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    116: Why Sustainable Farming Should Matter To You w/ Joe Heitzeberg

    The farming industry has changed dramatically over the years. With the introduction of factory farming, animal agriculture is causing more harm than good to not only our health but our environment.Joe Heitzeberg joins me to talk about his business, Crowd Cow, that focuses on supporting small, local farmers to rear the best meat and fish possible.

     Or listen & subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts | Android

    Crowd Cow works with farmers who care about their animals to raise them with love and happiness before ending their lives with as much compassion and gratitude as possible. Joe explains what problems industrial farming has had on the local agriculture and environment. He also tells us how a few alternative views of the legislation can allow farmers to claim their animals as organic, free-range, and grass-fed when in reality they’re anything but.

    By choosing to support sustainable farming practices with our money and purchases, consumers can send a message that they don’t support factory farming that contributes to environmental endangerment and poor animal welfare. Consumers should also provide feedback to the producer how the meat and fish they’re eating tastes and if they’ll keep buying it because this type of feedback does work, especially if more people do it.

    On that note, Joe recommends consumers do their research to find out where their meat and fish come from. Many supermarkets have no way to trace where their meat comes from, preferring to avoid that conversation altogether. But it’s in the consumers’ best interest to do their research and make informed decisions about where their meat comes from.

    Joe talks about why the welfare of an animal is so important, not just for the fact that they’ll be sacrificing their lives for our food, but an animal that has been treated with love and kindness will also taste better. This kindness extends to the last day of the animal’s life. Everything we talk about in this episode contributes to why sustainable farming matters for our health and our environment.

    Where do you currently buy your animal products from? How can you be a more conscious meat consumer? Do you understand why sustainable farming methods are so important?

     

    In This Episode:

    • Why industrial farming has ruined the animal agriculture industry
    • What the ideal environment for organic farming looks like
    • Why you should feedback to the producer how you find the meat and fish you’re eating
    • How you can find the details of where and how your meat is produced in order to make informed decisions
    • Why the way an animal is treated throughout their life matters 
    • Why sustainable farming is so important for our health and the environment

    Subscribe to Couch Talk w/ Dr. Anna Cabeca on Youtube

    Quotes:

    “Everybody is trained that meat is just meat. The last 50-60-70 years of meat has done this industrial thing that many people are concerned about and so the whole world appears to be trying to grow meat alternatives in test tubes and create fake meat, even though we’ve evolved for 10,000s of years eating meat.” (6:56)

    “We’re not here to judge, we’re here to make things accessible and to empower consumers to make informed choices.” (12:32)

    “For it to taste good, you’ve got to make these animals calm and healthy. If they’ve led calm, healthy lives, all the way up to the one bad day, the one bad moment, then it’s going to taste better.” (21:45)

     

    Links

    Get $25 off your first order with code COUCHTALK25

    Find Joe Heitzeberg and Crowd Cow Online

    Find Joe Heitzeberg on  Instagram |Twitter

    Find Crowd Cow on  Facebook |Twitter |Instagram |YouTube

     

    Transcript

    Joe:
    I think because we have such a good connection between the products and the consumers, it's not like it's going through brokers and it's handed off and it's aggregated in a feedlot. No one even knows where it came from. Like the grocery store literally can't tell you most of the time which country the meat came from. Crazy to me. So we're sort of the opposite of that. We're saying you should know as much as you can about that. That's kind of important.

    Dr. Anna:
    Hello everyone. Welcome to Couch Talk. This is Dr. Anna Cabeca and lately, we've been talking a lot about informed consent. If we're going to choose to do something, let us at least have informed consent with the best information possible. And that's really what I wanted to bring you today in today's talk and informed consent about the food we're eating. So I am bringing Joe Heitzeberg who is the CEO and co-founder of Crowd Cow, which is the developer of really high-quality craft meats that are organic and are from small farms and grass-fed cows. Very high quality. So today we're going to talk about the benefits of clean eating and food transparency. Why we make the choices we do when it comes to eating. In my keto green programs, I am an advocate of a wide diversity of food, a wide diversity of eating and eating styles as long as we're in the keto green mode at least intermittently.

    Dr. Anna:
    So I'm excited to talk with Joe. He has really been leading a mission and bringing people together. Farmers, consumers, families, friends and he created as the CEO and co-founder of Crowd Cow. I experienced their meat when we were in Austin for a conference for KetoCon Conference and they had a great presentation, a great dinner for us and I enjoyed it immensely. The food was delicious. The meat was just fabulous, well-flavored and could just tell the quality and care that went into the animals that we were able to enjoy the meat.

    Dr. Anna:
    So I want to share with you Crowd Cow today and why I like it, why I am a proponent of them. Joe is going to talk with us about his story and why Crowd Cow makes a difference in this world and how they're really raising the standards for everyone to follow suit. So, happy to share this information and I also want to hear from you what questions you have about, if it's farming, if it's about the food choices you're making, or how much meat. I'm a proponent of a little bit of red meat goes a long way as well, right? That we don't need to eat it every day, but maybe a couple of times a week. And when we do, those choices for high meats can really make a difference. So let's get started. Well, hello Joe. It's great to have you here with me.

    Joe:
    Thanks for having me. It's great to be here.

    Dr. Anna:
    Well, where is home? Where are you?

    Joe:
    Seattle, Washington. So, where our headquarters are in Seattle, our farms are everywhere all across the country. Actually 22 States that we source beef, pork, and chicken from. We do some seafood up in Alaska currently. And then, of course, some very exquisite beef from farms in Japan at a couple of different regions.

    Dr. Anna:
    Well, and I found out about you through Allie Miller, my dear friend, and very discerning consumer, and we had this olive-fed Wagyu beef that was just out of the world. I'm like, okay, I need to know about this. And you know, it just was so melted in my mouth, was delicious and they said there was no added seasoning on it whatsoever. But it was just the way the animals were treated and fed and I needed to know about your company. So that's how I learned about you guys and I was really impressed with it. So I'd love for you to share with my audience because you know here we are keto green and red meat, white meat, we're like omnivores and this... mostly omnivores in my client base and what the difference is and what we're buying, what we're told we're buying, and what maybe is the... Like, raise our standards to the ideal. What you found is the ideal form of bringing the best to us, the best and safest. I'm not just going to say the best, but the safest and healthiest to us.

    Joe:
    Yeah. It's funny that most people's orientation around meat is that there's beef, pork and chicken and... There's lots of different kinds of seafood and that's it. And it's like it's back in the day of like Wonder Bread, it's all the same, right? The discovery that we've had and we're bringing to people is that it's not all the same in any sense. So, you mentioned the olive-fed Wagyu, that's a great example to really pound home the idea that not all beef is beef, the same.

    Joe:
    So just the story there, there's a small group of farmers in a remote region in Japan, very small production, so it's known as the rarest beef in the world because it's so hard to get even in Japan. And they raised this one breed called the black Wagyu, the [foreign language 00:05:27]. It has this ability to metabolize whatever it eats and create this marbling that's crazy. And what these farmers have done in that region, they're in a region where their local agricultural product is olive production and olive oil making. So these farmers figured they could work with the olive oil producers local in their region and use the waste product of creating olive oil, the peels, and sort of toast them in these big, kinds of like liquid dryers, and grind them and mix them with the feed for the cattle and that it would be good for the cattle's health because of the antioxidants and because they marbleized that fat in a particular spider webby way that maybe those antioxidants would get in the meat.

    Joe:
    And the Japanese are very obsessed with health when it comes to food and especially fats. They love the umami flavor and they love the oleic acid that it's good for your arterial health. And so these farmers were actually excited about like, "Well, we've got all these olives laying around, these waste product olives peels. If we could do that and if it would boost the oleic acid, we'd have healthier meat." And they did it and it just so turns out it's also a delicious meat. You get kind of that breathy aftertaste.

    Joe:
    So again, my thing with the olive Wagyu is like, I'm really glad that you found us through that because it's a perfect example of imagine you're at the grocery store, it's literally the best that world has for you is a little orange sticker that says special and everybody's trained that meat is just meat. The last, call it 50 to 60, 70 years of meat, has done this industrial thing that many people are concerned about. And so the whole world appears to be trying to grow meat alternatives in test tubes and create fake meat, even though we've evolved for tens of thousands of years eating meat [inaudible 00:07:17]. So my company's mission and purpose is to help you eat meat that you love but eat better meat by going off of that system and finding these varietals around the country and in Japan that are producing an exquisite product that's good for you and delicious and amazing. And then to connect you to who raised it so you can have that story to tell as well.

    Dr. Anna:
    Well, and [inaudible 00:07:42] too, supporting the small farmers that are doing it right and well and for generations, that's important too. And also knowing where your food's coming from.

    Joe:
    Yeah, it's inspiring to meet people. I was not in this world. I didn't grow up on a farm, but to meet people who are continuing on their family's tradition, it's not just a job. They're like, "Great-Grandfather did it this way and here's why. And it's like I'm kind of jealous of that affection they have to their heritage and to the land that they've grew up on and their family grew up on. And that's really special to feel a connection there so that when you're eating something or serving your kids or you've got your buddies over, whatever it is, that connection is part of the experience. I think that's important.

    Dr. Anna:
    And I think back to that concept of the Wonder Bread meat aisle, right, that everything is the same, but it's actually not. We need to be looking at different things. In my book, one of the chapters, I talk about hormone disruptors and we basically are what we eat, ate. So that's really important to know. And if they've been fed grain with mycotoxins or this terrible toxin called zearalenone, which we know is feminizing our animal sources and also is found in us and our umbilical cord after consuming it. So it's really... Umbilical cord blood. So it's really important that we are looking at cleaner sources. We don't need a lot, but when we're choosing, that we choose the healthiest and best as often as we can. So what are some things that we need to look for when we're looking at the farming practices and what are your criteria for qualifying something as a Crowd Cow source?

    Joe:
    Yeah. So the first thing I would say is that when you're in the grocery store, I joke about the little orange sticker, but the whole world is about little labels and actually almost everything online is as well. They'll say organic or they'll say, antibiotic-free or whatever it is. What I learned in meeting with and talking to the pharmacist, those labels don't mean a whole lot. And the farmers will just tell you, "Well, grass-fed." What kind of grass? And what we've come to learn, at certain scale, because grass-fed is such a big market driver right now, is that what's happening now is hey, some smart guys with a spreadsheet said we can just take this giant feedlot and we can truck in grass pellets and then we get to call it grass-fed, grass-finished beef and [inaudible 00:10:08] and we put in the grocery, everybody will buy it and we're good.

    Joe:
    But contrast that system with one where the animals are adapted to their environment, the plants that are growing there are natural and also adapted to the environment so that critters can live inside the blades of grass so that birds can feed off of that, so that foxes and sages and grouse and the wetlands are symbiotically involved with. It's healthy and it's not overtaxed with too many animals. And by the way, the farmer's kids play there. So let's not spray it with pesticides. All of that produces a better meat that's going to go into your body and the label is not the way to tell you that you're getting that better meat. So to answer your question, the answer is to know where it came from and select based on transparency.

    Dr. Anna:
    And do you talk a lot about food transparency? So how do you get that?

    Joe:
    How do we do it? We do it by, in 100% of the cases, meeting the people who raised it, or caught it in the ocean, and processed it, and packaged it, and got it to you. And we preserve that traceability all the way back to that origin and make all that information available 100% of the time to our customers. And so through that you can be assured that what you're getting, that we've done that and you can see it. So, for example, we don't do a lot of seafood yet, but when we've done the seafood so far, we've done it with the GPS coordinates of where the fish [inaudible 00:11:42] went and the name of the boat and meet the [inaudible 00:11:46]. And we've done it with fishermen who own the processing plants. Because you've got to take the fish and you've got to clean them, and gut them, and freeze them, right?

    Joe:
    And we learned that there's an extra step if you want to, that's more expensive, that allows you to clean a fish without using chlorine bleach. It's more [inaudible 00:12:06]. So they say, "Oh great, they're using that. Here's what that means." So if you're interested in a fish that doesn't have chlorine residue, this is a good choice. You'll never get that level of depth any other way. So we'll meet them, we'll document everything. We're not telling you you should buy this or that. We're making it all accessible because there are differences. A lot of times the practices are different based on the natural resources that are available or the family's tradition. We're not here to judge. We're here to make things accessible and to empower consumers to make informed choices.

    Joe:
    So we always taste test everything obviously as well. And I think because we have such a good connection between the products and the consumers, it's not like it's going through brokers and it's handed off and it's aggregated in a feedlot and no one even know where it came from. The grocery store literally can't tell you, most of the time, which country the meat came from. In fact, they specifically revoked legislation that required country level origin. I guess it was too hard to even remember which country the thing got off the truck from or whatever. Right? Crazy to me. So we're sort of the opposite of that. We're saying you should know as much as you can about that. That's kind of important.

    Dr. Anna:
    It reminds me of some traditional cultures, everyone has a name. It's not just your aunt, it's your mother's sister or your father's sister. And there's different words for those people, right? So you're looking at the lineage and the heritage of this and that makes a difference. You're also reminding me of when it's cleaned with chlorine. I was in a nice resort in Dominican. I was an invited speaker for a medical conference and it was a great resort. So I'm like, "Oh great. Fresh fish. I can't wait." And I tasted the fish and it literally had a chlorine odor to it and I could taste the chlorine and I was like, "Whoa, what's going on?" To find out because I was curious, well, it's a farmed fish that's chlorinated, so this tourist or whatever don't get sick from how it's raised.

    Joe:
    And you can bet there are farmed raised fish that is great in terms of every dimension, the environment, the community, the cleanliness and the practices, everything. And there's ones that are very bad in terms of proactive overuse of antibiotics that run off into the local ecosystem and kill off other stuff that's natural, whatever. Right. There are both I'm sure and within pasture raisers, there's both too. So until you get to a level of depth and intimacy with the people involved and you make it all transparency and you have importantly a feedback mechanism, you the consumer can go on there and rate it or share it or send a message to the producer or ask a question. Those are the linkages there, again, that doesn't exist in the traditional system. Again, literally it sounds crazy, but they literally can't tell you what country it came from. So there's no way to get feedback through if something tasted like chlorine, they don't even know. You know what I mean? How can you fix the problem? I think that there's a better system and it's built on transparency and it empowers consumers more and farmers and producers more.

    Dr. Anna:
    Well, you just said something that surprised me a little bit, that in the... And it makes sense though, now that I think about it. But like when I think of farmed fish, I always think about fish swimming in antibiotic-filled waters. So you're saying no, there's fish farming practices that are very healthy and very environmentally sound and not overcrowded or...

    Joe:
    Yes, absolutely. And it's going to depend on... It's such a complex world we live in. There's wild-caught fish that's good. And there's wild-caught fish that's bad. And some of that's bad because of problems that we created as humans. In other words, toxins that are in the ocean that shouldn't be there, but the fish absorb those. Now, your wild-caught are getting that. Okay, that's sad. But that's not good for your health. And there's also wild-caught but is not sustainable in terms of the fish populations. So if we're talking about halibut in Alaska, okay. If we're talking about halibut somewhere else, not okay, shouldn't be eating it. But if you're going online, typing in halibut and they don't tell you where they caught it, you don't know if you are an unwitting participant in the demise of a fish population, or you actually are conversely supporting a local community of fishermen that are actually working towards preserving that ecosystem. And so transparency is the key difference there. The world's not black and white. You can't just say this is bad always or this is good always. You have to know the details.

    Dr. Anna:
    Now that you've been eating this really clean meat and you've introduced this to your life, your friends, your family, how do you feel different? How has it changed you?

    Joe:
    Well, I can't eat hamburgers ever out at a restaurant, ever. Never. I'll never, ever, ever order it.

    Dr. Anna:
    No Whoppers for you? No?

    Joe:
    Oh God, no. But not even like the quote-unquote "gourmet burgers." I'm just throwing my money away because ground beef is just at a scale now for that it's flavorless and I don't trust the practices got there and where it came from it and it doesn't taste good, so I feel like I'm just wasting my money. Our ground beef is so much better. You can just eat it out of the pan good. It's really bizarre. I never knew that about it getting into it, but I was like, "This is so cool. I can't believe how good this is. What the heck?" It's animals raised to produce steak and now it's ground beef. A lot of the ground beef you get out there is not bad. It's retired dairy cattle, Oh, let's make an extra buck by... They call them grinders, the derogatory term in the industry. It's not gourmet. It's not right.

    Joe:
    But yeah, that's one thing that's changed. I eat a lot more protein now. Part of that's because I trust and know so intimately where it came from and how it was raised and what it's doing for my body that I'm much more in tune now and feel a lot better about it. It's funny, I did have a concerned couple of years ago getting into this company and eating so much red meat as part of the job, right, that I went to my doctor and I said, "I'm eating a lot of red meat and I'd like to do the cholesterol test." And I came out at literally half of the risk level of average for my age, so significantly below the good zone. I was in the, like, elite awesome cholesterol zone. I was like, "That's cool."

    Joe:
    So I think a lot of it... Again, that's another one of these things is not black and white. Eat red meat, you're going to die. But what kind of red meat? And what did the animal... You know what I mean? It's not all the same. I just said olive Wagyu metabolizes into that fat differently. I mean, the olives contribute to [inaudible 00:18:51]. Is your red meat that or is your red meat some other red meat? That might have an effect and then you and how you metabolize your food is going to be different from the next person. I'm just a lot more aware of the world's not the same. There's a lot more variety, of course, varieties in meats. A lot of the terminology, like free-range chicken, I've learned is a crock. Free-ranged could mean they're in a metal... I mean, a concrete enclosed chicken coop with a door that they never learned to walk out of and where they're close together they really can't move and they're bred for the breasts, so they can't really walk very well.

    Joe:
    These are what chicken farmers are telling me who were in that system before saying, "I'm sick of it, I'm going to do it the right way." Truly pasture-raised, expressing themselves as chickens and tastes so good. I remember the first time I cooked a truly pasture-raised chicken from one of our farms. Then I had a Whole Foods chicken. So I had two whole chickens in my oven, brought them out, and my wife came home and we couldn't even finish the Whole Foods chicken, just on taste. It was like, "Why would... That's not good. This one's delicious." And people are always like that. They're like, "Wow, how did you cook this?" And I'm always like, "Well, let me tell you, I put salt and pepper on it and I put it in the oven."

    Dr. Anna:
    It's how it was raised. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Joe:
    That's it. That's it. That's all you need to do.

    Dr. Anna:
    What about the killing practices? My ex-husband had a buffalo ranch, so buffalo's been one of those protected species which we're so grateful for that... No antibiotics, no hormones or growth hormones or any of that and they are free-range, all of them. So when it comes to buffaloing, whatever, and we had Georgia Buffalo here in Georgia, and so I learned, more than I ever expected to learn about raising meat, or buffalo, specifically. And I remember the leftover blueberries from the blueberry farm being fed to them, the organic blueberry farm, and the pumpkins and watermelon and these things. I'm like, "Oh, these Buffalo have it made. This is pretty good." And then just being able to graze. But they also... My point was that when they would take them to slaughter, they would go into a squeezebox. First, they would be talked to, then calm down, relax, and then go into a squeezebox to calm them down, which was very interesting to me because I had no idea.

    Joe:
    Yeah. What's great about it for me is I learned very early, it's not like there are some farmers that have like a bumper sticker about animal welfare or [inaudible 00:21:31] more like, "Look, I'm with these guys every day and I want to honor that they're giving their life." So that's about as spiritual as it gets. Most of it is like, "Hey, I'm a small producer and I'm going to be at the farmer's market and I want the customer to come back and for it to taste good, you've got to make these animals calm and healthy. If they've led calm, healthy lives all the way up to the one bad day, one bad moment, then it's going to taste better. Secondly, I don't want to die. If they're getting bucking each other or a stressed out, they might trample me. So I'm only going to do like four in a day and I've gone to the trouble to use metalsmithing to build this giant squeezebox set up where they don't see it coming and they're not stressed. They just are having a great day. They've got fresh food, we're calm and I'm not going to get hurt. I don't want to get hurt."

    Joe:
    Farmers are very practical. I want it to taste good. I don't want to get hurt. I want to honor the animal. You realize right away when you're working with somebody who cares and for those reasons they care. They kind of are your assurance that you're getting that every time. You know what I mean? And they're there, physically present. So that's not like punching in a punch card and you're a line on somebody's spreadsheet, you don't care, right? These people care because they're there.

    Dr. Anna:
    Yeah. No, that's important. Now how do we order Crowd Cow and I know you've got an offer for our audience, our listeners too.

    Joe:
    Yes, we do. So you can get $25 off if you go to these super special URL crowdcow.com/couchtalk, all one word or case. And also you could, if you didn't remember to do that, there's a little, I think gift code button or promo code button somewhere in the checkout, and you could also enter couch talk 25 but, crowdcow.com/couchtalk, you'll get $25 off your first order for new customers.

    Dr. Anna:
    Great. Or couch talk 25. $25 off their first order. That's awesome. Thank you so much. I appreciate that. We like a good deal too and we want to try it and I want to order more of that olive-fed Wagyu. So it's nice that you're supporting small farmers too. So I think too, one of the messages, ideally, we're shopping local from healthy sources from small farms, supporting our local growers and farmers as much as possible. It is a tough job. It is a tough job. And so when you find someone that is doing it wholeheartedly and health consciously, that it just makes a huge difference. So we definitely want to do that. And then check out crowdcow.com/couchtalk and get $25 off an order from Crowd Cow, special farmers, all unique farmers. And you can find out exactly where you're getting the food from, which is so cool, where the animal's from, the fish, or seafood from. And so that's a really nice conversation to the dinner table when we're saying grace and we actually know who we're thanking more than just the food we eat. It's the farmers that have the specifically being really specifically. And what do you have coming Christmas? What's your favorite Christmas thing that we should order?

    Joe:
    We'll have a rib roasts, so that's always popular at Christmas time. We'll also have a lot of... I think I would, depending on what you want to do, Japanese A5 Wagyu or olive Wagyu is always a fun one. And New Year's Eve too. And then all the pork, chicken, seafood, other things you might want.

    Dr. Anna:
    Yeah, that sounds great. So we'll definitely look into that. And to remind our listeners, crowdcow.com/couchtalk. How exciting. Joe, thanks so much. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and creating this company that's supporting local farmers and giving them another way to continue their trade and make money doing it to help support these great farming, sustainable farming, practices.

    Joe:
    Thank you.

    Dr. Anna:
    Thank you.

    Joe:
    Thanks for having me.

    Dr. Anna:
    I want to thank all our listeners for joining in today. And sustainability practices are becoming more and more of an issue and the more I learn about deceitful marketing and we're being told where eating one form of food and it's not, or it's contaminated with other things, it's really frustrating, can get scary. So, granted, maybe we don't have hunters in our family. Getting out and getting fresh meat for us are farmers locally and so we have to go to good choices. So this is a source through Crowd Cow, crowdcow.com, through their farming practices, the organizations that they've built to support farmers in over 22 States at this point and growing, as well as internationally that are producing really high-quality meats. And we can actually find out about it. I think this is really brilliant. So I'd love to hear your feedback. I'd also love for you to share with me. Maybe you've got a great source of local or that you know of that has great... producing great products, whether it's farm-raised foods or farm-raised meats and fishing industries. I am always looking for good sources. I'm feeding a family and an organization and working here to spread the word. So please share below. Where do you find the best, highest quality food when you're choosing and some of your experience with it.

    Dr. Anna:
    I know for myself in choosing high-quality foods, I need less. I have less symptoms. I react less to foods and I just feel better, feel stronger, feel healthier and it's really important. So having less of really high-quality foods is the ideal way. So I want to thank you for joining Couch Talk today and listening in and let me know if you take advantage of Crowd Cow, what you like about it and how your experience was. That's important to me too. I only want to bring to you the things that I use as well as the people that I have faith in, and information I want to get out. And this meat industry, and again, many of the things we're told that isn't true, is critical to our health and the health of our generations to follow. Thanks for joining me on Couch Talk. I'll see you next time.

    Dr. Anna Cabeca

    Dr. Anna Cabeca

    Dr. Anna is a Triple Board Certified OB/GYN, Anti-Aging Medicine expert, and author of the best selling book, The Hormone Fix.

    Dr. Anna helps women heal the 9 most dreadful symptoms of menopause with natural, safe solutions. Follow her for content on hormonal imbalances, vaginal dryness, menopause (and more) that are medically backed, and created to empower women — not just treat them.