S3 E3 – Sourcing Meat w/ Diana Rodgers

Welcome to The Autoimmune Wellness Podcast Season 3: Real Food on a Budget. We’re dedicating this season to discussing an aspect of natural healing that often gets left out of the conversation: affordability. We’ll be chatting with experts and peers from the AIP community about how to best balance money with your health priorities.

This season is brought to you by our title sponsor, The Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA), a holistic nutrition school that trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants with an emphasis on bioindividual nutrition. Learn more about them by visiting NutritionalTherapy.com, or read about our experiences going through their NTP and NTC programs in our comparison article.

Season 3 Episode 3 is all about options for sourcing high-quality meat. We start by discussing the concept of “good, better, and best” when it comes to meat quality, and share how we source our meat.

Then, we interview Diana Rodgers, the creator of the new documentary Kale vs. Cow, about how to best source protein other than beef, and what we can all do to become more sustainable. Scroll down for the full episode transcript!

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Full Transcript:

Mickey Trescott: Welcome to the Autoimmune Wellness podcast, a resource for those seeking to live well with chronic illness. I’m Mickey Trescott, a nutritional therapy practitioner living well with autoimmune disease in Oregon. I’m the author of The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, and I’m using diet and lifestyle to best manage both Hashimoto’s and Celiac disease.

Angie Alt: And I’m Angie Alt. I’m a certified health coach and nutritional therapy consultant, also living well with autoimmune disease in Maryland. I’m the author of The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook, and I’m using diet and lifestyle to best manage my endometriosis, lichen sclerosis, and Celiac disease.

After recovering our health by combining the best of conventional medicine with effective and natural dietary and lifestyle interventions, Mickey and I started blogging at www.AutoimmuneWellness.com, where our collective mission is seeking wellness and building community.

We also wrote a book called The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook together that serves as a do-it-yourself guidebook to living well with chronic illness.

Mickey Trescott: If you’re looking for more information about the autoimmune protocol, make sure to sign up for our newsletter at autoimmunewellness.com, so we can send you our free quick start guide. It contains printable AIP food lists, a 2-week food plan, a 90-minute batch cooking video, a mindset video, and food reintroduction guides.

This season of the podcast, real food on a budget is brought to you by our title sponsor, The Nutritional Therapy Association.

Angie Alt: A quick disclaimer: The content in this podcast is intended as general information only, and is not to be substituted for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Onto the podcast!

Topics:

1. Quality of meat on a scale [3:29]
2. How Mickey and Angie source their meat [8:22]
3. Interview with Diana Rodgers [20:45]
4. Sourcing protein other than beef [26:23]
5. Joining the sustainability movement [29:07]
6. Kale Versus Cow documentary [36:57]

Mickey Trescott: Hey everybody! Mickey here. Welcome back to the Autoimmune Wellness podcast, season 3. How’s it going today, Angie?

Angie Alt: It’s going well. I’m excited to talk about this topic. I know it’s kind of weird, but I’m sort of into it.

Mickey Trescott: So, today, we’re continuing our discussion related to the topic of the season; real food on a budget. Today’s episode is going to be about options for sourcing high-quality meat. So this is one of the important parts of the autoimmune protocol diet, whether or not you’re on the elimination diet or you’ve done some reintroductions. Making sure that you have some high-quality meat on your plate is definitely important.

So first, let’s have a chat about this concept of good, better, and best. Angie, do you want to kind of give a little overview of what we mean by that?

Angie Alt: Yeah. It’s basically a scale that we like to use when we’re comparing food quality. I think we first developed it when we wrote our book. Is that right, Mickey?

Mickey Trescott: Yeah.

Angie Alt: When we wrote The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook, we kind of developed this scale. Because we really wanted folks to understand that just going for it in terms of making a dietary change for healing is worthwhile. Even if it can’t be perfect. We wanted to kind of dispel this perfectionism myth, and help folks understand that there’s a scale here. And how to best use that scale for whatever your budget and your sourcing abilities are.

Mickey Trescott: Yep. And I think that’s really important that you highlighted two reasons why it might be different. So, budget and accessibility. Sometimes people have barriers in both those areas. Sometimes one and not the other. So just because you can afford something doesn’t mean you can always find it, and vice versa.

1. Quality of meat on a scale [3:29]

Angie Alt: Yeah. So let’s start at the far end of the scale. Let’s start with good. When we say good, in terms of meat quality, we’re talking about if you can’t afford or source grass-fed, or pastured meats, or wild-caught seafood. You can focus on buying leaner cuts of conventionally raised meats. You can still try to make sure they’re at least hormone free. They should be. There are regulations around this stuff. But you can work on adding more organ meats and fish to your diet.

Conventionally raised organ meat is inexpensive, and it’s still very nutrient dense. And farmed fish is better for you than no fish at all. I know there’s a lot of folks that there that are going to balk at that, but you can even check in with the Paleo Mom. She’s done the research here. It’s better to get some fish in, no matter what.

You can also consider wild-caught canned salmon, tuna, or sardines. Which are relatively cheap, but they’re still packed with nutritional value. Be sure to look for canned fish that’s free of soy and spices, though, if you’re following the autoimmune protocol.

And then, you can limit how much conventionally raised poultry you eat, since it does have the lowest value in terms of nutrition. What we mean by buying leaner cuts of other kinds of meat is; looking for less fat. The toxins that kind of accumulate in an animal that’s been fed a less than healthy diet tends to be in the fat. So if you bought conventionally raised pork, you’d trim off the fat on those pork chops. If you had to buy conventionally raised beef, you’d trim off the fat there. That’s what we mean by leaner.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. And that kind of goes a little bit against what we normally recommend with AIP. Which is to eat the fat. And that’s because we are advocating for eating higher quality meat. But it’s totally ok, and there is no shame, if you can only afford conventionally raised meat. Just be cautious with that fat content.

And a lot of people actually ask about the organ meats. They think that maybe because it’s conventionally raised, that those are a no-go. But actually organ meats are very lean, and conventionally raised organ meats are still ok. And they’re very, very affordable.

The next level up is what we call better. So kind of one step above good is if you can afford or source some organic grass-fed or pastured meats. Or even that wild-caught seafood. Focus on buying those fatty cuts. So this is where you can kind of play with the boundary between the different food qualities that you have available to you.

Like we said, that fat is really good for you. It’s also where a lot of the toxins are stored. So if you can afford a little bit of that higher quality stuff, think those fatty roasts. Maybe some salmon filets. You might even be able to find some high-quality ground meat on sale from time to time. So you can stock up and freeze that. So that’s kind of how you can use both of those categories to your advantage if you have a little bit in your budget for a little bit higher quality meat.

Angie Alt: Right. And then the next step up. This is other far end of the scale. This is what we call best; we refer to as best. That’s getting all your meat and seafood organic grass-fed or pastured, and wild caught. That’s the ideal that we hope we’re all aiming for. Our budget and our sourcing is able to meet both of these.

This is like finding farmers or fishmongers from whom you can buy directly in bulk in order to save the most money while still getting the highest quality. You can ask the farmers about buying beef, pork, or lamb in wholes, halves, or quarters. This is buying the whole animal, half the animal, quarter of the animal, to save money.

You might be able to share meat with a group of friends if you don’t have enough freezer space or you don’t need to have such large quantities of meat. Buying in bulk keeps the cost down, but you may not have a need for all of that. So sharing is one way to deal with it. It gives you the advantage of the lower bulk price and the higher quality meat.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. And I really think at this best level, we’re not really saying that this is food sourced from a grocery store. But actually at the highest level, ideally you’re working directly with a farmer that is local to you. So for some people, they don’t have local farms around them. You might be ordering meat online from different sources that maybe ship you frozen meat or something.

But ideally, everyone should have; in a perfect world, we all have local farms that are raising sustainable and healthy meat that we can actually work directly. And then you can actually go kind of see what the animals are eating. How they’re being treated. And all of that is kind of another add-on to that.

2. How Mickey and Angie source their meat [8:22]

Angie Alt: So maybe, Mickey, we could talk about how each of us sources our own protein. Because we have different approaches.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, for sure. We live on opposite sides of the country. Our local food systems are a little bit different. And kind of our life stages and living situations are a little different, too. So, I live on a farm. Although we don’t raise a lot of animals for meat here, but I live in a farming community. So access to quality meat is actually pretty easy for me.

One of my neighbors raises a few cattle every year just for the neighborhood on grass. So I buy a cow from my neighbor, and we have it frozen. We buy half and my mom and my sister buy the other half. So we split it. And I keep it in the deep freezer. And that lasts us about a year.

For salmon, we have a CSA. Because I live in the Pacific Northwest, so there are a lot of salmon CSAs where a company will go up to Alaska in the summer and they will fish for salmon and then freeze everything on the boat and then bring it back and you buy it in 10/20-pound boxes. So we get a couple of boxes in the summer, and that lasts us for the whole year.

And then chicken is actually hardest for me to source, just because it’s very seasonal in my area. So I do have some great farms that raise chicken. But not only is it very expensive, but they’ll raise a group of chickens, and they will harvest all of them. And then when you buy them, I’ll usually buy maybe 12 to 15 chickens. It takes up a lot of room. And that’s the one I have a harder time planning with.

So ideally I get them in whole chickens, bulk from a local farm. But I do supplement that with some of the maybe better quality Whole Foods chicken. And then pork, I have got sourced pork locally from different farms by the half. But this year we’re actually raising our own pigs for the first time. So that’s kind of exciting.

In the past, though. Now I’ve kind of maybe got it pretty figured out, because I lived on a farm and it’s a lot easier for me than a lot of other people to source meat. But I will say I have lived in the city before I lived out here in the country, and I have had to have some pretty creative sourcing ideas to get really good meat on the table.

So some things that I did when I lived in Seattle, first off I had a deep freezer when I had a living situation that wasn’t really ideal for a deep freezer. So I really prioritized that. I bought a little one. It wasn’t giant by any means. But I realized early on that being able to store meat long-term in a freezer was going to help me get more affordable meat. So that was great.

I did a CSA for a while in Seattle, where they would deliver me monthly. So I think it was something like 10 or 15 pounds of meat they would deliver in a cooler to the neighborhood. Then you’d go to the house and kind of pick up your order. And that was really handy, because that was before I had the deep freezer.

Another thing that I did, just as far as affordability. There was a local farm that I liked to buy organ meat at the farmer’s market. Because their prices, I couldn’t afford for the muscle meat. But I was buying organ meat from them because it was like $3-4 a pound for a heart, liver, or kidney.

And I asked them one day; “Do you guys ever end up with a bunch of leftover, freezer burned meat at the end of the season?” And they were like, “Yeah, we have a freezer full of that.” I was like, “What if I bought a quarter of a cow, but just in freezer burned meat. Would you give me a deal?” And they were like; “Actually, we’ll charge you for a quarter of a cow, but we’ll give you half a cow. But we’ll just give you all of the old stuff.” And I was like, heck yeah. That’s amazing.

So, all I had to do was slice off that little freezer burned piece, and it really wasn’t that big of a deal. And I got really high-quality meat. And it was really cheap. I actually shared it with my brother, who was trying to eat healthier. So that was one thing I did.

Another thing that we did when we lived in Seattle was we had a friend who had some lambs that they offered to sell us one. And my husband wanted to learn how to harvest them. So they were like; if you come out to the farm for a day and help us harvest some of the lambs, then we’ll give you one. So we did that.

My husband has kind of been into hunting and fishing throughout the year, so that’s been another kind of alternative way of getting some, obviously, wild meat.

Angie Alt: Awesome options there. I love hunting and fishing!

Mickey Trescott: I know. It’s not always a guarantee.

Angie Alt: Yeah, not always a guarantee.

Mickey Trescott: It’s a little more fun than useful. But it’s nice when it works out.

Angie Alt: Yeah, right. So I grew up with a lot of hunting and fishing, but that’s not really a good option for me anymore. I live halfway between DC and Baltimore, basically, in a very, very urban/suburban area. And that’s not really a reality of my life right now.

What I do in terms of beef, pork, and lamb is get through a local farmer and my friend through a quarterly CSA. So we pay every 3 months for 20-22 pounds of meat for the following three months. And we just pick it up from the farm monthly. And it’s just kind of a selection of the three. It’s all 100% grass-fed, pasture raised, non-GMO. She kind of goes out of her way to adopt all the best practices for raising meat of this kind. So it’s really high quality.

In terms of fish, salmon especially, occasionally I get that through bulk shares with friends who are connected to Alaskan fishermen. So they have connections with them. And we buy a whole bunch at once. And then it gets shipped her after it’s been frozen on the boat. And we split it up and all share it.

But more often, I have to do it through the grocery store. Sometimes I can get really high quality, wild caught, on sale. And sometimes I use farmed salmon, you guys. Like we were talking about earlier. Eating seafood is better for me than eating none. So sometimes that’s what I do. I also, of course, use canned salmon, canned tuna, those kinds of things so I can get the best quality for a little cheaper.

And then, like Mickey said, chicken is very hard to source, even here. So occasionally I can get it through local farms. Really high-quality chicken that’s been pastured and everything. But more often, I have to get it through the grocery store. And I try to pick really the best quality I can find in the grocery store. And when it’s on sale, I’ll tend to buy a lot of it and kind of stock up and have it available.

That said, we only have chicken in the rotation in our diet about once a week. So we don’t have a super, super high need for it. But I keep the best quality I can kind of stocked up in our freezer that way.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, something I wanted to mention, too, is occasionally I will order online. So US Wellness Meats. Because I order a lot of stuff throughout the year. And then it’s august, our freezer is full. And through the rest of the year we’re kind of draining through it. I’ll run out of things. Like, really often, those organ meats. I just don’t have enough, and the farms will be out.

Sometimes I order from US Wellness, and I’ll get their sugar free bacon, which is pastured. Its’ really good. And actually what I get is the ends, and I use that to make my pates. Because they don’t need to be slices. It’s a lot cheaper than buying the slices of bacon. It’s just kind of the ends from making the bacon. And then I’ll also get chicken liver, and beef liver, and sometimes even bison or lamb liver. Because they have the highest quality, and they have pretty good prices on the organ meats. And they ship everything frozen, so it’s really convenient.

Angie Alt: Right. For instance, in my CSA, I usually take advantage of a lot of the ground meats. The other folks subscribing to that CSA with my farmer are looking for nice steaks and things like that. I’ll usually try and get as much of the ground meat as I can and kind of stretch that really far.

And as much of the organs I can get, I’ll take them. But you know, there’s only one liver per animal. Only one heart per animal. So sometimes it’s hard to source those, even from my local farmer. I’m always like; keep it a secret. Don’t tell anybody you have it. {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. Once I was visiting my local farmer, and she was like; “Oh, that whole freezer is full of liver. You can have as much as you want.”

Angie Alt: Oh my gosh.

Mickey Trescott: And I was like; “You do know who you’re talking to, right?” So you guys, the secret is kind of out. I’ve even noticed, since I started writing about eating more organ meat. I think I wrote once on my blog. I mentioned my source and that I paid $3 a pound. And then someone emailed me and said; “They’ve raised their prices to $7 because everyone’s buying them out of liver.” And I was like, oh man. The secret is out you guys. They know that people want it now. And unfortunately, the price is going up just a little bit.

Angie Alt: That all I said. I mentioned at the beginning of this episode that I’m really excited to talk about this topic. I think the reason I’m so excited is because I really do know my farmers. And I really have become close friends with those people. And I really respect what they do. So I’m happy for them, that they’re seeing this positive change in being able to earn a living providing this really high-quality food for all of us.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, I totally agree. This is where the majority of my food budget goes, is actually sourcing high quality meat. And I’m really happy to be spending a little more money than maybe I think it should cost. Although, when you visit the farm and you see how much work and we’re actually seeing now with the pigs, actually how much effort and food it goes into to kind of feed these animals, and the time, and just kind of rotating them around and cleaning up after them. It’s a lot of work. And it’s very valuable. And when done well, it’s definitely worth it.

I’m less likely to want to pay those same prices in the grocery store. So when you work directly with your farmer, you kind of see where your money is going. And then when you kind of go to those specialty grocers. Sometimes it’s even more expensive than working directly with a farmer. I’m really turned off by that. So I really don’t buy a lot of meat or seafood at the grocery store, if I can avoid it.

Angie Alt: Ok you guys. We’ll be back after the break to chat with a lady who is going to help us go even deeper into this topic. She basically knows everything about it. Stay tuned.

Mickey Trescott: A quick word from our title sponsor this evening, The Nutritional Therapy Association. In the next segment, we’re about the jump on the line with another NTP like myself, Diana Rodgers. Both of us received our certifications from our podcast sponsor this season, The Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA emphasizes local, whole, properly prepared, nutrient dense foods, like well sourced meat, as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. They are committed to educating the community about humane, sustainable farming practices, as well as about sourcing, preparation, and healing properties of well raised and wild-caught animal products.

Their nutritional therapy practitioner course has workshop venues all across the US, Canada, and Australia. So if this is something that you’re interested in, it’s like there will be a venue that works for you. Check out the free 7-day nutritional therapy 101 course and learn more about the NTP program at www.NutritionalTherapy.com.

3. Interview with Diana Rodgers [20:45]

Angie Alt: Hi everybody! We are back with Diana Rodgers. She is a real food, licensed registered dietician nutritionist, and a fellow nutritional therapist. She lives on a working organic farm in Massachusetts. She’s also an international speaker, author, podcast host, and mom. Plus, Diana is the force behind the upcoming documentary, Kale Versus Cow. It’s safe to say that if you want to know anything about nutrition and sustainability, social justice, animal welfare, or food policy issues, she is the lady. We have tremendous respect at Autoimmune Wellness for Diana’s work in our community. Welcome, Diana.

Diana Rodgers: Hi, thanks for having me.

Angie Alt: Yeah, thanks for being here. As you know, we’re going to dive into the specifics of sourcing high quality meat when undertaking a healing protocol like AIP. But in the most budget conscious ways. And we know this is an area of expertise for you, and we’re excited to pick your brain.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah, great. Shoot away with your questions.

Mickey Trescott: Awesome. So first, Diana, we’d like to start out with a big why. Our audience should be familiar by now on the argument for eating animals that have been feed a biologically appropriate diet. But can you give us a simple rundown of why it’s so important for us to care about our meat quality in this way?

Diana Rodgers: Sure. There are three main reasons, I think, that are so important to buy better meat. One is just the nutrition aspects of it. Two would be the environmental benefits of it. So a little bit bigger picture. And then three would be the ethical reasons.

So I’m on the board of Animal Welfare Approved. And animals that are raised in a way that works with nature. Much more close to how they would live in the wild is just; not only environmentally better and produces better meat. But it’s also kinder to the animals.

So when folks are sort of making their decisions about what kinds of meat to buy, I think that it should be equally important to want to source meat that was raised in a way that the animals were treated well. That they were given a swift, humane slaughter. And that was in a way that was regenerative to our soils and to the land.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. I think that regenerative quality to the soil is a really important piece that a lot of people really miss. Can you give some examples of maybe how animals can be raised in a way that actually heals the planet? Because I think a lot of people are familiar with the argument that animal husbandry is destroying the planet?

Diana Rodgers: Sure. My focus lately has been mostly on red meat. Because first of all, it’s the most nutrient dense when you look at land farmed animals. So compared to chicken or pork, red meat from ruminants has B12 and iron, and the other two don’t really have that. And the fatty acid profile of grass-fed red meat far exceeds that of typical chicken or pork.

So, it is possible to find pasture raised chicken and pasture raised pork. But it’s a lot easier to find grass-fed beef. So that’s why I like to sort of focus more on that. And it’s also the most vilified for health reasons and for environmental reasons, and wrongly so.

So when we look at the environmental impact of well managed cattle, what we see is a system that actually works much more similar to a healthy ecosystem out in nature. So when we have cows, or cattle I should say, that are grazing in a well-managed system. So not just out on grass. It’s even deeper than that. When they’re managed in a way that; some people call it holistic management. Some people call it mob grazing. There’s a bunch of different terms.

Basically, it’s intensively grazing the cattle on a small piece of land, and then moving them quite frequently in order to maximize the nutrition for the cattle. So they’re not just running around, picking at their favorite grasses and different species in there. They’re eating everything down, and then they’re quickly moved on so the land has a chance to rest. And in that rest period is when we can see carbon sequestration. The manure is having a chance to inoculate the soil with healthy bacteria.

And it also supports just a healthy ecosystem with more pollinators, insects, more birds. So it’s a much healthier ecosystem when you look at cows that are managed that way. Which is similar to, if you picture herds of grazers in Africa moving across the savannah, they’re moving quickly because they’re moving away from predators. And we can mimic that with electric fencing, and just keep on moving them. And that way the land actually has a chance to heal and it’s not overgrazed.

Angie Alt: OK. We’re getting the full education here, you guys.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah, I don’t know how deep to go because I know we don’t have a ton of time.

Angie Alt: No, we love it.

Diana Rodgers: Also their impact improves water holding capacity. So when it rains, the land actually acts more like a sponge instead of flooding and landslides. Which can happen in more brittle environments. So particularly in areas where it’s more desert like, grazing animals on that land instead of cropping it is just a win-win.

4. Sourcing protein other than beef [26:23]

Angie Alt: That’s awesome. So I’m just a little bit curious, now, Diana. And I know that it’s easier to source grass-fed beef and how this works with the cattle. But can you explain how does this work in terms of pork or chicken?

Diana Rodgers: Birds eat seeds. So even people that raise pastured chicken general feed their chickens grains. Because chickens and pigs are monogastric. They actually process grains a lot better than cattle. Which are ruminants, and really do best on grass.

So here on our farm, we do chickens for eggs. We used to do chickens for meat. But actually, to do it right, it’s quite expensive. And people just aren’t used to paying $25-30 for a chicken. They’re used to paying, I don’t know; what do I pay at Whole foods? $10 or something like that. Or even less, at a conventional store.

What we do to make it a more regenerative system, is we run our grazing animals through the field, and then we follow with the chickens. And the chickens are actually aerating the soil. They scratching around. They’re eating any parasites that might be left from the grazing animals. And their manure is actually fertilizing the soil, as well. And their eggs are like 20 times higher in omega-3s. And I think Joel Salatan’s chickens were tested at like 4000 times higher beta carotene than a typical egg.

With our pigs, we run them through the woods. And they’re doing a couple of things for us. They’re clearing the land for us. So pigs are really good at eating lots of brush, and rooting. So literally chomping on roots. So they’re doing that. They’re eating a lot of leftover crops that we can’t sell anyway, because they might not be as pretty. Maybe the outer leaves of the lettuce when we’re harvesting are not as nice. So we’ll save those. We give those to the pigs. They love that stuff.

They actually prefer broccoli and lettuce to grain. But because we’re in New England, we also do feed them a soy-free organic grain, as well. And again, pigs do very well on grain. They can convert that grain to incredibly nutrient dense protein.

So I think there’s a place for all animals, but grazing animals in particular are one of the best species we can have. So bison, lamb, goats, and cows are the best ones that we have for really regenerating grasslands and soil.

5. Joining the sustainability movement [29:07]

Mickey Trescott: Really cool. Diana, how did you see some of the issues maybe facing the accessibility? Because this type of really well produced, ethically and sustainably produced meat is not available to a lot of people. Both because it’s an affordability thing, but also the nature of the local food system is that it’s not really going to work to be putting that meat in a store, right? People are going to be kind of buying direct from their farmer. How do you see that shift? How can people find out more about where they can find a farm like yours where they’re kind of raising meat in this way?

Diana Rodgers: Sure. There are different websites people can go to to search for locally produced meat. So if people make the investment of having a freezer and want to buy directly from a farmer, that’s ideal. It’s not practical for everybody. Not everyone has the time or space or just desire, right, to go visit a farm.

But if folks want to do that, eatwild.com or localharvest.org are two websites where they connect directly with farmers near them. Or maybe through their local Weston A. Price chapter.

And then I highly recommend they visit the farm and look. Because you can learn a lot. Like, does it look like that cow has been on the same patch of land for a long time? Is the grass super, super short? Is it really patchy? Or do you see a lot of electric fencing and the farmers moving the animals around. So that would be a much better system. And it should feel clean. It should look clean. There shouldn’t be strong smells. Everything should be mobile, basically, which is the healthiest way to raise animals.

And then the next level would be going to a farmer’s market, talking to the farmers, finding out about their practices there. So that might be a little bit easier for people that are in a more urban environment and maybe don’t have space or the money to have a chest freezer and really make a big investment at once.

So I think sustainability can look like a lot of different things depending on who you’re talking to and what level they’re at. So it doesn’t have to be everybody buying directly from a farm. Even though that’s optimal, it might be unrealistic if we’re trying to really convert a lot of people.

But I think the biggest thing we need to do is really educate people on why it’s so important to buy their meat this way, and to really breakdown those ideas that meat is unhealthy. Or that red meat is unhealthy. And people should be eating more CAFO chicken. So typically raised chicken or pork, compared to beef. Grass-fed beef is, again, the most nutritious and, when raised well, one of the most environmentally beneficial animals we can have for food.

Mickey Trescott: Mm-hmm. I see a big hesitation from people, even when they are ok eating paleo and AIP and eating red meat, they still tend to kind of prioritize the chicken. Because they’re so indoctrinated that that lower fat meat is going to be better for them, when they kind of haven’t opened up to that understanding about the nutrient density and about the affordability.

I mean, grass-fed beef for you guys. But for me to get the highest quality beef, that’s the cheapest protein that I can find around here sourced at the highest level. And that nutrient density piece is really important.

Diana Rodgers: We need to also open up to other cuts of meat, too. Right? Like, ground meat is a lot cheaper. We don’t all have to eat tenderloin all the time. And one of the nice things about buying a whole animal, or even living on a farm where we raise animals, is I have a much bigger respect for the life of that animal and using all the pieces. And saving the bones and making stock from the bones and everything. So I’m much less likely to waste it if I know the animal, or have spent a lot of money on the animal. Really make that connection that a life is now being transformed into food for me.

Angie Alt: Right. Diana, you said that you feel like one of the most important things we can do is help people understand the why in terms of sourcing this kind of quality of meat and shifting our budgets to focus on this kind of quality of meat. If somebody in our audience was having this conversation with a friend or family member for the first time, where do you think is the most important place to start with that why?

Diana Rodgers: I think it’s hard. Because as a dietician, with my clinical practice, just eat meat, right? Just start eating meat. And just fix yourself. Some people stop there. But what I’ve also found is that people that have really transformed their health. So coming from a place where they were really unhealthy, really sick with an autoimmune disease. Those are the best ones to then take a step further and really focus on their sourcing. Much more so than people that maybe just wanted their four pack to become a six pack, or something like that. Right?

And so I think that people that have really seen a huge health transformation, just in eating better quality food then will go towards looking a little bit deeper and trying to support the producers that are doing it right.

Angie Alt: Yeah, I mean, obviously. Mickey and I are “amen”-ing over here.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah.

Angie Alt: We definitely relate to that.

Diana Rodgers: And as a practitioner, too, they’re the most satisfying for me to work with. Because they’ll do anything to change their health. Right? So I guess going back to your initial question. If we’re trying to have a conversation with people. Allan Savory’s TED Talk is a really good one to watch. Maybe you could put it in your show notes. But that’s a really great; people need to understand the big picture of why we need more diversity in a healthy ecosystem. Why animals can help increase that. And why plant-based agriculture and grain-based agriculture is actually destroying our soils.

So animals that eat grain, like chicken and pork, in general, are just not as sustainable as animals that eat only grass. And just a quick note, too, because this comes a lot for people that just aren’t familiar with the different types of agriculture. But there’s cropland, and then there’s pastureland. And most of our agricultural land is actually much better suited to pasture than to cropping. So you just can’t grow kale, and lettuce, and grains everywhere. But you can graze animals on most of the earth’s surface.

So think of Mongolia. Think of Iceland. Think of most of Africa. There’s just not enough water for the irrigation. There’s hills. There’s rocks. There’s all kinds of things that would hold back from a cropping system. And even the areas that we are cropping, we’re using largely chemical ag in order to do that. Instead of small scale, sustainable agriculture that actually incorporates animals, too. On our farm we raise vegetables and meat, and we do everything in a rotational, regenerative way.

Mickey Trescott: Super cool.

6. Kale Versus Cow documentary [36:57]

Angie Alt: I love it. I totally could just go on and on. Maybe you can tell our listeners; how can they get involved in this movement? Both in terms of their own sourcing actions as consumers. What are the top actions they can take with their pocketbooks? But then also in terms of just straight up activism. How could they best get involved?

Diana Rodgers: Well, they could follow my newsletter and all the work that I’m doing and learn more about all those things there. It’s a deep and complex subject to really dive into it. It requires just a lot of basic education on ecological systems. Learning about the Savory Institute and other people that are using regenerative agriculture to heal the land.

I’ve got a film project that I’m working on.

Mickey Trescott: Yes, please tell everybody about it.

Angie Alt: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: So the film project is called Kale Versus Cow. And I’ll be looking at the nutrition, environmental, and ethical reasons why we need more better meat, basically, in our diet. So we need more of a demand for it. We need to understand the nutritional implications. We need to understand the environmental implications. And why, from a perspective of least harm, why actually consuming well managed grass eating large ruminants is actually causing less harm than a plant-based diet, from many different perspectives.

So we’ll be interviewing a lot of nutrition experts. People that are measuring their carbon sequestration on their farms, so we can actually see the result. So it’s not just something that, if you visit a farm and you see the pastures look healthy. But we actually have quantifiable results now.

And we’ll be diving into the ethics. Because honestly, that is the biggest driver, I think, behind why people decide to give up meat. It’s really this sort of emotional quandary that they’re facing when they’re looking at the idea that an animal died in order for them to eat. So we’ll sort of be taking a very sensitive dive into that.

And I want to make it clear that if I lived in a city and didn’t understand food production, and my only nutrition education was films like Cowspiracy or What the Health, I’d probably be vegan too. Except for the fact that I’m celiac, and it would probably wreck my health because I just don’t do well on a plant-based diet.

And I get why people feel uncomfortable about eating meat. But I also want to point out that a lot of death actually happens in order for plants to land on your plate. So I’ll be really sensitively diving into that, as well. And so we have a campaign. It’s at sustainabledish.com/film. So folks can see me on my farm. I have a video there explaining what the film is about. I’ve got a nice video endorsement from Joel Salatan. Some cool perks and all that. We’ll be updating people as we move forward with our project. So that’s it, too.

And I also am learning about more opportunities for people to get involved. I’ve got a call with somebody tomorrow, actually, and I’ll be posting some information about how people can actually get involved in helping to document the success of this sort of nutrient dense, pasture-based farming.

Mickey Trescott: Awesome.

Diana Rodgers: So I’ll be putting that out in my newsletter, as well.

Mickey Trescott: We’re so looking forward to all the stuff you’re doing, Diana. It’s great. It’s really great. You guys, definitely plug into Diana’s resources. Check out that Savory Institute video. I know that TED Talk was really transformative for me when I watched it the first time. It just kind of clicked. So all of the stuff she’s talking about is kind of next level, and we all need to get involved in order to kind of change the food system. It’s really needed. To save both our health and the planet.

Angie Alt: And if our listeners aren’t sure about the Savory Institute; back when we ran the Autoimmune Wellness Library bundle sale, a lot of you guys helped donate to the Savory Institute. So great work there.

Mickey Trescott: Awesome. Thank you so much, Diana, for agreeing to have this conversation with us today. For those of you guys listening back home, we’ll be back next week. You guys have a great one. We’ll see you soon.

Angie Alt: Thanks for joining us on this episode of the Autoimmune Wellness podcast. We’re honored to have you as a listener, and we hope that you’ve gained some useful information.

Mickey Trescott: Did you know that we have dozens of informative articles about living well with autoimmune disease, and over 250 elimination phase compliant recipes on our website, updated multiple times per week? Make sure to click on over to AutoimmuneWellness.com. Follow us on social media. And sign up for our newsletter to find out about all of this new content.

We’re either at Autoimmune Paleo, or at Autoimmune Wellness on any of these channels. You can sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of any page on our website. Don’t forget to connect with the AIP community by using the hashtag #AutoimmuneWellness.

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About Angie Alt

Angie Alt is part of the blogging duo behind Autoimmune Wellness. She helps others take charge of their health the same way she took charge of her own after suffering with Celiac and other autoimmune diseases; one creative, nutritious meal at a time. Her special focus is on mixing “data with soul” by looking at the honest heart of the autoimmune journey (which sometimes includes curse words). She’s also a world traveler who has been medically evacuated from two foreign countries. Strategizing worst-case scenarios is now something of a hobby. She is a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and author of The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook: Eating for All Phases of the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. You can also find her on Instagram.

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