In this conversation, Daniel Firth Griffith and Dr. Anthony Gustin discuss the importance of community and regenerative agriculture, exploring the connection between individual health and the health of the land and communities. They also discuss the tension between measurable and non-tangible aspects of ecosystems and the need for a holistic approach, wherever that may lead. They emphasize the importance of finding one's role in the regenerative movement and fostering parallel systems while still living in the modern world.
The conversation concludes with a call to support local food systems and increase awareness of where our food comes from. Eventually, the conversation explores the mutual support between local farmers and consumers, with both parties relying on each other for support. They also address the challenges of food access in inner cities and the need to find solutions to support small local farms. The conversation delves into issues with the USDA processing system and the dependence of livestock on imported goods. It concludes with a discussion on the need for people to actively participate in solving food system issues and the growing interest in sustainable agriculture.
- The health of individuals, land, and communities are interconnected. Regenerative agriculture requires a holistic approach that goes beyond measurable aspects.
- Finding one's role in the regenerative movement is important for creating change.
- Supporting local food systems and increasing awareness of where our food comes from is crucial. Using fresh and local ingredients can lead to better-tasting food and a sense of wholeness. Supporting local farmers and communities by buying food locally and participating in initiatives like farmers markets is important.
- Local farmers and consumers rely on each other for support in the food system.
- Addressing food access issues in inner cities and finding solutions to support small local farms is crucial.
- Issues with the USDA processing system and the dependence of livestock on imported goods impact the price and accessibility of local food.
- There is a need for people to actively participate in solving food system issues.
Cool, let me just make sure.
Okay, welcome to another episode of denusion. I'm joined with my good friend dr. Anthony Guston an Overall entrepreneur think-it-man Clinical medical doctor, maybe you can purify that here for us today Anthony from Austin, Texas You've done work in San Francisco Really blessed to have you on you are let me see if I get this right You are the founder of perfect keto
Equit foods you run your own amazing podcast which is much more successful than this podcast called the natural state podcast I encourage everybody to go check it out and you are an author of the book keto answers Which by the way as an author of three books myself I will tell you if you took all of the reviews of all of my books on Amazon added them together and multiplied them by like five It still doesn't equal the number of five star reviews you have so that is all just to say
with us. I'm really excited for our conversation.
I appreciate it, man. Yeah, and the sad part about the Amazon review stuff is like my favorite books of all time have four to 12 reviews, it seems like. Like the Holy Earth by Liberty High Bailey is one of my favorite books and has 10 Amazon reviews. It's like four stars. Same with Unsettling of America has under 100 reviews. So how would these
It's because that's a thick book. I don't know about you, but that one takes me some time. The Unsettling.
Yeah, for sure. But it's just, these are the ones that obviously need recognition. And I think your, the quality of your authorship is also far better than mine. I just, I think I wrote a book for more of the average lay person.
Yeah, well, that's what I should have done. So I would have sold a couple more.
Now, please, we need you. We need you.
Well, thanks, thanks, Anthony, for being with us. I don't know where you want to start. In some ways I like this, some ways I don't, but for our listeners, which are predominantly agricultural, you are definitely emerging in the agricultural, especially the regenerative agricultural scene. But just for our sake of our listeners, why don't you just introduce yourself? What's your story? You're a doctor, yet you run a farm, you have online, you know, e-commerce businesses, set the context for us.
Yeah, so I was kind of like not as dramatic of a story as yours, but really sick when I was younger and just sort of standard American lifestyle fat Chronic health issues my entire family and it was like one of the things that was normal I don't know what exactly it was to get me to realize that it wasn't normal to have everybody around you fat and sick Maybe just watching TV or something like that and it was oh wow these people in the movies. Maybe they're real They're not just behind the screen
The doctors just said, which is kind of eerily similar to what's going on right now. Oh, this is just a genetic issue. You're just destined to be this way. And sort of trial and error, I figured out myself and sort of really focused on physical health. That was the important thing for me. And it took me a long time to figure that out and wanted to help people with that. I'm actually not a medical doctor. I did not want to go to medical school because those were all of the people that told me that I needed to take medications to feel better and that I had no chance or hope to do anything other than that.
So I actually got my doctorate in chiropractic and master's in sports rehab and worked a lot with pro athletes and people with functional, functional medicine concerns. So that was really great. Um, I was thinking at my clinic at one point of like, ha, well, my question has always been why are people so sick and what can we do to help people the most? And so that's kind of like what's driven me over the last 25 years.
and figure out like what is actually going on and how do I help these people one-on-one. Came down to a lot of mitochondrial issues and metabolic health and I was using Keto as a tool and on 10 plus years ago in my clinic with people with obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, all of these things and it was working tremendously well. And so try to figure out like how can I get this information out to more people. So I had already started writing some stuff online,
So that way people who are taking really awful supplements had something better to do It was causing all this gut distress, etc So I have it sort of the model of here's how you play the online game. You say you do content and Wanted to use pervaketo sort of as a Stylian before the show I got a trojan horse as to educate people more about their life Like a lot of people came to us for weight loss things like that I knew it was a really good tool for metabolic health, but in that we talked to them a lot about
to do all these things and try to sneak it in in as many covert ways as possible so that we could, they could sort of shift their mentality about a lot of their health. And I think that generally how I've helped people is I go, I'm on a certain journey myself and then figure out what works for me. And then they're like, okay, I could probably tell someone, you know, here's what, here's what worked for me. And going through the physical health stuff. I felt still, I think a, an enormous void and emptiness.
I checked out the boxes of physical health and there was still something missing. I was still sort of depressed. There was a longing for something more dug into a lot of emotional health trauma, all this type of stuff that I think is now becoming more widespread and talked about. And so trauma release stuff, like this is becoming more mainstream. We can't really measure it, but going through that now has been a huge thing, but still it seemed to be like focusing on the individual health left.
enormous gaping hole still. And I was shocked and surprised at why this is. And so I kept digging, kept digging and with these questions and then the continual questions of why are people so sick and how can we fix that? Sort of all converged with my additional sort of worrying about climate ecosystem health and just seeing the world effectively collapse around me.
That it all kind of comes down to how we grow our food and how we grow our food in community, not in a void of a transaction, but more of a participation with each other and with the land and.
That sort of next step transformed my definition of health from like individual physical health to individual sort of mental spiritual psychological health to more of a human wholeness and human wholeness I think cannot be defined without connection to literally everything else and That's been the sort of like the discovery that I've had and who knows where I'll go Maybe I'm not you know even close to my to the end of my path by any means
It possessed me to move on from Perfect Keto and really dive deep into figure out this whole regenerative agriculture, which is the promise that we can make the ecosystem better than how we found it. And so dove in on that and literally got my hands dirty and have been experimenting, trying to figure out using my background of health, healthcare, business, entrepreneurial success to now put that lens
literally do the farming. I don't want to be somebody who talks about something and acts like I'm an expert, but has literally never done the thing. And so it was really important for me to do that and just explore, I think, honestly getting into myself and feeling more of an intuitive pull to do that, which is honestly the, like, probably the worst career move I probably could have made.
Ha ha ha!
Like going to spend a bunch of money on land not knowing what I'm doing Like actively not make money, but spend money every single month burn money essentially on like light it on fire To do things and like sever my entire network and start over from scratch With essentially no promise to make any profit
You're just describing local food at this point? Local farming? Yeah.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, and so that's kind of where I'm at right now and that's As I've been in this project for a while. I'm trying to think about how I best serve This new I don't even know how to define it and you've probably have a better way to think about it because you've you've probably been in this space for longer than I have but How do I best serve the people who are on the path because I think that this is kind of an emergent thing I'm not the only person who has gone on this sort of pull the thread and find sort of this localism
seems to me to be the best proxy for again, I hate to say healing because that insinuates you know a brokenness and I think it's it's more of this wholeness that I appreciate more of and
I know that me being the farmer is likely not the best use of my experience of life and my skills that I've developed. And so I'm trying to like dance around now and I'm launching a bunch of new projects and trying to figure out how I can still learn in this space, keep my hands dirty, but also use a bunch of the skills that I've gained in the past to sort of push things forward where I see could be helpful in the future.
Let's jump back just a little bit. It's my understanding you can correct my timeline if I'm wrong. You were in San Francisco as a sports medical physician or proper terminology you can correct. And that's when Perfect Keto and Equip Foods or one of those two organizations came up. Both of them came up then. Why Austin and what was that really, what was that turning point between being a better solution
Yeah, both of them.
like you were talking about the supplements of equipped foods or perfect keto, just think if you're taking supplements this is a better supplement. What was the turning point between understanding the relationship between human health and the health of the land and the health of the communities on that land? Where did that happen? Or why did that happen?
The, the interesting part is that my journey and a group in Minnesota and all of my family besides my parents are farmers. And as far back, my mom's a genealogy nerd and as far back as she can trace seven generations, everyone's farmer. And I thought it was very much by the time I was aware of it, they were all into like the very industrial type monocropping, industrial dairy farms, et cetera. And so for me going there as a, as a kid, I like revolted away from it.
toward, you know, I think this is a common thing of, you know, sort of half-assed, Catholic, pushed away, became a rational atheist, like, we've to a big city, here's, true, here's journey, now I'm finding my way back, kind of thing. But in San Francisco, it was just the decay of that city, the more I lived there and the more I started to become aware of my surroundings and search for more truth
It's tragic because Northern California is so abundant and beautiful. But that city was just, um, is very challenging. And whenever we come here to Austin, there was a, a sense of community beyond that. And a sense of, I mean, the city's changed a lot in the last five and a half years since I've moved here. So, um, you know, take it for what it is kind of a mini LA now, but the surrounding areas, I mean, it, it's just been a, I, I, the one step in front of the other.
where I've been now has been driving in a dense fog and I've only been able to sort of seize as far as the headlights project in the fog. And if you would have told me five years ago, I would be living in Texas, owning a truck on a farm with guns, as the San Francisco me, like what the hell are you talking about? But here we are and yeah, again, the more I get done this path,
And that is what I'm grateful for. I think another big thing that pushed me over the adjad already gotten the property by the time We did this but my friend and I Paul Saladino is being the carnivore animal based Scene we went to go stay with this hunter gatherer tribe the Hadza in Tanzania
And their relationship with land and the way they live, it is like they, it was really ineffable. You can't really describe the experience of staying. We stay with them for a little over a week. It just gave me a new perspective on what living like a human could be. We're the same thing when I was growing up. The only thing I knew and the people around me, you know, just because it's common doesn't mean it's normal. And I was around all these obese sick people.
just that was just my experience. And then being in America, even if you go into a part where it's rural, that has a revival, like I think of this area around Austin is really great at that. It wasn't until I went to like how I actually think humans should be living, which not not to say that I think that we should all be going back to a hunter gatherer society, I think that's possible. But to see that model, I've never seen humans in an era like that,
awareness, it was like they were living in a completely different reality. And to view that, I just knew like I want to be able to approximate that in my own life as much as possible. Um, people were never alone for longer than maybe 10 seconds in their entire life and they were living in actual tribes. And we look at some of these animals and remember agricultural perspective. You don't just have one cow, they're herd animals. Same thing with humans.
try animals. We have maybe one to three other people that we live with. Not to say like I'm ready to start a commune in the intentional community in Costa Rica or something like that right now, but it's just, it made me think of things in a much broader way and it really smashed open my perception of what health, again, like that transformation of that word from health to wholeness and just like the full human experience of what that could be. And I think I'm kind of in a pursuit now
Because again, I don't think that there's any going back. And I think that the best way to think about it is, how do we evolve moving forward? And I think in a lot of ways, evolution looks like replicating the past, but not going back. Trying to mimic it moving forward is what's important to me. And I think that, again, to sort of repeat myself from before, is I think that that local food systems, communities, supporting small farms, being a small farmer,
was like the easiest way that most people can make that transition in a Western world to starting to live that same sort of lifestyle as the Hadza.
It's always surprising to me. I talk to so many people like yourself like you yourself do is what I mean and It's really in the last maybe year or two that it's becoming so apparent that there's so a lot of the journeys Into the agriculture, especially the regenerative agriculture space. They're coming from journeys via community Like like my journey was health, right? You know a lot of our listeners know my story. It's tried not to die
and farming was a solution in part, and it was a health journey. Your story, learning with the Hadza, seeing community, seeing you know human life or life in general for what it really could be leading us to a better agricultural or even a regenerative agricultural system, it's so interesting that the journey is from community to agriculture, not when we're at agriculture realize that community makes it more abundant. It's like they're converged in a hole that
What do you think about that?
I think there's not enough examples of agriculture as community to inspire people that way. I think that the challenging part about it is we live in this economic world where everybody's got to eat, you know, and everybody's got to make money and that's just the way it is. And I think that even when people try to do their best practices, a lot of times it's really challenging and they have to, at the end of the day, their farms are businesses. And I think that sometimes, like, and people are so disconnected from that.
And so even if it is so transactional, the people are programmed in a way where food is just a transaction.
And you skip through and then from the farmer, the farmer then responds to that and say, okay, my job is to transact and to make product for a consumer. And then it's then as product consumer. And so our inherent value system in agriculture, not for any fault of the farmers who are trying to get into it, but just because of that's the way the world works. It's very much production consumption. And I think that kind of strips the soul of community out of it.
still live in this world while rewiring sort of the foundation to put that community back into it. It's the people actually want to go out and see where their food's coming from and have a different type of participation in it and realize that at least this is where I'm at of food is so much more than the nutrients you get from it. I had Zach Bush in my podcast a couple of weeks ago and he's kind of out there and doesn't eat meat and I think there's some things that he gets wrong but
tapped into something, which is that like, there's an energetic connectedness to our food and what we ingest that we don't talk about because we can't measure it. Doesn't mean we won't be able to measure it at some point. We weren't able to measure vitamins and minerals 100 plus years ago. That we just, we think about it as input output, consumer producer. We don't think about it as belonging in this web of existence.
from a little bit of an energetic point of view, I think that can change a little bit of your approach to what you consume for food, which again is why I think this is the best way that people can come around to add something different than a transaction.
Yeah. Do you think our tendency, I want your opinion on this, do you think our human tendency to be able to measure and understand the very tangible aspects of the ecosystem? Soil, carbon, soil, health, stable soil, organic matter, the amount of phosphorus, the calcium in the soil structure, you know, the length of grass, the species of grass, these are all very tangible and measurable substances. Do you think our ability as a scientific modern people to measure that
to accept what Zach pushes, this interconnected, you know, very non-tangible web of interrelationships, and not just Zach, I mean, Robin Wall Kimmerer and, you know, an infinite number of others. But do you think there's tension there, or is that part of a story that we need to just focus on better?
When it comes to human health, we have more and more markers every single day. Even when it comes to, you know, assessing apparent cardiovascular health, there's new markers, LP, little A, ApoB, you know, all these things are coming out. So all these biohacking metrics, we have more and more data and more ways to measure health overall.
mental health, physical health, it is off the charts. So it seems to be a correlation, at least with physical and mental health, that the more metrics we have, the worse it gets. Not saying that's a causation, but for me, it's at least an indication that more data doesn't solve the problem. And I think this, why would that same thing not apply to measuring ecosystem health?
thinking about it in a very different way, and thinking about it in connectedness is the only way that has really worked for me to feel...
Again, I think health is a loaded term. So I try not to use it as much, but it's It's the only thing that's worked for me personally So not to like say my experience is what should matter for all ecosystems, but it makes sense that it could work for assessing, you know, any system as well. And like I think that there's To the individual there's such it's so context dependent
applies to ecosystems and land. And even I see here, like some of my friends farms are 10 minutes away. And what their land needs is a hundred times different than mine. And if we try to think about.
this sort of broad spectrum. Here's how we measure and track, and here's how we should apply all this stuff. You ignore the individual context that's required. That's probably the thing that screws the system the most.
I did a podcast earlier today, which will air maybe the week before this one does. So most of our listeners, maybe you listen to it. It was with a lady named Precious Peary, who was a natives in Bobway woman. Unbelievable, unbelievable the work she's doing over there in some Bobway communal and rural lands. And she said it like this, and it's just stuck with me all day and it hope and never leaves me.
are plastic buckets where we just chuck as many things in as possible and hope it works. In Zimbabwe, you know, and it's just a very different context, there's all of these little solutions and they're woven together like a beautiful basket. On the one hand, we have a plastic bucket just full to the brim of all of these maybe non-tangential or maybe tangential realities. And then with what she's working on and where she sees beauty, and this is not uniform,
from a social and economic and ecological perspective. But what she's saying was positive for her was that it's a social fab work, a weaving of a lot of little microclimates, of a lot of little communities, of a lot of little families working together to achieve a more beautiful and more whole world. And that's what I'm hearing from you too. It's, you know, like, especially you, like you're much, you know, larger in the business scene than obviously I am. And I think a lot of our listeners are
and the different organizations, but like investors in general are looking for bigger solutions, right, that are replicable and scalable. And then those are words that are very good in some aspect of that industry. Whereas I agree with you completely, what works in our farm is not going to work on our neighbor's farm. And how we make decisions in our farm is going to be different than how our neighbor makes the decisions, let alone your farm in Austin, Texas. It's like we need this
woven patchwork of little contexts to solve a bigger problem.
Yeah, I forget who said this exactly, but it's not about scalability, but it's about replicability, not even the sense of replicating the same way, but examples that work here. You could learn from that and try it and maybe skip some steps, learn from my mistakes, use your own context though and apply it. And that's a very different way to think about things.
Unfortunately, the way they think is so challenging. I helped raise money and work on Zero Acre, which is this algae oil company that is trying to replace seed oils. We've talked about it a little bit before the show, and we met with a bunch of climate tech investors, and these are the people who have the most amount of money to invest in stuff. So they went out and raised around from celebrities, they got oversubscribed, they had over a billion dollars a giveaway to solve the world's biggest problems
you know, quote unquote, climate and using technology to do so. And this to me, I got, it was great to have the conversations with them, just to understand where the thinking is at. And I asked, what are your thoughts on regenerative agriculture? And the two answers were one, it doesn't scale enough for it to be profitable for them to make enough money. They believe in it and they love it, but they're never going to put chips down on the table because they can't make money from it for the people who invested
to them, which is tragic. Another really weird response I got was, yeah, it's great. And these people are obsessed with carbon, carbon in carbon out. That's all they care about really, because it can be measured. And then we have a carbon market coming up. So I think that the law of them are prepping for that as an economic engine to invest into. But the answer was the carbon story is great. But if you put the carbon in the land, but then don't manage it well afterwards,
They're sort of like sat in silence Because just the way a person like that views the world and the problems that we that exist is just like so Different than than I do and it was it was challenging and I try not to be judgmental And like obviously if I had their same life experiences, I would have the same conclusions but even trying to have conversations with them about any of this stuff is Their entire world and reality and life is set up so that way
They won't because every incentive that they have is misaligned with what we actually need and it's really really frightening.
So how do we make this work though? Like I know like pre-call we were talking a little bit about this and you're living your life, you're working on all these different projects. You know I said in a podcast last year about this idea of parallel systems, right? We have mother culture and we have mother earth and we can't let mother culture destroy herself too quickly because in the pressure on mother earth will be too intense. We have to build these parallel systems a scaffold, right? That's one way I talk about it and you were talking about it similar to that. Like we
this economically driven and hyper focused system too quickly. And we might not be able to deconstruct it at all, of course, right? We can't just have the whole, you know, city of San Francisco running into the countryside, trying to find local farms. Cause we saw what, you know, happened at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, at least here in Virginia. I don't know what you guys experienced in Austin or San Francisco, but, you know, everybody bought local for about a month and then all the local farmer farmers ran out of stuff. Like there's, you know, we are not ready.
our communities are everything. We're not, you know, we have work to do. But my point is, how do we have, I should say my question for you is, how do we foster a truly regenerative world while still living in the Western modern system? Is it possible? Is there hope? You know, let's just dive down that.
I think there's hope in the sense of creating systems, knowledge, wisdom, in working on communities as much as possible now. I tend to think this gets me in trouble sometimes that, you know, this notion of caring capacity in agricultural land.
I think that we're a little bit past the carrying capacity for Earth as humans, at least the way we're living right now. And I just, from what I see, I don't see a very gentle off ramp. I was blessed last year to have this meeting with Wendell Berry and chat with him in his home for a couple hours.
isn't too bad.
I said, oh, fuck. Yeah, he was jovial about it, but it was kind of serious and just the understanding of
Oh my god, thanks. Thanks, Mr. Berry.
There's a spectrum of how on one end 99% of people don't understand that our food comes from somewhere. And that beyond that, the second layer is everything we have comes from somewhere. Like this concept of the earth as having natural resources, that resources get used.
resources. And that concept is really challenging for a lot of people to wrap their heads around. Because we live in this bubble of technological, it's a religion of progress in science that says, no, we'll figure it out in the future. All these problems will figure it out in the future. And so you have that on one end. And then you have on the other end, like, how do we actually do this in a practical level for the people who do care and who want to figure it out? I don't think we're going to flip enough people to
now. So that way, you know, the way I think about it is whether something, whether we run out of resources or have crunch time happen in 50, 500, 5000 or never years, this is the way I think we lead to the best human experience. And so I think it's worth working on and sort of planting my flag in the grounds like, Hey, here's how I've done this. So that people
And I think that's all you can really do. That I tried to think through these problems of how do you stop the Titanic from sinking? And it's like, how do you stop a tsunami from hitting shore? And just don't think you do. I think you just do what you can day to day and what you believe in. And that has led me to way more peace. I like, when I started figuring out this stuff a couple of years ago, like really dive me deep into it, the amount of despair and hopelessness of like, and
through how screwed we are as a civilization. And just where we are at the arc of civilization was not fun. I don't know if you ever went through that period. It seems like a lot of people in this space have gone through some version of that or are yet to and will at some point. But yeah, it sort of like freed me up a lot when I just thought about what role can I play? And I want to think of what West Jackson says is like, if the problem that you're working on your life
in your lifetime, it's not that you're not thinking big enough. But I think at the same time, like, how do you apply that to the most intimate, connected, community-based thing that you can do? And so how I think this can happen now is there's so many things that a person could do. Let's even take regenerative agriculture as an example. I, getting into it, one of the biggest things I wanted to learn was, what are the problems
contribute to helping my community solve those problems. And I came up with a list of like 38 different things. I can only take a couple of those at a time. You know, anybody can only take a couple. And so at the end of the day, I get wherever the individual is sort of passionate about something. And I think if you sample around and feel sort of what lights you up and what people are around you need, that's sort of the easiest way to start. And I think it context dependent as well.
one massive problem to solve at scale. The problems that we have here, Bastro, outside of Austin, maybe different than the ones you have in Virginia. And so I try not to be prescriptive to say like, this is the main problem that we need to fix. So everybody go fix it. I try to, to recommend people just sort of like pause, slow down, look around and see what can we do in a local level. But at the same time, like we're talking about before the recording is we do need people to think about this at scale to like, like you put
Yeah, for sure.
and build the scaffolding as well. And have this, again, we live in this economic world. We need to be thinking about terms of that. Because if not, we're gonna get crushed even faster. If we let General Mills and Nestle and Procter and Gamble and all these people dictate at scale and we have no competitors at scale, sort of to fight them on that level, we are gonna go down faster. We are sinking faster. And so I think like the companies who are trying to do things at scale,
I do think it buys the time and it allows a conversation to happen and it provides an alternative for people who are still in the system of buying their food at grocery stores. Don't even know where the food comes from, but like, but what is this thing that's a little bit different here? It opens up a conversation that I think is really necessary. And so do I like, this is where I try like the same way of how you measure carbon in carbon out, plant diversity, you know, even lipid profile in a human.
and to assess health, the same thing can be applied to a...
economic activity or a solution to a problem that you care about, where I think if you measure it on one dimension or measure it on really any dimensions like that, without looking at it in full context, you can lose the benefits in lieu of judgment of a singular concept. The way I tried to, this may sound very woo and I've had some experiences around this, but meeting the people who are doing the thing and really spending time with them to
from how they are approaching stuff is what I tend to do now. And so if like, for example, if I go to a farm, I don't care what boxes they check. I don't care what the land looks like, but if they're treating their animals poorly or clearly high ego and doing it for a very different reason, or just like getting into it because I think farming is cool now, I don't want to be eating that food. I don't want to be supporting them. Like, that's not the ecosystem that I want to drive with. And the same thing goes with even a scaled company. Like if I go meet the CEO and meet the team and meet the investors,
really passionately believe in what they're doing and injecting massive amounts of love and positivity into it. Okay. Like let's, let's see where that goes. Let's see. Like there's probably a lot of benefits long term to that. Then there is negativity. And so like that's just kind of the landscape of which I'm trying to assess from a local level all the way to a scaled level at this point of, you know, what are incentives? How are people carrying themselves into today and how like what type of energy are they putting into their work?
Yeah, it's interesting you say that I was in a conversation a couple years ago with Dan Kittrich He's the executive director co-founder or whatever he is of an organization called the biological food Association throughout of Massachusetts reason and over the last maybe half decade decade. They've raised I think it's 10 to 12 million dollars to basically build technology It's like it's called a nutrient spectrometer You you probably have seen things medical space similar to this and ag it's new
you holding your hand like a phone that you can scan a carrot, let's say, or a pound of beef or something, and it tells you the actual nutrient density of that, or the nutrient richness as he always cracks me. Nutrient and soil nutrient rich meat, or maybe it's the opposite, it doesn't matter. He always cracks me and I always get it wrong, so whatever I said first, just do it the opposite way. So he's raised tens of millions of dollars to build technology to measure the nutrient density of food, so that farmers markets really get, you know, have a consumer come
your carrots aren't nutrient dense because the technology said so. It's attempted on greenwashing. A lot of data, a lot of science. It's interesting though, I say all of that to say this. I was doing a podcast with them years ago and I asked them. I said, Dan, the world knows you as the Nutrient Spectrometer guy. You are doing more for the nutrient density and our understanding of nutrient density and food than anybody else I know from a scientific perspective. Tens of millions of dollars have been raised in an open source platform to build this
nutrient dense meat coming from cows or just happy cows. Like what is better? Like rich soil with rich plant diversity producing, you know, nutrient rich soil producing nutrient dense beef or whichever way that goes or just happy cows. And he looks at me unequivocally just off the tip of his tongue. He goes, oh, that's not even a question, happy cows. It's the only thing that matters. And it was just this moment of like pile up all the science,
it all out with the shit and just go find some happy cows. That's the solution. You know, and we can then pull the science back out and utilize it. I'm not saying that all science is bad or negative, and that's not his point. The point is that the key foundation of this wholeness in life, it's not happiness, right? But it's not the science, it's connectedness, it's wholism, and that's where happiness dwells, I think is what he was trying to say. But it seems like
You know, it doesn't matter if you're squustering three times more carbon than your cows emit or two times more carbon than your cows emit And it probably doesn't even matter how much carbon you're sequestering because if you have happy cows Managing a very healthy holistic fashion where ethics and morals and and all of those focuses are universally towards the key of the thing Which is this wholeness of life that the meats going to come out of this is probably going to be pretty good meat
Yeah. And, you know, again, what is good meat? Is it the most nutrient dense meat or is it most, you know, connected, connected meat? What are you actually getting into the meat beyond that? And I know Dan, I'm working with his team as well as his researchers, Devon Van Vleet, I don't know if you know of him. They're doing a lot of good work. And the way I view stuff like that, and I haven't had a direct conversation with
Yeah, it's true.
Oh yeah, yep.
Maybe the aha moment to shake somebody out of the old paradigm to wake them up to push them down this direction and I'm grateful for all the what I now think are silly Trap doors that I fell into Along my journey over the last 25 years to end up where I'm at And so I think that we should have as many of those entry points gateway drugs as we can to get people on this path because the data I mean it sort of shows that
The better the practice is, the better the nutrients. And once you put that graph into a Twitter audience or whatever, if you'll go, oh, wait, what's going on here? And they start paying attention a little bit more. Again, 99% of people, they eat a chicken sandwich from a fast food restaurant. And to even go through the thought exercise of where does each ingredient come from? Imagine the farmer, imagine the land, imagine the processing required to do this.
blank spots in that, they have no clue if you were to ask them that question, how to tie everything back to actual soil. And I think the more we can just do that and have these trip wires, the more we can get people to then get to the point. And I think that's like kind of a rite of passage in the modern world of being obsessed with all this data and then figuring out that it's all bullshit. Anyways. Yeah. That's my experience,
Right. Yeah. That's really interesting. Yeah, it's like we need scaffolds to mother culture with these organizations and we also need tripwires. You know, and speaking as a farmer, I can tell you 100%. I don't have time to produce the content, right? And the data and what the, you know, BFA, Biological Fute Association and, you know, Stefan and everybody else is doing, like, that's a skill set that I don't have.
Farmers, working the land, just making the claim. In a very like Wendell Berry type way, right? Like, I don't know. I think most local farmers would like to be Wendell Berry, right? Have a little writing cabin on his farm, you know, horse drawn plow, just living his best life and writing books. But like, we're not the ones producing the data. And I don't think we should be. I really don't. And that's a really interesting point.
Yeah, I totally agree with that. And that's where I think I come. I'm coming to the point now and I haven't really totally crystallized where I'm at. But I don't think I'm the best person to be producing the food. I think I could do it. But at this point in my life, I think there's far more qualified people to do that thing. I don't think that person is going to be producing the data either. Do I know exactly where my place is yet? No, but I'm experimenting and trying to figure it out. And I think that like, Stefan, Dan, you all like,
thing in the, is this person doing what's quote unquote, right? Are they acting with good intentions? Do they have, you know, their heart in the right place? And again, that sounds ridiculous to, in the modern world to assess who you associate with, where you buy your products from, what people's work is. But I think that if we can answer that question appropriately, and the answer is yes to those things, do they prioritize community? I mean, like there's some of these things where you can kind of just like, trust
that's gonna be better than whatever else the alternative is.
Right. Yeah, that's a really good point. I don't know. It just speaks to the wholeness of this. Like, you know, pre-hitting the record button, that's what the two you were talking about. This understanding that regeneration, in its truest sense, not in the modern movement type sense, but in the truest sense of the word, it really is a wholeness, an interconnectedness, a true connection to everything. And you keep staying away from
I would imagine it would stay there.
Yeah, I hope so. I think that like having it be a vacuumed out word in absence of illness just doesn't make sense to me anymore.
Ha ha ha!
That's awesome. That's awesome. I'm a big fan of language, and I'm going to steal that from you. So I'll Anthony, Gus, and TM it, I don't know if I use it, but... What else? What else is on your mind? Anything else you want to talk about or...?
Yeah, I think that
Anything you want to leave us with?
I think the thought exercise of just the people who are listening to the show, probably not your average person of trying to figure out where your food comes from. But you're working on a project. Do you know also of Charlie Cummings in the northeast? Yeah. So with Walden, they're doing something similar. I think like the whatever you can do to buy your food more locally is the thing that I've been focusing on. And how do I facilitate that
But I might even have a challenge. I'm thinking about writing this in social media. And if maybe we'll reach out to me and tell me if this is stupid or interesting, of seeing how local you can really get your food for a month, just one month. Like how locally and seasonally can you eat? And just again, trying to bring awareness to this stuff. There's so many reasons why it's great. You don't even have to buy into all the philosophy that we have here.
that leads to this wholeness and all this type of stuff. It is just frankly the best tasting food as well. If you care about how your food tastes, the freshest food tastes the best. And this is another, I think, tripwire gateway drug to people of when they realize, like when I cook for people, they come over, they think that I'm some magic, like classically trained chef. And really what it comes down to is I just use the freshest ingredients and the stuff that's most local to me. And that, yeah, I've tried to do that for a long period of time,
Yeah, and Yeah, whatever it is to you, maybe it's more community-based and a lot of people like to volunteer things like that but like how can you participate in buying your food more locally farmers market going direct supporting a company like you have Like Walden something like like any local food delivery business. I don't really care Just to think about that. You don't even have to take action, but I think going through that thought process
involves all of it differently.
Yeah, that's, I like that. Yeah. It makes me think of, I was in a conversation with one of the farms in our network, a backbone farm up in Oakland, Maryland. And I was talking to Grace, who is the daughter of the husband and wife that started the farm like 30 years ago. So she was born and bred into the scene there. And she's probably, you know, our age,
And it was during the COVID pandemic and she said, she said, everybody right now thinks that they need support from local farmers. Like, you know, local farmers support our lives. And she said, what I challenge all of these local consumers is to believe that local farmers don't support you. You guys support us. And there we just support each other cyclically, right? Local farmers need support, local consumers need support.
And that's always stuck with me. You know, like, you know, when I think of getting food locally, it's like my ecosystem is feeding me. That's really cool. Like my local, you know, forested biome and shiitake mushrooms or myake mushrooms, you know, it's like the mother earth is feeding me. And humans might be a part of that process, which is pretty cool. But what that thought really instilled in me is that my participation in that system, right,
nourishing to the system as the system is nourishing to me. That's what Grace was saying I think. And that would be a really cool experiment to see what one month, what one month what that looks like.
Yeah, I think we can get challenging. I actually got into it with this health influencer on Twitter the other day, which is something I tried to avoid doing with my time.
I was about to say that's dangerous why?
the issue that led to that in first place is more participation in local farms. And I'm not trying to ignore the reality that the majority of people can't buy food from local farms. I understand that's a huge problem. But the other day, like I said before, you kind of need to figure out where you can participate. And I think this came up when I was talking to Wendell
productive can we be? It's about how we can remain productive. And it doesn't matter what scale a person in inner city is eating at. Like, yes, they're suffering now, but if we don't figure out how to support small local farms in parallel, currently to the system we have, no one's going to have food at a certain point. And so it's just the end of the day, like what, what problem do you want to work on? And I'm not as connected to the inner city food crisis, which is a huge issue.
and want to solve that problem and work on that. It's a huge problem that should be addressed. And I don't ever want to ignore it and talk about this type of industry in a way that this is the only way in, I think that can come across as very elitist people sometimes. And I don't see them as necessarily separate problems, but they certainly are. But, you know, it's all kind of intertwined. And yeah, at the end of the day, I think that find where you can participate. And this is where I feel like I am best positioned to participate.
in what I believe in long term doesn't mean I don't think that that's an issue moving forward. So I just, that's it. That's the thing I want to be more careful about moving forward is like try not to leave out the reality of a lot of people who are living in really tough places right now.
Yeah, that's a really good point. It's a really good point.
I mean, how do you think about that as far as your local community and even like some of the the tough spots in places that are close to you or not, or even Cincinnati or Cleveland, where this guy was, I think he's from Cleveland saying that like there's no farms here, which I don't agree with, but
Yeah, yeah, definitely not.
What's your thought?
Yeah, I have a lot unfortunately like like yourself It's very important. I find it very important to remind myself that You know one of one of the things on our farm that we challenge ourselves every day my wife and I is If we're out here saying that everybody needs to eat better Then everybody needs to be able to eat better You're right We can't be screaming from the rooftops that everybody needs to be eating nutrient-dense beef when only the top percentage or two of the
nutrient-dense beef because of financial access. You know, and in full transparency, another thing we talk about all the time is if we didn't farm, but we still had our farmer's salary. Like if I still get paid what I make on the farm, but we didn't farm, if we didn't have physical access to the food, I couldn't afford our food.
And that's an unbelievable comment. That's an unbelievable comment. And so there's issues. Now there's many solutions. And what the solutions look like are as diverse as there are colors in the world, or shades of colors. I mean, it's truly infinite. And it looks different in every context. Out here in the middle of nowhere, central Virginia, I could tell you a couple of the things. Number one, it costs more money to slaughter a cow in a USDA facility than it costs to raise that cow for three years.
That's a problem.
that that's an unbelievable problem. Like let me say that again. The farmer who spends literally decades of their life building a system that could feed a cow, then spends three years of his life raising that cow, puts less money into that cow than he does into the USDA federal processing system. In order for you, the consumer, to consume that cow. Realize that over half of the expense of local food goes to the federal government. That's a huge problem. It's a huge problem.
that expense out, we could literally knock down the price of beef by a dollar fifty to three fifty depending on what sort of animal we're talking about like this overnight. Pre-pandemic Walmart prices for ground beef could be the price of verified regenerative local human scale family farm grass fed grass finished grass-borne beef. It could overnight if we could fix the USDA processing industry. Now listen, I'm not saying we need to eradicate the USDA and neither am I
is, this is a bigger problem than a farmer can fix. But we need to start addressing it with holistic solutions. Another serious problem is we've so degraded our ecosystem and so denuded, if I could use that term, the genetics of our livestock, that they rely unequivocally upon imported goods. They just do. Like think about a deer or just a bison or buffalo in the United States or a water buffalo in another country.
wilder before to some degree, a feral, you know, nothing's really wild anymore, but whatever. Think of one of those animals, they go for days without adequate nourishment, they go through entire seasons of their life without adequate access to phytochemicals and macro and micro minerals, they go through periods of time where they don't have good access to water, they go through great periods of time where they don't have good access to salts and other type licks to bring that nourishment in during times of famine, if you will, if
terminology and they do okay. They do okay. Now obviously there's death in the wild, but generally speaking the species are still here after many thousands of years they've survived. Cattle, if they don't have access to water at 3 p.m. when they want it, they start to get stressed. Right? The domesticated version of these herbivores, they're dependent upon inputs and I see that as another huge aspect to the price of local food. Imagine if animals could
and an ecosystem, a regenerated ecosystem, where every single hour of the day, they weren't on the brink of death. Like think of sheep. You know, like I was on Instagram the other day looking at a reel, which I try my best never to do because they're just depressing to me. And it was a reel of this one lady, a farmer clearly in a tractor waking up in the morning with a cup of coffee, she's in the tractor and it says, going to feed the sheep, it's gonna be a good day. And then she turns the camera around and there's two dead sheep there. And it's just your average Tuesday, right?
If you want to know why sheep are so expensive, there you go. Imagine you have to raise unbelievable amounts of sheep in order to get a couple sheep to harvest. They're just always looking for ways to die. They're not resilient. So not just is the USDA processing world more financially costly than the actual regenerative agricultural world, but our animals are just dying. That's a huge problem. Imagine you running a quip foods or Perfect Keto or whatever, and you guys were to build
going out and then it leaves the warehouse and it just burns and it's just over. And you're like, well, that's just part of being business and you do it again and you do it again and you do it again. And there's no such thing as insurance for sheep. You know, like my sheep just keel over because they ate a poisonous plant. That happened a couple of days ago. Like it's not like I'm going to call state farm, right? And be like, hey, my sheep ate a poisonous plant. Can you send me a couple more sheep? Right? That doesn't exist. Um, and now I'm rambling and I could just totally take over the next hour of our lives.
There's system-wide problems to food access and and I'm only talking about rural communities here I know nothing about living in a city. I've never been to New York City. I've never I've You know, I have very limited understanding of how cities and urban environments feed themselves But I can tell you in the most of this state 99.9% of the state of Virginia our food access is unequivocally
to the idea of better food. And then you have the government. I'm sorry, I could just keep going. But I'll stop there.
Yeah, I should send you my list of issues at the food system and maybe we can add another 38.
I was gonna ask you if you yeah, you had 38 of them I could probably bring it to at least 39 so Anyways, I don't want to end on such a sad note But I'm I'm I'm very I just want to share like I'm very hopeful with people like you Obviously you have unbelievable skills and areas that people like me just absolutely do not
soil health and social health and everything else and body health and your understanding of all of these things, it's imperative. I truly believe that, yeah, the soil may save us, but only if it's connected in a larger array with a very diverse group of people. And, thank you.
Yeah, it's exciting, man. I like to have gotten into this space and to meet so many people.
And again, I think that we sort of respond to our environment. And I think we have a vast need for people who have the capacity to respond to the environment, to solve some of these issues and think about this stuff and sort of a change of the way they approach living in the world. And I'm noticing more and more people every single day who are interested in this stuff. And that's what I'm excited about. Like there's, if I was just doing this in a void right now, boy, would I be a very sad, sad person.
people that are getting interested in stuff by the day. And so I am super excited and hopeful for that as well.
Yes, sir. Well, I appreciate your time. I appreciate your commitment. I'll give you a hug if I could. Just
Well, soon I saw you coming down to Texas in a couple of weeks, aren't you?
Yeah, yeah at the end of April I'll be I am delivering the the end of conference keynote address at Force of Nature so I'll be I'll be in your will you be there at the conference
I'm not sure I was supposed to speak at another conference that weekend that had been booked before But I was last year and it was great amazing spot. So I'm gonna try to get it for at least a day, but let's find some time to get some in-person stuff
If I see you, I'll give you a big old hug. I appreciate your time, man.
Looking forward to it. Thanks Daniel.