Why we Grass raise, then grain finish our animals?

Every decision made today affects the future in some way. Decisions compound over time, and the results can be negative or positive. Just like money in the stock market I want my decisions to lead to big gains. Our nutritional decisions of today affect our health tomorrow. The nutritional intake of plants and animals we eat also affects our nutritional health. As a society we are inundated with information about what foods are healthy and which are not. We should eat this plant or drink this tea and it will help this or that problem. But yet most of us have some sort of nutritional deficiencies. One way to increase the nutrition in ourselves is to increase the health of the plants and animals we consume. Different farming practices lead to varying amounts of plant and animal health. The decisions farmers make affect the quality of food the consumer consumes.

Several months ago, I read Nourishment by Fred Provenza. In the book he talks about nutritional wisdom and how animals seek out food and flavors based on what nutrients they need to maintain optimal health. Each plant has unique flavor compounds. The flavor compounds are a result of the plant's interactions with soil, microbiome and neighboring plants. The flavor compounds allow animals to identify what nutrients are present and how much they need to consume. Animals graze tasting and smelling plants and deciding how much of each plant they should eat. They may try a bite and move on and then come back later to get their fill. Innately knowing what nutrients, they need; animals move around pastures grazing and seeking plants that will fulfill those needs.

Humans have lost that ability in the last few centuries. We base our dietary decisions off the latest fad or nutritional guru. We think that somebody else has more information about what our bodies need more than our own bodies do. We read labels about nutritional facts and ingredient lists to see what is in foods instead of paying attention to our bodies. We eat what is available, when it is available instead of eating what we need, when we need it. These decisions compound over time, and generally they have resulted in negative consequences.

 Knowing your farmer and the farming practices they use can help you make better decisions. When animals are allowed to graze in pastures with healthy soils, on diverse plant communities not only is their overall health better but also, they pass on those important plant nutrients to us. Plants use chemicals to protect themselves from pests and diseases. These chemicals can also be protective to animals that consume the plants. The chemicals are powerful and can be stored in tissues of animals and will be passed to other animals that consumed the original plant material. We do not have the ability to digest woody plants and large amounts of grasses, but cows and goats do. Woody plants and grasses do have many nutritional benefits that we can take advantage of by consuming beef and cabrito.

When designing our pastures that we plan to raise our livestock, we think about the nutritional needs of our animals and how different plants can fill those needs. Each plant produces different phytochemicals and flavor compounds. Having pastures with many different grasses and forbes helps us fulfill the needs of our animals and pass on many important nutrients to you. We want you to be able to taste the richness of our pastures that our animals were raised on.