5 Reasons to Eat Pastured Meat

eatpasturedmeats

I was raised on conventional meat. As a kid, I lived for dinosaur-shaped chicken fritters (who thinks of this stuff?) and 39 cent cheeseburger Wednesdays at McDonalds.

This madness went on for quite some time. Until (long story short) I found paleo and my family started Primal Pastures.

Since then, I’ve ditched the fritters and cheeseburgers and have committed to eating high quality, pasture-raised, beyond organic meats — MOST of the time (I don’t feel bad about sometimes eating out at restaurants that don’t use quality meats. Perfection has never been my goal).

But I do realize that not everyone lives and works on a meat farm. And accessing high quality meat isn’t always easy (check out this video from Real Food Liz for tips on finding – and paying for – good meat). Yet we’ve all heard that pastured meat is better — meat that comes from animals that are raised responsibly and humanely, in their natural habitat, eating grass, with plenty of space to roam.

It’s a nice mental picture (much better than envisioning the CAFO alternative). And we all feel better about ourselves when we eat this type of meat. But why exactly is this better than the conventional, factory farmed stuff? After all, it does take a bit of extra effort (and sometimes extra cash) to acquire it. And if you’re anything like me, you want to be sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck!

In my opinion, if you’re going to be spending your hard-earned dollars and time on high-quality anything, it should be meat. Not organic produce and not even lululemon swag (though it’s a close second) — MEAT. Here’s why:

  • REASON #1: You won’t be ingesting harmful toxins. Pasture-raised animals are not given hormones, antibiotics, or any other type of drug. “Who cares if my hamburger was once fed antibiotics?” you might say. “That stuff doesn’t affect me.” If only that were the case.

    In reality, the overuse of antibiotics in factory farms contributes to the development of antibiotic-resistant pathogens that are becoming increasingly difficult to treat in humans. I referenced the statement below in a recent post all about chicken, and I’m going to do it again here. This applies to ALL types of livestock that are fed antibiotics.

    According to CAFOs Uncovered: The Untold Costs of Confined Animal Feeding Operations:

    Many of the bacteria found on livestock (such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli, and Campylobacter) can cause food-borne disease in humans. Furthermore, recent evidence strongly suggests that some methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and uropathogenic E. coli infections may also be caused by animal sources. These pathogens collectively cause tens of millions of infections and many thousands of hospitalizations and deaths every year.

    The potentially harmful effects of added hormones are just as scary. Nearly all animals in conventional feedlots in the U.S. are given a combination of 6 anabolic steroids (3 natural and 3 synthetic).

    Measurable levels of all of these hormones are found at slaughter in the muscle, fat, liver, kidneys and other organ meats of the animals they were given to. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has set “acceptable daily intakes” for each of these drugs. But due to the embarrassingly large research gap on the topic, these standards are virtually meaningless.

  • REASON #2: Better source of fat. Remember those toxins we just went over? Much of that nasty stuff ends up getting stored in the fat of the animal. And because of their unnatural diets and lifestyle, factory farmed animals usually have more fat than their pastured counterparts.

    If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I’m all about eating quality sources of healthy fat (read more about my stance on fat here). But when it comes to eating conventional meat, you’re better off choosing the lean cuts. This isn’t true for pastured meats which contain extremely beneficial and nutrient-dense sources of fat.

  • REASON #3: More vitamins and minerals. The nutritional profiles of pastured meats are ALWAYS more robust than their CAFO counterparts (Think about how much better/healthier you feel when you eat real food — the same is true for animals when they’re eating natural diets!). Although specific vitamin and mineral levels vary for each animal, pastured meats generally contain more of the following:

    • Vitamin E
    • Vitamin C
    • Beta-carotene
    • Omega-3
    • B Vitamins
    • Magnesium
    • Calcium
    • And much more!

  • REASON #4: More humane & responsible. We’ve all heard the factory farming horror stories. And they’re no exaggeration. CAFO animals are crammed tightly together, fed a constant stream of antibiotics to prevent infection, left to trudge around in their own feces, fed unnatural feed, and processed inappropriately.

    Not only are these practices grossly inhumane — they’re also terrible for the environment. According to Cornell University ecology professor David Pimentel, it takes roughly 284 gallons of oil to make the fertilizer to grow the corn to feed just one feedlot steer during his short life (14 to 16 months, on average).

    That’s. A. Lot. Of. Oil. — and if it weren’t for the $50 billion + that the government has poured into the corn industry, corn wouldn’t even come close to being an economical choice for feedlot operators.

    On “top” of all of this, crops like corn, soy, and wheat have also created a major topsoil problem. Because of their shallow roots, these crops use up the surface layer of soil much more quickly than it can be restored by earth’s natural processes. This causes all sorts of problems for the environment, including increased greenhouse gas emissions, mineral-depleted soil, flooding, and polluted runoff.

    These issues do not exist with pastured livestock (not fed corn or soy). When animals are rotationally grazed on perennial pastures with roots that extend deep below the surface in addition to the more shallow ones, the land is able to heal itself naturally and topsoil nutrients are consistently replenished.

  • REASON #5: It tastes better! The difference in taste of pastured vs. conventional meat is unreal. Our customers rave about it all the time. Natural and responsibly raised meat really is the real deal, folks! If nothing else, do it for your taste buds.

What’s your take on meat? Is it worth it to get the good stuff? If so, why? Let me know in the comment section!

The Perfect Paleo Post Workout Protein Shake

perfectshake

Once upon a time, I was pretty into protein powder. I loved how it seemed to fill me up and replenish my tired muscles after workouts. I didn’t love how it made my stomach rumble (not a lot, but enough to annoy me).

So I ditched it – for the rumbles and also because I just couldn’t quite justify how protein powder (even the 100% grass fed whey stuff) fit into my real food only diet.

But after a few weeks of giving up protein shakes, my body continued to long for a thick and filling post-WOD beverage. And fruit smoothies just weren’t cutting it.

So, I thought of Rocky and decided to take some lessons from his raw egg-eating book.

I played around and attempted to create a shake using raw eggs as a protein source. I started with just two raw eggs, a banana, and coconut milk. Then under Chef Jamie’s (my sister in-law) recommendation, I added a few dashes of cinnamon along with some vanilla extract and pure maple syrup.

The results were magical. And the perfect paleo post workout protein shake was born!

In addition to being a great source of real food protein (containing roughly 7 grams of protein per egg), eggs are also rich in the following nutrients:

  • Vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • Vitamins B12 and B2
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Magnesium & Potassium
  • Biotin

The same can’t be said about protein powder, which is only fortified with vitamins and minerals.

IMPORTANT NOTE: As wonderful as raw eggs are, store-bought eggs are not so awesome in a raw state — and they may actually make you sick. For this reason, only use pastured eggs for this recipe.

The Perfect Paleo Post Workout Protein Shake
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Ingredients
  1. 2 PASTURED eggs
  2. 1 banana
  3. 1/2 - 3/4 cup almond or coconut milk
  4. 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  5. 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. A few dashes of cinammon
Instructions
  1. Mix everything together in a blender (I use the magic bullet)!
Notes
  1. Don't worry about exact measurements for this recipe and go with your gut instead. No one wants to spend too much time on a protein shake - especially right after a workout!
From the Pasture http://blog.primalpastures.com/

Why Time Magazine Says “Eat Butter”

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“Scientists labeled fat the enemy. They were wrong.” This quote (placed directly above a delicious looking swirl of butter) recently graced the cover of TIME Magazine – a stark contrast to the 1984 cover of TIME, which showed a sad face constructed of eggs and bacon.

This controversial cover has sent many into a frenzy. Some are ecstatic at the thought of being able to eat real butter, egg yolks, and bacon once again – free of guilt. Others (like me) have already emailed and text messaged pictures of the cover to family and friends who all thought my “fat doesn’t make you fat or sick” stance was a bunch of quack (they have to believe me now, right!?). But many are still skeptical.

Whether you’re a fat lover or hater, it’s worth delving a bit deeper into this issue to discover the truth about this dietary staple turned public enemy #1 of the last four decades.

Left: 1984, Right: 2014

Left: 1984, Right: 2014



How Fat Became the Enemy

The article in TIME places a large amount of the responsibility for America’s saturated fat hysteria on a scientist named Ancel Keys. The Wall Street Journal Agrees, stating in a recent article titled The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease that Keys pushed his way to the top of the nutrition world through “sheer force of will,” and that he was guilty of, “relentlessly championing the idea that saturated fats raise cholesterol and, as a result, cause heart attacks.”

Keys’ pushy antics came at a time when heart disease was responsible for nearly half of all deaths in the United States. And after President Eisenhower’s heart attack in 1955, people were seriously spooked. The nation was ready to place the blame on something, and Mr. Keys knew it.

According to TIME,

Keys had an explanation. He posited that high levels of cholesterol–a waxy, fatlike substance present in some foods as well as naturally occurring in the body–would clog arteries, leading to heart disease. He had a solution as well. Since fat intake raised LDL cholesterol, he reasoned that reducing fat in the diet could reduce the risk of heart attacks. (LDL cholesterol levels are considered a marker for heart disease, while high HDL cholesterol seems to be cardioprotective.) In the 1950s and ’60s, Keys sought to flesh out that hypothesis, traveling around the world to gather data about diet and cardiovascular disease. His landmark Seven Countries Study found that people who ate a diet low in saturated fat had lower levels of heart disease. The Western diet, heavy on meat and dairy, correlated with high rates of heart disease.

The Seven Countries Study was ultimately responsible for the 1984 cover of TIME Magazine (shown above) that kickstarted America’s fear of fat. It was also the driving force behind the American Heart Association’s decision to begin advising Americans (for the first time ever) to cut down on saturated fat. The USDA also created their dietary guidelines (The Food Pyramid and now My Plate) for Americans based on Keys’ findings.

It wasn’t long before the American people started listening and responding in the worst of ways. We began ditching nutritious yolks for egg whites, buying turkey bacon (don’t even get me started on turkey bacon) over regular bacon, and choosing margarine over butter. The list goes on and on.

But times have changed. And new (more legit, advanced, and higher budget) studies are disproving Keys’ work — which had some serious flaws to begin with. As stated in the article,

He cherry-picked his data, leaving out countries like France and West Germany that had high-fat diets but low rates of heart disease. Keys highlighted the Greek island of Crete, where almost no cheese or meat was eaten and people lived to an old age with clear arteries. But Keys visited Crete in the years following World War II, when the island was still recovering from German occupation and the diet was artificially lean. Even more confusing, Greeks on the neighboring isle of Corfu ate far less saturated fat than Cretans yet had much higher rates of heart disease.

As a result of this twisted information, we as a nation have been living in fear of red meat, coconut oil, and all sorts of other natural, unprocessed, real food sources of fat that our bodies need and crave. Nearly four decades following our nation’s massive shift from a fat and protein based diet to one rooted in refined carbohydrates, Americans are sicker then ever. Type 2 Diabetes has increased 166% from 1980 to 2012, over a third of the country is obese, and cardiovascular disease remains the nation’s #1 killer.

IMPORTANT SIDENOTE: While the butter on TIME’s cover serves as an excellent attention-grabber (representing a much larger message of encouraging individuals to dump their fat-phobic attitudes), it’s also important to remember that not all butter is necessarily healthy. And not all sources of fat are created equal.

This is a subject for another post. But for now, check out this article by Diane Sanfilippo (complete with PDF Guide!) titled Fats: Which to Eat and Which to Ditch.

Why Fat is Your Friend

Keys based his research on the notion that saturated fats raise cholesterol and that elevated cholesterol levels cause heart disease. But it’s actually much more complex than that. There is evidence suggesting that saturated fat raises cholesterol levels in the blood. However, it raises both HDL (“good” cholesterol) and LDL (“bad” cholesterol). HDL is considered to be cardioprotective and removes the LDL cholesterol that can accumulate on arterial walls.

There are two types of LDL cholesterol particles: small, dense ones and large, fluffy ones. The light and fluffy ones appear to be harmless while the dense, small LDL particles have been linked to heart disease. Can you guess which type of particle saturated fat is responsible for raising? Yup — the large, fluffy ones.

It’s the refined carbohydrates (like whole grain cereal, whole wheat bread, etc. – basically everything that has been marketed to us as “healthy” for the last 4 decades) that actually raise the levels of small, dense LDL particles, potentially contributing to heart disease. For more info on why wheat and other grains are destroying your health, click here.

Aside from the fact that fat does not actually harm us, there also many benefits to consuming whole, unprocessed sources of saturated fat. This article on Tim Ferriss’s blog (author of The 4 Hour Workweek), written by Dr. Michael Eades and Dr. Mary Dan Eades (two of the top obesity treatment doctors in the country) points to all of the major benefits of consuming saturated fats. Here they are, paraphrased and summarized for easier mental digestion:

  • Improved Cardiovascular Risk Factors – Saturated Fat reduces the levels of a substance called lipoprotein that correlates strongly with risk for heart disease (there are currently NO medications capable of lowering this substance). It also raises “good” HDL levels (as noted above) and has been shown to promote weight loss.

  • Stronger Bones – Mary Enig, Ph.D. (one of the foremost research experts in dietary fats) believes there’s a case to be made for having as much as 50% of the fats in your diet as saturated fats to promote bone mass – a recommendation that is supported by the fact that the vast majority of women who are told to avoid saturated fat and to selectively use vegetable oils instead are faced with a loss in bone mass and the threat of osteoporosis.

  • Improved Liver Health – Medical research has shown that adding saturated fat to the diet encourages the liver cells to dump their fat content — a critical first step in halting middle-body fat storage. Saturated fat has also been shown to protect the liver from the toxic insults of alcohol and medications.

  • Healthy Lungs – The airspaces of the lungs need to be coated with a thin layer of lung surfactant (the fat content of which is 100% saturated fatty acids) in order to function properly. When the body low in saturated fat and exceeding in other fats, faulty surfactant is made – potentially leading to breathing difficulties and collapse of the airspaces.

  • Healthy Brain – Many people are now familiar with the importance of the highly unsaturated essential fatty acids found in cold-water fish (EPA and DHA) for normal brain and nerve function. But the majority of the fatty acids in the brain are actually saturated! A diet that skimps on healthy saturated fats robs your brain of the raw materials it needs to function optimally.

  • Proper Nerve Signaling – Certain saturated fats (particularly those found in butter, lard, coconut oil, and palm oil) function directly as signaling messengers that influence the metabolism. Without the correct signals to tell the organs and glands what to do, the job doesn’t get done (or gets done improperly).

  • Strong immune system – Without sufficient saturated fatty acids in the white blood cells, their ability to recognize and destroy foreign invaders (such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi) is seriously compromised. The saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil (myristic acid and lauric acid) play key roles in immune health.

Read the full article here.

Despite the rapidly increasing amount of research that continues to debunk the “fat will kill you and make you fat” myth, this message is still deeply ingrained into our psyches. And reversing this false conception (along with all of the 100 calorie snack packs and nonfat yogurt that came with it) is going to take some time.

But that doesn’t mean you need to wait for the rest of the world to wake up before you start eating the yolks (from pastured eggs of course) and regularly enjoying nice, juicy cut of grass-fed sirloin – without the self-inflicted guilt trip.

For more information on the saturated fat myth, check out the articles below:

And for even more myth-busting health information, check out my article, 7 “Healthy” Habits That are Killing You Slowly.

Review: Druffles Treats

I’d like to begin by saying that I LOVE DRUFFLES. Yep. That pretty much sums it up. Now for the details…

Druffles Treats are bite-sized paleo desserts made from 100% REAL ingredients! Since going paleo, my sweet tooth has become significantly less intense. But every once in awhile, I still get a serious hankering for something sweet and dessert-like. These are the perfect little balls of delight to satisfy that craving! The best part is, they’re totally healthy and contain no artificial sweeteners or iffy ingredients.

There are currently two flavors of Druffles Treats available: Chocolate (my favorite) and Pecan Pie (my husband’s favorite)!

Chocolate Druffles: Dates, Walnuts, Cocoa Powder, Sea Salt

Chocolate Druffles: Dates, Walnuts, Cocoa Powder, Sea Salt

Pecan Pie Druffles: Pecans, Dates, Sea Salt

Pecan Pie Druffles: Pecans, Dates, Sea Salt

I first met Druffles Treats founder Sarah Brittain at a Primal Pastures farm tour. Her excitement for health and wellness was completely evident right from the start. And after hearing all about Druffles, I was even more inspired by her passion for the paleo/primal lifestyle and everything that goes along with it.

Sarah began her “real food” journey after finding CrossFit. “I slowly started to cut grains from my diet in attempt to try to be paleo,” she said. “It was hard at first, but I slowly adapted my lifestyle making changes such as eating veggies and eggs for breakfast as opposed to cereal or oatmeal. What was amazing was that my stomach aches, which until this point I hadn’t realized were so constant, went away. That was the beginning of my primal/paleo life.”

It was Sarah’s passion for the paleo lifestyle combined with her love for sweet treats that led to the inception of Druffles Treats. “Druffles were an experiment that went completely right,” said Sarah. “The date and nut based treats are designed to satisfy your craving without any processed sugar or poor quality ingredients.”

After receiving incredibly positive feedback from family and friends, Sarah decided to turn her creation into a business. “Currently the business is just me and my mom — we handmake all of the druffles in small batches,” she said. “Oh and of course the name — Im not the most creative, I figured date based truffles should be called druffles!”

For more information or to order your own box of delicious Druffles, check out drufflestreats.com. For questions or more information on Druffles Treats, email Sarah Brittain at drufflestreats@gmail.com.

Sarah Brittain and her mother/business partner, Janice

Sarah Brittain and her mother/business partner, Janice

Primal Chicken 101 – The Answer to the Tragedy of Factory Farmed Poultry

letsdobetter

The principle of this so-called animal science is derived from the industrial version of efficiency. The designers of animal factories appear to have had in mind the example of concentration camps or prisons, the aim of which is to house and feed the greatest numbers in the smallest space at the least expense of money, labor, and attention. To subject innocent creatures to such treatment has long been recognized as heartless. Animal factories make an economic virtue of heartlessness toward domestic animals, to which we humans owe instead a large debt of respect and gratitude.
—Wendell Berry, Stupidity in Concentration

The factory farmed poultry industry is worse off than any other CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) in America. 7 billion chickens are processed for consumption every year in the United States alone. At any given time, up to 40,000 birds are crammed tightly into a single shed resulting in disease, increased susceptibility to infection, immobility, sleep deprivation, and frustration.

These chickens are pumped full of grains (never getting the chance to enjoy their natural diet of bugs and grass) for their entire lives and grow so abnormally large that their legs often give out and break under the extreme load. They’re fed a constant stream of preventative antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection and are kept in artificially lighted sheds for 20 hours each day to keep them awake and eating for unnatural amounts of time.

But wait – it gets worse.

The USDA will soon allow for chickens to be shipped to China to be processed (killed, gutted, and prepared for human consumption) – and then shipped back to the states to be sold to you and your family in stores. According to this article from Nation of Change,

This arrangement is especially disturbing given China’s subpar food safety record and the fact that there are no plans to station on-site USDA inspectors at Chinese plants. Also, American consumers won’t know which brands of chicken are processed in China because there’s no requirement to label it as such.

As horrific and hazardous as it is, this news really isn’t all that surprising. For decades, we as a nation have turned a blind eye to the way that chickens are “farmed” right here in the United States. And we’re about to do the same in regards to how they’re prepared for us to consume.

So How Does This Affect Me?

If the conditions described above weren’t enough to convince you of just how terrible the chicken industry really is, please continue on.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, chicken has caused more food borne illness outbreaks, hospitalizations, and deaths between 1998 and 2010 than any other meat in the American food supply.

In addition, the overuse of antibiotics in factory farms is contributing to the development of antibiotic-resistant pathogens that are becoming increasingly difficult to treat in humans. According to the CAFOs Uncovered: The Untold Costs of Confined Animal Feeding Operations,

Many of the bacteria found on livestock (such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli, and Campylobacter) can cause food-borne disease in humans. Furthermore, recent evidence strongly suggests that some methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and uropathogenic E. coli infections may also be caused by animal sources. These pathogens collectively cause tens of millions of infections and many thousands of hospitalizations and deaths every year.


What Am I Supposed To Do? Become a Vegetarian?

When I first learned the truth about how chickens (and other meats) are raised and produced, my first instinct was to become a vegetarian. So about 6 years ago, I did just that – for 6 (long) months. It obviously didn’t work for me (I’ll try to get a post out soon about my experience with vegetarianism and why I started eating meat again).

Personal anecdotes aside, there are many reasons why I don’t believe that vegetarianism is the answer to this widespread problem. Here’s a few of them:

  1. The majority of people are not going to stop eating meat (no matter how many scare tactics PETA throws at us).
  2. Meat is an excellent source of protein, rich in a multitude of vitamins and minerals.
  3. There is a better way. More on this below!

The solution, rotational grazing for pastured poultry, offers numerous benefits to farmer, the consumer, and the environment. Rotational grazing implements the key principle of biomimicry, in which the farm uses nature as a template for farm method design.

This is not a new concept. Every species of livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, chicken, ducks, and turkeys) all rotate in the wild. They move to fresh green pasture, eat and soil the area, and then move on (only to return once the manure has been absorbed into the soil and plant/insect life has returned). Nomadic populations were also rotational grazers. They used herding animals to move their cattle and sheep from pasture to pasture, forcing them to constantly move their camp to accommodate the livestock.

The environmental benefits of rotational grazing are not to be understated. Rotationally grazed animals dramatically decrease soil erosion potential, require minimal pesticides and fertilizers, and decrease the amount of barnyard runoff. Pasturing livestock in a rotationally grazed system reduces the amount of nitrates and pesticides leaching into groundwater and also cuts down on the contamination of streams and lakes.

All About Pastured Poultry (And the Health Benefits Associated With It)

Sometimes chickens escape, but they never wander too far from their Salatin Pen, fully equipped with fresh water and Organic, non-GMO, soy-free supplemental feed.

Sometimes chickens escape, but they never wander too far from their Salatin Pen, fully equipped with fresh water and Organic, non-GMO, soy-free supplemental feed.


Primal Pastures implements a modern-day style of rotational grazing developed by Joel Salatin (American farmer, lecturer, and author) that allows chickens to be chickens, foraging and pecking for grass and bugs in their natural habitat (chickens are NOT vegetarians, contrary to what companies who play up the “vegetarian-fed” angle would like you to believe).

By using a 12’x10’x2’ tall floorless “chicken tractor” (like the one pictured above) that is rotated every day to fresh pasture, farms like ours can take full advantage of rotational grazing for poultry while providing massive benefits over the industrial system, including:

  • Natural habitat (grass)
  • Natural flock size (75-90 birds per flock, same as nature)
  • Natural distance to feed/water
  • Reduced feed costs (20% pasture consumption)
  • Environmental benefits
  • Protection from heat/predation
  • 1/3 of the Cholesterol of factory raised chicken
  • 1/4 of the Saturated Fat (toxins in factory-farmed chickens accumulate in the fat)
  • 2/3 more Vitamin A
  • 2 times more Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • 7 times more Beta Carotene

In addition to their natural diet of bugs and grass, Primal Pastures chickens are also supplemented with organic, non-GMO, soy-free feed. This healthy diet combined with plenty of sunshine, fresh pasture, and space to move around produces chickens far more nutritious and delicious than anything available in stores.

Hey, you with the short attention span – read this!

If you’ve barely scanned over this post (like most people do on the internet) take a few seconds to read over the summarizing points below before wandering off to facebook or peopleofwalmart.com:

  • The industrialized poultry industry is worse off (and more risky) than any other factory farming operation in the United States.
  • Poultry factory farming practices are inhumane and present a slew of hazards to the animals, environment, and the consumer.
  • The USDA will soon allow for chickens to be exported to China for processing and shipped back to the U.S. for human consumption, presenting a host of additional health risks to those who consume it.
  • Vegetarianism is not a realistic answer to this problem.
  • Rotationally grazed (pastured) chickens are able to pick and forage for bugs and grass just like they do in nature.
  • Pastured poultry is better for the animals, the land, and the consumer.
  • Pastured poultry contains two thirds more Vitamin A, two times more Omega-3, and 7 times more Beta Carotene.
  • Eating pastured poultry ensures that you will not be supporting inhumane farming practices or consuming meat riddled with antibiotics and toxins.
  • Pastured chicken tastes BETTER!

Check out Eat Wild to find out how to get your hands on some delicious pastured poultry from a farmer near you. And here’s one more picture of happy, healthy chickens for good measure. Enjoy!

chickens3

Win Breakfast on the Farm with Civilized Caveman!

breakfastwithgeorge

In celebration of the much anticipated release of The Paleo Kitchen, we’re giving away THREE seats to a private Breakfast on the Farm event with one of the authors — George Bryant, the Civilized Caveman himself!

Every time a new paleo/primal/real food book comes out, it’s exciting. But the Primal Pastures family is extra excited about The Paleo Kitchen by George Bryant (Civilized Caveman) and Juli Bauer (PaleOMG). We were lucky enough to get our hands on a copy just a few days ago (The Paleo Kitchen won’t be available for purchase until June 10), and let me tell you — this thing is incredible! Farmer Paul’s wife Lynsey has been going nuts with it, trying multiple recipes a day — all of which have completely WOW’d us all.

>> Click here to pre-order The Paleo Kitchen <<

ThePaleoKitchen-550x676

In addition to co-authoring The Paleo Kitchen, George is also the man behind Civilized Caveman Cooking, a wildly popular paleo food blog that has been featured in The Huffington Post, Fox News, Paleo Magazine, and more. George is also a good friend of ours and has been incredibly supportive of Primal Pastures since the beginning. Anyone who has visited his website or follows him on instagram and/or facebook also knows that he’s an all around fun-loving guy with a killer sense of humor and an incredibly positive outlook on life!

But don’t take our word for it!

Enter the #breakfastwithgeorge giveaway to win what will undoubtedly be the most fun breakfast of your life! And in addition to chatting it up with Civilized Caveman, you’ll also be treated to a delicious and wholesome breakfast prepared by our very own Chef Jamie (the mastermind behind our Breakfast on the Farm events)…all while watching Primal Pastures animals graze and enjoy their natural habitat!

 

How to Win Breakfast on the Farm with George Bryant (AKA Civilized Caveman)

  • STEP #1: Sign up for the From the Pasture mailing list (if you’re already receiving From the Pasture newsletters, skip this step)!
  • STEP #2: Leave a comment on this post explaining why you want to have #breakfastwithgeorge.
  • STEP #3: If you’re on instagram, like the #breakfastwithgeorge post and tag 3 friends for an extra entry!

Boom. That’s it. Super easy!

FINE PRINT: Contest ends at midnight on 6/09. THREE winners will be announced on 6/10, the day The Paleo Kitchen will be released to the public. Date of the breakfast will be decided based on the availability of George and the winners.

Here’s one of the many mouth-watering recipes in The Paleo Kitchen – enjoy!

Four Layer Beef and Bacon Casserole
Serves 8
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Prep Time
35 min
Cook Time
35 min
Prep Time
35 min
Cook Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. ½ pound (225 grams) bacon
For the sweet potato mash
  1. 3 to 4 medium-sized sweet potatoes (1¼ pounds/560 grams)
  2. ¼ cup (60 mL) coconut milk
  3. ½ teaspoon dried sage
  4. ¼ teaspoon salt
For the cauliflower mash
  1. 1 head cauliflower (1½ pounds/750 grams), chopped into florets
  2. ¼ cup (60 mL) coconut milk
  3. ½ teaspoon salt
  4. 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the ground beef mixture
  1. 2 pounds (910 grams) ground beef
  2. 1 garlic clove, minced
  3. 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  4. 8 ounces (225 grams) button mushrooms, diced
  5. salt and pepper, to taste
  6. coconut oil, for greasing the baking dish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish.
  2. Place the bacon on a rimmed baking sheet, place in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until cooked through. Roughly chop the bacon. Set aside.
  3. Turn up the oven to 400°F (205°C). Poke holes in sweet potato with a fork. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft and easily pieced through with a knife. The time may range depending on the thickness of the sweet potatoes.
  4. While the potatoes are baking, steam the cauliflower. Once cauliflower is fork tender, place it in a food processor or blender and puree until cauliflower becomes soft and resembles mashed potatoes. Then add the coconut milk and salt and pepper and continue to blend until you have a smooth consistency. Remove from the blender and set aside. Clean out the blender for the sweet potato mash.
  5. When sweet potatoes are soft, remove their skins and place in the food processor or blender. Blend until the sweet potato breaks down, then add the coconut milk, sage, and salt and pepper and puree until smooth. Set aside for later.
  6. Lastly, place a large pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and break it apart with a wooden spoon. Once the meat begins to brown, add the garlic, yellow onion and button mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and continue to cook until the meat is cooked through, then remove the pan from heat.
  7. Create the layers: Use a slotted spoon to remove half of the meat mixture from the excess liquid in the pan and place in the prepared baking dish in one layer. Then pour the cauliflower mash mixture on top of the meat and spread out. Then, using the slotted spoon, add the other half of the meat on top of the cauliflower mash. Lastly, pour the sweet potato mash on top and spread it out on top of the meat.
  8. Turn oven down to 350°F (175°C) degrees. Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the casserole begins to bubble. Then turn on the broiler to high and cook for 5 minutes to brown the top of the casserole. Let rest to thicken and garnish with the bacon before serving.
Adapted from The Paleo Kitchen
Adapted from The Paleo Kitchen
From the Pasture http://blog.primalpastures.com/

Don’t forget to leave a comment telling us why you want to have #breakfastwithgeorge!!

Don’t Spend Your Vacation Sick – 9 Ways to Stay Well

9waystostaywell

Two days after Jeff and I got married, we boarded a plane to Cancun. While we were on the flight, my throat began to feel painfully dry – a feeling that progressively worsened as we got closer to our destination.

I began gulping down excessive amounts of water, hoping that it was only a case of mild dehydration or dry mouth. But when each swallow was accompanied by a more intense, sharp pain, my hopes faded. This was not anything temporary or even a common cold. It was strep throat — or something similar (I never found out for sure).

When we got to Mexico, I decided to wait out the pain, hoping it would disappear. It didn’t. A few days into our trip and desperate to feel better, I purchased a Z-Pak from a local drugstore. Though I am absolutely NOT condoning or advocating for the use of antibiotics (especially without a prescription), the Z-Pak did the job for me at the time. After 2 days on antibiotics, the pain in my throat disappeared and I was free to enjoy the rest of our honeymoon.

You wouldn't know it from the picture, but I was NOT feeling well at the time.

You wouldn’t know it from the picture, but I was NOT feeling well at the time.

Although the stress of planning a wedding surely had something to do with me getting sick on our honeymoon, I started thinking back to other times that I came down with something while on vacation — and there were a lot. A bit more research on the subject revealed that it wasn’t just me who was plagued by this strange and annoying problem.

Think about it. Often times, vacations involve cramming ourselves into a plane with hundreds of other people (some of which are almost certainly sick) and breathing in recycled air for hours at a time. We also have the tendency to stress out about vacation and everything we need to get done leading up to it, and then let go too much once we’re there — giving ourselves permission to eat, drink, and do things that we normally wouldn’t.

So after the whole honeymoon ordeal, I decided that I would never waste another vacation being sick again…and I haven’t! Here’s how…

9 Ways to Stay Well on Vacation


  • TIP #1: Drink a lot of water. Water oxygenates the blood, which then transports oxygen to every cell throughout the body. A well-hydrated body is more capable of flushing out toxins, removing waste, absorbing nutrients, and stimulating our natural healing mechanisms. When traveling to a particularly warm and sunny place, you’ll need to consume more water than usual. And if you choose to disregard Tip #2, you’ll really need to drink a lot of water!

  • TIP #2: Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol is a toxin. And whenever we put toxins into our bodies, our immune system needs to work extra hard in order to remove them. When we consume alcohol, we demand that our immune system expend a huge amount of effort in removing the alcohol from our system — leaving us vulnerable to catching any sort of virus or bacteria we come into contact with (these effects can last for up to 24 hours). If you do decide to enjoy a few adult beverages on vacation, opt for drinks that don’t include sugary syrups or sodas.

  • TIP #3: SERIOUSLY limit sweets. Similar to alcohol, sugar takes our immune system’s attention away from doing its job of fighting off sickness (instead forcing it to deal with the inflammation, insulin response, and other adverse effects of sugar). As much as possible, try to keep your sweet tooth in check if you want to stay well.

  • TIP #4: Get plenty of sleep. The relationship between sleep deprivation and weakened immune response in humans has been documented over and over, and over. Adequate sleep (8 + hours per night) is crucial for immune health, which should be a breeze to achieve while on vacation!

  • TIP #5: Load up on Vitamin C. We’ve all been told of the powerful immune-boosting effects of Vitamin C (often times advertised in favor of supplements like Emergen-C and Airborne). But as always, whole-food Vitamin C sources like colorful veggies, sweet potatoes, oranges, and grapefruit are much more effective than the manufactured stuff.

  • TIP #6: Take fermented cod liver oil. Rich in Vitamins A & D (both crucial in activating immune response), and K2 (reduces inflammation), Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO) provides the body with a powerful supply of sickness-busting nutrients. Green Pasture FCLO is the ONLY supplement I take. It has made a huge difference in my immune function and has cleared up my acne significantly (post coming soon on what happened when I ran out of it. Hint – It wasn’t pretty!).

  • TIP #7: Enjoy the sunlight (but not too much). Another excellent source of Vitamin D, sunlight plays a huge role in keeping us healthy and happy. Get the right amount of sunlight each day (this amount differs for everyone), but don’t overdo it! Click here for more info on how to smartly approach sun exposure.

  • TIP #8: Exercise. Studies have shown the immune-boosting effects of exercise. It also makes us feel good. So why not do it on vacation? There’s certainly no harm in taking one (or two or three) days off from exercise while traveling. But your body (and mind) will thank you for making time to run on the beach, practice yoga on your hotel room balcony, or hit the fitness center for a mini WOD.

  • TIP #9: Don’t stress! This should be a given. Our bodies were not equipped to handle the chronic stress that most of us deal with on a regular basis. And vacations should provide us with an escape from that. But often times, we struggle more with the stress leading up to a vacation than anything. This can usually be prevented or lessened with a bit of planning ahead. Start packing earlier than the hour before you leave. Work extra hard on finishing up any work-related projects or duties during the week(s) leading up to your trip — instead of the day before. Start setting up your mind and body for pure relaxation ahead of time to avoid the drastic switch from “work mode” to “relax mode.”



Implementing these tips should keep you healthy and allow you to enjoy your vacation to the fullest. But keep in mind that even if you’re doing everything right, the cold and flu still may not have any mercy on you. And if that’s the case, it’s even more crucial to incorporate the tips listed above and allow your body to recover as quickly as possible.

What are your tricks for staying well on vacation? Are you already implementing some of the points listed above or do you have your own list of tips? Let me know with a comment!

Grains: Necessary for Health or Worse than Soda?

aregrainshealthy

I grew up eating a lot of grains.

Every day consisted of cereal (lots of cereal), a sandwich for lunch, and varied dinners — always consisting of some sort of grain either as the main dish or side. And every day I felt awful. My stomach rumbled constantly. I was tired and groggy almost constantly (especially after eating). I came down with a cold every few months and struggled quite a bit with acne and allergies…I could keep going for awhile — but I won’t bore you with all of that now.

I thought these ailments were just a part of life…things that come along with being human. After all, it seemed like everyone I knew had their own list of annoying health issues they dealt with.

It wasn’t until my senior year of college when I met my husband Jeff that I even considered the notion that some of my problems could be related to the foods I was eating. Almost all of Jeff’s family was on either paleo or gluten-free diets and had healed some of their own health problems by eating that way. Farmer Paul got rid of his arthritis. His wife Lynsey saw major improvements in her dental health. And Farmer Tom lost about 70 pounds. It all sounded pretty wacky to me…

Until I gave it a try.

The first thing to go was grains. All grains. I’ve never been a big bread, pasta, or rice junkie — so that stuff wasn’t such a big deal for me to give up. But cereal was a different story. Not only did I often eat multiple bowls of it for dinner (in addition to breakfast), but would many times cap off normal meals with the stuff after I was already full. From sugary sweet Cocoa Puffs to “heart healthy” Kashi…I loved it all. That was a tough habit to kick.

But when I did, the changes were remarkable. My digestion and constant state of sluggishness improved immediately. And little by little (while making more changes towards a real food only diet) my other health ailments gradually all but disappeared.

So there it is in a nutshell — grains have never agreed with me and giving them up has improved my health tremendously and changed my life in major ways.

Yes, I realize that I’m probably more intolerant to grains than most people. And no, I’m not trying to suck the fun out of life for everyone else just because of my sensitivity to our culture’s beloved whole grains. But the fact is, there are extremely compelling health reasons for all of us (noticeably intolerant or not) to seriously consider whether or not we should be consuming the plant at the bottom of the food pyramid.


Humans Were Healthier Pre-Agricultural Revolution

10,000 years ago, people didn’t eat the cereal grains (grass seeds) that make up the overwhelming majority of the grains we consume today. Instead, our hunter-gatherer ancestors were dependent on meat, seafood, vegetables, fruits, and nuts for sustenance (and we were much healthier for it).

It wasn’t until the Agricultural Revolution that our diets changed dramatically. In Cereal Grains: Humanity’s Double-Edged Sword, Loren Cordain lists the conditions that resulted from early cases of grain-based diets replacing the primarily animal-based diets of hunter-gatherers:

  • Reduction in stature
  • Increase in infant mortality
  • Reduction in lifespan
  • Increased incidence of infectious diseases
  • Increase in iron deficiency anemia
  • Increased incidence of osteomalacia, porotic hyperostosis, and other bone mineral disorders
  • An increase in the number of dental caries and enamel effects

Though the advent of agriculture has allowed for the advancement of society in many ways, these massive gains have come with a price — our health. The foods we eat have drastically changed (as grains now make up the bulk of most modern diets), even though our genetically determined nutritional needs have virtually stayed the same. Because of this (along with other dietary and lifestyle factors), degenerative and autoimmune diseases are common in modern society. But common as they are, these modern ailments are anything butnormal.


Grains Are Genetically Adapted to be Toxic to Humans

Grains contain anti-nutrients that are toxic to the body and prevent the absorption of important vitamins and minerals that our bodies need (in addition to falling short in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and more in comparison to the high density of nutrients in meats and vegetables).

They contain these toxins and anti-nutrients as a means of survival. Every living thing on this planet was designed with defense mechanisms. Animals can run, swim, fly, or hide from danger. Plants cannot. Mark Sisson writes,

Plants, though, are passive organisms without the ability to move, think, and react (for the most part). They must employ different tactics to ensure propagation, and they generally have to rely on outside forces to spread their seed. And so various methods are “devised” to dissuade consumption long enough for the seed to get to where it’s going. Nuts have those tough shells, and grains have the toxic anti-nutrients, lectins, gluten, and phytates. (Of course there are some obvious exceptions. Fruits are tasty, nutritious, and delicious so that animals will eat them whole and poop out the seeds, preferably into some fertile soil. The seed stays intact throughout the digestive process; it is indigestible by design. No seed “wants” to be digested, because this would defeat the purpose. They “want” to be swallowed, or borne by the wind, or carried by a bee to the next flower, but they do not want to be digested.)

According to Mark, our bodies may have adapted to tolerate the anti-nutrients in grains (as birds, rodents, ruminants, and other species can), had our ancestors diets’ contained a greater concentration or focus on grains. But they didn’t. And now we’re suffering from society’s shift to a diet rooted in a food that our bodies are not equipped to consume, especially in the large quantities that we eat them in today. Now, let’s tackle some of these anti-nutrients in greater detail…

Anti-Nutrients in Grains

We’ve already established that grains are not essential or even remotely necessary to survival or health — there are no nutrients found in grains that can’t be found in meat and vegetables (in much larger quantities).

Okay, so their nutritional profile isn’t all it’s stacked up to be. So what? I’ll exchange empty calories for a nice bowl of Cheerios or a fluffy dinner roll. But there’s much more to it than that. Aside from not being in any way beneficial, grains are also extremely harmful to the body for three main reasons:

  1. Phytic Acid: This compound binds to important minerals in the foods we eat (calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and more). Because phytic acid is indigestible and binds with minerals in the GI tract, these minerals are eliminated from the body instead of ever being absorbed — leaving us vulnerable to the many negative conditions that result from mineral deficiencies. As Diane Sanfilippo writes on page 83 of Practical Paleo,

    Mineral deficiencies can result in a myriad of symptoms that include, but are not limited to, suppressed immunity, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, heart palpitations, muscle cramps, restless leg syndrome, muscle spasms, asthma, migraines, constipation, and hormonal imbalances like premenstrual syndrome (PMS), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and infertility in both men and women.

  2. Gluten: Celiacs aren’t the only ones who should steer clear of gluten. Up until very recently, grain intolerance was only tested by the presence of antibodies to transglutaminase and alpha-gliadin, only two components of the gluten compound. But we now know that people can react to several other components of gluten besides just tranglutaminase and alpha-gliadin, suggesting that far more people are intolerant than conventional wisdom would tell us.

    Dr. Kenneth Fine, a pioneer in gluten intolerance research, has demonstrated that 1 in 3 Americans are gluten intolerant and that 8 in 10 have the genes that predispose them to developing gluten intolerance.

    Symptoms of gluten intolerance aren’t always obvious and can include a myriad of problems such as:

    • dermatitus
    • fatigue
    • joint pain
    • acid reflux
    • abnormal menses
    • infertility

  3. Lectins: These proteins (found in large quantities in grains — especially wheat) can impair digestive function by inhibiting the GI tract’s natural repair mechanisms. When lectins disrupt the cell wall, our bloodstream becomes vulnerable to unwanted materials from the digestive system potentially leading to leaky gut and autoimmune disease. The over consumption of lectins can also contribute to leptin resistance, a major perpetrator of weight gain and hormonal dysfunction.

*Sidenote: I know that many readers follow the teachings of Weston A. Price and practice traditional methods of preparing grains, which does effectively neutralize most of the harmful anti-nutrients in grains. I have not experimented with these methods myself (mostly because I’m too lazy and find it easier to just steer clear of grains completely), but do have much respect for individuals who take on this level of commitment and effort in regards to preparing food and fostering health.

Insulin & Grains

Not to be outdone by anti-nutrients is the havoc that grains cause on our bodies’ natural insulin response. Just two slices of whole grain bread has a higher glycemic index (GI) rating than a can of Coke or a Snickers bar. Consuming foods with a high GI leads to a spike in blood sugar which results in the pancreas secreting more insulin to move the glucose from the bloodstream to the muscle and liver cells (where it is stored as glycogen and burned during exercise). But when these cells are already at their max capacity of glycogen, (as they usually are from the excess of grains we eat), things get messy.

With too much glucose in the blood with nowhere to go, the pancreas continues to release insulin to move the glucose to the muscle and liver cells (even though the cell receptors are full) resulting in toxic amounts of insulin in the bloodstream. The excess of insulin results in an inflammatory response and the excess of glucose in the bloodstream leads to insulin resistance, weight gain, and diabetes…all over a measly few slices of whole wheat bread.

The Bottom Line

To sum it up, grains are not healthy. Their nutritional benefits are minimal at best, they prevent us from properly absorbing minerals, wreak havoc on our digestive systems, and contribute to a slew of modern diseases.

It took me about 6-9 months to fully give up grains — a lifestyle change that my body thanks me for daily. But that’s not to say that I never indulge. I’ll occasionally still chow down on sushi with white rice or even gluten-free treats (BJ’s has incredible gluten-free pizookies) from time to time. These compromises usually result in slight fatigue and some digestive discomfort. But sometimes (5% of the time) it’s worth it to me if the enjoyment of the moment is greater than the potential consequences.

That’s really what all of this nutrition and health stuff is about, right? Eating (and living) in ways that optimize wellness and maximize the enjoyment we get out everyday life. And 95% of the time, grains hold us back from that.

Now that I’ve shared my take on grains, what’s yours? Have you experienced better health after eliminating them? Or are you still dead set on having your 6-9 servings a day? Let me know!

Ask Anything: Farmer Paul

ask anything-farmer paul

As a small family farm, we’re always looking for ways to get to know you (our customers & fans) better. And we want you to know us better too! That’s why we’re starting a series of Farmer Spotlights — to give you the chance to truly “know your farmers.”

Farmer Paul was the first brave volunteer (even though he was really volunTOLD) to answer the questions you asked on facebook, instagram, and through email. You might already know that Farmer Paul is a devoted husband and father to his wife Lynsey and son Noah (and obviously an awesome farmer)! But were you aware that he was also an All-American racewalker and javelin thrower at Concordia University, Irvine — where he attended on a handbell scholarship!? Needless to say, Paul is a pretty awesome guy who’s full of surprises.

Find out more interesting facts about him (as well his take on all sorts of farming questions) below!

Personal/Lifestyle Questions

Q: Did you rub dirt on your face for this picture? – Yeshua G.

A: It’s actually poop. I was spreading manure compost that day. It was super windy out and I was chucking it out onto the pasture from a wheelbarrow and it kept blowing back into my face. That’s kind of embarrassing, but thanks for asking! Haha, off to a good start…

Q: Would you say your life has changed for the better since Primal Pastures – Camila L.

A: Before Primal Pastures, I was working a desk job. I was in a cubicle with fake lighting for 70 hours a week and was hardly ever able to get away to see family or friends. It was really boring and I didn’t believe in what I was doing. I gave all of that up (along with a really solid paycheck) to farm full time. Now, I’m working outside with my hands. I have much more time to spend with my family even though I’m working the same amount of hours (often times even more). And it’s really a blessing working with animals. I have a smaller paycheck now but feel 100 times more fulfilled than I did before.

Q: Do you lift, bro? In all seriousness, my husband joining CrossFit was what introduced us to the Paleo/Primal lifestyle last year. When did you decide to shift your life/career to farming? And did your parents, friends, and family think you were nuts? – Kimberly H.

A: I got into Paleo from CrossFit too. When I was in the Marine Corps, all of the guys were doing CrossFit and along with that came paleo. They told me to take out breads and gluten for 30 days. After I did it, the arthritis I had in college disappeared. That pretty much sold me on Paleo. As for the career shift, Farmer Tom (my father in-law) had been interested in organic pasture farming for like 30 years. Once I started learning more about pasture farming and how it fit in with the Paleo lifestyle, I was convinced that starting a farm was the right thing to do. The family was incredibly supportive but my friends thought it was a little weird. Most of the Primal Pastures family members are into CrossFit now – and our farming background gives us a new appreciation for farmers carries, etc.

Q: What was your favorite food growing up, and how would you adapt it to the way you eat today? Or would you even want to? – Joyce B.

A: Just so you guys know, that’s my mom who asked this question. LOVE YOU!! As you know, mom, corn dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese were definitely my favorites. I haven’t had either of those since I was a kid and wouldn’t really want them anymore. When you make a habit of staying away from certain foods, you don’t crave them anymore. And knowing how bad they’ll make you feel makes you crave them even less. I don’t think of Paleo as a “diet.” I never feel restricted by only eating real, unprocessed foods. It’s pretty much how every guy wants to eat anyway, I mean come on – amazing steaks and bacon? Although… a grass-fed beef Paleo corn dog would be pretty epic.

Q: Do any of you still work another “day” job? – Nick and Kim P.

A: I was the first farmer to go full time with Primal Pastures. Farmer Jeff was the second, and both of us are also part-time students. Farmer Rob is a full time student in addition to his work with Primal Pastures. Farmer Tom still works full time. The goal is to have everyone in the family come on full time eventually.

Q: What came first, the chicken or the egg? – Philicia P.

A: The chicken definitely came first – an egg can’t hatch without a chicken sitting on it. Why is this disputed?

Q: When are you going to start making more babies? – Philicia P.

A: The Weston A. Price Foundation recommends spacing out children by 3 years. Weston A. Price himself recommends 5 years in between children. But since my wife wasn’t the average traditional age of 13 when we had our first (Noah, 15 months), we’ll probably have them a little faster than that. After all, we’re gonna need a lot more farm hands to help collect eggs and process chickens. We’re passionate about adopting and want to grow our family in that way too.


Primal Pastures Questions

Q: When can I get some of your eggs? – Jeanie O.

A: We love producing eggs, but it takes quite a bit of land. We also lost 70% of our flock to predation last year and it’s taken some time to rebuild it. But even more than selling eggs, we’re really passionate about helping people raise eggs on their own. We’re working on a web series right now to make this possible even for folks who have small yards or apartment balconies. We’re also working on doing a pastured chicken coop that will work for small yards or balconies. If we really want to see dramatic change to our nation’s broken food system, we need 20% of people to plant a garden and raise a couple of laying hens. It would do more than you could imagine and it’s fun!

Q: Do you supplement pasture feed with corn or soy? – Nicole R.

A: We do supplement our chickens’ pasture plucking and bug eating with organic, non-GMO corn, but never soy. Soy in the United States is more genetically modified than any other crop and can cause big problems when digested by humans. The corn in our supplemental feed makes up a small percentage of our chickens’ diet, otherwise consisting of bugs, grass, organic alfalfa, wheat, limestone, diatomaceous earth, grit, and other natural ingredients that chickens feed on in the wild.

Q: I love Primal Pastures’ dedication to properly raised animals. I have a question about your term beyond organic. In what ways does your farm produce beyond organic animals and how is this better than organic? – Melissa L.

A: The problem with the term “organic” is that it’s just a check in the box. Companies have to meet very minimal standards in order to be certified. A chicken given organic feed can be certified organic and still live de-beaked in a 12”x12” cage with 3 others for its entire life. That is totally missing the point if you ask me! We believe in raising animals in their natural environments with plenty of time and space to roam… where each animal can express their unique characteristics (the chickenness of the chicken, the pigness of the pig, the sheepness of the sheep, etc.). We strive to create a natural habitat for these animals over getting a government sign off.

Q: How large would you like to grow your farm and when will you know you’ve reached the ideal size? I.e. will we see you in Whole Foods? – Madeline H.

A: First and foremost, we all want our family to have a good lifestyle and our family is priority. We don’t want to get so big to the point where we aren’t having fun, but not too small to where it’s not putting food on the table for us. We like selling directly to the consumer but also want to have a major food impact. It’s a balancing act and I wish I had the perfect answer, but we’re taking things day by day for now! Certainly not as big as Nutpods will be someday :)

Q: Now that you won a couple of contests, what are you gonna do with all those Benjamin’s? – Philicia P.

A: We’re super excited and honored to have just won an Agricultural Innovation Prize with University of Wisconsin-Madison through a new company called Pasturebird LLC. This new venture provides a large scale solution to factory farming that puts birds out on grass where they belong. The funds will go towards patenting the idea, prototyping it, and implementing it on a small scale at our farm. The plan is to scale it up after that (which will require a larger investment).


General Farming Questions

Q: What is your favorite and least favorite chore to do on the farm?
Also, is there one animal (that you don’t already have) in which you are hoping to one day raise on the farm? – Emily P.

A: My favorite chore is rotating the animals to a new patch of grass every day. I can literally feel their excitement to have fresh food to grub on – it’s like a big salad bar for them. My least favorite is processing chickens. I’m grateful that we’re able to do it and we’re passionate about doing it as humanely as possible, but it’s a lot of work…and it’s a really long day. I want to add lots of other animals – cattle, pigs and ducks to name a few. The one I’m MOST excited about is probably dairy cows. They are such amazing animals.

Q: How long will it take in your opinion for our country to change how we grow our food and more farmers step up to real farming? And do you even want that? How do we help keep the good guys like you all growing and all the while supplying to our demands …is this a question? Haha. Thanks. – Jenna P.

A: In my opinion, it could take as little as a year for our county’s food system to really change but that would take support on three levels: farmers, consumers, and government.

Farmers: We’re still experiencing a mass exodus of young talent out of agriculture. And when you look at conventional systems, it’s easy to see why. Who would want to work 70 hours making $25k a year working a factory farm? We need to see more examples of financially successful ecological farmers who can motivate more young people to start farms. Right now it’s a poor man’s sport.

Consumers: The trend of consumers demanding higher quality food is amazing, but it needs to be 1,000 times greater than what it is now. In So-Cal, we’re blessed with a lot of educated and informed folks but the demand needs to sweep across the country. People need to understand what good quality really is instead of falling into the traps of meaningless labels like cage free, free range, etc.

Government: It’s going to be difficult for our country to see large gains without the support of public policy. Right now, it’s heavily in support of the pharmaceutical industry and large scale CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) farms. These policies drive up prices and make it artificially cheaper to buy poor quality food.

If these three things could change overnight, there will be widespread food healing for our country within a year. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by things out of our control, but each of us needs to focus on our own choices and what we can do to help.

Q: What are some things you wish you had known when you guys were first starting? What are some good “ducks” to get in a row so to speak? – Adam P.

A: It would have been great if we had known how to farm. There are too many things to even list that we didn’t know before getting into this. It would have been really good for one of us to do a week-long internship with Mark Shepherd, Joel Salatin, Alan Savory, Greg Judy, one of our heroes. That definitely would have catapulted us faster, but we also wanted to make our own mistakes – so we just jumped right into it. We would have rather gotten the ball rolling and messed up than bury ourselves in books and never actually do anything. As long as your mistakes don’t include compromised integrity, don’t ever mess that up.

Q: With the prevalence of GMO-infused food these days, how are you able to ensure there is none up-chain from y’all? – Donna C.

A:We do our best to perform due diligence with our whole supply chain. We have visited the farms where we get most of our products from. The feed supplier that we use for the chicken feed has multiple certifications, not just the National Organic. They are National Organic Program certified, Oregon Tilth certified, and OMRI listed.

Q: Do y’all farm by the intensive grazing method? Using electric fencing Joel Salatin style? I’m curious about worming methods as well. They say if you aren’t rotational/intensive grazing, you have to worm your animals. – Annemarie S.

A: Yes – we practice Joel Salatin’s style of rotational grazing. Some of our biggest influences are him, Allan Savory, Greg Judy, and Mark Shepard. If animals are being rotated, worming isn’t really an issue. We’ve never had to de-worm anything.

Q: How often do you move your sheep? Are you using flexible paddocks or static? Which abattoir do you use? – wandercampasino

A: We move the sheep based on the amount of pasture and stocking density available, but they never stay in the same place for more than 2-3 days. We use Electro Netting for the sheep.

There are a variety of USDA and state inspected abattoirs around So-Cal that we use. Feel free to shoot me an email at Paul@primalpastures.com if you want a full list of our slaughter houses. I’d be happy to provide it, but it’s a lot of information.

Q: You all completed a fairly large kickstarter project to move into the beef industry: where are your pastures in So-Cal? Nuevo? Temecula? How are the dress out weights coming and how did infrastructure roll out go? – wandercampasino

A: Kickstarter was awesome. We’re still looking for a great piece of land to call home. Dress out weights always depend on time of year and are unique to the animal but we’re very happy with them at this point in time. As far as infrastructure, we really don’t have a lot of permanent equipment but I’m happy to answer a more specific follow up question in the comment section below.

Q: Are you offering free choice minerals to your ruminants? Are you using a specific breed of cattle? I heard BarZona may be a good choice for the climate. – wandercampasino

A: We’re interested in free choice minerals but haven’t put them into use yet. We watched Greg Judy’s talk on them and it’s definitely something we’d like to explore in the future. I’m very familiar with the BarZona breed. Right now we’re using Black Angus but BarZona is an excellent hot weather beef meat.

Q: Have you noticed a significant change in feed/time needed after switching from Cornish Crosses? – newvintageembroidery

A: Yes – it’s 2-4 weeks longer on average. But the Heritage birds peck and scratch a lot more so you end up using less supplemental feed. They take longer but it ends up balancing out. The Heritage birds also act a lot more like chickens and taste better.

Q: Is starting a farm more expensive than one realizes? – Laura H.

A: Starting a conventional factory farm is far more expensive than anyone could imagine. You’re looking at close to 1 million dollars just to get a couple of poultry houses set up. Starting a farm the way we did is really cheap and scalable in comparison. Primal Pastures cost less than a combined $5,000 between family members to start!

Q: Seems a bit too normal, but asking anyway: For you, what’s the best/worst part of farming? – Scott H.

A: I love being outside, doing something I’m passionate about, being around family all the time and being around awesome customers. The downsides are the massive time commitment, the huge learning curve, and all of the ups and downs.


Thanks so much for reading and for all of your questions! Have anything else you’re dying to ask Farmer Paul? Leave any additional questions in the comment section below!

7 “Healthy” Habits that are Killing You Slowly

7healthyhabits

We’ve been fed contradicting information on what “experts” say we should and shouldn’t do for decades. One day coffee is good for you, the next day it will kill you. Some say CrossFit is the greatest thing since protein powder and others swear it’s more dangerous than swimming in a pool of great white sharks.

The list goes on and on.

But there are some things that have generally been viewed as healthy and safe for far too long (when they’re really anything but). And it’s time for these lies to be exposed — once and for all.

Stay Away From These 7 Things:

  1. Soy. Every time I see an otherwise health-conscious person order a soy latte or tofu salad, I cringe. Here’s why.

    • Soy contains more phytoestrogens than just about anything. Phytoestrogens are plant-based substances that latch onto the receptor sites of our cells meant for estrogen. Consuming them can contribute to hypothyroidism, early onset puberty, breast cancer, testicular cancer, and male fertility issues.
    • The high levels of phytic acid in soy make it extremely difficult for the body to absorb adequate levels of zinc, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and other important minerals.
    • 93% of soy produced in the United States is genetically modified.

  2. Fluoride. I’ve used fluoridated toothpaste for my whole life (up until a few months ago). I’ve drank fluoridated water for most of my life. I even got regular Fluoride treatments from the dentist as a kid.

    You can imagine the shock and horror that I experienced after finding out that Fluoride is a toxic chemical that has been linked to a lower IQ, impaired thyroid function, bone cancer, and many more serious health conditions. And it’s not even good for your teeth. In a major study done by the National Institute of Dental Research, no difference was found in the dental health of children living in areas with fluoridated vs. unfluoridated water.

    Think it’s a bunch of hog wash? Harvard doesn’t. And neither does the National Research Council. According to Dr. Ludgwig Grosse, Chief of Cancer Research at the U.S. Veterans Administration,

    The plain fact that fluorine is an insidious poison — harmful, toxic and cumulative in its effects, even when ingested in minimal amounts, will remain unchanged no matter how many times it will be repeated in print that fluoridation of the water supply is ‘safe.’

    Still not convinced? Read this. Or watch this.

  3. Vegetable Oil. Often praised for its low levels of “artery clogging” saturated fat and high levels of “healthy” polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, vegetable oil is in reality one of the most processed, toxic foods on the market.

    The process that vegetable oil goes through in order to even be considered edible is nothing short of ridonkulous. Unlike coconut oil or butter which can be extracted through natural pressing or separation, vegetable oil must be chemically removed, bleached, deodorized, and more before being put into your salad dressing, sauce, or condiment. The chart below shows the lengthy process in greater detail:

    kyf-conola-oilchart

    Vegetable oil and other highly processed oils (canola oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, etc.) can be extremely damaging, especially when used in place of the healthy saturated fats that our bodies need and crave.

    These oils have a disproportionately large amount of omega-6 fats relative to their low omega-3 content (safflower oil is 75% omega-6 and 0% omega-3). As a result, omega-6 fats are used almost exclusively for cell repair and hormone production (the desired ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in the body is 1:1). This creates an inflammatory response that leads to an increased risk of developing diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, and many more.

  4. Sunscreen. Conventional sunscreen contains dangerous chemicals that disrupt hormone balance, cause allergic reactions, and contribute to a slew of additional complications. One chemical commonly used in sunscreen, Retinyl Palmitate, is known to cause reproductive toxicity and increase the growth rate of skin tumors.

    On top of all of that, sunscreen does little to nothing to protect us from the sun. It shields us from UVB rays that cause us to burn and also provide Vitamin D, but offers very little protection from the UVA rays that cause the more serious, lasting damage to our skin at a DNA level. Read more about the harmful effects of conventional sunscreen (and what to use instead) here.

  5. Low fat/fat free Products. Dietitians, personal trainers, and other “health experts” have been singing the praises of “low fat,” “fat free,” “reduced fat,” and “light” foods for years. But let’s get one thing straight — healthy fats aren’t bad for you. They won’t make you fat and they won’t make you sick. And there’s no reason to remove them from foods they’re meant to be in — other than for the companies who produce them to make big bucks at the expense of your health.

    “Fat free” or “low fat” labels are simply a way for marketers to make their product seem more appealing and healthy to the naive consumer. Foods that brag of such labels are often highly processed and are labeled as “fat free” as an attempt to make up for the massive amounts of sugar and artificial ingredients that they contain.

    Don’t fall victim to this marketing ploy. And never use these labels as excuses to eat “foods” that by every other standard would not be considered healthy!

  6. Antibacterial soap. This subject has recently gotten a surprising amount of attention from the mainstream media, with good reason. Here’s a few points that may cause you to reconsider your soap of choice:

    Bottom line? Your body knows what it’s doing. It’s already equipped with all sorts of good bacteria that constantly work to fight infections and disease. By overusing antibacterial products, we get rid of the good stuff along with the bad stuff, preventing our bodies from fighting off anything on their own. And when something really bad comes along that necessitates the use of antibiotics, our resistant bacteria renders the antibiotic useless — not good.

  7. Grains. These highly genetically modified foods wreak all sorts of havoc on our bodies. In short, they’re addictive, highly inflammatory, and they make us sick and fat — don’t eat them! According to Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly,

    Documented peculiar effects of wheat on humans include appetite stimulation, exposure to brain-active exorphins (the counterpart of internally derived endorphins), exaggerated blood sugar surges that trigger cycles of satiety alternating with heightened appetite, the process of glycation that underlies disease and aging, inflammatory and pH effects that erode cartilage and damage bone, and activation of disordered immune responses. A complex range of diseases results from consumption of wheat, from celiac disease—the devastating intestinal disease that develops from exposure to wheat gluten—to an assortment of neurological disorders, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, curious rashes, and the paralyzing delusions of schizophrenia.

    Want more information before swearing off bread and pasta for good? Read Wheat Belly. Or Grain Brain.

Okay, I get it — these things are bad. Now what?

Maybe some or all of this is new information to you — maybe it isn’t. That’s irrelevant. What matters is where we go from here and how we use this information to shape the decisions we make every day.

Always question what “they” say is good for you. Heck, question what I say is good for you too! This is your life, your body, and your health. And ultimately, you are the one who decides what’s best for yourself and your family. But every one of us can benefit from making these choices based on research and careful consideration (instead of just doing as we’re told).

Can you think of any other “healthy” habits that are really anything but healthy? Tell me about them!

Want more info on any of the points listed above? Let me know by commenting below — I’ll write a blog post on whichever subject gets the most interest!