In this episode of Bulletproof Radio, I’ve invited two guests to talk about a different perspective on the current disruptions in the U.S. meat supply. Covid-19 has turned a spotlight on problems within industrial meat processing. But there’s another way that keeps workers safe and product quality high for consumers.
There are small-scale farmers and meat processors providing total integrity throughout the value chain. Preserving natural ecosystems, respecting animals, and protecting the environment are simply the way they do business. Plus, they’ve got science on their side proving why grass-fed, pasture-raised livestock is both the healthiest—and most humane—meat choice.
Cody Hopkins is a physicist who decided to be a farmer, then founded Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative in Arkansas and serves as its CEO. He and the Grass Roots partner farms are changing the way meat is produced and consumed across the U.S. He’s focused on regenerative agriculture, animal welfare, sustainability and blockchain technology.
“There is a growing awareness of the vulnerability of our meat supply chain, especially at the processing level,” Cody says. “When one company or one plant produces 130 million servings every week, it’s producing 5% of the country’s pork. That is a scary position to be in and I think people are really waking up to that right now.”
Andy Shaw, CEO of Cypress Valley Meat Company in Arkansas, has more than 20 years of experience in all aspects of meat processing. He oversees multiple USDA-inspected processing plants that service Grass Roots, major retailers and farmers, and private label products for renowned restaurants.
“When you look at what people have said in the past of being too big to fail, we’re seeing quite the opposite now,” Andy says. “I think they’re [industrial meat processing plants] too big to stay continually in motion while all this is going on. When you’ve got that many employees concentrated in one location, it’s almost impossible to keep everybody healthy and at work. We’re seeing the repercussions of having a centralized food system right now.”
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Follow Along with the Transcript
Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative Resources:
- Cody’s path from physicist to farmer. – 3:06
- How can you look an animal in the eye and then eat it? – 5:18
- There’s a lot of really important nutrients you get from eating grass fed and pasture raised livestock. – 6:41
- We’re running out of top soil in 60 years because of industrial farming. – 10:13
- Grass finished is important. – 13:39
- One of our core missions is to help create the next generation of farmers. – 17:01
- The infrastructure to support small family farms doing what we’re doing does not exist anymore. – 20:19
- This idea of decentralized food production is very scary to large corporate interests. 24:46
- If you kill an animal that is in terror, what happens to the meat? – 28:28
- Eat half as much meat and pay twice as much for it. If you do that you will save your own biology, you will live longer, you probably won’t get cancer, your skin will look better, you’ll be happier, and you’ll support your entire community. – 35:16
- Add multiple species so that you can really benefit from the symbiotic relationships. – 39:35
- It’s an underground pork economy here. Increase in demand, why do you think that’s happening now. – 43:37
- Born out of was a desire to be as radically as transparent as we possibly could. – 51:36
- Larger processing plant have chickens coming in from all different farms on one given day. They mix all that together. – 56:04
- We’re taking and selling the bones and letting the customers make the broth. In the future we want to add those type of value added products. – 58:30
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