Balanced Bites Podcast with Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe | Kale vs. Cow with Diana Rodgers

Podcast Episode #331: Kale vs. Cow with Diana Rodgers

Diane Sanfilippo Featured, Paleo and Primal, Podcast Episodes 2 Comments

Topics

  1. Introducing our guest, Diana Rodgers [1:47]
  2. Kale vs. Cow documentary [3:00]
  3. Emotion and humanity [10:16]
  4. Biodiversity and greenhouse gases [18:24]
  5. Ethics and intent [25:52]
  6. Food as a religion [34:49]
  7. About the documentary [42:02]

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Balanced Bites Podcast with Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe | Kale vs. Cow with Diana Rodgers Balanced Bites Podcast with Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe | Kale vs. Cow with Diana Rodgers Balanced Bites Podcast with Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe | Kale vs. Cow with Diana Rodgers

You’re listening to the Balanced Bites podcast episode 331.

Liz Wolfe: Welcome to the Balanced Bites podcast. I’m Liz; a nutritional therapy practitioner, and author of the Wall Street Journal best-seller Eat the Yolks; The Purely Primal Skincare Guide; and the online program Baby Making and Beyond. I live on a farm in the mystical land of the Midwest, outside of Kansas City.

My usual cohost, who is out on book tour today for the 21-Day Sugar Detox Daily Guide, is Diane Sanfilippo. A certified nutrition consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo and The 21-Day Sugar Detox. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and fur kids.

We’re the co-creators of the Balanced Bites Master Class, and we’ve been bringing you this award-winning podcast for more than 6 years. We’re here to share our take on modern paleo living, answer your questions, and chat with leading health and wellness experts. Enjoy this week’s episode, and submit your questions at http://balancedbites.com or watch the Balanced Bites podcast Instagram account for our weekly calls for questions. You can ask us anything in the comments.

Remember our disclaimer: The materials and content within this podcast are intended as general information only, and are not to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Before we get started, let’s hear from one of our sponsors.

Liz Wolfe: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Vital Choice seafood and organics. Purveyor of premium sustainably sourced seafood and a certified B corporation. Vital choice offers a wide range of fish, shellfish, humanely raised meat, protein rich bone broths, and paleo friendly snacks like organic dark chocolate, super antioxidant trail mix, and bison jerky. My favorites from Vital Choice are the salmon and the tanner crab. Diane’s favorites are the king salmon, seaweed salad, and canned Ventresca tuna. Choose premium seafood and organics from www.vitalchoice.com.

1. Introducing our guest, Diana Rodgers [1:47]

Liz Wolfe: Hi friends! Liz here. Really thrilled about today’s interview. My guest today is my friend and colleague, Diana Rodgers of SustainableDish.com. She is a registered dietician and nutritional therapy practitioner who lives on and helps run a working, sustainable farm. Clark Farm Carlisle in Massachusetts.

Diana is also spearheading the development and production of the film Kale Versus Cow; the Case for Better Meat. Their Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign surpassed its initial funding goal, which is huge, and the film is now officially in the early stages of production. Although it will need ongoing financial support. So if you haven’t donated yet, do it now. Any little bit helps. Head over to SustainableDish.com/film to watch a quick video to learn more and to donate.

Dr. Scott Mills: Quickly, before the interview, we want to acknowledge a minor audio issue we had with Liz’s side of the recording. We do apologize for that, but we feel like the content stands up on its own. Enjoy the interview!

Liz Wolfe: Welcome, friend! Thank you so much for coming on the podcast with me.

Diana Rodgers: Thank you for having me, friend!

2. Kale versus Cow documentary [3:00]

Liz Wolfe: So I’ve always known you were going to do big things in the sustainability space. And I feel like this has been on your mind for a really long time. This Kale versus Cow. Doing a documentary. Doing something with the film medium that was going to serve as a logical, grounded answer to all of these documentaries that have been coming out over the last couple of years that are very vegan/vegetarian slanted. And so, I want you to take me through the journey that you went on to get to the point where you were like; wow. This would be a cool idea. And now; wow, I’m doing it. Just tell me everything that’s been in your head, and what’s been going on in this process.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah, thank you Liz. I remember one time you wrote, like, “This is someone to follow! She’s going to be doing big things!” And you were one of my true believers from very early on, and I honestly appreciate that so much. Because it can feel; when you have these crazy ideas, and you’ve got like 3 people behind you, sometimes it can feel like you're just crazy. {laughs} So I’m glad.

Liz Wolfe: Hey, my pleasure. {laughs}

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} Yeah, so I guess ever since I decided to kind of change my lens from food marketing to nutrition and went through the NTA program. I kept looking at my husband, who is a farmer out there working in the fields, and our beautiful life on the farm. And really wanting to see if I could connect those two areas of my life. Right? My passion for real food nutrition and my love of dirt and organic vegetables and pasture raised meats and everything.

So I started my blog, Sustainable Dish, way back in like 2010 I think. Maybe a little bit after that. I really just wanted to start exploring the intersection between sustainability and the perfect food for humans. Because to me, it’s the same thing. And I think a lot of people; once they change their diet and really get their abs and get themselves all fixed; then what? Do you just kind of continue with that? Do you look at bigger ways that you can continue to improve your purchasing? I can always do better. Even me. I can do a better job with remembering to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store. Remember to bring my cup to the coffee shop instead of getting a paper cup. I think all of us can do better all the time. So definitely, I don’t think there’s an endpoint to this stuff.

But, I just kept hammering this. Every single time I would go to PaleoFx, or one of these conferences. Everybody, it’s time to really seriously think about how your food purchases are affecting the planet. And then we’ve got the ethical concerns, too. So I’m on the board of animal welfare approved, and I’m really behind humane slaughter. And better treatment for animals.

So all of this sort of came together. And I was actually going to do a film back in 2014. I had interviewed a bunch of directors. But it just felt like it was still kind of early in the story. And I was still only getting like three people to my talks. {laughs} So I kept on plugging away at things. Kept on writing more blog posts. And slowly, I think the last time it was at PaleoFx, I actually had a few people in my room. People are starting to share my articles and really care about this kind of stuff.

And at the same time, we’re seeing so many more films that are only showing one side of the story, as far as all animals are raised in CAFO concentrated buildings with artificial lights, and they’re unhealthy. And it’s cruel to eat animals when we can just grow our meat in labs. All this stuff.

One thing that’s really bothering me about all this stuff is how they’re showing it at my local high school. In science class. As if it’s real. As if this is actual science.

So I have a friend, Kristin Canty, who did a film called Farmageddon. She lives up the street from me. We sell to her restaurant, and I’ve worked with her on a few different projects. And I kind of talked to her a little bit about; how did you make a film? And she’s like, you just do it. And I was like; ok.

Liz Wolfe: You just do it.

Diana Rodgers: You just do it.

Liz Wolfe: Just go do it. {laughs}

Diana Rodgers: So it’s kind of scary, because I have; I mean, my Bachelor’s actually is in Fine Arts. But I didn’t go to film school. But just like writing a book, you just do it. Right? You just kind of figure it out. You read a couple of articles. And you just jump in.

Liz Wolfe: Kind of like having kids. {laughs}

Diana Rodgers: Exactly! {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Just like, ok.

Diana Rodgers: You just kind of figure it out, right? And same with our farming, too. It’s kind of funny because every year when I wanted a new animal on the farm, for Christmas, I would just get Andrew a book on like, Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep. And we’d have sheep that year. So, you just kind of figure it out.

Anyway. So I decided this summer; right after What the Health came out, and there was a bunch of people writing about how What the Health was wrong. I decided that it was time for me to take all of this energy that I had, and really channel it into making a film. Because this is another one of my crazy ideas that never makes any money, right. {laughs} Making a film is definitely not a money-making endeavor.

Liz Wolfe: They call that a passion project.

Diana Rodgers: Yes! {laughs} But it truly is, 100%, out of passion. For just getting that other side of the story out, right. Meat is a healthy food for humans. Saturated fat is not the cause of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Animals can be raised in a very sustainable way. And actually, can help sequester carbon. And they can be done in a very ethically okay way. And when you compare the number of deaths that happen in plant agriculture; so like monocrops, soy, with all the pesticides and tractors running through the fields and fossil fuels burned and all that kind of stuff. It’s actually causing less harm to eat one large ruminant, a cow, that’s been raised really well, that’s been sequestering carbon on land we can’t use for crops eating food we can’t eat ourselves; grass.

So to me, it’s so, so, so clear. And it’s just really important to me to get this message out.

3. Emotion and humanity [10:16]

Liz Wolfe: I think the hard part about that is it is so clear. But the issue is, the emotional part that people wrap up with this. And that is; I can’t eat another living thing. I can’t look a cow in the face and then imagine slaughtering that cow and eating it later. And I get that. You know, we’ve had pigs on our farm. We’ve done this on a very small, small scale. But we had pigs, and we slaughtered them. And I hated those pigs, and I still; it’s tough for me to think about eating that meat that we produced ourselves.

But it’s that emotion that people wrap up with it. And I think what’s hard about it is, maybe this is a societal problem where we are really trained away from reality. We want things to be happy. We want things to be not painful. We want things to be not hard. And that’s in every aspect of life. We really run from pain and sadness. But the reality is, life is; there’s pain and there’s sadness, and there’s a cycle to it. There’s birth and there’s death. There’s not just birth. You know? There can’t be just happiness without some sadness.

And I think what human beings need to grasp is that we cannot run. And it’s comic. How far we have run from reality to think that all of these chemically synthesized laboratory processes, large machinery, harvesting systems, genetic modification. All of these things that we have done to kind of escape reality. It’s almost hilarious. But to bring people back to this place where we have to realize that we are part of a cycle. And we can engage with that and better the earth, or we can run from it and continue to deteriorate the earth. And I think a lot of this is about bringing it back to that.

And just to go on a little bit of a tangent; I hope this is ok.

Diana Rodgers: No, actually Liz, everything you're saying is exactly what I want people to take away from the film. You have hit it exactly on the head.

Liz Wolfe: Ok. Perfect. I think it’s very interesting; and I even have goosebumps even being about to say this. But you, as a woman, doing this project I really, truly, deep down in my heart believe that you're the only person who could be doing this right now. Not only is it a female farmer, registered dietician, somebody who lives on a working farm. But I also think a lot of the energy around this topic has been from men. I think the people who have been ringing this bell; who are not dieticians or farmers, who have been talking about sustainability.

People in the past have loved to listen to them, but in some ways, have avoided listening to; like you were say, they weren’t ready to hear you earlier. And I think part of that is because you have such a tangible connection to the subject matter, and when we’re ready to listen to a woman farmer about this topic, it is really bringing it home. It’s not just like; “Yeah, listen to this dude talking about keto and sustainability sometimes.” This is about listening to someone with; I hate to take it here because some people roll their eyes. But this feminine energy. And I really believe that the earth; this idea of sustainability has a decidedly feminine, mothering energy to it. Am I way off base? You can say I am.

Diana Rodgers: No. I love that. And I’ve thought so deeply about all of these things. And I think what I can bring to it is that empathy that I do see why people eschew; give up meat. Right? If I was disconnected from food production, and I lived in a city, and I was trying to be thin and listening to all these diet books, and my only relation to animals were my pets, and I saw these films and read all this stuff in the media about meat is so unhealthy and everything, I would definitely be a vegetarian or vegan. For sure.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: So I completely see where they’re coming from. And I want people to know that. I’m not attacking anyone for having come to that conclusion, because I definitely think I would be there, except for the fact that I see death. Like everything you were just saying.

Even human death. When I was getting my RD, and I was working in hospitals, and my only tools were Boost. These people are dying and I can only give them Boost or orange jello from the cafeteria. So many people don’t have a death plan, and their family is really faced with having to make these tough decisions for them. And it’s because no one even wants to admit that they’re going to die. Right?

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: So, how sad is that? That the family is now completely stressed out making these decisions, and they don’t know if it was something the person wanted. I see it as exactly the same situation when it comes to animals. And if we don’t take responsibility for how they’re raised, and really face the fact that animals are dying in order for us to have high quality protein, we’ve got a huge problem.

So even in the film, I have vegans who even for personal reasons they’re choosing to not eat meat. But they’re still in the fight for better meat for everybody else, for the animals that are out there. They realize that it’s unrealistic that everyone else in the world will give up meat tomorrow. So how can we make things better? So I appreciate very much.

And coincidentally, my director, Myna Joseph, is really involved in the female filmmaker’s movement. And she really gets the story too. Her family started Maple Hill Creamery, which is an amazing dairy company that’s all full fat, 1005 grass-fed dairy. So she’s just an amazing story teller. So the process now is I just go to her with all these different producers that I know. All these different potential stories that I have. And she’s helping me to organize it into a great cinematic, beautiful film.

So what I don’t think we need is more crappy films that are just throwing around statistics and have a bunch of talking heads. I think we need something really beautiful that’s going to hit people in the gut, and really explain everything you just said earlier. About there’s a cycle, and we are part of the food cycle, and well-raised cattle increase biodiversity, which is something we need. Every ecosystem that’s a healthy ecosystem on the plant has plants and animals. We can’t just have fields and fields; like you see when you're flying over the US. Fields and fields of just soy, or corn, or wheat. That’s unnatural.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Driving across Kansas is just; Kansas is my home state. It’s really difficult for me, because I feel like in a lot of ways there are just these opportunities wasted. All this beautiful grassland, and there’s nothing happening on it. Just this opportunity that we have to use land for the purpose of healing the earth. Right?

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. And that doesn’t mean don’t have animals on it. Right? That’s something that a lot of these conservation; it’s funny because environmentalists are starting to come around and realize that having ruminants on the land actually brings back the birds. It brings back the butterflies and all the microbes in the soil. Everything, right? So it’s not just about keeping a field, just this pastoral empty space. It’s about bringing animals back on it in order to keep it healthy.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. I think about how; you know, give me a home where the buffalo roam. I’m like, “Where are the buffalo?”

Diana Rodgers: I know.

4. Biodiversity and greenhouse gases [18:24]

Liz Wolfe: They’re not here anymore. Ok, so let’s talk a little bit more about biodiversity. I also had a note that I wanted to talk about topsoil. All of these things I’m sure you're going to put in Kale versus Cow. But maybe educate our audience a little bit on what we’re talking about when we’re talking about sequestering carbon and healing the planet. By the way; isn’t it funny. I look at my cows now, and I’m like, “You are the future, man!”

Diana Rodgers: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: You want it to be something exotic and amazing like Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons or something that’s going to come and just fix everything. But it’s cows, and it’s so amazing. So talk a little bit about what they can do, and what biodiversity means.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. The future is not just let’s go find another planet because we’ve already ruined this one and so give up. Right?

Liz Wolfe: Oh god.

Diana Rodgers: That’s not the future. The future is; let’s fix what we have done.

Liz Wolfe: Why is it even going there? It’s like; come on. Are we really talking about Mars right now?

Diana Rodgers: It makes more sense to move to Antarctica and just go colonize Antarctica than it does to go to Mars.

Liz Wolfe: Oh my gosh. Anyway.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. But you know, people have this emotional thing, you know, for exploring the universe. So they want to make it happen. Even though it makes no sense at all to be spending money doing that.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: Anyway.

Liz Wolfe: Actually, you know what, if it’s these certain rich politicians that are actually going to be the ones going to Mars; let them go. We can have our Earth back. {laughs}

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. The ones that think they are geniuses?

Liz Wolfe: Uh-huh.

Diana Rodgers: Yep.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} Ok. So we’re talking about carbon, yeah?

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Yeah, carbon.

Diana Rodgers: Ok.

Liz Wolfe: Very stable carbon.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. So a lot of people blame cows for all their methane emissions, right? And there’s a couple of different ways that people attack cows. Methane emissions; the water use; and the land use. So those are three of the big ones.

When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, what are people worried about is that cows are farting like crazy. Well, you know, ruminants do fart. And there were a lot more ruminants in North America before we basically annihilated all of them and created strip malls and just had cows on feedlots. So there were actually a lot more of them before Christopher Columbus.

And basically what they’re not looking at is the whole cycle. So, as cows are walking around chomping on grass, that’s actually stimulating the roots to grow more. And as the plant goes through photosynthesis, it’s actually taking carbon out of the atmosphere, and dripping it down to the roots. Which they’re actually feeding to the microbes in the soil. So they’re dripping down carbon sugars to the microbes, which have a symbiotic relationship with the plants, with the grasses, and help it get all the nutrients they need. And there’s fungal networks involved, and it’s really quite complex.

So what we need to do is feed those microbes. And how can we do that? With cows stimulating the grass roots to grow. With them pooping on the land, which isn’t waste; it’s actually fertilizer. And then moving the cows on and giving that land a rest. So there’s a little bit of a difference between just your grass-fed cow and one that’s managed well.

So when I’m talking about well-managed cows, what I’m talking about is this idea of mob grazing. Like what Joe Salatan does. Or holistic management, the Savory Institute. But basically the idea is to act like how herds naturally act in nature when they’re being moved along by predators. So, when the wolves, or whatever the predator is, going after the ruminants, the animals stay bunched together. Which creates intensive grazing. They have to eat really quickly, and then they have to move. And the movement allows land to then rest for a nice period of time. And allows the grass to really come back. So it’s not over-grazed, it’s not under-grazed, and it’s a beautiful cycle. So you can’t just have cows, you need to be moving them, with electric fences. Or out in the wild, when we’ve got ruminants in Africa that’s all naturally happening with the predators. So that’s the a big one with the greenhouse gasses.

Liz Wolfe: And that’s not hard, right?

Diana Rodgers: What’s that?

Liz Wolfe: No, go ahead.

Diana Rodgers: I was just saying, that’s a big one with the greenhouse gasses. So we can take modern technology, electric fencing.

Liz Wolfe: Which is not even that modern, right? Like, we’re not going space age here. These are electric fences we’re talking about.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah, solar powered electric fences. Very easily movable. And people can move the animals in a way that gives them fresh grass. So it’s actually healthier for the animals, because they’re getting fresh grass all the time. And if one of them has worms or something like that, the entire herd doesn’t get it. And you get the birds on there to kind of pick through everything. So it’s actually a completely natural, beautiful cycle to do it that way. And instead of having one cow on one acre of grass, just over grazing their favorite patches all day. So that’s the one thing.

The land use is another one. A lot of people say; well, I can grow this much soy on an acre, and you can only produce one cow. And then they’re going to over graze it. But the fact is, you can’t grow crops everywhere because of water issues, topography issues. So many different; brittle land. Think about the Maasai, in Africa. Are you going to tell them they can’t herd any longer, they need to give up everything and grow kale? You know?

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} Or what are you going to do in Sweden, right? I guess everyone is now thinking the wave of the future is to go indoor with these 100% artificial light plant factories.

Liz Wolfe: Ugh I saw that.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. Or I just got back from Iceland, you know. They’re eating more chicken and less lamb. But lamb is the only thing that thrives there, really well! And if they’re eating less lamb and more imported chicken, they’re going to be in a big pickle once their currency fails again.

Liz Wolfe: Wow. You're wrapping economics up in this. It’s not; this is kind of, this has tentacles {laughs}.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. So whatever is not covered; I am writing a book on all this, as well, that’s going to be very linear with lots of references and people can kind of flip around. So there will be a book version of this. I’ll have a website support in addition to the film. The actual film is going to be more in like a chef’s table. Where we’re going to be focusing on stories. We’re going to be looking; we’re going to be focusing on producers who have really wrestled with the ethics, and the environmental aspects of raising animals. So people can really identify with them and understand how they ended up where they are.

5. Ethics and intent [25:52]

Liz Wolfe: Well when you think about the ethics question, right? I think the tendency is to only see what’s right in front of your face. So somebody sitting in their apartment in New York is looking at their pet cat and thinking; I could never eat you. Therefore, I can’t eat a cow, or a chicken, or a lamb, or what have you. But really, just to broaden it a little bit. When we think about death in plant agriculture. I wrote about this in Eat the Yolks, and I can’t remember where the original impetus for this idea was. But this idea; how many field mice do you think die when that tiller comes across? Or when the combine harvester comes across the field. There is death, and a lot of it, maybe even more if we’re talking about sentient organisms. There’s probably a lot more mice in a field than there would have been cows. So there’s a ton of death involved.

Diana Rodgers: There’s definitely a lot more. Not probably. For sure there’s a lot more.

Liz Wolfe: For sure.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: And there are bees in the ground, right?

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. Look at all the things we’re killing with all of our GMO chemical ag, you know.

Liz Wolfe: And there’s no escape from that.

Diana Rodgers: There isn’t. So a lot of people will go with intent. “Well I didn’t intend to kill it, therefore it didn’t happen.” Which I think is a pretty flawed argument, right? Like, if I tell you that you're going to run over a whole family of chipmunks every time you drive to Whole Foods and buy your tofu, did those chipmunks still die? It’s like; I’m telling you now that millions of little critters died for your block of tofu. So whether or not you intended for it to happen; it still happened. And you're still responsible.

Liz Wolfe: It’s just literally people running away from bad feelings. Putting their hands over their ears and saying “la-la-la-la.” Like, didn’t intend to; doesn’t count. It’s just crazy to me. Ok, well let’s talk about. You talked about this earlier. Let’s talk about humane slaughter. Because that’s a big one. Just the idea of how these animals die. And I know you went to a; what do you call it, an abattoir?

Diana Rodgers: I did a small, short film called Soft Slaughter at a slaughterhouse. Yeah. Abattoirs can, I think, also encompass just butcheries where they’re just breaking down animals. But it can also mean slaughterhouse, as well.

Liz Wolfe: Ok. Good to know. So let’s talk about humane slaughter. What does that mean?

Diana Rodgers: So they have really come a long way. Even in the bigger slaughterhouses, thanks to Temple Grandin. Who has really helped people understand how to make things less stressful for animals. And coincidentally, there are no humane handling laws for chicken or for seafood.

Liz Wolfe: Huh.

Diana Rodgers: So if people are looking to eat an animal that had a nice calm death, go with a ruminant or a pig. Because chickens can be slaughtered pretty much any way you can imagine. And seafood is really bad.

Liz Wolfe: Wow. I never thought about that.

Diana Rodgers: So with four-legged animals; pigs, sheep, and even bison and cattle. They need to be rendered unconscious before they’re slaughtered. And they don’t know what’s hitting them, in general. And there are definitely some horror images that are being shown. But that’s the rare exception; that’s not the norm. And people don’t know that, because they’ve never been to a slaughterhouse.

Actually, there are a couple that do have viewing decks, so you can go watch. And I encourage people to go do that, just to see the process. But if they don’t want to, they can take my word for it that most slaughters happen in a really calm way. Some of the things that Temple Grandin has brought to the slaughter industry are curves instead of right angles, because animals are much calmer when they’re moving around a curve than around a right angle. Which those things don’t happen in nature. Not having a lot of dark shadows and bright lights, because that can be really intimidating.

So these animals are coming from not really being handled much by humans, not near buildings, to all of a sudden, here’s their last moments and they’re kind of in this very; like, when you go to a hospital maybe. You're kind of living out in normal society, then all of a sudden you're in this very industrial, bright situation.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, and it’s scary.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah! So no loud noises. No profanity. There are so many ways to make it less stressful. And I know a lot of people think it’s an oxymoron to say human slaughter. But when you think about; if they’re so good for the environment, why can’t we just have them out in the fields and live out a natural death. That’s something that comes up a lot. And I would like to argue that being killed by a cayote, breaking your leg and lying there for buzzards to come get you; almost any way you die in nature is probably less humane than; unless you just have a sudden heart attack and you die in your sleep. Right? And that’s what we all kind of wish secretly would happen to us, right? But that’s just not how death happens in nature. And humans are really the only ones capable of being humane about how we help move an animal into it’s next phase of existence, which is feeding a lot of people.

So when you think about wanting to cause least harm through your diet, which is something I think about a lot; one cow can produce almost 500 pounds of food.

Liz Wolfe: How many calories is that? Do we even know?

Diana Rodgers: Oh, I’ve never calculated out 500 pounds of beef.

Liz Wolfe: I mean, I always think about one acre, how much soy you can grow, how many calories that actually is and how much damage there is to the soil versus one cow on the same amount of space. Not only is it rebuilding the soil, but it’s also producing calories.

Diana Rodgers: I think it depends; are we looking at a cow in Vermont, or are we looking at a cow in Nevada, right?

Liz Wolfe: True.

Diana Rodgers: It’s the most nutrient-dense food for humans. It’s the perfect food for humans. There’s this whole movement now of carnivores, right? Of people that are only eating beef and the results are surprisingly amazing from what I’ve been seeing.

Liz Wolfe: Really?

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. Have you heard about this?

Liz Wolfe: I have not. Are they eating nose to tail and everything?

Diana Rodgers: The one sort of head honcho of this group that I’ve been watching is only eating ribeye steak for just about every meal.

Liz Wolfe: Wow. Ok. {laughs}

Diana Rodgers: For the last year. {laughs} So, you know, some of the interesting things that I’ve been learning. Because you think; oh my gosh. How come they haven’t developed scurvy? Actually from some of the stuff they’re saying, you really only need vitamin C to digest carbohydrates.

Liz Wolfe: Ah.

Diana Rodgers: So if you don’t eat carbohydrates, you don’t need the vitamin C. So I don’t personally eat that way, but I do do very well on a pretty high meat diet, just because of my celiac disease and my messed up gut. I need more protein. So I do very well eating; I eat a wide variety of meats. I eat lamb and pork. Not so much chicken. Chicken once in a while. Mostly grass-fed beef and lamb and pork from our farm.

Liz Wolfe: The Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored in part by the Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants (including me; I’m an NTP), emphasizing bio-individuality and the range of dietary strategies that support wellness. The NTA emphasizes local, whole, properly prepared nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. Nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants learn a wide range of tools and techniques to assess and correct nutritional imbalances. To learn lots more about the nutritional therapy program, go to http://www.NutritionalTherapy.com. There are workshop venues in the US, Canada, and Australia, so chances are you’ll be able to find a venue that works for you.

6. Food as a religion [34:49]

Liz Wolfe: So, I talked a little bit earlier about how I think our emotions around this topic. And when I say “our”, I mean other people’s, not me. Because I feel like I get it. But I feel like the emotions around the topic is what keeps people from actually saying; ok, yeah, that’s logical. I get that.

Diana Rodgers: Yes. People make their decisions based on emotion. Yes.

Liz Wolfe: Yes. 100%. And that’s a deeper problem in our culture, I think. But at the same time, it’s been interesting to me watching just over the years that you and I have been close colleagues. The way this movement is going; veganism, vegetarianism was a thing in college and I dabbled in that. And then found the paleo thing, and that was more of a #abs type of thing for me. I kind of discovered CrossFit and paleo at the same time.

It only really stuck, I think, long-term looking back because I care a lot less about abs right now. But it really stuck when I was able to recover my skin from some skin issues that had always plagued me for a long time. And I still care about having nice skin. I care less about abs at this point.

But I’ve also observed just the entire movement kind of caring a lot less about abs. And maybe there’s some selection bias there, because I’m not paying attention to the CrossFit thing anymore the way I used to. But I really feel like people care about this, and in seeing what General Mills buying out, was it Epic bar? I feel like some big; and I don’t know that this is bad or good. But it’s interesting to me that so many people are taking notice of these ideas. Do you feel like this is just the right time for a movie like Kale versus Cow? Talk about the overall movement.

Diana Rodgers: Definitely. First of all, I think that General Mills buying Epic is 100% good. I just want to get that out of the way. We can have all these little niche, cutesy, jerky brands, and I love them too. But Epic is doing things on a really big scale, and changing how bison and beef and other meats are produced on a big level. And that’s what we need. Is the goal just niche brands for rich people? Or is it to really make a huge difference in the lives of so many animals and the land? So I’m a big supporter of Epic.

Liz Wolfe: Cool.

Diana Rodgers: I think that people are really polarized right now, and they’re looking for tribes. And we’re seeing people identify with their diet philosophy as if it’s their religion. And so it can be really hard for people to change religions, right? And people, especially people who are vegan, it is their world. And their friends are vegan, and that’s how they identify their whole…

Liz Wolfe: Well, you say “I’m a vegan.” I’ve never said, “I’m a Paleo. I’m a real food.”

Diana Rodgers: Right.

Liz Wolfe: It’s very interesting.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. And when I talked with Lierre Keith about this, she saw her health declining and she absolutely refused to admit that it was her diet. She just thought she wasn’t doing it hard enough.

Liz Wolfe: Lierre Keith is the author of The Vegetarian Myth, for folks who are wondering.

Diana Rodgers: Yes! And she has a fantastic story about when she was vegan, she decided to grow her own food. So she had this lettuce garden next to her house, and it was overrun by slugs. So what does she do, as a vegan, with all these slugs? And there were other issues, too. Like, how does she feed the soil, right? {laughs} How is she going to use goat poop. Is that exploiting goats up the street? How does she reconcile with that?

But the slug story, to me, is so fantastic. She wants to put out a cup of beer, but then they drown. But at least they’d be happy. {laughs} So what do you do? Then she goes out in the middle of the night and collects all the slugs, and wants to bring them out to the woods. But then she’s introducing all these refuge slugs to the native slug population, and what are those native slugs going to do for food? She’s disrupting the balance of the slug ecosystem. And everything. It’s very funny.

Liz Wolfe: It’s just following a thought out to it’s logical conclusion. This makes sense to me, to think about it this way.

Diana Rodgers: Right. So this is the kind of story telling that we’re going to be doing in our film. Basically. I’m not going to be on the phone calling all these organizations, and getting their customer service line, and demanding that they answer all my high-tech questions from their call center. I’m not going around with a microphone and shoving it in people’s faces. I’m not attacking people for having this mindset. I totally get it. But I want people to hear things, like these slug stories. I’ve got some other really amazing stories lined up that really can walk people through why animals and plants are important. So at the end of the day, I’m not saying kale is bad and cows are good. I’m saying we need both, right? We need plants and animals in order to have a healthy system moving forward. And it’s just completely unsustainable to completely remove plants. It’s, I think, unethical, unsustainable, and unhealthy to eliminate animals.

Liz Wolfe: I love that. And I just remembered what you called the lettuce in those big indoor, intensive operations for growing lettuce. Did you call it crunchy water?

Diana Rodgers: Crunchy water. That’s literally…

Liz Wolfe: Perfect.

Diana Rodgers: People are putting so much energy and resources in these buildings; 100% artificial light. “Oh, this is saving food miles.” And I’m like; oh my god. Look at all of the energy required to produce something that is just crunchy water!

And actually, I’m going to send you. You guys do show notes, right? For the …

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: I’m going to send you a study that just came out today talking about the environmental footprint of different foods. And lettuce, by far, was the highest, most resource intensive food to produce.

Liz Wolfe: I knew I hated it for a reason.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. I mean, I love a good crunchy salad. But the lettuce; even in my nutrition practice. I get so many women who all they eat is a lettuce salad for lunch, with no dressing, no protein. And I’m like; you can’t sustain yourself on that. What’s healthy about a salad is all the extra veggies you put on it, and the meat, and the avocado, and the olive oil. Everything else; not the lettuce. The lettuce is just like packing peanuts.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Diana Rodgers: {laughs}

7. About the documentary [42:02]

Liz Wolfe: I love that. I love that so much. Ok, tell us, what do you want people to know about Kale versus Cow?

Diana Rodgers: So right now the biggest thing I need people to know is that I could use some money.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} Fair enough.

Diana Rodgers: {laughing} If they want to donate, we’re in production right now. We hit our first goal; we blew by our first goal, so I’m thrilled. So I’m actually, we’re in production right now. We’re organizing our stories and getting ready to shoot. We’re going to be at ExpoWest. Applegate is helping us get out there, and showing a short sample of the film. So, Applegate, yay for them.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: But in order to actually produce the film, we need a lot more. Film is extremely expensive. And what we’re trying to do is not a low-budget endeavor. And so we have a page at SustainableDish.com/film. And we’ve got all kinds of cool, awesome perks for people. And actually, this will be up. We have T-shirts available, as well.

Liz Wolfe: I’m wearing mine right now, actually.

Diana Rodgers: Yay!

Liz Wolfe: “It’s not the cow; it’s the how.”

Diana Rodgers: “It’s not the cow; it’s the how.”

Liz Wolfe: I’ll snap a picture and put that on stories.

Diana Rodgers: And that doesn’t just refer to the environmental, but also the nutrition piece, too? It’s not the burger. It’s the fries, the 72-ounce coke, the large deep-fried apple pie. It’s that stuff that’s killing people; not the burger. Burgers are awesome.

Liz Wolfe: Maybe the binders and the emulsifiers and the stabilizers they put in the meat when they ship it from the warehouse to McDonald’s.

Diana Rodgers: Ok. Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: But that’s still not the cow!

Diana Rodgers: It’s not the cow. That’s not cow.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Not at all.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah, so that’s it. We’re going to be doing updates throughout the campaign. If we don’t raise all the money we need, we’ll still be doing some short films on it. Our goal is to do one long film. But that may morph into a whole series of shorter films. But I 100% dedicated to getting this message out there. I’m halfway through the book as well. So I’m working really, really hard. I know anti-hustle is the new cool thing.

Liz Wolfe: I guess, yeah.

Diana Rodgers: But this is; even if I won the lottery I would still be working this hard. Because I love helping people in my clinical practice. I think it’s really important work. And getting the message out about why people need protein from red meat; less chicken, more red meat is absolutely huge to me.

Liz Wolfe: And you have been extremely passionate about this for a very long time. This is not like a new thing for you where you’re like; wow, this sounds cool. I’ll jump on this bandwagon.

Diana Rodgers: “I think I could make money making a movie.” {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Well yeah, exactly. You have been, I don’t want to call you the grandmother of this movement. But you know what I mean. You're the OG of the sustainability movement. Not just in the paleo community, but in the popular narrative. You know? Because people have been doing this for a long time. It’s kind of like; Art De Vany was paleo before there was paleo, but what matters is when people start listening. And those things are important, of course. The early adopters, the people who have been farming and thinking about and grappling with these questions for decades upon decades. But where we really start to change the trajectory of history is when people are listening.

And what I’ve witnessed you doing, and what I’ve always admired about you, is you have always; it has always been on your mind; what’s the right way to communicate this to people? Because I’m doing it. But I need to communicate this to people in a way that people can grasp, and they can run with in their own lives. And I feel like you’ve really found it. I know you're not going to stop from here. I know this is just one part of what you're going to be doing. But this is not a small thing. This is for the world. And it’s just so important. I’m grateful that we have somebody like you out there that’s doing this. Not just in your personal life; you live on a farm, you're working on a farm. But you're also putting it out there and communicating it for people. It is so critical.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. Thank you so much for all of those words. I do want to bring up the fact that this does affect the world. And I’m not just saying that because I think I’m so important. But people mimic how the US eats. And we are destroying the whole rest of the world by everybody; when they make it, they give up their traditional diets and they start eating American food. Right? And so this, we’re seeing whole cultures collapse from diabetes. And it’s not because they’re eating more meat.

Liz Wolfe: Amen.

Diana Rodgers: This affects food policy. This affects SNAP. This affects school lunches. This affects the dietary guidelines. This whole anti-meat idea is really; it seems really innocent, and it’s really not. Because it’s avoiding the whole bigger argument out there; or the bigger element in the room, which is processed foods. Not meat.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, absolutely.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: And we’ve got; it’s a formidable opponent to have people like Leonardo DiCaprio; people with seemingly unlimited budgets and resources who are really funding a lot of the alternative narrative. You want to call it an alternative truth. But I’m sure that’s something that you're up against.

Diana Rodgers: Right. And we just don’t have anyone in our court. It’s like trying to get a bunch of atheists and shake them down for money for the church or something {laughs}. It’s just not; people who eat meat are usually pretty cool about stuff and not all riled up, like I get, about this kind of thing.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Diana Rodgers: So I don’t know of any big Daddy Warbucks’ out there who really care about the fight for better meat, unfortunately. So that’s why I’m relying so heavily on the crowdfunding. And these better meat companies, which are really stepping up to the plate, too. They’ve been really great. But we have a long way to go in order to really seal the deal.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Ok, so tell folks how they can find information about the film, and most importantly how they can donate. Donate; if you're only donating your daily Starbucks, like you're not going to go to Starbucks one day and you donate $5; do that. Any little bit helps. Tell folks how they can do that.

Diana Rodgers: Definitely. I had lots and lots of small donations. They really honestly do add up. And I’m not just saying this because I used to work at NPR doing fundraisers. {laughs} They really, really do. So it’s sustainabledish.com/film. And again, we have some really cool thank you’s. Thrive Market is giving away 5 years of Thrive Market; that’s valued at $300 for a $200 donation. So you're actually making money.

Liz Wolfe: Wow.

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} By donating to the film. But we’ve got other really cool perks. People can see a video of me on the farm, and watch me be super stressed out on camera. I should mention, too, that I’m not going to be in the film. I’m not doing this for any kind of ego at all. I don’t want to be featured in the film. I’m looking to feature stories of other people, and hopefully get them to say all the important things. Because you know how much I love selfies, and videos of myself.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, indeed.

Diana Rodgers: Not at all. So they can see this really stressful video that I did of myself on the farm talking about the farm. They can see a cool video of Joe Salatan endorsing me. And read more about it there. So yeah. Thank you so much for having me on, I really, really appreciate it. And all of the support you’ve given me through the years. And when I can text you, and you make me feel better. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} You too, my friend. You’ve provided me as much, if not more, support as I’ve provided you. And I’m just so thrilled that you're making this happen. I just can’t wait to see where it goes. I can’t wait to go to the premier. And whatever support we can throw your way, we want to do that. So you are welcome on the podcast any time. Any time you’ve got something more to say.

Diana Rodgers: Thank you so much.

Liz Wolfe: And I know you probably always have something more to say.

Diana Rodgers: I will. I promise. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Thank you so much for coming on. Go to SustainableDish.com/film for more information and to donate. Thanks everybody for listening.

Dr. Scott Mills: The Balanced Bites podcast is pleased to welcome a brand new sponsor; Equip Foods and Perfect Keto. Dr. Anthony Gustin and his teams have created lines of supplements that are super clean and effective, no matter what your dietary needs. In the coming weeks and months, Diane and Liz will be telling you how they’re incorporating these supplements into their daily lives, as well as offering some specials for our listeners. In the meantime, check them out at www.PerfectKeto.com and www.EquipFoods.com.

Liz Wolfe: You can find me, Liz, at http://realfoodliz.com/. You can find Diane at http://dianesanfilippo.com. And again, you can find Diana Rodgers and the Kale versus Cow film at www.SustainableDish.com/film. Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to leave us an iTunes review.

Comments 2

  1. Did I miss the link to the study that Diana mentioned? About the environmental footprint of different foods? Would love to check that out. FABULOUS discussion!

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