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Messages - Eric

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201
General Discussion / Re: Beyond Grass fed
« on: June 24, 2016, 05:28:36 am »
I wonder what you guys think about rotating herds in the way Joe Salatin suggests...

Salatin's method is basically management intensive grazing, which is the gold standard among grass farmers. It can grow a cow or steer to slaughter weight relatively fast (say 18-24 months relative to other grass-based methods that might require 36 months or more), and in my mind that's where it fails. Anytime you're raising an animal with the intention of slaughtering it ASAP the meat will miss out on the many phytochemicals that accumulate over years of diverse eating. This is a point that Derek (aka Sabertooth) noted in his initial post, and it's something that I think is hugely important. This is why tribal hunters went after large adult animals primarily, because they recognized that their meat and organs were more nutritionally valuable. Of course they'd take a little one if it was easy, but the hunters who brought back fawns weren't the ones who were revered. The revered hunters were those who could bring back older adults.

Salatin's method is also grass-based in a literal sense, which means the forage he offers cattle is mostly grass rather than a more even mix of grass and other herbaceous vegetation. Limiting forage to grass makes sense economically because the protein and sugar content of the forage is higher and you'll end up with a 1,000 pound animal sooner, but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll end up with better quality meat when the animal goes to slaughter. Basically, management intensive grazing systems are designed to find a middle ground between a desire for somewhat higher quality meat (which comes from allowing cattle and other grazers to forage on pasture) and a desire to make money. The fact that financial concerns are involved in the tradeoff means that grass farmers will deliver lower quality meat than if financial concerns weren't part of their management decision making.

202
General Discussion / Re: Beyond Grass fed
« on: June 23, 2016, 08:31:55 pm »
Great post Derek. I have a few thoughts to add:

First, in the United States the label "Grass Fed" does not mean all that much. A label that says only "Grass Fed" just means that at some point in the animal's life it was fed grass, which can include hay. A label of "Grass Fed" doesn't necessarily mean that an animal ever actually ate fresh grass (or fresh forage more generally) at any time in its life. I think this is one reason for why the taste and texture of "Grass Fed" meat can vary so much.

"Grass Fed" meats in the US can also be finished on grain for the last months of their lives to fatten them up to slaughter weight faster without having to acknowledge this on the label. If you want an animal that has never been fed grain, you need to look for a label that says "100 % Grass Fed" or something similar. Even this label doesn't guarantee that the animal ever ate fresh forage, just that it was never fed grain. A confined feedlot could earn the "100 % Grass Fed" label by raising cattle in a barn and feeding them hay. There are other more stringent labels that pertain to the diets of marketed ruminants such as those by the American Grassfed Association and the Food Alliance, among others, but there's no requirement that a seller meet the standards of these third-party labels in order to use the term "Grass Fed" in their marketing.

Having worked with a number of grass farmers in the Northeast US I have pretty much decided that it's nearly impossible to find high quality meat available on commercial markets. The economics of grass farming don't work very well. To make money grass farming a farmer must rely on forages with high protein or sugar content to force animals to grow fast enough to send them to slaughter in a reasonable amount of time. Any diet that forces an animal to grow fast isn't really all that good for its nutritional value. The best beef I've eaten comes from hobby farmers who raise for taste and texture specifically and can afford to give a half-dozen cattle 50 acres to roam around on. These are generally wealthy people who care about the food they eat and not about turning a profit on it.

I don't hardly buy beef anymore in the US Northeast as our landscape just doesn't work for them. Grass farmers in this part of the country literally have to force the land to be pasture, as it so desperately wants to grow back into forest and start the long process of healing itself from years of overgrazing by dairy farmers and from the tillage practices used by vegetable farmers. I do sometimes buy Icelandic sheep as they seem to be better adapted to the landscape from an ecological standpoint, and I'd also buy goat if I could find someone who didn't heavily supplement their goats diet with cheap grain.

203
General Discussion / Re: Paleo/primal village
« on: June 02, 2016, 09:06:59 am »
Permaculture farms can vastly out yield conventional agriculture but will almost always require far more labor...

Even setting their need for labor aside, I'm not sure I buy your initial point. I have yet to visit a permaculture farm that can even approach the pound-of-food-per-acre yield that conventional agriculture delivers. Every permaculture farm I've ever visited has proven to be a very low yield system that also requires very high labor inputs, much higher than conventional agricultural systems. If you know of a permie farm that bucks this trend, I'd love it if you'd share their name or a link to their site.

204
General Discussion / Re: Paleo/primal village
« on: June 01, 2016, 05:57:40 am »
So, it is impossible for permaculture farms to produce high yields per acre?

I won't go so far as to say it's impossible, but I have yet to physically visit a permaculture farm that does it. Maybe there's one somewhere out there that can pull it off.

205
General Discussion / Re: Paleo/primal village
« on: May 31, 2016, 10:04:42 pm »
A couple articles to reinforce the statements I'd made earlier:

What nobody told me about small farming: I can't make a living. By Jaclyn Moyer

Don't let your children grow up to be farmers. By Bren Smith

In response to one of Geoff's earlier comments, it's true that most writers don't make much money off their books. Books often serve as advertising that attracts participants to their workshops or classes, or attracts event organizers to tap them as speakers. These can be quite profitable. We brought Michael Pollan to my university a couple years back for a 2 hour talk and to meet with students during their classes for a couple days, and he charged something in the range of $20,000-$30,000 for the event. That's not bad. String a few of those together over the course of a year and you've got a nice living. Another friend of mine, Chris Martenson of PeakProsperity.com, charges $10,000 as his base price for giving a talk at an event. That's not too bad either.

And regarding permaculture, while I think the principles of permaculture are, in theory, quite useful, in practice permaculture is largely a fraud. All of the permaculture farms I've visited are nothing more than glorified organic farms, and they rely on huge amounts of free (aka exploited) labor in the form of interns to keep them viable. All of the permaculture farms I've visited require huge labor inputs to deliver low food output, and would never survive if they had to generate revenue by selling their product on a per-pound basis without getting free labor from interns and selling Permaculture Design Certificates to subsidize their agricultural operation.

206
General Discussion / Re: Paleo/primal village
« on: May 30, 2016, 09:56:31 pm »
I've often wondered that myself. He's an interesting case, as he has several decent selling books out and gets primo speaker fees. It wouldn't surprise me if more than half his annual income is from off-farm ventures like writing and speaking.

207
General Discussion / Re: Paleo/primal village
« on: May 30, 2016, 07:22:14 pm »
You guys don't know. Organic farming is highly profitable, so much so that you probably wouldn't even need the money you make to pay for anything other than bills and taxes.

Just to be clear, the farmers I work with are not commodity growers. I work mostly with grass farmers, and to a lesser extent organic fruit and veg growers. These are the people who are (supposedly) doing everything right. Management intensive grazing, stocking to extend the grazing season, using breeds with excellent feed-conversion ratios, using perennial polycultures and companion planting, compost and compost tea rather than synthetic fertilizers, etc. They still can't make money.

The few exceptions are the ones who manage to carve out a niche market for themselves, like using hoop houses so they can be the first to bring a particular product to market each season or focusing on novelty varieties of foods. Even then their incomes are marginal. They might net $15,000-$20,000 per year per proprietor after investing 80+ hours per week over their growing season. If they have health insurance at all it's a very high deductible plan, which means a serious illness or injury will be financially ruinous. They also have no retirement savings, and some of them can't even afford to eat the food they grow because they so desperately need the cash to pay bills. I've met more than a few farmers who grow high-end organic vegetables or raise high-end meats who are on food stamps.

Commercial farming is not an entrepreneurial venture I'd go into right now. Maybe someday when people are ready to accept food prices that are 2x or 3x what they are today, but not right now.

208
Raw Weston Price / Re: The Great Dance: A Hunter's Story
« on: May 21, 2016, 12:47:45 am »
Found the documentary here: The Great Dance: A Hunter's story


209
General Discussion / Re: Paleo/primal village
« on: May 21, 2016, 12:39:30 am »
I don't think it's even possible to make a reasonable living at farming anymore, unless you inherit a huge acreage and are willing to grow a subsidized commodity crop. I work in the agricultural sector as a consultant, and 90%+ of the farmers I know who make a living do so largely by having second or even third jobs off-farm to augment their meager farm incomes. Having seen so many negative balance sheets, I marvel at why anyone would want to go into farming.

210
Public assistance, apparently.

211
Yes, very convenient indeed. Thanks for the updated link ys!

213
General Discussion / Re: Possible new rawpaleo guru since Aajonus?
« on: May 10, 2016, 05:18:00 am »
I've been pondering setting up a YouTube channel. It's on my list of projects for this summer. We'll see what comes of it.

214
General Discussion / Re: Possible new rawpaleo guru since Aajonus?
« on: May 10, 2016, 04:09:33 am »
Good Lord, David Wolfe was a total bastard, it seems... Almost all these diet gurus seem to like being the one and only diet guru around for their followers and rarely mention previous influences.

Anyone keep up with Daniel Vitalis' Rewild Yourself Podcast? It used to be really great, very philosophical. Season two started earlier this year, and now he's much more of a salesman. One of his most recent podcasts was a blatant commercial where he 'interviewed' a sales rep from a company that sells the $10,000+ bed that DV now swears by. So much for 'transcending domestication'!

215
General Discussion / Re: Possible new rawpaleo guru since Aajonus?
« on: May 10, 2016, 04:06:02 am »
I've had email correspondence with Melissa too. I bought her book, and she definitely gives due credit to AV and other raw food gurus like GCB within it, although the book itself is not very well done and doesn't provide much useful information beyond generalities. I don't think she's trying to steal info from anyone, just trying to make sure she doesn't give others' too much credit. She is trying to run a business after all, and make a name for herself. Whether she'll succeed at either remains to be seen.

216
I also train in CrossFit, and am surrounded by women who are perfectly capable of lifting heavy weight and have phenomenal physiques. I was sad to read in the article about how Brando attempts to comfort women by saying that lifting heavy won't bulk them up. What's wrong with a women having a powerful physique? I'm so sick of all the gender-based double standards people have.

217
Off Topic / Re: Blog posts that relate to cold exposure and Wim Hof
« on: April 19, 2016, 07:29:09 am »
I'm also interested in becoming more comfortable in colder temperatures, but more in length of time than in intensity of cold, if you catch my drift. Have you noticed improvement in that matter? Like being rather comfortable without as many layers of clothes as before?

Yes, I definitely have. Despite living in northern Vermont (USA) where the temperatures can fall far below zero (Celcius) in the winter for extended periods, I no longer own or require a coat or gloves anymore. I do still own a little wool cap though, as while my ears are far more resistant to cold than they used to be they can still get cold enough to be uncomfortable.

218
Off Topic / Blog posts that relate to cold exposure and Wim Hof
« on: April 19, 2016, 03:46:12 am »
For those who are interested, over the past couple months I've posted twice on my blog about my experiences taking Wim Hof's online class on using cold exposure to reset the body's hormonal and immune systems. The two relevant posts are Embracing the Chill and The Art of Pushing Beyond. I will probably post about raw paleo topics too, although my time is consumed by other projects right now.

219
Info / News Items / Announcements / Re: Vice article featuring Me
« on: April 19, 2016, 03:41:46 am »
And, for what it's worth, I hope you listen to a few other similar podcasts that these folks produce to make sure they aren't setting you up to be made a fool of on the air. It would really suck if friends/relatives tuned in only to hear a wackjob podcast jockey humiliating you.

220
Off Topic / Re: Cruel and Unusual Punishment
« on: March 02, 2016, 02:48:19 am »
I imagine you'll be buckling your seat belt from here on...

221
General Discussion / Re: Have I caught something from eating raw meat?
« on: February 29, 2016, 06:42:09 am »
With mammals (and all animals), the mineral content of tissue varies from one tissue to the next. With large mammals like cattle, it's uncommon to eat a selection of all tissues in one sitting, especially if one must buy their food from a store where some tissues can't be sold. The common way to eat these animals, then, is to eat single tissues, like muscle. The problem with this is that if we eat a single tissue over and over again, we will end up with imbalances of minerals and other nutrients.

Another benefit of eating insects is that when we eat them, we eat the whole organism. This prevents imbalances of minerals and other nutrients, assuming they weren't suffering from malnutrition or were somehow diseased.

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General Discussion / Re: Have I caught something from eating raw meat?
« on: February 28, 2016, 07:06:58 am »
I would expect shellfish from the ocean to be far more polluted than terrestrial insects.

223
General Discussion / Re: Have I caught something from eating raw meat?
« on: February 28, 2016, 12:00:51 am »
I also think that eating insects would help with minerals. Shellfish are arthropods, like insects.

224
Raw Weston Price / Re: Green Pastures FCLO could be sham
« on: February 11, 2016, 02:12:10 am »
I mentioned WAPF's troubles and FCLO in a blog post last fall: Reflections on the First P3 Foundation Conference. Might be an interesting read for some, and includes a few links related to WAPF troubles that folks may want to follow up on.

225
Hot Topics / Re: FFS
« on: January 24, 2016, 02:43:06 am »
Great video Derek. As I said though, while these particular farmers might be doing an exceptional job with their grazing operations they should not be considered the norm. The vast majority of grass farms operating in the Americas, Europe and elsewhere around the world are environmentally damaging operations. It will take a huge culture change within animal agriculture for grass farming to have the positive benefit that people attribute to those precious few operations that do it well.

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