Meat That Is Good For You And For The Planet

Episode 120 1h 31m
Topics Overview


“What we do to one another, and the plants and animals on Earth, we do to ourselves…” – Fred Provenza

Eating a variety of phytonutrients is a powerful way to support optimal health, from things like colorful fruits and veggies. Another really cool side of phytonutrients is the impact they have on making animals healthier, too.

In fact, animals who graze on a diverse variety of pasture, with lots of different kinds of wild plants, get an incredible array of phytonutrients. They will even intuitively mix and match their nutritional needs to what plants are available, making sure they get the right balance of vitamins and minerals. Animals who’ve been able to graze like this provide much healthier meat that passes more nutritional benefits along to us. Plus they get to live happier, more natural lives!

Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy, I talk to Fred Provenza about the amazing world of phytochemicals and what they can do for animals and our own bodies.

I was so excited to talk to Fred about the incredible medicine hiding in plants. Phytonutrients or phytochemicals are the compounds from plants that form their defense and communication systems. They serve an important purpose for plants, but what’s really cool is that they boost our biology in myriad ways, too, from boosting detoxification to decreasing inflammation, a process I like to call symbiotic phyto-adaptation.

When it comes to the topic of meat, many people automatically think it’s unhealthy. The big “BUT” here is that it comes down to what our meat eats. Fred and I discuss how mono-diets, or eating one type of food, isn’t a way to produce healthy meat (though it’s what conventional animal operations follow – i.e. corn). Animals that are free to forage over diverse land, though, get an abundance of nutrients that they pass on to us. Unfortunately, most studies on meat aren’t looking at animals who had this type of diet.

Fred shares some fascinating facts on what studies show about proper grazing techniques, meat quality, and even environmental impact. I often hear the argument against cows due to methane from their gas contributing to climate change. When it comes to pasture-raised animals, Fred shares that phytochemicals in their diet not only offset the impact of their gas on climate but it also benefits the soil through the quality of their waste. It’s an amazing positive feedback loop where the plants, animals, humans, and the environment all win.

I really enjoyed this conversation with Fred. I hope you’ll tune in to learn more about the state of your meat and embracing the power of phytonutrients.

Get Fred’s book, Nourishment: What Animals Can Teach Us about Rediscovering Our Nutritional Wisdom via Chelsea Green here, at Barnes & Noble here, and via Amazon here.

Find Fred’s paper, “Is Grassfed Meat and Dairy Better for Human and Environmental Health?” here.

    Topics Covered

    • How Fred started thinking about the relationship between phytochemicals, plant diversity, and animal health

      (4:23 - 8:08)

    • Nutrient deficiencies in animals and in humans that have resulted from industrial agriculture and mono diets

      (9:47 - 13:32)

    • How animals naturally meet their nutritional requirements by eating a diversity of plants

      (14:13 - 17:58)

    • How palatability illustrates our innate nutritional wisdom, and the innate nutritional wisdom of animals

      (19:55 - 23:40)

    • What animals in feedlots are fed

      (25:55 - 30:50)

    • The four reasons why food quality has declined from our modern agricultural practices

      (29:15 - 34:10)

    • Is eating grass-fed meat better for our health, and is all grass-fed meat created equal?

      (36:44 - 41:39)

    • Would it be better for the environment if humans stopped eating meat altogether?

      (47:48 - 52:43)

    • Are we eating too much meat?

      (1:01:03 - 1:05:58)

    • What you eat with meat, and spices may influence the effects of meat on our health

      (1:06:50 - 1:11:45)

    • Flavor is developed in utero and early in life

      (1:14:07 - 1:19:02)

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    Ep. 120 - Meat That Is Good For You And For The Planet