large flourished A

Americans have lost touch with how food gets from the field to the dinner table. In the last 50 years, the packaging we’ve put between us and what we eat buffers us from the notion that dirt, sweat, and blood have anything to do with it.

Americans have lost touch with how food gets from the field to the dinner table. In the last 50 years, the packaging we’ve put between us and what we eat buffers us from the notion that dirt, sweat, and blood have anything to do with it.

Industrial agriculture has stepped in to handle the messier aspects of growing and gathering the plants and animals we kill to survive; all we have to do is pay for them, right? Driven by the notion that we are entitled to cheap food, we end up paying a much higher price than we think.

Large-scale corn, soy, cattle, poultry, and swine operations—fueled by gasoline, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers—are gobbling up land and spitting out food that results in, well, unhealthy animals and unhealthy people. Single-crop fields, planted to feed humans and livestock, effectively wipe out the biodiversity that keeps ecosystems in balance, and when that balance is upset, plants and animals become vulnerable to pest infestations and disease. Humans intervene with chemical “remedies,” and the situation only gets worse.

So what can we do to address this destructive practice on a personal level? Enter the “grass-fed” revolution. In an effort to right the innumerable wrongs of industrial agriculture, more people are seeking out protein grown naturally, the way nature intended. In other words, GRASS, pastoral scenes, renewable pastures. It doesn’t mean billions of bushels of “cheap” genetically engineered corn and soy, ground up and then fed to animals. It doesn’t mean serving them the dead carcasses of other animals who sickened and died before they could be packaged and sold, and it doesn’t mean making the feed go further by using suspect fillers and subjecting animals to a life spent on antibiotics in order to keep them upright.

Seriously, when it comes to meat, you are what THEY ate, and the news is anything but good.

I’m spooked by “mystery” meat—the kind you pick up in a grocery store; the hamburgers served drive-by; the “local” rabbit meat that actually comes from China, where lab technicians subjected the caged rabbits to a battery of injections for the cosmetic industry, known as “tested on animals,” before they were sold as food. If I do eat mystery meat when I’m traveling or have been invited to dinner, I can’t help but think “Russian roulette.”

My entire life, I’ve managed to have organic meat for myself and my family. Either my parents raised it or I raised it myself, shot it, or bought it from someone

She’s a Meat-’n’-Potatoes, Salt-’n’-Pepper, Get Up Early Kind of Farmgirl

I knew and trusted. I was a vegetarian for several years, and as is usually the case with someone who stops eating meat, I was driven by compassion fueled by the horror of animal feedlots. Spurred on by best-selling books like Diet for a Small Planet, vegetarians long for a better world. But I came around to thinking that cultivating soil to grow grains, instead of using the land to grow meat protein raised on sustainable pastures, wasn’t being kinder to the Earth. Well-known calculations about the energy required to produce a hamburger as opposed to eating lower on the food chain are all based on feeding animals grains. “Growing” two pounds of granola burns the energy of a half-gallon of gasoline in its making. And in the book Eat Right for Your Blood Type, author Peter D’Adamo, a naturopathic physician, argues that some genetic types, based on the geographic locale of their ancestors, must eat some meat in order to remain healthy.

I came up with an altruistic plan (no money in it for me) to make healthy, organic, grass-fed beef and lamb available to anyone who can have it “doorstep delivered.” I registered the name and made friends with a hard-working herd of organic cowboys in Wyoming who are raising cattle on the largest organic open-range ranch in the U.S. If you place an order, you’ll be treated to a brand of customer service that’s on par with the best meat on earth. They’ll alert you to the arrival of your order, and often they’ll toss in some recipes and a bit about their die-hard, organic meat philosophy. Heck, they’ll even laugh at your jokes if they get you on the phone. (They laugh at mine, and I’m rightly obliged to think that’s pretty darn nice of them.) What could be easier? And for now, the shipping is free if you buy

more than $200 worth.

So quit taking chances. Did you know that only cows fed grains, NOT their natural diet of grass, develop dangerous strains of E. coli in their intestinal tracts? (Cows take what we can’t digest—cellulose—and turn it into something we can—dairy, meat, and fats high in omega-3 fatty acids essential for good health—while churning out life-giving manure that, in turn, feeds the soil.) To say nothing of the unspeakable—and for the news industry, unmentionable—mad cow disease that is showing up more and more.

And quit wasting your money. Did you know that when you compare the price of meat that hasn’t been properly dry-aged with meat that has, they’re pretty darn close to the same price when cooked, pound for pound? That’s because meat that hasn’t been properly aged (most of the meat sold to consumers for home use) has as much as 40 percent water.

Okay, have I covered all my bases? I think so. If you eat meat, and you don’t raise it yourself or know of someone locally who raises organic, grass-fed meat, the solution is only a click away: Not only am I on a mission to bring back some of our grasslands that have been turned into “agriculture,” I have your back.