Cows on Grass

I’ve used the term “grass farmer”, many times over the life of this blog and in “real” conversations. I knew what I meant, while it never occurred to me that others might be a bit confused as to my enthusiasm. In talking with friends, I was saying something along the lines of, “….over the last few years, I’ve learned how to tell a good grass farmer from a bad one.” They were looking at me with a classic deer-caught-in-the-headlights stare.

When I say “good grass farmer”, I am NOT referring to the experience of landing in Jamaica, having deplaned a dozen short steps ago, only to find a genuine-article Rastafarian invading my Midwest Personal Comfort Zone, interrupting my joy of shedding the winter coat in the middle of January.

While he was quaint, in a native sort of way, it was a bit too much, too soon, so I gave him a one-eyed eyebrow-cocked stare that normally sends disobedient children high-tailing it for their room. His blood-shot eyes surveyed the other passengers and airline personnel, while he simultaneously opened his palm, waist-level, revealing a black coral carving hung from a leather necklace. With my best Midwest-polite voice I chatted, “Oh, thank you, that’s very sweet to offer, but no thank you. I don’t need any necklaces right now.”

He’d had a little more practice than me. Sliding into my escape path, he stage whispered, “Black coral….dis is very nice, jah man.” Impatiently, I picked it up, thinking “….hmmm……offering him a dollar or two for it, even if it turns out to be a Chinese plastic-molded fake, would be worth getting rid of him”. Digging around in my coat pocket, presenting him with the winnings – a crisp dollar bill, two quarters and a nice Midwest smile – he quickly stepped backward, as if slapped.

“Oh, mon”, he groaned, reclaiming the black coral carving, snatching it out of my hand, “Lady, iz not black coral dat I sell! Iz what iz in black coral dat I sell.”

Watching him stomp off in a huff, I shrugged, quickly refocusing on the task at hand – getting out of the airport and to my hotel.

Three days later, sitting in the shade of a palm along a strip of isolated snow-white beach, lulled into relaxation by the crashing of the waves, I suddenly leaped up, spilling ice-cold Jamaican ginger ale on my lobster-colored body, exclaiming, “Oh. Oh. He was trying to sell me drugs! He wasn’t selling me a necklace! That carving was filled with drugs!”

THAT would be an example of a VERY bad grass farmer. We’ll discuss my naïve nature at another time.

The trouble is, not all “bad” farmers can be spotted quite as easily by virtue of the fact they have been in need of a good, high-strength-shampooing every single day over the past 20 years. Besides, taking that approach would make it wrong on another level – Farmer Profiling. Nasty business, that.

So how DO you determine a good grass farmer from a not—as-good one? CLA – conjugated linoleic acid – a fatty-acid found in meat, dairy, poultry and eggs from animals raised eating pasture grass is how. When interviewing a local farmer (the only kind you want to buy product from) if they:

a) know what CLA is,

b) can tell you health benefits,

c) enthusiastically share how they spend long winter hours, pouring over grass-fed livestock information and grass seed catalogues anticipating another year producing THE best products, “rich in CLA” (key words you must hear)…

…chances are, you’ve found your perfect farmer.

Across the board, these are the type of highly-intelligent, professional and gifted farmers that America (and Canada, and Europe, etc.) needs. They also know and respect the fact there’s a growing body of consumers (like me) who are well-informed, having studied nutritional research contradicting the FDA, factory-farm propaganda and the American food processing industry “experts” who continue to claim grain-fed products are healthy products.

Black coral was never intended by the good Lord to be used as a vessel for illicit drugs. Ruminants were never intended to consume grain, just as we humans weren’t meant to consume grain-fed products.

Read! Research! Protest! Buy local food! Learn why you should be eating only 100% grass-fed meat, dairy and poultry products. Here are some great resources:

Utah research finds grazed cows have 300 to 500% more CLA in milk, “LOGAN, Utah: Research at Utah State University has shown that cows grazing on pasture have 300 to 500% more CLA in milk fat compared with cows fed a typical dairy cow diet containing 50% conserved forage (hay or silage) and 50% grain concentrate. “ Source: The Stockman Grass Farmer

Grass-fed basics”, “Switching grazing animals from their natural diet of grasses to grains also lowers the nutritional value of the meat and dairy products. Compared with natural grass-fed meat, meat from animals raised in feedlots contains more total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and calories. It also has less vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and two health-promoting fats called omega-3 fatty acids and “conjugated linoleic acid,” or CLA. Milk from dairy cows raised in confinement is similarly low in these nutrients. A rarely discussed outcome of our modern “advances” in animal science is inferior food.Eat Wild”. Source: Eat Wild

You Are What Your Animals Eat”, “In my investigation into pasture-based farming, I’ve stumbled upon an alarming state of affairs: few animal scientists see any link between animal feed and human food. “Feed animals anything you want,” say the experts, “and it makes no difference to their meat, milk, or eggs.” Because of this mindset, our animals are being fed just about anything that enhances the bottom line, including chicken feathers, sawdust, chicken manure, stale pizza dough, potato chips, and candy bars.”, Source: Eat Wild

What About Grassfed Beef?”, “Cows, sheep, and other grazing animals are endowed with the ability to convert grasses, which those of us who possess only one stomach cannot digest, into food that we can digest. They can do this because they are ruminants, which is to say that they possess a rumen, a 45 or so gallon (in the case of cows) fermentation tank in which resident bacteria convert cellulose into protein and fats.” The Food Revolution

Biggest Opportunity in Today’s Beef Industry is Grass-Finished Beef”: “Can we afford to know less than the end consumer about the product we produce?” Excerpt from Pharo Cattle Company Newsletter

Organic Grassfed Beef Coalition – tremendous resource for farmer and consumer!

Behavioral Education for Human, Animal, Vegetation, & Ecosystem Management – fascinating articles for those pursuing natural animal feeding habits; Source – BEHAVE

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