Tuesday, April 21, 2015

spend a day being lost...

if i can recommend you one thing to set time for in your hectic schedule, it would be a day without a schedule, a day without a map, without an itinerary, a day to be lost, go to some new place where you dont know much about, take a look at a map and find some major landmarks, pick a general direction you want to go, and some basic concepts of things you might want to see or do, then turn off the damn phone, dont take any GPS, remember those landmarks well because i dont want you to even take a map, just go wonder, wonder and follow the wind, follow your nose, follow your heart, follow your eyes if some pretty girls are up ahead, dont take any baggage with you, physical, mental, emotional, just dont take any, spend a day with the day, spend the day with yourself, explore, talk to new people, sit in silence, try new things, dont hestitate and ask why when you think of something you might want to do, instead just make it a point to say why not, spend that day being lost and you just might find you will come home more found then you have been in a long time...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Guilt Free Bacon, why pasture raised pork is deliciously sinful, yet sin free.

Conventional Factory Farming methods for raising pork include methods for keeping pigs in small indoor pens stuffing them full of grains on a non stop basis, getting no exercise, and turning them into giant blubber balls for butchering. These practices are aimed at gaining the most meat output per the input of food and time costs associated with raising the animal. The economics were simple and effective, and profitable in a linear $ in standpoint....

What this equation lacked however was an understanding of cost and benefits in a multi dimensional real world equation. You see there are many other costs and benefits associated with farm raising animals for food. When looking at the true costs of these farming practices we need to look at the animals welfare through the farming practice, we need to look at the nutritional value to the humans that are eating the meat, and we need to look at the costs and or benefits burdened to our ecosystem from the farming practices.
  • Animal Welfare: In a conventional factory farming methodology the animal welfare is atrocious in almost all aspects. For the sake of efficiency we will scope this article to the topic of pork, but assume this is the same for about all farm raised animals.  So let's think about the welfare of a pig kept in a small cage, stuffed full of carbohydrates and fed antibiotics and hormones to keep it alive as its health is greatly diminished from not getting the varied healthy diet it should be getting from open pastures, from not having access to sunshine, and from not getting exercise, yes it's pretty plain to see that the cost to animal welfare in factory farming is a great burden we have decided to bare on society for cheap pork. 

  • Nutritional Value: "You are what you eat, eat's too." is a good tag line to remember. When these pigs have not been privy to ample exercise, when they have not had adequate sunshine, when they were pumped full of drugs and hormones to keep them growing as they were overfed a diet of complex carbohydrates to make them grow as fast as possible do we really think we are creating a nutritious product? It is also pretty easy to see that we endure a great cost to our health through negative effects of eating meat from animals raised this way, as well as a cost to our nutritional intake by denying ourselves the nutritional value of eating meat from animals that were raised more naturally.
  • Environment: When these pigs are raised in factory farms they are locked inside, fed food from mono culture farms growing corn, wheat, and soy in huge pesticide ridden fields that are stripping the land of any nutritional value. The contiguous planting of these same products, the gas, electricity, used to package, store, farm, and transport these feeds to the pigs and the environmental effects that we see from this. The over abundance of manure that then is not dealt with as fertilizer but as a chemical substance that needs to be treated, conventional factory farming methodologies also bear us a great cost on our environment. 

As you can see here it is not a simple input and output bottom dollar 1 dimensional equation, but rather there are many other sides to this debate.

Now let's compare this to raising pigs on an open pasture. Yes that's what I said, grass-fed pork! Unheard of by even most local farmers who have been used to growing pigs in small pens on their farm and following many of the same typical factory farming practices, growing pigs on open pastures is not only possible, but I will argue optimal for raising healthy, happy pigs, and for growing healthy soil.

How will this work you may ask, keeping a pig on a small patch of grass ones knows it will quickly snout up the ground and destroy any grass land that stands in it's way... Unless you practice rotational grazing. Rotational Grazing made to mimic the bison traveling the great plans is a farming strategy of moving the animals to different plots from set time period to set time period, for the sake of this discussion we will go with from week to  week. In this week the pigs have just enough time on the grass to root up and aerate a little, to get their bellies full of the grasses they ate, and to drop fertilizer on the soil to help the soil grown better in the future, but not enough time to complete destroy the ground, and then the pigs are moved on to the next paddock. In most systems like this, this is the time when the birds coming in. This can and does happen with wild birds, but another great approach is to move the chickens or turkeys in and let them do the work of spreading the manure, and adding their manure to the mix. Meanwhile the pigs are doing this to the next area. Now to grow pigs quickly grass is not likely going to be enough. Many of these farmers will supplement these pigs with grains (whether from farm stores or local farms) or a popular supplement among pastured pork producers is milk.  Either way these animals are taking in these additional supplements as supplemental food not as their main source, and are distributing some of the returns straight back to the soil in the form of fertilizer.

When pigs are raised in this manner, they are healthy active animals enjoying sunshine and a greatly varied diet, they are taking in a wide variety of nutrients and creating a leaner healthier meat that is then passed on in nutrition value to those feasting upon it. Another beautiful thing is that they are healing the land not hurting it. By their soil redistribution program through their manure they are leaving the land healthier and more vibrant than it was without them.

So here you have it. A great product in pasture raised pork that is raised humanely giving the animals a healthy happy life up until time they are sacrificed to continue the food circle, at this time they provide a much more nutritious meal for those that dine upon it without many of the negative effects typically associated with eating fatty bacon from grain fed lazy pigs, and you are also supporting a farming practice that is healing the land and leaving the land healthier at the end v/s nutrient depleted from mono culture farming practices.

And that my friends is how you get yourself guilt free bacon. We have bacon in our pork packages available Ask me how you can get in on this bacon train.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New Mcdonald is old mcdonald, we just had one hell of a mess in between, now let's fix it.

Our now conventional farming methods are nothing short of disgusting, Concentrated Feed lots with animals stuffed in small cages fed a diet of noting but Genetically Modified Grains raised in nutrient depleted soil kept alive by chemical fertilizer and doused in pesticides all of which get passed on through their tasteless products to the unfortunate souls that eat them and wonder why they have such a hard time staying healthy.

There is however a light at the end of the tunnel, new age farmers are returning to the old age ways. Raising animals on open pasture, natural compost and manure based fertilizers, relying on natural methods and hard work to raise healthy, happy, and nutritious meats and vegetables.

You have a choice  and a vote in this matter for how our future plays out. You vote with every dollar you spend, you can support the concentrated industrial artificial system that is making us all sick and destroying our lands, spirits, and souls... or you can invest in a future for these new age farm entreprenuers who are creatively trying to bring traditional farming methods into the new age with technology, rotational grazing, and local distribution networks. Yes dollar wise you may need to invest a little more in real food, but each dollar you spend you are investing not only in your health (which is damn important, but also in the future of our food systems, the health of our lands, and the future that our children will live in.

Support Local Pasture Raised Chemical Free Pesticide Free farming methods. Invest in the future, invest in your health, invest in what is right.

I will be starting up a local Farm in a Box CSA system in the upcoming months, Pasture Raised Pork, Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Eggs, Milk, and Butter are on the main menu. I am also looking to team with some organic vegetable farmers to bring you an option of a full scale farm in a box delivered to your home every month. Different levels of packages will be available.

to Stay Abridge of this please join my facebook group where details will be posted soon.

In the meantime watch these kids who are changing the world, what are you doing to leave this world a better place? The least you can do is invest in local free range eggs.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Buying "Local" does not necessarily mean buying healthy.

More to come, draft 1

Let's start this off by stating that there is nothing wrong with buying local, and a lot right. Supporting smaller scale producers of anything helps promote diversity in our economy, buying things from local producers cuts down on waste of transporting items across the continent (or further) before they get from their suppliers to your door, and when it comes to food buying local can mean buying produce that has not went through many of the daunting effects of the industrialized food system, but it is important to realize that it can mean that, but it does not necessarily mean that. 

What the heck do I mean by that you ask? Well let's start by talking veggies. Let's say you want to buy your local vegetables to get away from the pesticides and chemical fertilizers that are utilized in the foods that make it to your grocers produce shelf? That is something most of us can stand behind, but just because produce is grown "locally" does not mean that this is the case however. Local farmers who shop at the franchised farm supply stores are likely purchasing the same chemical fertilizers and quite possibly spraying the same pesticides on their vegetables as big agriculture that you are trying to get away from. Have you asked your farmer what type of fertilizers or fertilization methods that he (or she) uses? Have you asked them about their use of pesticides? Is this something that you might view as important?

Now let's talk the industry that I really understand, the meat business. When a local farmer raises a calf to become a cow they are quite often tempted to fall back on the grain fueling process. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Food for thought, thought for food, cook with love, nourish the soul....

What is the one ingredient required to make food truly nutritious? What is that one thing that make food a home cooked meal v/s a plate of food? It's love. Pure simple love, that's what makes food great.

I think a huge part of my infatuation with food as nourishment comes from my true deep respect and admiration for the proceses of giving and taking of life that goes into it. Understanding how things grow, why things grow, having planted the vegetables, having put my own blood, sweat, and tears into cultivating and harvesting these things gives me a great appreciation for what they are truly worth. Having raised livestock, mended fences, spent steaming hot days in a hayfield those things make me truly respect and appreciate what every bit of food on my plate really is, where it came from, and what sacrifices across the board had the be made to provide this nourishment. You can be assured that when I see someone throw away food, I get angry. Yes I usually clean my plate, lick the bowl after I'm done cooking, and eat more than my share when it's available, but that is because I truly respect where this food came from, what it is, and the life forces that was taken from it in order to pass that nourishment on. You see, that my friends is a healthy relationship with food, that is a healthy relationship with your soul, with your spirit, with the earth, with yourself, it's a true understanding of the ecosystem that we are a part of, not that we are above or below, but that is a part of us and we a part of it. And you can also rest assured that when I prepare a meal from this food, having this basic philosophy about what this truly is and represents that the love and respect that I pass along through the preparation will be cooked directly into the food and be transferred to those of whom I share my meal with, when people ask my the secret to making the delicious meals that I provide, I always tell them that my secret ingredient is not so secret, that it is love.....

Today's meal:
My infamous Pulled Pork:
This meal is a slow cooked bit of awesomeness that leaves the tastebuds in disbelief after the nirvana that they experience. I go back and forth with whether I prefer my pulled pork to be first cooked in the roaster in the over, or outside on the smoker, of course I prefer cooking with real fire, outdoors, the primalness that that entails and releases is in and of itself a great reason to cook that way, but I discovered this amazing trick of recooking the juices and fats back into the pork that originally melt off and it is much easier to capture all of these juices in a roaster in the over than it is oven than in the smoker, as well as requires a lot less monitoring and checking when you let this thing cook overnight. That being said if you can do it, and have the time and energy, cook this thing in the smoker, but make sure you do it in a roaster or something you can catch all the melting juices in.

Step 1 for me is to pick out a nice meat pork shoulder with a healthy portion of fat around the solid muscles, was this pork shoulder down, coat it with a yellow natural mustard (read ingredients carefully, there should be no chemicals or sugars in mustard, so don't get tricked into some brand that stuffs them in there for no good reason. Once I have the shoulder covered with mustard I turn it fat side up in the roaster and shake on a dry rub of cajun spices and turmeric to the outside and then chop up some fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme and spread it across the upper level as well. Now this fat will melt away as this cooks down, but thats the idea it spreads all these loving herbs and spices across the rest of the meat as it melts and then we are going to capture all the liquid version and reuse it to cook the home made sauce back in once we pull the pork. Now what I do next is also key, I take 4 to 6 fresh apples and clive them into 8'ths and place them all around the pork in the roaster. This fresh cooked apple and juice will really flavor the heck out of this pork.
Now I set the over at 225 and let it go until morning, usually around 8 hours before i check it, when I check it I am trying to verify the internal temperature is appropriate. Once I find out the pork is cooked to the appropriate temperature I break it out of the over and start shredding it. Grabbing it with two large oven forks works well, whatever you use it should fall apart fairly easy.  You want to shred it up to the consistency of pulled pork and keep it all waiting.

Then comes the fun part making the sauce and cooking the sauce back into the pork.
What I do for this is take all the juice that cooked off into the roaster and dump it into a large stock pot, I add some local honey or maple srup and fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, and two quarts of tomato juice. and just a kiss of apple cider vinegar. I bring this all to a slow simmer, stirring occasionally, when the simmer is going down that's when you take the now pulled pork and drop it into the simmering sauce for a few minutes and remove it, and its awesome. I do this over and over until the pork seems to be too wet from the samples. and then I trade places by dumping any excess juice back into the pot, and repeat until all the meat has had the juice cooked back into it.

I can detail out more specifics if you like, but that is the gist of it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Natures Timing not yours/ Bug's, they ain't that bad/ it started with a garbage bag full of kale and ended up in a bone broth masterpiece that will feed me for many winter nights...

I was inspired for three hot topics (actually a few more) that i Blogposts will soon be written about, tonight I am tired so I just want to introduce you to the topics.

Natures Timing not yours/ 
This morning I woke up ready to head to the woods for the morning hours and sit with my bow relaxing and healing with nature while hoping I could get lucky enough to catch a clean shot at some delicious winter protein source, then I looked down at the large garbage bag full of Kale and peppers I had just harvested from the last garden raid of the year and realized I had pressing matters of getting this food preserved to deal with before adding more food preservation work to my plate by hunting down a deer.
I would have much rather spend the hours in the woods mind you, but I had put a lot of effort into the gardening season, and was rewarded with this late harvest, and though it may not exactly fit what I would perceive as the perfect schedule for myself, it fits natures schedule and therefor is perfect timing for what it is supposed to be. If I want to be able to enjoy these nutritional delicacies for the winter I needed to get to work now. I traded in my day in the woods for a day in the kitchen, cooking, prepping, canning and putting meals away. I still have some meat in the freezer to get me through for a while, and I have plenty of days of hunting season on the horizon.
This is just one sample of the many ways we need to learn to work with natures clock and prioritize our plans more intelligently around her to take full advantage of the bounties she has to offer.

Bug's, they ain't that bad/ 
 As I was washing the kale out of the garbage bag to add to the soup masterpiece that I was preparing I noticed a lot of caterpillars on one particular batch of kale. I began double washing that batch and picking off the little guys and adding them to my scrap bucket (food for the chickens, they will be extra happy) and thought to myself aside from the hassle of having to double check to all the greens to ensure none of the guys made it into the soup, that I should be pretty happy that the bugs were on the veggies as that's a sure sign that the pesticides were not present or that it was not genetically engineered with roundup to prevent the bugs from eating it.
Then I wondered how we got to a point where everyone is so afraid of bugs. You get more ewwww's, more jumps, more gross reactions to bugs than about any other living creature, and why? Why has this become such a taboo for us. These bugs are just living organisms that are just as vital of a part of our ecosystems as anything else. They are not more likely to contain bacteria or viruses or be harmful to us. To the contra ire they are probably more likely to clean up things before that could happen. But if we see a bug in the kitchen, gross, yuck, call the CDC shut that place down. Nevermind that their smaller counterparts that are microscopic versions of the same are all over our skin, our forks, our knives, our food, our plates. They do us no harm, are a part of everything we eat / drink every day, but if we can see these multi legged tiny creatures then yuck, disgusting, throw it all out, burn the house down. But why? Why in other cultures are bugs part of the food system? Why can't we seem to get past the disgusting reaction when we see them? Let's investigate here soon.....

it started with a garbage bag full of kale and ended up in a bone broth masterpiece that will feed me for many winter nights...
This recipe is pretty much the shit. I ended up stopping at a friends house to pick up some extra veggies that he was overflowing with prior to him pulling out his garden. I left with a garbage bag full of kale and a lot of work to do. I decided kale soup was the ticket, to be canned, and why not use bone broth. Checked the freezer and low and behold, lots of bones left, and then started gathering ginger, turmeric, garlic and chili peppers to season this bad boy up. Then out of nowhere I just happened to have this craving for lima beans. Not being as anti legume as the rest of the paleo world proclaims I thought, why not give into this desire, and add some slow carb bean goodness to this dish.
I soaked the lima beans overnight to get as much of the process kicked in, and I started cooking the beef bones and herbs down at the same time.
In the morning I added the beans to green beans, celery, onions, and some other items and let that start cooking while we were waiting for the bone broth to be just right. I then pulled all the meat off the bones and added it to a separate crockpot and set it to warm as I did not want it getting too soggy while I finished cooking the broth and other veggies.
All the fresh ingredients, including the root herbs and spices added together with a few little ticks and techniques are how I ended up with this amazing deliciousness that I will soon share the recipe in full with for you.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Importance of the Tribe

This will be a short post, that should have a long follow on that gets into the details.
What I want to discuss as I get ready to go to sleep following a long trip across the country and a visit with an old friend, is the bit of a refresh I feel after spending time with an old friend and the importance of those friendships, and overall the importance of the tribe.

We as humans like to tout and brag about our independence which is by all accounts a very important aspect of our humanity, but we are also very social creatures and have a deep seeded need for tribal communities. Fostered out of the need for survival we developed as creatures of groups that of which evolutionarily succeeded more rigorously were those that formed tighter knit groups for survival.

Today we have larger communities that we live in, but far less tight communities in general. The need for utilizing our "tribe" for survival may have been greatly lessened by the conveniences of modern living, but the emotional and spiritual connections that we need from them have not left, and are often now neglected.

Think about the few close friend you have and how you feel more whole, more connected, more spiritually full when you spend time with them. These connections may come from family and or from friends typically from those we have went through the gambit of emotions and challenges with. Those we have had good times, hard times, went through challenges and built solid connections. Having those people  around you who you can verbally and non verbally communicate with, who you have grown emotionally and spiritually with is something that is very important to having a balanced emotional and spiritual level of health.

We should have these connections with folks across generations, with elders who we have bonded with and have taught up things, and took care of us when we were young and who we take care of when they are old, with children who we pass on knowledge / skills / and love to as well as to those who we grew up with and or connect with and who we have bonded with over time.

In many ways in our modern society we drift away from this. We chase down money and career success more than we seem to work to satisfy these relationships. We view our individual needs and successes more based on what fulfills use individually than we do on what builds our relationships with our friends and family that are part of our tighter tribe.

Having those folks that we have bonded with who are willing to sacrifice of themselves to help us when we are in need is a very important aspect of our health and our survival maybe not as much from a physical standpoint as it used to be (but does still exist) but definitely from a spiritual / emotional standpoint.

We all hit challenges and struggles in our lives and when we don't have those strong community relationship connections established and in place we can not bounce back as fast because our support system is not there. For this reason we need to learn to sacrifice of ourselves and our individual wants and desires a little more often and give more time to building these relationships (even during times when we dont think we needs them), as we never know when we are going to slip and fall and have ourselves in a weak emotional / spiritual / physical state where we will need that support to survive.

Individual strength is a great thing, but is not whole without the strength of a community or tribe to help keep us strong, and something we should truly strive for.
By all means pursue your dreams and goals, just remember to make time to support the goals and dreams of your friends and family, and to work on building those relationships as well, one will rarely look back on life and regret any time that was spent helping someone else in need or being a friend to someone when they needed it.
Build your relationships, strengthen your tribe, it will only serve to make you stronger and to help you be happier / healthier and more vibrant in life.