Apr. 11, 2012 - Nutrient Dense Food



By: Bill Roberts, of 12 Stones Grassland Beef

When I was a young boy, one of my favorite things to do was go to Mr. Ginther's Feed Mill in Garrettsville, Ohio and acquire educational booklets on all phases of livestock production. I raised every type of livestock as a kid. Knowledge, wisdom and understanding about livestock production have always had a magnetic draw to my curiosity. The experience at the mill was enhanced by the aroma of freshly ground feed and an emotional sense of well-being generated by the sight and feel of abundant provision of healthy food. It was my boyhood "Happy Place."

During one of my visits to the mill, I acquired a brochure on seed corn from Northrup King Company. It contained pictures of growing stalks of corn that illustrated the differences in leaf color caused by certain mineral deficiencies. I remember phosphorus deficiency was characterized by a purple tinge to the edges of the leaves. A nitrogen deficiency caused a yellowish tinge to the edges of the leaves and so on. My youthful reasoning gravitated to the concept that although the leaves of the growing plant visibly told the tale of mineral deficiency, the actual corn derived from the plants would all look the same. A person feeding the field corn to livestock or sweet corn to people could have nutritionally deficient food and never really know it. Although corn is primarily consumed for energy, it is logical that if basic building blocks to the biological processes of growth and development are missing in the food, the overall nutritional completeness of the plant and its feed stuff produced is compromised.

A lifetime of experience between the aforementioned times and today have proven and validated my youthful suspicions. Most recently, studying the book "Mainline Farming for Century 21" by Dr. Dan Skow has added further evidence of my theory of long ago. The book is a wonderful source of information on the biochemical and electro-magnetic processes in plant growth. He articulates that field corn from nutrient dense soils used to have no dent. The nutrient dense kernel is supposed to be rounded and full, not dented. He also exposes that corn is supposed to weigh 60 pounds per bushel, not 56 as is the standard for weight. He stated that the standard weight for corn is under scrutiny to be lowered to 54 pounds per bushel. That is what most people are producing these days from mineral and organic matter depleted soils. This fact was further dramatized by his mention of the original weight of oats. It is supposed to be 60 pounds per bushel! That is a very distant nutrient composition from the standard 32 pounds per bushel of present day oats.

Our primary focus in our grass fed beef business has been to source the proper phenotype cattle and management practices that produce a delicious nutrient dense beef. An interesting observation in this process has been watching governmental efforts to mandate laws that disallow any claims of nutritional differences in any foods, beef included. The misinformed or agenda-driven bureaucrats claim that like foods are identical in nutritional composition. They say that here is no nutritional difference apple to apple, steak to steak. Have they never heard the term deficiency? Their argument is absolutely absurd.

My aforementioned life experiences set me at odds with this lunacy. That understanding and awareness have been skyrocketed in progressive learning in our field of grass fed beef production. The general nutritional quality of grass can be measured via a brix reading. That is a measure of the viscosity of the sugars in the grass. The higher the brix reading, the more sugar contained in the plant. Normal grasses today in undeveloped pastures will generally run from 3 to 8. With proper management, they can run as high as the mid twenties to even lower 30's. The nutrition provided by such a broad range of sugar content from grasses dramatically impacts the energy available to the animal and its ability to store energy as fat in the meat. Healthy essential fatty acids such as Omega 3's, CLA's and TVA's are a very important part of the nutritional profile and benefit to grass finished beef, dairy and poultry. That profile will directly correlate to the brix of the grass the cattle graze on (assuming they have all the grass they need on a daily basis). All meat is not the same in nutritional composition. This fact can be visibly observed by looking at hanging carcasses in a meat locker. One will observe excessively fat carcasses to carcasses that are so devoid of fat that they look like a scalded squirrel. The nutritional profile on essential fatty acids and energy available from the meat is dramatically different.

Another key difference in nutritional composition of plants and animals used for food is the mineral profile. I mentioned previously the visible differences in growing corn plants caused by insufficient minerals available to the plant from the soil. That adequacy or deficiency carries through to animals that eat those plants. Cattle are famine animals. They store vitamins and minerals in their body to draw from during times of famine such as winter or drought. If their diet is deficient for long periods of time, those stores are depleted and malnutrition results in compromised biological function, Those compromised functions manifest in a host of visible signs such as poor hair coat, dullness, infertility and sickness. Two-time Nobel Prize winner for medicine, Linus Pauling stated, "You can trace every disease and every infection to a mineral deficiency from unequally yoked energy fields." Those deficiencies are spawned by poorly mineralized soils that carries forward to poorly mineralized plants which carries forward to poorly mineralized animals and finally to poorly mineralized people who eat the aforementioned plants and animals. If all like food were equal in nutrient content, this would not be so and there would be no such thing as sickness.

Conversely, properly mineralized soils yield properly mineralized plants which yield properly mineralized animals and then properly mineralized people. We have learned to achieve mineral completeness in livestock on pasture that proper mineral supplementation directly to the livestock is very often necessary. Over time, proper soil management returns worn out soils to nutritional and electro-magnetic balance where supplementation is less necessary. Simple logic tells us that if certain minerals are lacking in the soil and lacking in the plant, they will be lacking in the animal unless supplemented. Nutrient density in our livestock's feed and supplements have produced qualitative and quantitative measureable differences. Animal performance differences relative to dietary completeness leave no room to doubt our theory on nutrient density variations. We have observed the same in our own lives through our diet variations as well.

In summary, nutrient dense and nutrient deficient food stuffs both exist. Production management practices that optimize both the presence and bio-availability of nutrition to plants and animals are keys to human health. Nutrient dense food is the wave of the future for educated consumers who study nature's ways for themselves and enjoy the fruit of their education. The best way to overcome the high cost of health care is be healthy. There is an old saying, "A man's wealth is more contingent upon his health than his money." Nutrient dense food has proven to be vital pavement on the road to personal wealth.