Our Blog

Remain informed, question everything and buy from individuals taking personal responsibility

     I am about to present some information that may alarm some of you, others may already know this. My purpose is not to frighten but to inform. But first, I think it is important that I explain my bias, so you know where I am coming from. I am not an environmentalist or alarmist, but I believe there is a natural order. Things are good naturally, humans mess that up and Divine intervention can fix anything. I have an inherent mistrust of actions and decision making from government, large organizations and corporations because there are competing priorities and diluted responsibility. I am more trusting of people and small organizations where individual responsibility and virtue is apparent. I don’t believe government should legislate how we eat but I think improvements can and should be made through an informed public and their collective buying power. Our farming practices have become what they are today because farmers have been forced to mass produce as inexpensively as possible to make a living. They use the tools they have available to them, including a variety of chemicals, without which more people would go hungry.   


     As my wife and I got older and some of our family members experienced illness, we had a radical awakening to the possibility that a large part of human illness is related to how and what we are eating. It occurred to us that we have entrusted our lives to a system that has the capacity for error or apathy and may not always have our best interest prioritized.  

Therefore, Country Workforce’s and Wholesome Farms & Garden’s mission is to produce delicious clean food for us and our customers and we are devoted to informing ourselves and our readers of healthy food production and consumption practices.

Put simply, we set out to avoid potentially harmful methods or contamination and maximize production and preparation methods that promote healthy nutrition. 

One of the ways we do this is to not use any chemicals on the property. It would be impossible to block the air, wind and ground water but at least we are not increasing the chance of contamination by applying it to our own property. This makes things more difficult at times. We recently researched the FDA’s “Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program” and learned a few things we thought would be of interest to our readers.

  1. The program monitors herbicide and pesticide residue on foods directly consumed by humans and feedstuff consumed by animals which can then indirectly get into our food.
  2. The latest data available is for the year 2015. As of 2015, Glyphosate, the most widely applied chemical in the country was not being monitored. Preliminary testing for residue on soybeans, corn, milk and eggs began in 2016 and they report that none of the samples were in violation. No idea what that means. The data did not say what was considered a violation but did say the EPA has established what is considered “safe”. Expanded monitoring of glyphosate in other foods began in 2018 and reporting of the data is expected to occur in the future.
  3. There were 835 domestic human food samples analyzed with about half of them having some chemical residue on them. In 15 of the 835 foods tested, the FDA implemented corrective action with the producer.
  4. Imported food was also tested and 43% of the samples had some chemical residue detected but almost 10% of the samples were considered to be “violative”. No explanation what that means.   

 An abbreviated list of the most common chemicals found are reported in the chart below with the number of samples that tested positive for the chemical in parentheses.

Imidacloprid (362) Thiophanate-methyl (352) Boscalid (319)
Chlorpyrifos (310) Acetamiprid (240) Azoxystrobin (231)
Tebuconazole (190) Cypermethrin (176) Fludioxonil (160)
Pyraclostrobin (158) Metalaxyl (154) Bifenthrin (142)
Thiamethoxam (138) Pyrimethanil (136) Chlorantraniliprole (135)
Iprodione (126) Difenoconazole (119) Myclobutanil (116)
Cyprodinil (114) Permethrin (109) Lambda-cyhalothrin (105)
Malathion (99) Thiabendazole (96) Piperonyl butoxide (94)
Dimethoate (93) Propiconazole (93) Clothianidin (92)
Fenhexamid (81) Propamocarb (73) Spinosad (73)
Methoxyfenozide (69) Methamidophos (66) Thiacloprid (66)
Captan (65) Methomyl (64) Buprofezin (61)
Flonicamid (58) Trifloxystrobin (58) Linuron (56)
Dimethomorph (51) Tricyclazole (51) Fenpropathrin (46)
Pyriproxyfen (46) Chlorothalonil (43) Flubendiamide (43)
Acephate (42) Acibenzolar-S-methyl (41) Fenbuconazole (41)
Oxamyl (41) Carbaryl (40) Bifenazate (37)


     The most frequent samples to contain residue were fruits/fruit juice and vegetables. In fact, very few fruit samples were found not to have some chemical residue. No results were reported for meat and it appears that meat has not been tested. It is much less likely that chemicals fed to animals will remain in the products from the animal, but it is never-the-less possible.  A small number of the dairy samples in-fact were found to have residue. None of the egg samples tested had measurable levels of chemicals detected, however. The effect of chemicals fed to animals is probably more likely to alter their health and therefore affect the nutritional content of the meat then to be contaminated with residue. Previously we mentioned how feeding beef cows can alter the nutritional content of beef. We also mentioned how cattle have a microbial fermenting gut that is important to how they process the feedstuff. Chemical contamination of the grass and feed they consume has the potential to alter the way their gut functions and therefore subsequently alter the nutritional content of the meat. I have yet to find proof of this in the literature, but this could be the topic of a future newsletter.  



Questions not answered by the data.

     As I read the data, many questions come to mind. Why are some samples considered violative when there are not clearly defined tolerances being exceeded? What is the standard and who is making the decisions? If close to 50% of all the tested food has measurable amounts of chemical residue and as much as 10% of them were considered violative, how do these contaminated foods affect our health if consumed? Why are some obvious data like the chemical Glyphosate and sampling of domestic oranges not included?  More data is coming out about the potential safety concerns of Glyphosate (click here to learn more). Since our family consumes oranges and orange juice more than any other fruit juice, I did a little more research into that. Like many other crops, oranges are sprayed with chemicals while they are growing and after they are harvested. Chemical residue has been found in oranges and it appears that most of the chemicals can be washed off (Kruve et. al., 2007). Some chemicals, however, were found to penetrate the outer skin and diffuse into the pulp. Therefore, there is no way to wash all chemicals off and we have likely been consuming some of it for years without knowing the consequences.


Conclusions and Recommendations.

  1. Despite having a government agency telling us that most of the samples measured are “safe”, I am not fond of the idea of eating any pesticide residue and I prefer not to do that. Since some samples were considered violative, it is kind of like Russian roulette. Therefore, the best practice is to “know where your food is coming from”. Buy where you can ask questions and determine the individuals taking responsibility for the product. We take the same approach with the vendors we use for our animal feed.
  2. Always wash your fruits and vegetables prior to eating them. Recommendations include using clean cool water and a small brush on fruits and vegies with thick skin and soaking vegetables that are more delicate. You can use a 10% solution of white vinegar to soak them and then rinse in pure water. Another source indicated that a 10mg/ml (about 5 tsp/gallon) baking soda soak is also effective. Be careful not to soak berries for too long or they will turn into mush.
  3. Buy your fruits and vegetables locally direct from the farmer and grow your own whenever possible. When you buy locally, ask the farmer where the produce is coming from because some farmers supplement what they grow with other sources. Buy organic when you can, especially fruit juice that can’t be washed! The certified organic program allows the use of some pesticides such as pyrethrin however so knowing the methods used to make your food is most important. If you are accustomed to perfectly symmetrical looking produce with no bug bites or holes, change your thinking. They only way to get that is with chemicals.
  4. There is no way to eliminate all chemical contamination. Most likely, low levels are not harmful, but if there is a juice that you consume a lot of, I would be certain of the source. Alternatively, more diversity is probably better than consuming a lot of one type of juice or brand. Freshly squeezed fruit juices made from organic fruit that have been washed appropriately is probably the safest juice to consume.








The Battle of Grass-finished vs Grain-finished Beef.

I can still here my father tell me “Its time to pen up that steer and start feeding it corn”. It was a technique we learned from our neighboring farmer in Iowa. Corn was in plentiful supply, allowing us to pack on pounds economically. The method created a delicious and juicy steak which is what you will find at any well known, high end steak house in Dallas. Americans crave it because we grew up on it. But why then are more and more people seeking grass-finished beef, direct from the farmer?
An article published in the Nutrition Journal by Daley et al, 2010 did a comprehensive scientific review. I thought I would summarize it here.

1. Grass finished beef has Saturated FA but it has a more desirable proportion of neutral (non-cholesterol raising) FA such as stearic acid. There is also less overall intra-muscular fat, important to those trying to reduce fat intake.
2. Grass-finished beef has higher concentrations of trans vaccenic acid, conjugated linoleic acid and omega 3 FA which provides anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-depression and anti-memory loss properties.
3. Grass-finished beef is higher in Beta-carotene, a precursor to Vit A beneficial to eye, skin, respiratory, urinary, intestinal and immune function. Beta-carotene gives the beef fat a more yellow color.
4. Grass-finished beef is 3x higher in alpha-tocopherol, a form of Vit E. It functions as an anti-oxidant for us but it also helps to protect the meat from oxidation. This is what gives grass-finished beef a brighter red color.
5. Grass-finished beef is higher in Glutathione and superoxide dismutase, both functioning as potent anti-oxidants. They quench free radicals and protect against cellular damage.
6. Finally the paper mentioned that taste panel experiments illustrated how people prefer foods they grow up on. By exposing your children and grand-children to grass-finished beef early, they are more likely to consume grass and pasture finished meats when they are older, contributing to better overall health.

REFERENCE: Daley et al., **A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef.** Nutrition Journal 2010

This is an Offal recipe

Pronounced “awful” the word Offal describes organ meat. There are many nutritional benefits to eating organ meat. It is nutrient dense in Beta-Carotene (Vit A), B-2, B-3, B-6, B-12, CoQ10, iron, copper, phosphorous and selenium. This week we will be completely stocked up on organ meat and will be offering reduced pricing on some cuts. The recipe below looked and sounded so good, I am keeping some tongue just for myself!

The following recipe was adapted from two websites. Visit the website by clicking on the titles below and find other delicious and healthy meal ideas.

[Omnivores Cookbook](https://omnivorescookbook.com/beef-tongue-recipes)

• 1 beef tongue
• 1/2 big onion, sliced (White or Yellow)
• 5 to 8 cloves of garlic
• 1-2 bay leaves
• Sea salt to taste
1. Put beef tongue, onion, garlic and bay leaves in a slow cooker and add enough water to cover the contents. Cook overnight or 8 hours on low. You can also gently boil it on the stovetop for 2 – 3 hours, until the beef tongue turns very tender.
2. When the tongue is cool enough to handle, peel off and discard the rough skin.
3. Cut the tongue in 1/2-inch slices across grain then into 1/2-inch cubes. or shred it with two forks.
4. When ready to serve, heat oil in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add tongue pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is browned on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes total. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with fresh chopped cilantro and your favorite hot sauce over corn or flour tortillas. Tortilla’s should be pre-warmed individually in a dry frying pan over medium heat, turning once.

Lab Grown Meat: The Ultimate Superfood and Environmental Savior or a Utopian Dream?

By Craig Turczynski. Edited by Alexa Dodd. 

     If you could design the perfect food, what would it be? Highly nutritious, environmentally friendly, affordable, delicious, plentiful and renewable. No doubt you might add a few other adjectives, but I think this covers it for most of us.

Lab grown meat, in theory, could meet all these requirements.  But let’s take a closer look at this developing technology so you can decide for yourself.  

Below, we have a challenge for the meat producing labs, but first some background information.  

What is lab grown meat?

     Also called cultured meat or in-vitro produced meat, this product is the result of growing muscle cells in a lab instead of harvesting and cutting whole muscle from a butchered animal.  The new method uses an explant of muscle or stem cells, both of which have been harvested from a live animal. Then, using well developed and advanced tissue culture techniques, the tissue is incubated in a culture dish and bathed in nutrient liquid. Meat from virtually any animal could be cultured, but so far, the targets are mostly beef and chicken.

     The type of tissue or cell that they start with dictates one of two different methods of culture. Explants of muscle are cultured in a method called the self-organizing technique, which results in a more natural 3-D structure. Stem cells, on the other hand, would be cultured in a scaffold-based method, which at the present would only produce a ground meat type of product. Stem cells could be derived from a variety of embryonic or adult tissues and then differentiated into muscle, but the most suitable type of cell is the Myosatellite cell, which is found in mature skeletal muscle. Since Myosatellite cells are already partially differentiated into muscle and are well characterized, they are the most efficient type of stem cell to use.

What is wrong with conventional meat?

The arguments against conventional meat can fit into 3 main categories:

  1. Animal welfare: Animals are raised in sub-optimal conditions, crowded and mistreated until they are eventually killed inhumanely.
  2. Health: Eating conventionally grown meat is unhealthy and results in heart disease, cancer and infectious disease.
  3. Environment: Large commercial livestock operations contribute to pollution, climate change and are a burden on our natural resources.

Why might lab grown meat be potentially better than conventional meat?

These are the arguments made in favor of lab grown meat presented in the context of the three main categories used above.  

  1. Animal Welfare: Since lab grown meat does not require mass production of animals for harvest, we don’t have to raise them in suboptimal conditions and we don’t have to mistreat or kill them.
  2. Health: Because lab meat is essentially being constructed from scratch, we can control the process and make a healthier product. For example, we could combine the culture of muscle with nutrient ingredients and fat cells that create a higher omega 3 fat content in the product. The cultured muscle cells could have their genes altered so that they produce the desired nutritional content. We could also reduce the infectious disease risk attributed to mass production of livestock if we no longer had the animals.
  3. Environment: We would greatly reduce the number of animals needed to feed the world, therefore we would ease the burden on natural resources and reduce pollution.

 Are we making a fair comparison?

     Most of the information I have found is in favor of lab grown meat. But the information is slightly biased at best. For example, an author will compare the best-case scenario of lab produced meat to the worst-case scenario of conventional meat. (Link)

     The animal welfare, health content and environmental concerns of conventionally produced meat can already be improved by using more natural and healthy animal husbandry techniques. Farmers like Joel Salatin and Gabe Brown (and us on a small scale) have seen significant results by using farming practices like mob grazing, mobile chicken structures, rotation and low-till planting, organic and natural methods. Animals can be used to improve the land much like the roaming bison did years ago, if they are managed correctly.

     Finally, the nutritional content of meat can also be dramatically altered by how you feed the animal. Animals are fed primarily corn and soybeans because these mass-produced crops are less expensive, but considerably less healthy because of being sprayed with herbicide. The fat, mineral and vitamin content in meat is directly related to how much grass and other feed the animal has been fed. If farmers had the financial resources to invest in healthier feeding methods, they could produce healthier products.

Is lab grown meat really what it is cracked up to be?

     Lab grown meat may have a place in society, but I just don’t believe it should be a replacement for meat produced from animals, raised, fed and treated properly. Lab grown meat could be used in special circumstances such as space travel, outposts in the arctic or massive urban areas without access to farmed food. Other technology might even result from it, such as growing human muscle for transplant. But there are still many obstacles to overcome with the technology.

 A few of the issues include:

  1. How can we produce a product that is a composite of muscle, bone, blood vessel, fat, collagen and other connective tissue that has been exercised while receiving nutrition from a digestive system and circulatory system? Anything produced with lab techniques would almost certainly be a simplified version of this product from a nutritional and culinary standpoint.
  2. Currently the method for culturing cells incorporates a serum source such as fetal calf serum. Fetal calf serum is obtained from fetuses cut out of pregnant cows at slaughter. The fetuses have their blood drained from the heart without anesthesia and it results in their death. Certainly, this is not eliminating all animal welfare concerns.
  3. Since the lab conditions for culturing muscle favor the growth of living cells, growth of other contaminants such as fungus, yeast and bacteria thrive as well. Many cell culture techniques utilize some antibiotics to prevent this. Therefore, the same concerns about infection and disease resistance could potentially be made about lab produced meat. On the other hand, using proper animal husbandry techniques makes infection and use of antibiotics in animals rare.
  4. The mass production of lab produced meat would take enormous facilities to completely replace conventional farming. A lab meat manufacturing facility would be wrought with potential issues just like large cattle production facilities are. For example, large labs would also produce a substantial amount of waste: discarded glassware, plasticware, latex gloves, incubators, bioreactors and liquid biohazardous waste, just to name a few. After they match the scale and size of the current meat industry, then we will see how it compares.
  5. The first burger produced from lab grown meat was reported to cost $300,000 to make. One of the companies reported that the cost was down to about $1000 in 2016. No doubt the costs will continue to come down, but a whole carcass of conventional beef, weighing about 500 lbs, will cost between $1000-4000 based on quality, breed, butchering and farming methods used. That makes the production cost of a conventional burger sized meat patty about $2.00.

Our proposal to the lab producing meat companies, their financial backers or anybody who is interested in a premium product. 

Wholesome Farms and Gardens is proposing a challenge to Memphis Meats or any lab producing meat company.

     By investing even more in the quality methods we already use to produce our meat products, we can produce a product superior in every way to conventional meat and we are prepared to go head to head with the lab produced product. We would increase our production costs further than what the market currently bears but we would still spend a fraction of what these new companies are currently spending. If they are prepared to accept this challenge, we are confident we will win in both a blind taste test and a full nutritional analysis, while alleviating the environmental and animal welfare concerns.

     If the lab meat facilities agree to take us up on this challenge, we will seek financial support from people who would be willing to purchase shares of this premium product in advance of it being produced. After it has been tested, quantities of the meat product would be distributed to the investors equal to the number of shares purchased. We will seek a response from the companies interested in putting their product to the test. Then we will see if their arguments withstand scrutiny and deserve the support they claim.

References: click to access. 

The artificial meat factory- the science of your synthetic supper

In vitro meat production system: why and how? 

Cutting Through the Fat on Oil

By Craig Turczynski, Ph.D.

An e-mail from one of our treasured regular customers this week on the consumption of fats and the type of oils to use prompted me to do a little more research on the topic. I must admit that the recommendations on the type of fat and the source of that fat are very confusing right now. Advice ranges considerably from conventional organizations like the American Heart Association [For AHA click here] to less conventional but respectful organizations like the Westin A. Price Foundation [For WAP click here]. Basically, conventional organizations say limit saturated fat from animal sources. Other dietary recommendations from Westin A. Price and Dr. Mercola say it is healthy and important to consume animal sources of fat liberally, if the source of animal fat is clean and mostly grass-fed and we are limiting sugar and other processed carbohydrates. Despite this discrepancy, most everyone agrees that levels of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids such as omega 6 need to be balanced with omega 3 and the typical American diet is deficient in omega 3. Therefore, trying to figure out how we should eat has led me to believe that a diverse diet of fats with an overall intention to increase omega 3 is important and the type of oil or fat we use depends on how we are preparing it prior to eating.

Researching dietary sources of oil led me to an important distinction which is not often mentioned. Mainly, it depends on how you are preparing or using the oil?

Put simply, saturated fat has no double bonds in the molecule, monounsaturated fat has one double bond and polyunsaturated fat has many double bonds. If you are preparing the oil with heat, double bonds are less stable, so good cooking fats have more saturated or monounsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fats are more likely to become oxidized when heated and therefore do not make good cooking oils. When an oil has become oxidized or breaks down, we call the oil rancid. Rancid oil has several very serious health consequences including inflammation, cancer and toxicity. Fast food restaurants that deep fry food, contribute to consumption of an unhealthy form of fat because the oil is heated repeatedly and may not be changed frequently enough. This is important in the home also since oils can oxidize over time even at room temperature. 

Could it be that the positive health effects of vegetable oils are offset by the transformation that occurs to the oil upon prolonged storage or heating? Research not only shows that toxic compounds are found in vegetable oil after heating but also can be found in some fish oil supplements. Click here to view the PDF

Both my wife and I are heart healthy and we have adapted a more ketogenic type of diet. We consume our eggs, bacon, sausage and other grass-fed meats liberally. We know the fat ratios of our eggs and meat are better, based on how we raise the animals. For us, the type of oils we use for cooking are coconut, extra virgin olive oil, butter and when we have time, homemade lard. These are all higher in saturated and mono-unsaturated fat but are more stable when heated. All should be naturally raised, clean or organic and animal sources should be primarily grass-fed. Organic helps to eliminate bad substances but does not ensure the best methods for optimizing nutrition have been met. Always, know the source and ask questions. We have been using olive oil for salad and dipping but will be adding organic Flaxseed oil to increase our omega 3 levels. We are also looking to add a clean and trusted fish oil supplement because this seems to be the most convenient method to get uncooked polyunsaturated omega 3 fat into our diet.

Use the chart below to determine the percentage of saturated, and unsaturated fat in each oil. When cooking, use the oils that have the lowest content of polyunsaturated fat. This reduces the chances of oxidizing the fat with heat.  Those oils with higher concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids should be consumed raw and must not be stored for prolonged periods of time. 

[6 Benefits of Flaxseed Oil, Plus how to use it]
[Is it a Good Idea to Cook with Olive Oil?]
[Has Your Food Gone Rancid]

Analytical evaluation of polyunsaturated fatty acid degradation by heat

Why the Turkey is So Special

In 1621, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags celebrated their “first” Thanksgiving together. According to many historians, though, turkey may have not actually been the main dish of their feast. Although there are some records that indicate that turkey was prevalent in North America at the time, venison, fish, or other small fowl were most likely served. However, in the journal of William Bradford, the first governor of the Pilgrims, recorded that turkey was a part of the meal. His journal indicated that turkey was readily accessible at the time.

Sarah Josepha Hale, the poet of “Mary Had a Little Lamb, was an advocate for making Thanksgiving a national holiday She personally wrote a letter to President Abraham Lincoln and the Secretary of State, William Seward, to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. Her writings proved successful; in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. Hale also promoted turkey as being the main part of the Thanksgiving feast. In her book, _Northwood_, she spent an entire chapter discussing the eating of turkey.

Unbeknownst to the Pilgrims and early settlers of the time, the turkey they were consuming was the healthiest version of it. According to [The World’s Healthiest Food ](http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=125) website, pasture-raised turkey is ranked third on the protein richness list. One could find about 34 grams of protein in a skinned, baked turkey breast, totally up to over two-thirds of the daily value. The protein content will vary depending upon which part of the bird one consumes. This is due to the workload of the muscle and the fat content found in the muscle.

In terms of the fat content in turkey, omega-3 fats are prevalent. Pasture-raised turkey is recommended for consumption because the turkeys are able to graze upon these fatty acids in plants, insects, and other resources in pasture settings. A unique omega-3 fatty, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), can be found in pasture-raised turkeys. This fatty acid has the ability to aid in nerve function. Adding to the nutrient content, all of the B vitamins can be found within. These would include B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folate, biotin, and choline.

It is important to note that the nutrient content of the turkey is sensitive to its diet. The numbers listed above are based off of turkeys that have been naturally raised. It is also important to note that a label that reads “organic” in the store does not mean that it has been raised naturally.

Unfortunately, there has not been as much research conducted on turkeys as there has been on its neighbor bird, the chicken. The studies that have been conducted report that turkey can help regulate blood sugar levels and does not cause an increased risk in cancer. 

Thank you to all of those who purchased one of our pasture-raised turkeys this year. We hope that you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thank you to all of our customers who read the newsletter, visit us at market, and let us deliver to you. Each of you are a blessing to our business!

Happy Thanksgiving!