tricky. Even the term “pasture-raised” (often thought of as the final word when it comes to completely natural, beyond organic meat & one of the ways we describe how we raise our meat at Primal Pastures), doesn’t always mean what you think it does.

Because there’s no legal definition of the term, pretty much anyone can claim to produce “pasture-raised” beef (even if it’s really anything but) and suffer no consequences for the misinformation.

With all labels (grass-fed, organic, pasture-raised, etc.) most companies and industries will jump through any loophole they can if it means making things easier and more cost-effective on their end, making it extremely difficult for the consumer to make smart decisions.

We’ve been lied to, deceived, and scammed into spending our hard-earned dollars on products that aren’t what we think they are.

This issue extends much further than grass-fed beef, which is only one symptom of the dishonesty and greed that has dictated the direction of our country’s food system for far too long — but that’s a topic for another day.

Fortunately, there’s something we can all do about it. It’s up to US to vote with our forks (and knives) by making educated decisions about what we eat and where our food comes from.

This means finding your local farmer, doing the research, asking the right questions, and visiting the source of your food if necessary in order to ensure that the beef you’re buying was fed organic grass, never given hormones or antibiotics, and lived a happy life on the pasture with plenty of room to roam.

There’s nothing worse than spending big bucks on fancy labels and empty promises. Most small, local farms know and understand this and are more than willing to go above and beyond to reassure their customers of the natural, ethical, and sustainable nature of their farming practices.

At Primal Pastures, we offer detailed information on the living conditions of our animals, daily phone/email support, farm tours, and ways to make buying good meat affordable.

Buying meat in bulk is definitely the most affordable (and fun) way to go. But it can also be super intimidating — mostly because it’s hard to know how much freezer space you’ll need in order to store your meat.

That’s why we just launched an amazing deal to make buying quality meat even MORE simple, efficient, and cost-effective for our neighbors in So-Cal. It involves a brand new deep freezer, free delivery, and a lot of high quality meat at an affordable price (click here for more info on the deal).

If you aren’t in So-Cal and can’t buy from us, don’t worry! Head over to EatWild.com to find a sustainable, beyond organic farm near you (but remember to do your own research as well).

Have questions or comments? Be sure to let me know your thoughts on the information presented in this post in the comment section below!

Staying Healthy and Eating Real Food on the Road (Challenges & Solutions)

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If you follow me on instagram, you might think I’ve been aimlessly gallivanting around the U.S. all summer without a care in the world.

But in reality, my trips have consisted of driving to and from two family weddings and one family reunion — and bumming food/places to stay off of family members along the way!

Not exactly the most luxurious or fancy kinds of vacations (but still fun nonetheless).

And if you’ve ever been on a road trip, you know how difficult it can be to eat REAL food and stay healthy while on the road.

While it’s almost impossible to be 100% perfect in these situations (or ever) there are certainly things that can be done to minimize damage without compromising the fun factor. I’ll go through some of the challenges I’ve faced below and what I’ve done to mitigate them. If you think I’ve missed something, feel free to let me know with a comment at the bottom of this post!

  • CHALLENGE #1: Avoiding drive-throughs. You wake up feeling motivated and decide to get an early start on your drive without stopping for for breakfast or even a quick snack. But a few hours into your drive, your stomach starts to rumble.

    And within a matter of 5 minutes, you’re starving.

    Suddenly, the Del Taco coming up at the next exit starts to look reeaaallly good (even though you haven’t eaten there in years).

    I feel your pain. And while I would never pass judgement on anyone for eating Del Taco in this situation, there ARE ways to avoid it.

    Snacks, for one, can be a lifesaver on road trips. Since I’m one of those people who doesn’t know how to stop eating, I usually try to avoid snacking and instead stick to eating 3 balanced and hearty meals every day.

    But road trips are a different story.

    And a bit of planning ahead can save you from compromising your otherwise healthy diet for food that will leave you feeling gross and possibly even sick.

    carcooler

    Farmer Jeff and I usually stock up on Larabars, Jackson’s Honest Chips, and a few other non-perishable “healthy junk food” snacks for road trips.

    While these things are great, they’re no substitute for complete meals. That’s why I’m dying to try this cooler (pictured on the left) on our next road trip! It plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter for power, allowing you to easily travel with foods that would otherwise go bad if not kept cool. How awesome is that!?

    But regardless of how much pre-planning and preparing you do, there’s still going to be times when you just have to work with what you’ve got. And in these cases, it’s always a good idea to weigh your options and make the best decisions you can considering the options at hand.

    Sometimes that means opting for a baked potato and apple pecan chicken salad from Wendy’s (been there, done that)…or getting beef jerky and a banana from the closest gas station just to hold you over.

    It isn’t ideal, but that’s life. So rather than beating yourself up over these small compromises, realize that you’re doing your best and move on with life!

  • CHALLENGE #2: Finding ways to exercise. A little bit of travel is no reason to not get your daily sweat on!

    If you’re staying in a hotel that has a fitness center, this should be easy enough. But if you’re staying with relatives or friends or somewhere that isn’t equipped with an exercise area, you may have to improvise a bit.

    CrossFit is my drug exercise of choice. So I brought a kettlebell, jump rope, and wall ball along in the car during our trips this summer.

    With these few pieces of equipment combined with body weight movements and weighted back squats (my 100 lb. little sister was nice enough to volunteer as my barbell), I was able to come up with countless on-the-go WODs during our trips.

    bozeman

    I also did more outdoorsy stuff (hiking, trail running, etc.) than normal, which felt amazing. There’s nothing quite like going OUTSIDE and connecting with nature — road trips are perfect for that!

    Whether you’re a runner, yogi, crossfitter, or whatever, the important thing here is to do SOMETHING. Go outside. Play a sport. Take a walk. Be creative and have fun!

  • CHALLENGE #3: Being gracious to hosts. Explaining why you eat the way you do can be a pain. Because for some reason, eating real, unprocessed food is an extremely foreign and strange concept to most ordinary folk.

    In general, explaining food choices should always be done in an extremely casual and non-defensive manner (check out Real Food Liz’s video, Explaining Food Choices (What to Say & Why), for some sound coaching on the subject).

    But when you’re a guest in someone’s home, this matter becomes all the more delicate and tricky. You want to be polite and kind, but also don’t want to feel obligated to consume edible products that just aren’t food.

    I’ve found that the best way to handle — or prevent — this from happening is to chat with your hosts ahead of time. Otherwise, they’ll end up slaving away on a meal that will you will either 1) eat against your will or 2) not eat and risk offending them.

    Neither situation is good.

    Instead, casually fill them in on your new diet and lifestyle. Offer to pick up some groceries and cook a meal or two for your hosts while you’re there. Chances are, they’ll be receptive if approached in a friendly and non-condescending way. And who knows, you might just leave a lasting impression that will transform their health for the better!

  • CHALLENGE #4: All the sitting. I can’t stand sitting still for long periods of time, so road trips are challenging for me. But there really isn’t any way to get around this one — only ways to minimize the suffering.

    These things, unfortunately, involve looking kind of silly in front of people. Oddly enough, people tend to stop and stare when you start doing air squats immediately after exiting your car at the gas station.

    I realize this approach isn’t for everyone.

    Stretching at rest stops is a good, more socially acceptable way to get the blood flowing after hours upon hours of sitting in a car.

    It also helps to do things that involve movement before and/or after your drive. For example, if I’m in Bozeman, MT and need to drive 6 hours to Salt Lake City, I’ll get up and hike for an hour or two before making the drive (instead of doing something else that involves sitting beforehand). The endorphins from the hike are usually enough to help me power through the long and tedious drive ahead.

  • CHALLENGE #5: Remembering the essentials. There’s a few things that I just don’t like to be without.

    OrganicCoconutOil

    Coconut oil is one of those things. I use it to wash my face, moisturize my skin, fatten up my coffee, and more. Without it, I’m lost. Okay, that might be an exaggeration — but only a slight one.

    Having a healthy, stable, Omega-3 rich source of fat (like coconut oil) on hand is especially important considering all of the unhealthy vegetable/seed oils that most of us are inevitably exposed to while traveling.

    Apple cider vinegar (for digestion) and sardines (for their impressive fat, protein, and vitamin content) are some of my other road trip essentials.

    And whenever I’m lucky enough to pass through a town that happens to have a Sprouts, Whole Foods, or Natural Grocers, I always stock up on Kombucha, Coconut Water, and whatever other goodies I can get my hands on!

I’m certainly not suggesting that anyone HAS to do all of these things on road trips in order to enjoy them. But I tend to feel better and have more fun when I’m making healthy choices, so it’s worth it for me to put some extra thought/effort into this stuff!

Do you agree or disagree? What are some things you can’t travel without? Have a personal experience that relates to one of the challenges listed above? Share it in a comment!

Recipe Spotlight Contest — Chicken Liver and Bacon Pate

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Bethany’s note: Our FIRST EVER recipe spotlight contest entry is brought to you by May! May is a major foodie who lives in San Diego with her husband and two boys. She home schools her boys, directs a campus of 68 home school kids, and leads worship music at her church alongside her husband! We couldn’t be more excited to share her Chicken Liver and Bacon Pate with Recipe with you! *Remember to comment on this post to help May win a $50 gift card to Primal Pastures!

I am sharing a recipe that got my 2 boys, (Zion and Zane, ages 8 and 6 respectively) to eat chicken livers. We are a mixture of WAPF and Paleo at our house, but one thing I felt lacking in my boys’ diet was organ meat. I tried to make them a basic chicken liver pate recipe but they were grossed out and wouldn’t eat it.

So I did what every good home chef does to make something taste better, I added bacon. So Chicken Liver and Bacon Pate was born (which my boys simply refer to as “Bacon Pate”) and now they can’t get enough! 1 batch disappears in less than a day.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Primal Pastures chicken livers
  • 8 oz pastured bacon (apx. 8 slices – 6 for the pate and 2 that inevitably don’t make their way into the blender)
  • ½ c chopped onion
  • 1-2 sprigs of thyme
  • ½ – ¾ c of raw cream, pastured butter or duck fat
  • 2 T cognac, whiskey or sherry (1T for you, 1 for the pate) 😉

Instructions

  1. Primal Recipe 001In an iron skillet over medium heat, cook bacon till browned and crispy. Remove and set aside.

  2. Leave bacon fat in skillet still over med heat and sauté onion and thyme till it begins to soften. Add chicken livers. Cook until browned on outside but still pink in the center, about 7 minutes each side. Turn of heat and let cool a bit.

  3. Primal Recipe 005Place livers in a food processor along with bacon and onions. Strain the remaining bacon drippings through a fine mesh sieve into the processor with the livers. Add a half cup of cream and the cognac (as desired) to the processor. Process till very smooth, adding more cream if necessary. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

  4. Primal Recipe 007Spoon into molds or ramekins. Melt some butter or duck fat and pour just enough to cover the pate. Place in refrigerator to set – apx. 30 minutes.

  5. You can store in fridge for several days at this point, freeze for 6 months, or eat right away with a cherry compote or sweet reduction of your choice. Serve with sourdough toast points, sliced apples or vegetable crudités.

The China Study Fallacy (And Why I Stopped Being a Vegetarian)

thechinastudy

People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. Even relatively small intakes of animal-based food were associated with adverse effects. People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease.

This bold statement (along with many others) made by T. Colin Campbell in The China Study has influenced many into ditching meat and other animal-derived foods and instead adopting a diet consisting entirely and exclusively of plant-based foods.

Often thought of as the “final word” on the scientific superiority of veganism, the evidence presented in The China Study seems so compelling that many intelligent minds have fallen prey to it and completely re-vamped their outlook on food and nutrition as a result of it.

But under scrutiny, the information laid out as facts in The China Study shatters — into tiny, pathetic, protein-deficient pieces. I’ll explain why later — but first, it’s story time! (Feel free to skip ahead to the next section if you’re not interested).


6 Meatless Months

During my sophomore year of college, I decided to give up meat — a decision that was heavily influenced by a combination of my co-workers at Trader Joe’s (devout China Study fans), terrifying PETA videos, my ongoing battle to try any and every diet that might help me lose 10 pounds, and sheer curiosity.

At the time, I was so positive that I was doing the best thing possible for my body composition, overall health, and humanity as a whole by giving up meat. When people asked me how it was going, I automatically began thoughtlessly raving about how amazing it was to be a vegetarian. I ignored the digestive troubles, worsening acne symptoms, and weight gain that my new lifestyle had perpetuated.

It wasn’t until I went on a camping trip at the beach with my family that I ever considered the notion that my new meat-free diet could be doing me more harm than good.

After spending a day feeling incredibly self-conscious and insecure in my swimsuit at the beach, it was time for dinner — and burgers were on the menu.

My “burger” consisted of a bun with re-fried beans inside.

It was terrible. But it didn’t have any unhealthy, cancer-causing, artery-clogging red meat…so I was good, right? Despite everything I had been told about how “healthy” my new lifestyle was, something about what I was eating in that moment just seemed so terribly WRONG.

I paid close attention as my cousin’s wife ate ONLY the hamburger patties accompanied by some veggies — the complete opposite of what I was doing. Her dinner wasn’t the only thing about us that was different. She was slim and toned, I was thick and pudgy. She had loads of energy, I was constantly feeling sluggish. The list went on and on.

“How can this be?” I thought to myself. It just didn’t add up to everything I thought I knew about nutrition.

A few months after the trip, it started to become more and more clear that the vegetarian thing just wasn’t working for me. After taking some hints from my body and realizing that there ARE alternatives to the inhumane and unnatural factory farming practices that I was so opposed to (something that the author of The China Study completely fails to address), I ended my short stent as a vegetarian — and boy, am I glad that I did!

*Important Note — There are vegetarians and vegans out there who go about their lifestyles in a much healthier and whole food-based way than I did at the time. The purpose of this post is not to belittle or criticize any particular way of eating, but instead to expose the inaccuracies in a book that has (and continues to) influence many to adopt a plant-based diet under the false pretense that animal-based foods cause chronic disease.


My Beef With The Vegan Bible

Just hearing the title The China Study, you’d think that the book would focus almost entirely on… The China Study.

But it doesn’t.

Only one chapter of the book (39 of 350 pages) actually focuses on the China-Cornell-Oxford Project — a large observational study conducted throughout the 1980s in rural China.

And even within that one teensy little chapter, author T. Colin Campbell makes some serious sins of omission in his interpretation of the study’s original data. Nutritional experts Loren Cordain, Chris Masterjohn and Denise Minger (just to name a few) have all succeeded in shedding light on these these discrepancies (and there are many) in separate and comprehensive critiques of The China Study.

The resounding message of this chapter of the book can be summed up in the following quote from Campbell (also mentioned above):

People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. Even relatively small intakes of animal-based food were associated with adverse effects. People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease.

But the evidence taken from the actual China-Cornell-Oxford Project tells a different story. In what is widely considered to be the most comprehensive and meticulously researched smackdown of The China Study out there (seriously, stop reading this and head over to her post if you’re really interested in this stuff), Minger pulled out the top 5 counties from The China Study with the lowest animal protein intake per year and stacked them up against the top 5 counties with the highest animal protein intake per year.

Though she admits that these graphs alone aren’t enough to draw confident conclusions from, they should still show stark contrast in support of Campbell’s claims. Here’s what they showed instead:

animal_protein_intake

death_from_all_cancers

mi_and_chd

Additional graphs included in her critique compare rates of stroke, diabetes, and a myriad of cancers in nearly vegan vs. meat-eating counties. All show similar results — the counties that consumed the most meat were no worse off (and were often even more healthy) than the counties that consumed less than one gram of animal protein per day on average.

Campbell also fails to give any credit to Tuoli, a county that ate 45% of their diet as fat and 134 grams of animal protein each day (twice as much as the average American). Yet according to the raw data, they were generally much healthier and suffered lower rates of cancer and heart disease than many of the counties that were nearly vegan.

Instead of demonstrating a direct causal relationship between animal consumption and chronic disease (there isn’t one), Campbell added another variable (cholesterol) into the mix in order to justify his vegan ideals. He reported that:

Plasma cholesterol in the 90-170 milligrams per deciliter range is positively associated with most cancer mortality rates. Plasma cholesterol is positively associated with animal protein intake and inversely associated with plant protein intake.

But there’s a lot more to the story. According to Minger,

Campbell never took the critical step of accounting for other disease-causing variables that tend to cluster with higher-cholesterol counties in the China Study—variables like schistosomiasis infection, industrial work hazards, increased hepatitis B infection, and other non-nutritional factors spurring chronic conditions. Areas with lower cholesterol, by contrast, tended to have fewer non-dietary risk factors, giving them an automatic advantage for preventing most cancers and heart disease. (The health threats in the lower-cholesterol areas were more related to poor living conditions, leading to greater rates of tuberculosis, pneumonia, intestinal obstruction, and so forth.)

Even if the correlations with cholesterol did remain after adjusting for these risk factors, it takes a profound leap in logic to link animal products with disease by way of blood cholesterol when the animal products themselves don’t correlate with those diseases. If all three of these variables rose in unison, then hypotheses about animal foods raising disease risk via cholesterol could be justified.


And then there’s the rats.

Campbell also pushes his vegan agenda through a series of experiments he conducted with rats in which he proves that casein, an incomplete protein found in milk, promotes cancer growth in rats.

In order to prove this, Campbell first poisoned his rats with aflatoxin (a mold-related contaminant often found in peanut butter). The poisoned rats given a 20% casein diet all developed cancer or cancer-like lesions, while the rats fed a 5% casein diet did not. Campbell said that casein “proved to be so powerful in its effect that we could turn on and turn off cancer growth simply by changing the level consumed.”

Based on these results, Campbell somehow concluded that ALL forms of animal protein promote cancer growth. In every circumstance. Period. This claim, however, hinges on the following far-fetched and unproven assumptions (as pointed out by Minger):

  1. The casein-cancer mechanism behaves the same way in humans as in lab rats.

  2. Casein promotes cancer not just when isolated, but also when occurring in its natural food form (in a matrix of other milk substances like whey, bioactive peptides, conjugated linoleic acid, minerals, and vitamins, some of which appear to have anti-cancer properties).

  3. There are no differences between casein and other types of animal protein that could impose different effects on cancer growth/tumorigenesis.

You see — whole, unprocessed foods work in synergy to fight against disease and provide us with nutrients. When used in isolation, they don’t always have the same beneficial effects.

Whey, the other major protein found in milk, appears to have qualities that protect against cancer. But instead of including whey (or any other animal-based protein) in his experiments, it was more convenient for Campbell to stop with casein.

Chris Masterjohn also speaks to the faults of Campbell’s casein conclusions in his critique of the book:

What powdered, isolated casein does to rats tells us little about what traditionally consumed forms of milk will do to humans and tells us nothing that we can generalize to all “animal nutrients.” Furthermore, Campbell fails to address the problems of vitamin A depletion from excess isolated protein, unsupported by the nutrient-dense fats which accompany protein foods in nature.

It’s also important to note that, although they didn’t develop liver cancer, the rats that were fed less casein were anything but healthy. As stated by Liz Wolfe in Eat The Yolks,

What Campbell failed to state in his book — although the evidence was present in his own research — is that these rats experienced tissue damage and liver cell death. They may not have developed liver cancer, but they still suffered major health problems.

…like cell death. Not good!


But your family sells meat! Of course you don’t want us to be vegans!

This is true. I would be lying if I claimed to support veganism in any way, shape, or form. And there’s no denying the numerous health & environmental benefits of consuming healthy, humanely raised, pastured animals. But all seriousness, I wouldn’t be telling you these things if:

a) I didn’t believe them myself.
b) I didn’t practice these things myself.
c) There wasn’t substantial evidence to support my beliefs/opinions.

Every creature in the animal kingdom is classified as an herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore. They are what they are because of the nutritional needs required by their species and their innate desire to eat certain foods.

The same rationale applies to humans. Why would we have the immense need for nutrients that are extremely bioavailable in meat if we weren’t meant to eat it? It also doesn’t strike me as fair to blame relatively modern diseases on foods that our ancestors have been enjoying since the beginning of time in excellent health. Just my two cents!

But don’t take my word for it. Check out what all of these really smart people have to say about the benefits of eating meat:

What are your thoughts on The China Study? Are you loving life as a carnivore or are you set on being an herbivore? Whatever your stance is, tell me about it with a comment!

Sweet & Savory Breakfast Sandwich (a.k.a. The Paleo McGriddle)

paleomcgriddle

About a week ago, I thought I was a total genius for coming up with the idea to make a paleo version of the McGriddle Breakfast Sandwich from McDonalds.

I began working on my “genius” experiment today, spending most of my morning developing a pancake bun and sausage recipe, attempting to photograph the finished product, and then devouring it (with some help from my family).

And right as I sat down to write this post, I decided that it would probably be a good idea to google “Paleo McGriddle” — just to make sure it hadn’t been done before.

Turns out it has. Multiple times (with much more success).

But instead of throwing all of my hard work out the window, I decided to go ahead and post the recipe anyway. Becase even though it’s a totally imperfect, messy, less exact version of the McGriddle, I still think it tastes pretty darn good. And I’m hoping you will too!

Sweet & Savory Paleo Breakfast Sandwich
Serves 4
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For the pancake buns
  1. 4 pasture-raised eggs
  2. 1 banana
  3. 1/3 cup almond milk
  4. 1/3 cup coconut flour
  5. 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  6. 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  8. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  9. coconut oil (for cooking)
For the sausage patties (not an exact science - use ingredients below or follow your favorite sausage patty recipe!)
  1. 1 pound pasture-raised ground pork
  2. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  3. 3/4 teaspoon sage
  4. 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  5. 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  6. 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  7. 1/4 teaspoon marjoram
Other ingredients
  1. 10 strips of pasture-raised bacon
  2. 5 pasture-raised eggs
How to make the pancake buns
  1. Smash banana and whisk together with eggs and all other wet ingredients.
  2. Whisk in dry ingredients until well blended.
  3. Grease pan with coconut oil and place over medium-low heat.
  4. Using a ladle, pour circles of pancake batter (roughly 3 inches in diameter) onto the pan.
  5. Sprinkle blueberries over the pancakes and flip when bubbles/holes appear on the surface.
How to make the sausage patties
  1. Mix ground pork with all dry ingredients in medium-sized bowl.
  2. Shape ground pork into small patties.
  3. Cook patties on both sides over medium heat on stove until done.
How to make the bacon & eggs
  1. Pretty self-explanatory. Just be sure to break the yolk and cook the egg all the way through!
From the Pasture http://blog.primalpastures.com/

Does this look good to you? Or totally weird? Let me know in the comment section!

Mark’s Daily Apple Guest Post: “Next Level Primal — I Killed a Chicken and Ate It”

chickens3

This is a guest post I wrote for the wildly popular primal blog, Mark’s Daily Apple. On his blog, Mark Sisson “empowers people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically re-thinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness.” I LOVE that! Don’t you? Head over to MarksDailyApple.com for awesome info on all things primal!

I still remember the first time I killed a chicken. I had watched it happen hundreds of times. I’d even helped out with all of the other steps involved in chicken processing (scalding, plucking, eviscerating, and packaging), but I couldn’t quite bring myself to take a knife to a chicken’s throat and end its life.

But why?

I had no problem eating chickens that someone else killed. I’m not terribly freaked out by blood. And I had already gone through the gutting process more times than I could count (which is way gross-er than killing).

After about a year of helping out with processing days, I decided that it was time for me to kill a chicken.

Click here to continue reading.

Why Buying Meat in Bulk Makes “Cents”


cow

We all want meat that comes from animals that were raised humanely, lived in their natural habitats, fed natural feed, never given antibiotics or hormones, and processed responsibly (click here to find out why all of this matters). But these kinds of meats can be expensive — especially for those who are feeding entire families.

Fortunately, there are ways to make feeding your family natural & properly raised meats completely affordable. Farmer Paul shared his ideas on how to do this in a recent email. His top 3 tips to stretch your food budget BIG TIME went something like this:

1. Buy a deep freezer and purchase in bulk
2. Buy a deep freezer and purchase in bulk
3. Buy a deep freezer and purchase in bulk

When we talk about buying meat in bulk from a farm, we’re taking about purchasing a whole, 1/2, or 1/4 of an animal (beef, hog, lamb, etc.). I know — it sounds intense. When I first learned about the whole animal share buying stuff, I couldn’t help but imagine somehow trying to stuff an entire whole cow into my freezer.

But animal shares are nothing like that. The meat still looks exactly like the meat you usually get — packaged separately according to the cut. The only difference is the amount of it that you’ll be getting at once, which will be a lot more than you’re used to (hence the need for a deep freezer — you’ll be surprised how quickly it pays for itself)!

Think about some of the things you’re already buying in bulk.

I can think of a few…toilet paper, coffee, coconut oil, etc (you know, the necessities). Why do we do this? Because buying in bulk is always cheaper. And this same principle holds true for meat!

By purchasing a 1/4, 1/2, or full animal share, your price per pound will be significantly less than if you were to purchase that same amount of meat over time in smaller amounts — savings that equate to over two thousand dollars on one whole beef! (Primal Pastures bases pricing on “packaged weight,” as opposed to “hanging weight” or even “live weight” which most farms charge for. By paying for packaged weight, you’re ONLY paying for what goes into your freezer — read more about our bulk meat plans by clicking here).

The best part about buying meat in bulk? You and your family will be eating the best, most nutrient-dense, toxin-free meat available — and you’ll still be able to pay for your kids to go to college.


Other Benefits of Buying Animal Shares

In addition to saving on cost, animal shares also offer the following additional benefits:

  • You get it all! Your beef share will come with everything from ground beef to fillet mignon. You’ll expand your culinary prowess by cooking/trying different cuts of meat and organs that you may have never been exposed to otherwise. Who knows — you might even find a new favorite! Acclaimed butcher Tom Mylan says, “If you’re going to kill an animal, then it only seems polite to use the whole thing.” Buying in bulk allows you to do just that.

  • Your connection to your food will be enriched. Buying from a local farm (and especially buying in bulk) will deepen your understanding of how the animal was raised, who raised it, and how it was processed. Your relationship with your meat will become more transparent and less opaque.

  • You get to make the big decisions. Want more ground beef? You’ve got it! Don’t care for chuck steak? No problem. Often times, farms will allow you to make these sorts of choices when buying an animal share.


Unleash the Possibilities…

Now that we’ve gone over the basics, take a minute to consider this little scenario taken from Farmer Paul’s email…

Imagine yourself on a normal night in the kitchen trying to figure out what to cook for dinner. After striking out in the refrigerator and pantry you examine the freezer only to find some frozen peas and a T.V. dinner (from your pre-paleo days, of course). Just before giving in to the urge of going out for a meal of factory farmed pink slime-burgers cooked in soy bean oil, you remember that you did the smartest thing of your entire life and purchased a split a half share of of a pasture raised cow and a half share of primal hog with a friend, then bought a whole lamb for yourself — and it’s all out in the deep freezer waiting for you. You wander out to be delighted by the difficult but beautiful choice between Pasture Raised Beef Rib eye, Filet Mignon, the best Pork Chops in the world, 50/50 Lamb/Beef Sliders, New York Steak, Pork Shoulder, and the list goes on. and on. and on. Good luck with that!

meat freezer

Sounds nice, right? We think so. Every day, more and more people are catching on to the advantages of buying meat in bulk. But despite the long term savings, this can be a daunting option for some people. And if you can’t afford to jump in and get on board with the animal share thing right now, that’s okay! But it’s nice to have it as an option, right?

Head over to EatWild.com to find a local farm that sells animal shares, and get ready to reap the delicious benefits of your investment!