Lex Fridman Podcast - #203 - Anya Fernald: Regenerative Farming and the Art of Cooking Meat

The following is a conversation with Anya Fernald,

cofounder of Belcampo Farms,

that was founded with the purpose to create meat

that’s good for people, the planet, and the animals,

specifically treating their animals as ethically as possible.

In this, she sought to revolutionize the meat industry

from the inside out.

She’s also a scholar and practitioner

of regenerative agriculture,

and she’s a chef who has appeared many times

as a judge on Iron Chef.

Plus, she has one of my favorite food related Instagrams.

On top of that, she’s also a longtime friend

of Andrew Huberman, which is how we first got connected.

Quick mention of our sponsors,

Gala Games, Athletic Greens, Four Sigmatic,

and Fundrise.

Check them out in the description to support this podcast.

As a side note, let me say that I got the chance to visit

and spend a few days with Anya

at Belcampo Farms in Northern California.

I met many animals there, from cows to pigs,

and saw the amazing land on which they grazed.

I butchered meat, I watched Anya cook many amazing meals,

I ate raw meat and cooked meat,

and spent long hours at the bonfire talking with friends

and listening to the sounds of nature.

I hiked, swam in a cold mountain lake,

and slept in a tent underneath the stars.

It was an amazing eye opening experience,

especially in my first ever visit to a slaughterhouse.

The term slaughterhouse is haunting in itself.

The animals I met lived a great life,

but in the end, they were slaughtered,

in the most ethical way possible,

but slaughtered nevertheless.

Seeing animals with whom just the day before

I made a connection be converted to meat

that I then consumed was deeply honest to me.

This ethical farm, Belcampo,

represents less than 1% of animals raised

in the United States.

The rest is factory farmed.

I could not escape the thought

of the 40 to 50 billion animals worldwide

raised in terrible conditions on these factory farms.

I’ve spent most of my life thinking about

and being in contact with human suffering,

but the landscape of suffering

in the minds of conscious beings

is much larger than humans.

I must admit that I still am haunted

by human suffering more than animal suffering.

Perhaps I will one day see the wrong

in me drawing such a line.

Either way, the visit to Belcampo Farms

made me realize that I have not thought deeply enough

about the ethics of my choices

and the choices of human civilization

with respect to animals.

And more importantly, I have not thought

or learned enough about large scale solutions

to alleviate animal suffering.

Belcampo is paving the way on this

and is the reason I wanted to show my support

for their and Anya’s efforts in regenerative farming

and ethical treatment of animals.

This is the Lex Friedman podcast

and here is my conversation with Anya Fernald.

If you’re watching the video version of this

and are asking yourself why we’re in nature right now,

there’s actually a beautiful mountain in the background.

There’s an incredible vast landscape.

There’s a farm.

We’re sitting behind a table and nevertheless,

I’m wearing a suit and tie amidst nature.

We’re at the beautiful Belcampo Farms.

We’re going to talk about that,

this incredible place you have here,

but you cooked some meat yesterday.

It tasted delicious.

So I’d love to talk about just the science

and art of cooking first.

You as a chef, when you think of cooking,

is it a science or is it an art?

Art and service together, probably.

Art to me because it’s about creating something of beauty

and being responsive and creating something

that’s expression of creativity and love.

Cooking also has a very strong element of service

and it doesn’t mean necessarily service to another person,

but like service to health, wellness, environment.

There’s an element of supporting through food

in how I approach cooking.

So it’s bigger than just like how the ingredients

come together to form a taste.

It’s the whole pipeline.

Like the fact that there’s a lot of work

that went into bringing the ingredients together

and then giving you the ability to make the meal

and then who gets to consume the meal and the whole thing.

And you see that as service as opposed to just the taste.

Yeah, I also think of food as one of the key ways

that we interact with our environment, right?

It’s the part of our environment

that goes inside us most visibly, right?

Of course, we interact with our environment.

We could have skin creams that have certain things in them

or our clothes can then be absorbed.

There’s things in the air.

There’s our water and there’s food, right?

It’s like how we’re engaging in the world.

Physiologically, it’s the most significant way

we engage in our environment.

We’re extracting resources, calories, energy

from the environment in various ways

in order to preserve our bodies.

There’s also so many feedback loops

that I don’t think we know the beginning of

that our bodies are picking up on around nutrients,

available nutrients, immune response.

Like there’s deep levels of sensory evaluation

that lead to health and alertness and wellness.

You hear about this a lot with babies that, you know,

if there’s a risk of an infection

that a mom’s breast milk will help the baby

develop a resistance, like there’s this way

that our bodies can tune into health

and can’t extrapolate from that in any specific way,

but think about that as an example of the many ways

in which our bodies are reading available nutrients and food

to signal other aspects of wellness and health.

That said, the final product of cooking is,

when done well, is really delicious.

And what we ate yesterday was really delicious.

So that aspect of it, bringing the ingredients together

in a way that tastes delicious,

do you see that as a science or art?

That’s the art of it.

I mean, the art is like creating temptation

and indulgence and giving people pause,

you know, like creating experience that’s like so sensual.

And like, I love that about when I make something

really simple and beautiful and delicious

the way that, like there’s that moment of silence

at the table.

And that to me is the moment of art, like appreciation.

What about the buildup?

I mean, we got to watch you make the stuff over a fire.

So the calmness of the air, I mean, that’s an experience.

We don’t often get to see that experience of the preparation.

It’s the anticipation, like you said.

Maybe that’s the most delicious part of a meal

is the anticipation of it.

That’s something that I’m glad you bring up

because it’s an element that with eating so many

of our meals, like out of a bag and you know,

the instance where you start to eat the meals

when the delivery shows up and you might smell something

when you open the bag, right?

And no judgment on that.

That’s something I do too, right?

But that does take away a whole element

of surprise and delight.

And also I think of your body’s ability to prepare for it.

You know, you think about our most common memories

of childhood for those of us who grew up in homes

with parents who cooked is smell of things cooking.

And it’s not the eating of it.

It’s the smell of things cooking.

So why is that so memorable?

It’s an anticipatory piece of food.

That’s what you remember about your experiences of food

is the moment of like sweet anticipation

of this great sensual experience.

It’s gonna be really gratifying on these emotional

and physical levels.

So I think we’re also resonating on those memories

because it’s like, it’s an experience of food

where the sensuality of it is kind of extended.

So it’s a long kind of arc of buildup

and then you’re eating it and it’s amazing.

Then you’re enjoying it and your body feels good.

So all those pieces together,

it’s a much more memorable experience

than just grabbing the cookie out of a bag, right?

So look at our own and just revisit in your mind

like the memories of food, the most compelling ones.

It’s the smell and then the experience

and then sometimes how one felt, right?

Yeah, and the people involved with the smell.

So like somehow it’s all tied in together

whether it’s family or people close to you

or even if it’s just chefs.

There’s something about the personality of the human

involved in making the food

that kind of sticks with you in the memory.

And for me, I recently did a 72 hour fast

and there’s a kind of sadness after you eat

that it’s over.

I think the most delicious part was the,

I went to the grocery store and just actually walking around

and looking at food with like everything looked delicious.

Even like the crappiest stuff looked delicious

and I missed that.

I really enjoyed that anticipation

and then I picked out the meal.

I went home and I cooked it

and the whole thing took, I don’t know,

maybe two, three hours, like the whole process.

And that was the most delicious part

and the first taste of course.

And then after it was over, there’s a bit of a sadness

because the part I remember is the buildup, the anticipation

and then once you eat, it’s over.

We kind of focus on the destination

but it’s the whole journey.

The whole like, even if you go to a restaurant,

it’s the conversations leading up to the meal

and the first taste of the meal.

That’s where the joy is.

And if you get to watch the making of that meal,

that’s incredible.

That’s where the smell, the visual,

how the ingredients come together

and especially as we were looking over the fire,

like watching it, the fire play with the raw meat

and over time bring out the colors, bring out the,

I don’t know, like you can visually associate the flavor,

you know, how it becomes a little bit burnt on the outside,

you know, it has a crispiness to it,

it starts to gain that crispiness

and immediately your past memories

of the delicious crispiness of various foods you’ve eaten

are somehow mapped into your,

immediately you start to taste it visually.

I don’t know, yeah, that experience is magical.

It’s, and of course, maybe it’s the Russian thing

but I’m almost like saddened when it’s over.

I think fasting is gaining in popularity

because we’re having to relearn the importance

of being hungry in anticipation and delight.


We have such a fear of hunger

and that’s really functional in evolution, right?

But we have this deep fear of hunger

and part of the great American experience has been

that we don’t have to be afraid of hunger at all

because there’s food everywhere and it’s really cheap.

In all that abundance, we’ve lost this edge of hunger

and we don’t let ourselves get hungry.

And that’s one thing that I learned

in part of my journey as a cook and chef has been,

you know, moving abroad was the first time

when I lived out of the US,

was the first time that I regularly experienced hunger

because the time between meals was really long

and that was just what everybody did.

And so I was hungry for two hours before lunch.

And that was the first time in my life

that there hadn’t just been readily available snacks.

So I wonder if the intermittent fasting

and part of the popularity around it,

I’m sure there’s all these amazing metabolic things

that are happening, but also people might also feel better

because they’re really anticipating and enjoying food.

And then if you look at the feelings of fullness,

there’s a really interesting thing that happens

when you cook and your sense of fullness,

which is if you cook and you’re hungry,

the experience of being around the food,

smelling it, touching it, sampling it,

you’ll take your hunger down by 40%.

And this is my own observation.

But as, I mean, we’ve all had the experience

of cooking Thanksgiving and the cook

never kind of wants to eat that much Thanksgiving.

That’s an extreme experience.

But when you really dive in and you’re cooking

for a few hours and you’re smelling

and smelling and smelling,

it totally changes your threshold of satiety and fullness

because of other sensory things that are happening.

And for those of us looking to maintain weight

and something to consider in this is that cooking

is also part of what your appetite,

when you’re hungry, what are you hungry for, right?

So we tend to think about calories, but when you’re hungry,

you might also be hungrier for a wider range of things.

And it might be smells, it might be stopping.

There’s other elements and that’s something,

I think as a cook, that it’s powerful to explore

and be with and observe how your hunger changes

when you’re cooking.

Well, let me ask the romantic question.

When did you first fall in love with cooking?

Me falling in love with cooking

was about solving a problem in my family.

And it had to do with my mom feeling very anxious

about cooking and overwhelmed frequently

when it came to meals.

And I’m naturally very good at juggling a lot of things.

And it was just something I could dive in and help

and help my dad, who I’m very, very close to.

So it was a very functional role where I would see

this kind of crescendo of anxiety around meal times

as a kid and would be able to dive in and solve things.

And I also loved women who cooked.

Like my father’s mother was a great cook.

She was, I remember her telling me as a kid,

I was asking her about church and why she went to church.

And she’s like, I mostly go to church

because I get to cook for the potlucks.

And so there was an openness around that,

but she just loved to cook for people

and there was this real tenderness

and expression of that love.

So seeing women in my life who had this real tenderness

and love that they shared through food

and then also being able in my own home

to kind of pitch in and add value

and help my mom and dad was really powerful for me.

Cause I felt like I had a superpower.

I felt like, oh man, I just made this stressful thing

go away.

That was huge.

It’s kind of interesting.

I don’t know if you can comment on,

especially for me growing up in Russia,

it’s probably true in a lot of cultures,

maybe every culture.

That food, and especially like in a family,

the mother that cooks is the source of love

and like ties the family together.

It creates events where everyone comes together.

It’s one of the only chances of togetherness.

The thing that bonds a family is like dinner

or food, eating together.

And I don’t know what to do with that.

It ties up with like dieting and so on.

When I was on stricter diets,

especially competing and cutting weight and stuff,

it felt like I was almost like losing opportunity

to connect with friends and family.

It’s interesting.

It’s almost like cultures,

we cannot fully experience love and family without eating.

And on the flip side of that,

eating enables us to experience love and family.

I don’t know what to do with that.

It’s a tough one.

Cause there’s lots of layers around kind of gender roles

and families changing and things.

I’d say I agree around the alienation

and I’ve done carnivore diet

and I’ve tried some of these extreme protocols.

And I too, I suffered from loneliness.

It was like doing carnivore

and not being able to eat what my kids ate

and talk about it at the same time.

Those pieces are real.

And I wonder with all of these diets,

if that structure is actually helping

or just taking away from people’s

kind of sensual understanding.

But I think that there’s some rigor

around that that helps people discover

what’s good for them by eliminating

and then growing towards more intuitive food

is a good evolution from that base.

I love to cook for people.

I love to pay attention to their way of being

and read what they’d like to eat.

And it’s my purest way of love.

And that’s for everybody in my life.

I actually love to cook for people I love.

I would struggle to be putting out food all the time.

It’s like something for me, it’s a real act of caretaking.

So I definitely have that in my makeup.

And I definitely notice in times of real stress,

that’s the piece that drops off.

And it’s like, if I’m unable to care for myself,

I have a hard time cooking.

So for me, it’s very emotional.

It’s very connected to love.

And individualistic.

So like focused on the particular individual.

It’s almost like a journey of understanding

what that person is excited about

in the landscape of flavors.

Like figuring that person out, what they like,

what they love to eat.

Yeah, I see cooking from, I mostly cook for myself.

So I see that as almost, this is gonna be like

the worst term, but like an act of self love.

Uh huh.

This is gonna be clipped out.

But that like, it’s almost an exploration

of like what brings me joy.

And it’s surprising, because I usually don’t share,

because the things that bring me joy

are the simplest ingredients.

Like I’m one of those people,

I don’t know if you can psychoanalyze me,

because you also like basic ingredients.

I like a single ingredient to ingredients,

because I feel like I can deeply appreciate

the particular ingredient then.

I get easily distracted.

You know, people who are really good listening to music,

they can hear a piece of music,

and in their mind, extract the different layers,

and enjoy different layers at a time.

Like the bass, the drums, the different layering

of the piano, the beats, and all that kind of stuff.

That’s what it means to truly enjoy music,

to listen to a piece over and over.

Like almost like as a scholar.

In that same way for food, I just can’t do more

than like three, because then it’s just,

I have to give in to the chaos of it, I guess.

But when it’s just a basic ingredient,

like just meat, or just a vegetable, like basic grilled

without sauces, without any of that,

that I’ve discovered is what brings me a lot of joy.

But that’s boring to a lot of people.

So I usually have to be kind of private about that joy.

So, but that’s mine, so yeah, I figured that out.

I guess as a chef, you have to figure that out

about everybody that you care for.

Well, also for you, you’re very interested in things,

and interested in things being done well

and appreciating them.

So the single ingredient also allows you to control

for perfection in cooking that,

which is probably really appealing to you.

And I think sometimes I see people also in the beginning

of their journey of culinary trying to do too many things.

So there’s another piece too, that you’ll notice,

if you recall last night, I grilled us a salad,

and then I did all those pieces separately.

And that’s something in general to be really attentive of

when you’re building flavor,

to make sure you pay attention to every piece separately.

The idea that you can, okay,

with a soup or something or a stew, there’s workarounds,

but like to make a great dish

that’s got four or five vegetables in it,

cook them all separately to their optimal deliciousness

and then combine them.

So that’s another way to approach that,

is that you may also be able to look

at the different ingredients separately

and still have that sense of understanding of it.

But there’s too often that we’re layering together

like four or five things and then cooking them all at once

and then surprise that it’s not delicious.

Cause you can’t really optimize on multiple variables

at the same time for peak awesomeness.

And that’s actually, the number one way you see this

is roasting a whole chicken, which is a really difficult,

it’s the simplest dish, but it’s very difficult

because you have the breast meat, which is bigger chunks.

They cook faster.

You have the thighs and drums,

which are smaller and they cook slower.

To optimize that and pay attention to it

and do it all right,

you’re actually solving for different outcomes.

So there’s one example, but oftentimes food

is less delicious with multiple ingredients at the start

because we’re not able to pay attention

to how each one needs to end up.

So there’s a way to parse that apart

and achieve a better outcome.

I don’t know if you’ve seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

It’s a documentary about, yeah.

So there’s an obsession that that particular,

first of all, set of humans,

but also the particular cuisine

that focused on the basics of the ingredients.

What do you think of that kind of trying to achieve mastery

through repeating the making of the same meal

over and over and over for like decades?

Like, do you find beauty in that journey towards mastery

or do you think it should be always an exploration

to where you’re always trying things,

you’re always kind of injecting new flavors,

new experiences, all that kind of stuff?

I think you have to decide on a palette.

You know, if we’re talking about an art,

it’s equivalent to saying, am I a sculptor or a painter?

That, the sushi lexicon thing,

that’s a very, very narrow, small canvas

that you’re painting on.

And that is a beautiful road, right?

There’s a beauty and a perfection to that.

It’s like, I mean, there’s many things culturally

around that that you could extrapolate

for specifically for Japan.

But I encourage people on the journey in food

to choose like kind of a language

that they’re working within.

And if you wanna step out of that occasionally

and have one or two dishes,

but if you wanna get mastery with food,

you probably aren’t gonna be able to get more than say,

20 ingredients that you use regularly

that you really understand.

And so we often see, you know, I see the American pantry,

it’s got tons of sauces and tons of spices

and tons of spice blends.

And then really people only use just a couple of things.

And the idea that you can sort of splash out

and do Korean one night and then tacos the next night,

you can absolutely, but to get in a regular cadence

of specific ingredients,

you’re probably gonna get more mastery with that sooner.

And I think as much as you can do

to get an understanding of the basics around salt and acid

and understand your palette,

like for me, it’s lemon and usually sherry vinegar, right?

So that’s my acid palette.

And my fat palates, you know, suet and butter, olive oil.

So you can sort of choose your language,

what you’re painting with,

but I wouldn’t splash out and say, do I use sesame oil?

Yeah, every once in a while,

but that’s not part of my base palette, right?

Can you say again what your fat palette is?

It’d be butter, suet and olive oil.

And olive oil, so not, why olive oil?

Is it your roots in Italy?

I like the flavor for finish

because of the bitterness that it adds.

So I like the bitter and acid contrast on meat

and vegetables, which is mostly what I eat.

And so I love that way that the bitterness

and astringency complements

and allows the flavors to come out.

What do you think about coconut oil?

I recently discovered that there’s a, I don’t know,

there’s a sweetness or there’s something to it

that I really enjoy, maybe because it’s new.

It’s good with heat.

And I really love it for some reason.

As a chef, do you ever try it?

What do you think about it?

I like it in coffee.

I like it as a treat a little bit.

I find the flavor a little bit challenging in foods.

I also find that it’s difficult

on the quality of that ingredient.

So I’ve found often that I buy a high quality coconut oil

and there’s rancidity in it.

And I don’t totally know why.

I think it’s just the cold chain

and how that product’s packaged.

So I’ve had some issues with product quality in that.

But for me, it’s a little bit too much sweetness

in my foods, but then again,

I don’t cook in like a Southeast Asian palette.

I try to not have much sweetness in my foods in general.

So I, just because of the palette that I like to cook with.

So for me, coconut’s got a little bit too much

of those high notes and earthiness,

which is a nice combination, but it’s more like a treat.

Yeah, it is almost like a treat.

It has a flavor of its own that almost stands on its own.

Like I could probably just eat coconut.

That’s probably the only oil I could enjoy by itself.

It sounds weird to say,

but it feels like fat is often a thing

that enriches the flavor of something else.

Coconut can almost stand on its own.

You might also be responding to that.

It’s a complex flavor.

So there’s also, there’s an analogous,

you know, if you look at butter, for example,

a lot of the butter that we eat in the US

is just sweet cream butter.

It’s not cultured.

If you explore like a cultured fermented butter,

maybe a grass milk, grass fed and finished butter,

you’re gonna get a ton more complexity.

And so you may also just be responding

to having fats with more flavor,

which is the journey in the US

has been towards refined foods that are very neutral.

And then you have to combine more of them

to make things taste like things.

And so if you’re coming from a background

of using mostly just generic butter

or let’s say canola oil to cook with,

those are very neutral oils.

So you can also take some of your favorite fats

and look for versions of them that are more flavorful.

I mean, I love olive oil as a treat in a spoon.


Like a good California extra virgin olive oil.

I’ll just like have it as,

I’ll eat a piece of butter as a treat.


That’s like, or butter with salt on it.

Like good fats can, all of them can be,

if they’re minimally processed

and they’re fabulous and it’s so delicious, right?

But there are things that you have to like look for

a version of them that’s got that full palette of flavor.

Well, for me also the flavors are inextricably tied

to the memories I’ve had with those flavors.

So for better or worse,

back when I used to eat a lot of ice cream,

I for some reason had a lot of pleasant experience

with coconut ice cream.

So that particular flavor just permeates

throughout my life now.

Like I’m stuck with it for better or worse

as a flavor that brings up pleasant memories.

And as I have a few such flavors,

I have such relationship with all kinds of meat too.

Like it’s just so many pleasant memories and that’s it.

Like you’re almost tasting the memories.

And that there’s no way to separate the flavor

from the memories, I suppose.

And that’s a powerful thing.

What’s your favorite meal to cook?

I’ll roast a couple of chickens

and then I’ll poach them, like I’ll boil them

and let it cool down.

It’s a complicated one.

I’ll let them cool down.

I’ll pull all the meat off, put the bones back into the pot

and then cook that for like three or four hours

and then add in like shiitake mushrooms

and all the chicken meat.

And I’ll throw in a bottle of white wine

into the stock as well, a bunch of thyme and garlic.

And I love it because it’s the way the house smells.

It’s very laborious.

It’s soothing for me to spend time picking apart meat

and chopping things up.

There’s like a lot of manuality around it.

So I’d say from a personal, like, I mean,

I love grilling a steak and doing those things as well,

but there’s something about making a stock from scratch

and the way it smells, the way I feel,

the time it takes, the kind of checking in on it

that I really, really love.

There’s many things I love to make

that I don’t even love to eat.

I think you see this a lot in like baking and bakers,

people who bake a ton and they love the process of it,

even if they don’t eat that many baked goods.

So anything for me that’s really like enjoyable

is typically things like making cinnamon buns.

I don’t eat very many cinnamon buns,

but I love making them because it takes all the sort

of like futzing around and taking your time and watching it

and the way it smells, the way the house smells.

All of that stuff is like,

it’s like almost like a meditative exercise for me.

Is there a science, is there an art to cooking meat well

and the different kinds of meats?

Is there something you can convert it towards

in to say ideas, how to bring out the best of it

out of what particular meat,

whatever steak we’re talking about,

whatever beef we’re talking about?

Is there something that can be said?

The basic approach to cooking any type of meat

beyond the artistry of it is pretty scientific.

And it’s what type of muscle is it in the animal

and what’s the surface area to volume ratio?

Okay, so let’s look at those two questions.

So the first piece is what’s the type of muscle

in the animal?

What’s the functionality?

You don’t necessarily need to know that to evaluate it,

but you need to understand, is it a tender muscle

that’s not used very frequently in the animal?

Or is it a big load bearing muscle

that gets a lot of action, like the cheek, right?

Or the shin or those pieces?

The muscles like those along the spinal cord

that make up rib eyes and New York steaks and things,

those aren’t very exercised.

They’re right next to the spinal cord.

Spinal cord’s doing most of the work there.

They’re kind of like stabilizing muscles

around this big functional piece of skeletal structure

in the animal.

Other muscles, like the ones around the diaphragm

with the flat iron steaks and skirt steaks and things,

those are really functional muscles

that are doing a ton and moving.

And if they’re moving a lot, what happens?

Well, functionally, they’ve got lots of muscle sheaths

because muscles that move frequently

have to do a lot of like complex contraction.

That’s why there’s, in the cheek, for example,

there’s tons of visible fiber

of like collagenous connective tissue.

That connective tissue is everything in how the meat cooks

because connective tissue doesn’t respond to high heat

with becoming more tender.

Muscles do, right?

They can get a sear on them.

You can cut them and eat them.

The collagenous tissue will glom up and get really tough.

So you either have to liquefy it

with really low, slow heat with moisture, right?

Or you have to barely cook it.

And so that’s the major piece.

So that’s the question of like,

why wouldn’t you just throw a brisket on the grill?


It’s not about the fat.

You can cut the fat out.

The reason you’re not gonna throw a brisket on the grill

and cook it hot and fast

is it’s got too much collagenous connective tissue in it.

Those are these giant muscles that have all this collagen

and these fibers and tendons in them effectively.

So you’re never gonna be able to just cook that up

hot and fast.

So that’s the first piece.

It’s like, where’s this muscle in the architecture

of the animal?

And then what does that mean for what’s going on

in the muscle?

And that’s actually more important than fat content.

We get really kind of,

we pay a lot of attention to fat content in muscles.

You can make a steak tender

if it doesn’t have a ton of fat in it.

It actually has more to do if there’s collagenous

and connective tissue in it.

That’s fascinating.

I never even thought about that.

I just, I thought it kind of universal.

I mean, it adds to the texture of the meat,

the chewiness of the meat.

But you’re saying it’s also adds to how the meat is cooked.

How heat, how it reacts to heat,

how the entirety of the meat reacts to heat.

And the fat is not as important to that as the collagen.

The fat will make the flavor more delicious, right?

Like it’ll add unctuousness and mouthfeel

and things like that.

But all the connective tissue in meat

and in some of the cuts,

like that we ate at a skirt steak last night,

you could see a web of that collagen sheath on the outside.

On a ribeye, that same collagen sheath is this big.

There’s only one.

It goes around the outside, okay?

Cause it’s just that muscle, there’s one large muscle fiber.

So that specific, it’s a myelin sheath, right?

That material needs moisture

and low and slow heat to become tender.

The other side of that is that when it becomes tender,

it liquefies and it adds all this beautiful

gelatinous consistency.

That’s what bone broth is.

That’s why like a slow cooked pork shoulder is so delicious.

It’s not that it’s full of all that fat.

That fat’s also great.

But a lot of that mouthfeel comes from that really

beautiful dissolved collagen.

So when you’re looking at like,

how do I understand how I’m gonna cook a piece of meat?

That first fork in the road is,

how is this gonna respond to heat?

And what’s the appropriate cooking technique?

Then the second piece is that surface area to volume ratio.

And that’s important because the heat is gonna impact

the meat through the surfaces of the meat

that are in contact with the heat.

So if I have a steak that’s three inches thick,

I’m gonna cook it extremely differently from a steak

that’s a half inch thick or three quarters of an inch thick.

And that’s the major, and that’s the truth.

If I have a piece of pork shoulder that’s cut into cubes

versus having a whole pork shoulder,

that surface area to volume ratio,

that’s gonna totally change how I cook it.

And same things like pot roast and a beef stew

would be the same cut of meat, right?

But how I cook them is gonna change

based on the surface area to volume.

Because you’ve gotta let moisture and heat

work its way into the center of the meat.

And that’s gonna be determined by the amount of surface

of the meat that’s in contact with whatever cooking liquid

or heat you’ve got.

Is there different sources of heat to play with?

Like a big flame versus a small,

or maybe even like almost no flame,

like over coals, all that kind of stuff.

Is there some science to the source of heat

in how it plays with the meat?

Well, there’s indirect heat and direct heat.

And that really is mostly about temperature

in more than actual, I mean, smoke is important as well

that can permeate, but really the smoke

doesn’t go into the center of most cuts that you barbecue.

It’ll come in like the smoke ring.

It’s a maximum like half an inch on the outside,

maybe a little bit deeper on a really long, slow cook.

So they, but the smoke, that does create a ton of flavor

on the surface of the meat.

But that’s, so the indirect allows you to have

smoke contacting it and then a very,

very low and slow heat.

And what that does is indirect heat will be low

and slow enough that the center of the meat will get warm

at the same time as the exterior of the meat.

And it’ll all cook equally and all get equally tender.

If you go very hot and fast,

you risk the interior of the meat not getting right.

You kind of create a shell on the, on it.

And you slow down the interior of the meat,

which you actually want to do with something

like a steak where you want to keep it rare on the inside.

So it’s really indirect versus direct.

Then once you get into direct heat, right,

look at in that category, there’s wood, charcoal, gas,

right, that’s about it.

And those are meaningfully different.

They’re meaningfully different.

Charcoal and wood, that’s more of,

there’s more poetry and wood.

There’s a little bit more flavor,

not functionally very different,

but gas versus charcoal wood is very different.

And that’s because of the actual scent of the,

of the cook, right, the scent of the flavor.

And then there’s a,

I think an evenness of heat distribution

that comes off of charcoal that’s different from gas,

because no matter how awesome your gas grill is,

you do have hotter and cooler spots.

So gas grills are typically,

you can kind of control for that

if you just are going really hot and fast,

which is why gas grills are fine

if you’re just like throwing that steak on,

get a hard sear on it, those burgers put a crust on it.

Gas is fabulous for that.

It’s perfect.

When you’re doing things that do better

with a low and slow cook,

like let’s say a whole tenderloin or chicken thigh,

that’s going to be a little bit less elegant on gas

than on charcoal versus wood.

So when you have more,

more kind of nuance in the low, slow cook

over the natural fuels.

Talking about like smoke and flame and charcoal versus gas,

it also adds to the experience and the smell

and the whole thing of the cooking,

like versus just like the taste it creates.

There’s a certain experience too,

like when there’s a bit of smoke,

maybe I don’t know what the chemistry of it is,

but I feel like with smoke,

the smell is distributed more effectively.

I don’t know if that’s true,

but there’s a smell and a visual aspect to the experience

that’s almost enriched with a bit of smoke

or like an open flame.

Like if you can see the flame, there’s magic to that.

And it goes to the experience piece

that we were talking about before.

We were talking exactly about that,

like the nuance and the beauty of like that long, slow cook

and your house smelling like something.

Why do people freak out about barbecue?



Because you go in and it smells bomb.

It smells so good.

It smells like heaven, right?

It smells fatty and delicious and the smells everywhere

and everyone’s smelling the same smell.

So there’s like this collective experience.

It’s incredible.

That’s, I mean, I think that’s why barbecue

is so sticky for people.

It’s like so yummy

and you get this huge like anticipatory thing about it.

It’s like, cause it smells incredible.

What was that incredible grill that we used yesterday?

What is that about?

That’s called a Sea Island Forge.

It’s a wood fire grill that’s inspired

by like a South American style of cooking.

So it’s like, it’s big.

It has also the things with the crank.

It allows you to control the distance from the flame.

It’s awesome.

It’s really key with the wood fire.

So when we evolved from cooking over wood to charcoal,

right, when that became more popular,

the reason that we did that is that allowed us

to skip the whole part of making our own charcoal, right?

So when you’re cooking over wood,

all you’re doing is making your own charcoal.

You don’t ever cook over wood with the red fire.

Like we don’t like throw a steak on

when the flames are orange and leaping up

because you’re just gonna get, you know,

carbons like char all over your meat.

So you’re, when you’re cooking over wood,

you first cook down the wood,

you create the coal base, the natural coal base,

and then you cook over that.

So you saw yesterday, I built my fire,

I let it burn down, added some fresh wood

so I could reinforce my coals with new coals coming in.

But then I was actually cooking over the embers.

You shorten that cycle with charcoal, it’s more efficient.

But what you lose is that whole cycle of, you know,

that really beautiful experience of smelling.

Now, if you’re cooking on a Traeger,

you’re gonna get awesome smoke smell.

You know, like there’s plenty of ways to do this.

It doesn’t always have to be wood fire.

And I love all the different ways, right?

But I really like the experience of the campfire.

And I love that kind of just like sitting by it,

building it, having to take the time.

I like building the fire, going inside,

preparing all my meats, bringing them out, cooking them.

That whole experience start to finish

is really just like something that it’s my favorite.

It’s my favorite way to spend time, you know?

So I think, and why is that?

Is the food that different than cooking it

in a more conventional grill?

Probably not, you know, like in a pure experience.

But I think the actual experience is super memorable

because you are outside, you are still in your role.

You’re enjoying this, you know, you’re just taking in,

you’re watching, you’re anticipating.

I love that whole experience.

Does the origin of the meat itself make a difference?

So we’re here at Belcampo Farms

and we’ll, maybe you could talk about what your vision,

your dream is in terms of like food,

in terms of where food comes from,

where meat comes from, but food broadly,

and how that affects the entirety of the culinary journey.

On the question of where does it come from

and does that matter, I’d say the way that meat is raised

is massively important for flavor and for how it cooks.

I think most cooks who try cooking grass fed

versus corn fed, that’s the first moment

where they realize that, right?

Where corn fed meat cooks much more slowly,

it’s got bigger veins of fat that slow the heat transfer

throughout the muscle of the animal,

compared to grass fed, which is leaner,

heat moves through it more quickly,

those steaks will cook much, much faster.

So there’s very kind of technical reasons why,

how meat is raised that we’re aware of.

And there’s other things that I’ve noticed,

like that slower growing poultry

has a very, very different musculature and fiber to it

than fast growing poultry, that’s confinement animals.

It’s just, it has to do with the way

that the muscles are built.

They tend to be finer and thinner and more tender

and a little bit more susceptible to heat.

So the character of the meat’s radically different.

It’s also much more flavorful

when it’s grown more naturally.

And I think some of the reliance in the US

on like sugary sauces and lots of salts

and flavors and things like that’s actually based

on having the broadly available meat out there

is pretty low on flavor.

And so we’re adding in a lot to compensate for that.

So to your point of like enjoying things very simply

and with like salt and nothing else,

like the more flavorful that product is,

I think the more people will find that enjoyable.

Let’s paint a vision.

I mean, you’re a visionary.

You have a vision to have basically meat in every store

that comes from a farm like Belcampo

that’s basically doing regenerative farming.

How do we get there?

It’s about a network of smaller producers

working together with shared values.

And it’s true that there’s a limit on regenerative farming

in that it requires more human knowledge.

So regenerative farming is more difficult to scale

in a single operation.

It’d be really challenging to have a regenerative farm

that was like 200,000 acres

because of the amount of manpower needed to pay attention.

Can you first, and I apologize to interrupt,

but can you say what is regenerative farming?


So if you’re looking at scaling regenerative farming,

it’s a traditional system of agriculture.

Regenerative farming is how we used to farm.

We used to farm with an eye towards the longterm.

You might be on the Friedman farm thinking about your heirs

five generations from now farming that same land.

Are you gonna leave that land nutritionally empty?

No, it’s a longterm thinking.

Also in traditional ag, you don’t have inputs.

That are very convenient. You can put some chicken manure on,

but you can’t spray or dump something that massively

increases the growing potential of the land.

That was not available until the past 60 years.

So regenerative agriculture is an approach to farming

where you’re increasing soil fertility through your farming.

You increase soil fertility by feeding the soil.

You feed the soil through carbon.

That’s why regenerative farming is better

for the environment.

It sequesters carbon and puts carbon into the soil.

Now it’s interesting.

Plants need carbon and put it into the soil

when they’re going through growth.

So if you have a beautiful field of grass

that’s just waving in the wind,

that’s where you’re gonna get the most

of the carbon that’s going into the soil.

That’s not sequestering as much carbon

as plants that have been damaged and are regrowing.

Plants that have been damaged and are regrowing

are repairing and they’re doing that

by drawing down carbon as one of the nutrients

that feeds them.

To damage the plants effectively,

that’s what we’re doing with regenerative grazing.

So the cows or, you know, lambs or whatever out there,

they’re eating and taking the grass down

and that then cause a regrowth cycle

that sequesters carbon.


There’s a limit to it.

There’s an edge,

because if those plants are so damaged

that they can’t regrow,

then it turns into a dirt patch

and that doesn’t sequester any carbon.

So it’s a balance.

How do you find that balance?

That has to do with like the frequency

and the scale of the grazing essentially?


And so you have to find the right balance

and that connects to both the grass.

I mean, is the ultimately the focus here

is on the life cycle of whatever is grazing,

whether it’s cows or lambs or so on?

That’s why the scalability question.

So all that stuff that I just talked about,

like think about all the actions that that requires.

Somebody’s out there looking and paying attention

and understanding how far the grass is,

remembering what happened in that field last year.

There’s a huge human intelligence need

and human kind of availability of attention.

Now, industrial farming has done a great job

at de skilling agriculture.

Industrial farming has taken agriculture

from being art science to being entry level employment.


So that’s the limiting factor on regen

and that’s why I think…

It’s a human intelligence piece.


I gotta ask,

I don’t know if you think about this kind of stuff.

I mentioned to you offline

that I spent a bit of time with some robots

and Boston Dynamics.

Do you think there’s a way

to use artificial intelligence to help?

So data collection,

so automating some of the things that makes humans special,

make some of that decision,

some of that memory that’s then utilized,

converges to knowledge to make decisions

about the crops and so on.

Is there a way AI can help?

Do you think?


I mean, that would be incredible.

That’s one of the ingredients

that could help with the regenerative farming.

A number of discrete decision points

that could completely be automated as well

in order to supplement and work with somebody,

like a farmer in managing it,

about the performance on land.

And a bit of that’s being done right now

with some aerial mapping,

but that type of AI would be huge in this.

I mean, there’s estimates that if the damage

and underutilized rangeland in the world

was converted to regenerative agriculture

somewhere between like 20 and 40% of the world’s carbon

could be sequestered.

So there’s a huge potential.

The problem is cultural.

We’ve like lost the generational thread of knowledge

about how to do this.

It’s kind of been two generations

that haven’t farmed this way.

Also the science around it is limited

by the scale and longevity.

So the data collection around regenerative farming

is also limited by the fact it’s kind of piecemeal.

There’s small operations that are doing it.

They’re learning and developing as they go,

and they haven’t been documenting it

and doing it for too long.

Is the ethical treatment of animals

a part of regenerative farming?

So in the way you do things at Belcampo,

that’s a huge part.

Is that necessarily part of the life cycle?

So like the things that you’re trying to measure

is like the way, like not damaging the land too much,

make sure that the sort of the land

is constantly healthy and is producing,

and then the grazing process,

and also the carbon piece,

the fact that it’s a carbon neutral or something like that.

I mean, are all of those pieces of the regenerative farming

or is this an extra part to your vision

that you’re thinking about?

It’s all implicit and regenerative.

I call it out separately because we are certified humane,

which is another layer of welfare

that has to do with density and a couple other things.

But regenerative, I mean, think about it.

If you’re a cow and you’re in a regenerative operation

where the whole life cycle of the pasture

means that you only eat the top six inches of the grass,

and then when there’s whatever, a couple inches left,

then that field is left dormant.

That’s a better experience, right?

So just think about it kind of functionally that way.

Well, grazing period is a better experience, right?

And that’s not what’s done in,

I mean, that’s the grass fed piece, right?

That’s the other piece with certified organics, amazing.

There’s plenty of certifications

that grass fed and finished is also great,

but there are workarounds for those.

You can have certified organic feedlots.

You can have grass fed and finished,

which is an animal fed a grass seed pellet.

Those aren’t things that we do here, right?

And regenerative captures that.

Because if you’re, it’s like anything,

you’re isolating these very specific certifications,

it doesn’t have a holistic approach.

Regenerative though, unfortunately, isn’t certified yet.

We’ve gotten USDA approval to use that word

based on our carbon sequestration data,

but it’s not a regulated term.

So that’s kind of the mix right now

is to figure out how to document it.

And it’s not totally clear what it means

like for pigs and chickens, which are omnivores.

It’s very clear for ruminants,

which are animals that have a rumen that eat grass.

For omnivores, which is like what we are,

they eat primarily grain in farming operations,

and that’s a little bit more complex.

So it’s kind of a moving landscape,

but regenerative as a word is the better definition

of the whole life cycle approach

of letting animals and nature work together.

Is it true that it’s possible to have a farm

that doesn’t produce, sort of is carbon neutral?

We have been third party verified

to be carbon impact negative.

So Belcampo’s 25,000 acres and the animals here,

all of the carbon, including from our shipping

on our mail order is all offset

by the amount of grazing that’s happening.

Also that encompasses our partner farms.

We buy a number of live animals in from other partner farms.

That’s their impacts also incorporated in that.

I mean, first of all, that’s incredible.

And second of all, is that possible to scale?

I don’t see why it isn’t.

I mean, it’s complex to scale,

but I mean, we’re putting people on the moon

and you have a robotic dog.

I mean.

But that’s less about scale, that’s more about innovation.

So like in many ways what Belcampo has done

is innovative at a small scale.

The question is whether that innovation can be scaled.

That’s where I feel like we in the industry need more help.

You know, the AI piece, the intelligence,

the thinking about ways to do things differently

is where we need more support.

And I think it’s been a, you know,

a kind of a swing in the past couple of years

where it’s like meat’s a mess, it’s terrible.

So let’s ditch meat and opt for these hyper process,

you know, plant based solutions.

And I am saying there’s a way to make meat

a part of the solution.

And it’s gonna mean eating less of it.

It’s gonna mean paying more for it.

It’s gonna mean that the farming systems

are more complicated.

It’s not the easiest path,

but I think in the long term it’s the better path.

And it’s also better for human health.

Can you comment on the certified humane piece?

So how do you run a farm?

Like what does it mean to raise an animal

from the beginning of its life to the end of its life

in a way that’s ethical, that’s humane?

I think the first piece you need to just be comfortable with

is that making an animal into meat, you know,

is something that you’re comfortable with.

Cause I think that’s the biggest question, right?

And so certified humane actually goes all the way through

the death of the animal,

how it’s killed and handled at processing.

So I put that out there just to say,

well, this is all about producing an animal to die for meat.

And that’s not necessarily,

that’s something people struggle with with the word humane.

And I understand that.

Like I have space and empathy for that.

It’s a complicated decision.

And when you have to be comfortable with at the outset

to say, this is an animal that’s gonna die to feed me.

Yeah, so we should pause on that

cause I actually just the two days ago read a paper

that argued that, you know,

the killing of an animal period cannot be humane.

So it’s impossible.

And so, and that’s an argument just like you’re saying

we could make, but if we now on the table kind of

take as a starting point, the idea that

it’s possible to kill an animal for food in an ethical way,

if we take that as a starting point.

So we won’t argue about that.

It is worth arguing about it elsewhere.

And it probably will.

I will probably talk to a few vegan folks

and we’ll talk about the vegan diet.

I’m fascinated by it as well.

So I’m torn in the whole thing.

But if we just take that as a starting point,

what then is an ethical humane way to treat an animal?

I look at ethical humane animal treatment

as the major phases of life.

So conception, birth and mothering,

diet, those are kind of the major touch points of life.

So what we’re looking at is evolutionary approach,

which means is the animal eating

what it evolved to eat primarily?

Is the animal primarily outdoors,

which is how all animals evolved,

given when the climate’s appropriate for it.

There’s certain times when you can’t have animals

fully outdoors, like here on our ranch,

we have had issues with cold weather and things.

But so if you have appropriate weather conditions,

does the animal outdoors?

Is the animal able to nurture and engage with its young?

Those are the kind of key touch points,

but it’s really the birth of it.

Let me start this one from the scratch.

Okay, so when I’m looking at,

or when I consider what’s humane,

setting aside the death part,

I look at the evolutionary diet,

access to the outdoors,

and ideally spending the majority of its life outdoors,

low density, so animals spread out,

and engagement with young, social interactions,

and that’s all kind of simplistic.

Social interaction is a cool one.

I mean, I also read an article that like,

cows, for example, have social, like they have friends.

Yeah, yeah.

That’s fascinating.

I mean, that piece with the young,

social interaction with young,

social interaction with each other,

that at a basic level,

I’m sure that interaction is not as rich as humans,

but that piece seems to be part of the humane picture.

And you said also, just a quick comment,

evolutionary diet, meaning the diet

that they were evolved to have.

And that’s pretty simple.

You can look at the physiology of the animal

and figure that out.

So ruminant species are lamb, goats, and beef,

and they have five stomachs.

They evolved eating really low calorie, high fiber foods.

That’s why they’ve got all the stomachs.

They need a lot of processing.

You or I were to eat grass, we die in a week, right?

Our physiology can’t handle it.

Cows were built and evolved to eat this very low calorie,

very high fiber, very low density food.

And they walk around slowly,

they’re moving constantly and they’re eating it.

When we put them on a corn fed diet,

that’s the opposite of their evolutionary diet

and their systems really struggle with it.

Now, pigs and chickens are different.

Pigs and chickens are omnivores

and pigs will happily eat chickens, for example.

Our pigs on the farm will hunt and kill rattlesnakes

and eat them.

They enjoy all of it.

They’re omnivores.

So that you often see,

and I’ve seen people try to raise like a grass fed chicken

and that doesn’t exist.

I mean, they need a higher, omnivores eat everything.

They’re what’s called monogastric.

They got one stomach

and that one stomach needs higher density nutrients.

So in the case of chicken,

if you’re to do, look back in American history

and in the 1950s, it took,

commercial chickens took like 54 weeks

to come to full weight.

Now it’s two and a half weeks in confinement farming

on our systems, it’s like eight to 10 weeks typically.

So it’s a very,

you have to give them some amount of nutrient density,

but there’s the idea that no grain,

because that’s a misinformation

for any type of commercial operation,

free range, regenerative, pastured, everything,

you’re gonna have to have a grain feed to get any type of,

it’s actually, I think for the case of chickens,

unless you’re in a place with like tons of natural seeds

and grubs and worms and stuff to eat,

really challenging for the chicken.

So you gotta give them some high density,

high calorie food different from that.

That’s the evolutionary diet is a really key thing.

That’s the fundamental thing for health.

And it’s also interesting

because the evolutionary diet ties to human health.

I’ve looked at the nutritional analysis

on all of our products and it’s,

the evolutionary diet is for the case of beef and lamb

gets their omega three to six ratios,

the same as wild game.

So it’s not like beef is really radically different

from elk, a ruminant species, right?

If you feed beef an evolutionary diet,

their nutritional profile is the same as wild meat.

There’s a wild ruminant.

I got a chance to witness Neuralink,

I don’t know if you’re familiar with that company,

the brain computer interfaces.

And they have, I got a chance to see in person

just a bunch of pigs who had Neuralink chips implanted

and taken out.

Those pigs are so happy with life.

I don’t know, I’ve never seen a happier animal.

I mean, cause they get to eat,

cause you were mentioning sort of diets and stuff.

Pigs seem to love a lot of stuff.

They’re easily made to be happy.

I don’t know if you can comment on your thoughts

of exploring the capacity of the pig mind

through some of this testing with Neuralink,

whether that’s exciting to you,

whether maybe on the humane side,

it’s a little bit concerning,

if there’s something to be said on sort of like,

yeah, I don’t know if it’s even the ethical side,

but just because of your connection to meat

and to nature and understanding these living beings.

Well, pigs are incredibly intelligent.

So I’m not surprised that they’re a subject matter

for Neuralink.

They’re smarter than dogs

and they’re empathetic and emotional.

And we’ll go look at our pigs afterwards and see,

but they’re kind of like joyful and exuberant

when they’re in good health.

And so that makes sense.

I’m interested and open.

I feel that the kind of bleeding edge agriculture movement

that I’m on the edge of in some ways,

we’re a larger operator,

but we as a movement have to get into the game.

We have to move forward in a way that allows us to scale

if we wanna be viable.

So I think there has to be openness to how that can happen.

And I also think there needs to be more thoughtful

and noisy data about how regenerative ranching

can sequester carbon.

I mean, thousands of American ranches

are selling carbon credits right now.

The data is that valid.

And they’re not selling carbon credits from like grassland

that just got a fence around it.

They’re selling carbon credits for verified data

from animals assisting in carbon sequestration, right?

So there’s got to be a way to get the tech community involved

in ways to help regenerative agriculture scale.

In different creative ways.

And actually, that’d be interesting

if like Neuralink somehow has,

and especially because Elon Musk is involved

and Kimball Musk has his whole effort and appreciation

of regenerative agriculture

that I wonder if Neuralink has a role to play,

like exploring the neurobiology of the animal,

if that somehow will create innovations

that lead to improved scaling of regenerative agriculture.

That’d be interesting.

But you’re saying you should be open

to all those possibilities.

I don’t think, I don’t know the landscape to know what.

But my sense is that it’s very hard.

It’s very hard.

And our farming operation to scale,

it’s been incredibly complex and challenging.

We now work with partner farms.

I see their operations, they’re incredibly complex.

You know, it just seems like there’s got to be a way

to make some of these things simpler and easier

to share information.


I don’t know what that answer is.

You know what would be cool

is if we can understand deeper ways

to measure the happiness of an animal.

Because then we can optimize,

like certified humane could be literally

an optimization problem.

Just make sure, as opposed to kind of using our,

projecting our own human values,

actually measuring what the animal is happy doing.

That could be, so understanding the pig brain

might help us understand pig happiness

and reframe what it means for a happy animal.

And then maybe it’s a lot easier to make a happy animal,

to make the animal happy than we think.

And it might have to do with a variety of delicious food

in the case of the pig.

Is there something you could say about grass fed meat?

Is it all, just out of my own sort of curiosity,

whenever people say sort of grass fed meat

is better for you,

are all grass fed meat made the same?

Is there different like,

it’s like the word organic.

Is there a lot of variety within that?

Like the way Belcampo does it,

will the others do it?

Just more color if you could add to this whole word

and what it means.

Grass fed beef has been on grass its entire life.

And you wanna look for the words 100% grass fed

or grass fed and finished.

Now, the challenge with feeding beef grass its whole life

is that it gains weight more slowly.

Although beef didn’t evolve,

eating corn and things, it can eat them.

And in eating them, it gains weight more rapidly

and has like a version of like an inflammatory response.

If you actually look inside the rumen of the animal

inside the stomach,

it’s like black and shiny inside compared to grass fed

animals like greens, smells like compost.

So the animals themselves, their whole physiology

is damaged by that food,

but they also gain weight really quickly

and they put on a lot of fats.

Like if you or me were to eat a bunch of processed food

compared to eating a bunch of greens,

it’s the same impact, you’re gonna blow up.

So the problem for grass fed

is getting the animals to gain weight.

They’re getting a ton of exercise,

they’re eating really clean, right?

And they’re super chill.

So that’s different from the animals that are kept still

eating really nutrient dense foods

and under a ton of stress, which is a confinement animal.

So are all grass fed meats created the same?

The diet, yeah, nutritional profile broadly,

but the length of time that the animal lives

is extremely important for the flavor of the meat.

We’re taking our beef to 24 to 26 months,

conventional is around 18 months.

So I’m always looking,

and if you’re evaluating grass fed animals,

you wanna get animals that are typically

allowed to live for longer

because their flavor is gonna be better,

there’s gonna be a bit more fat

and their omega ratios also vary very differently.

And I’ve seen omega ratios,

in our firm everywhere from one to three to one to one,

ideal is one to one game is typically one to one

or one to two omega three to sixes.

But in operations where you don’t have year round grass,

it’s more complicated, you know, you’re feeding hay

and you don’t get that three to six ratio.

Omega threes come from green grass,

they’re the fat in greens.

And so they’re scarce and costly, right?

So you can have grass fed and finished animals

that don’t have that perfect ratio

because maybe they’re in a climate or for whatever reasons,

we’ve had to do it too, during the droughts do hay finishing,

it’s not optimal, it changes the ratio a bit.

So there’s a little bit of variance within it.

I’d say though, the variance is a little bit higher

the variance within grass fed is still small

compared to the variance between conventional

and grass fed, right?

So there’s definitely things to look for within it,

but the real difference is between those two.

Also thing to notice is that it’s not a verified word, okay?

So grass fed means animals that have been on grass

at some point in their life.

The way the cattle industry is in the US,

there’s segmentation.

So there’s cow calf operations,

then those calves get sold to stocker operations

which raised animals in their teens basically,

and then those get sold to feed lots.

And so those three phases,

that first phase of the cow calf is always on grass.

It’s mother cows and mom cows are amazing.

They can thrive on anything

and still put all their nutrients into their baby

and their babies will be healthy.

So you never are putting mother cows

on really premium pasture.

So it’s usually just kind of like okay pasture,

dirty lot, if you ever see kind of like,

scrubly lots with lots of cows and calves on,

that’s a cow calf operation.

So there’s also a loophole, unfortunately,

where people use the term grass fed,

and they’re actually referring to animals

that at some point in their life had grass,

but that might be pretty far in the rear view mirror.

So you need to look at that grass fed and finished

or grass fed 100%.

That ratio of omega three to sixes,

it changes in like a week on grain.

So it’s radically different.

Unfortunately, it’s the same thing for you and me.

You can eat clean for a month,

you eat junk for three days, you’re garbage, right?

It’s not like you can just like coast on that, right?

We know what that’s like.

Same thing for animals, our physiology changes.

Food’s the number one way we interact with our environment.

And our body changes really rapidly and dramatically.

So we know Belcampo and just the way

sort of this regenerative farming approach of Belcampo

and the sort of high humane is good for the land,

is good for the animal.

Can you comment on ways it’s good for the human

that eats the meat?

Is this meat better for you?

Yes, and this is where they kind of focus on the joy

and animals doing yoga and all this sort of like

cynical stuff about this type of agriculture.

So just like set that aside,

it really is better for your health.

It’s got a better fat ratio, it’s less inflammatory,

it’s got higher protein, it’s just better product.

In the case of beef, it’s lower in fat

and that fat has a better quality and it’s higher

in poultry and pork, it’s also higher in protein.

So all the nutritionals are better.

It’s got higher density of vitamins,

it’s got higher density of minerals.

And none of this stuff is radically different than,

it’s not like the product is black and white,

but every metric meaningfully is better

in the right direction across the board.

So why wouldn’t you?

I hesitate to take anecdotal evidence

as like final scientific conclusions,

but it does seem I’ve eaten quite a bit

of belcampo meat, for example,

and it’s just my body seems to respond,

like it’s less bothered by it.

Meaning like less inflamed, I just feel better.

Because I mostly eat a meat diet

and it does seem to be a little bit of a difference

what kind of meat I eat, where it comes from.

I don’t know if that’s my own psychology also.

I mean, there is an aspect to like,

when you know that the meat came from a good place

and all the ways we’ve defined good,

you feel better about it.

And that has an effect, like decreased stress.

So I’m a huge believer in that,

like outside of just nutrition,

how you feel about the whole experience is a huge impact.

But it does feel like the meat itself

is actually just leading to less inflammation for me

or like less, like the bloated feeling

and all those negative effects that could come with meat

versus like certain other ground beef that I eat,

like store bought chicken breast or steak,

all those kinds of things.

My body’s a little bit more,

works a little bit harder to process that food,

it feels like.

I don’t know if there’s science to that,

but sort of anecdotally, that seems to be the case.

Omega sixes are a big part of that,

for in the case of the beef.

You eat a lot of beef, you love beef.

And so in a conventional beef product,

it’s a one to 30 ratio of omega threes to sixes.

And sometimes one to 20, one to 30,

but that’s the wrong direction.

In our beef, it’s as low as one to one.

So that and the omega sixes are what’s part of inflammation.

Now, the magic in animals

is that they’re incredibly efficient processors.

And in the same way that the body can process

and take out tons of things that are toxic

out of the environment,

I mean, animals bodies can do that too.

So the beauty of meat is that it can be pretty clean.

Things like Roundup and stuff don’t end up in the meat.

When we have antibiotics in our meat,

we’re not worried about getting like tetracycline

from the chicken breast.

What we’re worried about

is the workers getting tetracycline,

the chicken growing faster than it should,

the meat being chewier and not as high quality.

But the actual antibiotics don’t,

the animals great at filtering that, right?

They get that out.

So you have to think about meat not as like contamination

of like, oh, there’s gonna be some of that garbage

they used in the farming in my meat,

but it’s the more subtle things.

It’s the fat ratio, it’s the protein density.

And there’s also just, I think in my experience,

there’s just more complex flavor

and things that taste more complex.

This is, science backs this up, they fill you up faster.

So if you’re looking to limit,

to eat for fullness and, but not eat as many calories,

more complex foods are the way to do that.

And that hit, you hit your satiety,

help you hit that satiety.

So things like, I mean, all the key amino acids

that help you feel full, mostly from meat, right?

So those are, that’s part of it, like it,

but all meats have those.

Then there’s other kind of micronutrients

and things around that complex flavor

that help you feel full faster.

Forgive me for this question,

but it is kind of an interesting one

that people are curious about.

What does it feel like to be a,

or what does it take to be a woman CEO of a meat company?

I mean, you’re no longer CEO of Belcampo,

but you did, you ran, you cofounded Belcampo,

you ran it for many, many years.

Is there something that you could say

in terms of challenges associated with that?

And how did you personally overcome it?

So to be a female running a meat and livestock operation,

it felt very alone, a lot, you know, for a long time.

I felt very, like everybody waiting for me to fail

or watching and assuming that I was like,

just good at marketing or whatever else.

And so it’s taken me a while to not internalize that.

I think the only reason I’m here

is we have our own supply chain in Slaughterhouse.

And I think had I really been playing

in the broader meat industry,

it would have been a shorter journey.

You know, it would have been very hard

to make it even get to this phase.

But I do, you know, I think the mission is my life’s work.

The mission of cleaner ingredients that tastes so amazing.

You don’t need to do too much to them.

You know, I like creating food

that’s in support of good health.

And then secondary to that, it’s the environment,

but I want healthy food to be a joy to eat, right?

And that’s, you know, creating innovation in the space

for this company has been about building a brand

that people understand and is transparent

and that people believe in in an industry

that’s broadly perceived of as pretty corrupt.

So those are things I feel enormously proud of.

So you focused on the mission and the pushback,

all the mess of the industry.

You try not to internalize it,

trying not to let it affect you and focus on the mission.

You know, and it’s in the joy of it

and the part where it’s gotten fun for me

has been returning to what I love about it.

And I’ve only had the privilege

of doing that pretty recently.

So I think for me personally, you know, starting,

I host these events on the farm called Meat Camps,

where I cook and teach people to cook

and, you know, taste and talk about flavor

and all the like sensual aspects of it that are my fire.

Like, thank goodness I did that stuff

because otherwise it was just such a beating.

You know, so there were parts of it

where I got to feed my fire.

And then now in the, you know, the past year,

since resigning, I’ve been, I do all the recipe development.

I shoot all the content.

I, you know, taste product.

I’m developing all of our new products.

I launched our meatballs.

I’m just about to launch our chicken meatballs,

doing a high protein bone broth.

Like those are, that’s why I did this

was to be able to build this great product

that I could build on.

So I’m kind of at that place now,

but it’s taken a lot longer.

And I think, you know, looking at the landscape

of what to do in food, this is definitely,

we tackled the most complicated problem.

That I can imagine, you know, I did it like

in the most old fashioned way, right?

So it’s been super complex.

And then I also look at it and I’m like, yeah,

and it’s been messy and it’s gonna continue to be hard,

but I’m proud of having tackled the hard problems.

So the hard problem here is not

in the space of technologies.

It’s in the space of bringing something

that we’ve done for a long, long time in our human history

and scaling it in the face

of all the other economic pressures.

Like doing so successfully,

also communicating to the rest of the world

that this is a powerful solution.

So inspiring the rest of the world that regenerative farming,

like running a company in this kind of way

that’s humane for animals, good for the land,

good for people, even if it costs,

like if there’s an increased cost to the meat,

even if that, if you have a broader vision

that means eating less meat overall,

that that is like inspiring the world

that this is a future we want.

And just taking that on and getting that done.

Got a chance to eat a little bit of cheese,

which is a good opportunity

to talk about your experience in Italy.

You spent some time, or as south of Europe,

I’m not sure if it was Italy.

Yeah, I lived in Italy, but.

And there’s cheese involved, right?

Like what did you take away from that experience,

both as a chef and as a human being?

I moved to Europe right after my early 20s

and I worked as a cheese maker.

And I lived in really small rural farms

in the countryside.

And I got up early and milked animals, made cheese.

And I got to live in a traditional agricultural society

and learn how they ate.

So it shaped me as a cook

because it was a chance to have incredible ingredients,

learn how to cook very simple food.

I had been immersed in thought

that I wanted to be like a chefy chef, right?

Because I love food and I love cooking

and I was just drawn to that world.

But I don’t like the experience

of that sort of like fancy food experience

is not what is exciting for me about it.

So I loved working in that environment

because I got to eat lunches and dinners

and everything with the farm that I lived in.

The farm that I lived on

and just very traditional, simple way to eat.

The other piece of it is I went to high school in the 90s,

child of like the low fat generation, right?

And it was just really liberating and amazing

to eat tons of super fatty foods

and olive oil all over the place

and bleak slabs of bread and salami

and being this like vibrant health,

like be leaner, you know, happy, no skin stuff,

you know, stop getting split ends.

Like I stopped having flaky nails,

like just stuff that had bothered me my whole life,

including like just moodiness.

And that all just changed.

And granted, I was also like living on a farm in Italy

and getting up with the sunlight.

And like there were lots of great aspects of my life as well

that happened in that time.

But I was just immersed in this diet

that I realized like, man, this is so simple.

And I also loved that I had like, you know,

you’d have dinner and it was just like some ricotta cheese

with some olive oil, some bread

and like a bowl of fava beans.

It’s like, that’s dinner.

And it kind of broke down my assumptions too

about like dinner always has to be this, you know,

a protein and a vegetable and, you know,

being more fluid and more seasonal was exciting for me.

So I just learned kind of a lot about paying attention

to food, simple preparation

and the vibrancy of health that I personally experienced

kind of made me double down on that.

Our mutual friend, Andrew Huberman,

mentioned something offline to me

about something involving the mob.

Oh yeah.

Is there something you could share or is this,

or are people going to hurt if you share this?

It’s far enough in the rear view mirror.

I mean, I was hired by this group in Sicily on,

and this is, you know, I was all of like 21 years old

and to get a permit to work there,

you have to show that you have a competency

that nobody else in Italy has.

And that competency for Anya Fernald at the time

was cheese expert.

So it was like, stupid American girl being like,

going to the consulate.

So I already knew that it was like,

there was something wobbly about this organization,

but I wanted to work for them.

And my boss from that time did end up in federal prison

for corruption many years later, embezzlement primarily.

But, so I was definitely in an environment

that was answering to multiple masters.

That’s a nice way to put it.

It was, I couldn’t have asked for a better way

to kind of get with life and understand

how things happen in the world though.

You know, of learning as somebody who tends

to be super direct and not very subtle,

it was amazing to be in this world

where like everybody communicates in multiple levels.

Like we’re going to lunch with my boss,

with somebody we’re gonna do a business deal with

and by the, they ordered a glass of wine

and with that order communicated like, disappointment.

Because that, the father of the person

who had made that wine had offended that other guys.

I like that level of stuff, like nothing happened directly.

I’m like, what are we talking about afterwards?

I’m like, what happened that lunch?

It’s like, oh, I just, you know,

I told him this by ordering that, whatever.

You know, that kind of thing.

So understand that there’s different ways of communicating.

But it was also, you know, it was interesting to see.

And I think I, you know, it’s kind of the struggle

that I’ve lived again and again in my life.

Fundamentally, what we were doing in that operation

was there’s a very traditional cheese

called the Raguzano cheese in Southeastern Sicily

where I lived, Ragusa.

And it was about scaling that operation.

So it was European Union money

that my boss was also unfortunately using for other things.

But fundamentally it was to take that,

this type of very small scale cheese,

get them exported, help them scale.

And we did it.

And it was really challenging.

And I learned a lot about the safety issues

and collaboration issues

and creating groups of farmers for scale.

So it’s kind of been doing the same thing again and again.

But Sicily, it, you know,

it was also just the first place

where I would regularly forage for food.


You know, like there I’d go to friends houses

and we’d like go out and pick nettles

or go out and pick wild asparagus.

So every season there were stuff that you’d be gathering.

And that was just part of how you lived.

And it was part of your health.

So that was, I just learned a ton in that time

about like simple eating and really that healthy food,

the simpler it is, the better, right?

Like this sort of sense that healthy food

isn’t in a tiny package, granola bar,

lots of labels, lots of powders.

It’s like the more simple, essential,

closer to the land can actually lead to optimal health.

You’ve learned to appreciate the simplicity of food,

the beauty within the simplicity.

I think it’s because it was the first time

that I had amazing food quality.


Cause in the, where I grew up,

there wasn’t that food quality.

Like I had some stuff from my garden and things

that were great, but that’s the kind of place

where when artichokes in season,

all of a sudden there’s guys selling artichokes

on their bicycles in the street

and they’re just fresh picked and you’d get that one thing

or the torpedo onions or they like,

so there’s a seasonality and celebration of things

in their peak moment.

And you would just have that one thing.

And that was the first time I’d ever eaten in that way.

You were a judge several times on Iron Chef.

How do you judge a good meal, like what your own,

other people’s, like what rating system is good?

I mean, I go on experience and think about how many

of your like most memorable, fantastic meals

are like three star Michelin meals.

It’s more about the experience, right?

It’s more about that slow down, who are you with?

And some of our best meals are like the most simple things.

So Iron Chef, those were fun experiences.

It’s a lot of sous vide though.

It’s a lot of sauces.

It’s a lot of powders.

I mean, it’s kind of like magic food.

So that’s not, I mean, it’s incredible

to watch it as science, but I don’t know

if those are my most memorable meals.

So the experience is how you judge a good meal.

For you personally, if you were a judge

of the entirety of the human experience

in terms of the culinary journey,

that would be like the people you’re eating with,

the environment, like how you feel,

the journey, the building up to that meal, the whole thing.

You can’t separate it out.

When I was learning as an apprentice cheese maker in Greece,

one of the best meals of my life

is like a bowl of cold sheep milk yogurt

with like a crust of cold fat on top.

So like the way that these fatty,

sheep milk can have double the percentage

of fat than cow milk.

So like there’s the yogurt and then there’s this crust

of fat and then they pour the fresh honey over the top

and you just eat like this bowl of probably top five meals

of my life, right?

I mean, that’s the simplicity, it’s just the best thing.

And it was the fact that it’s in Terracotta

and I’d had this amazing day

and all of these things come together,

but I still remember that feeling.

And I think most of us have those like really great

sensual memories of food and they’re not about necessarily

that one fancy over the top restaurant or something.

It’s really about the cold context of enjoyment.

Maybe you can help me with something.

So I think Offline said that we’re both introverts a bit,

but I certainly find joy in repetition.

So I kind of hide away as an introvert

and eat the same thing over and over and over again.

But at the same time, I had this conversation

with Tyler Cohen, who’s an economist,

but he’s also a food critic.

He writes these incredible posts about different foods.

And we had this conversation about

what his last meal would be.

If he had to choose, like what is the best meal

he’s ever eaten that he would want to eat?

And he had a good answer about it.

It had to do with experience, I think.

For him, it was a particular Mexican restaurant

and it had in Mexico because of the ingredients,

because of the experience, because of the work it took

to get there and all those kinds of things.

But it also made me realize, like when I was going home

after that conversation, that I couldn’t answer

that question myself, like what is the best meal

I’ve ever eaten?

Because I really haven’t experienced much.

And so it almost was like a challenge to myself.

Like I feel like I should journey out a little bit more

in this life and try stuff.

And to try to see like what is the best meal

for me in the world?

You know, like both the experience and the taste, right?

So I was kind of wondering, first I’d love to ask you

like what your last meal would be

or what is the greatest meal you’ve ever eaten?

But also, and you’re still very young,

and so there’s still more experiences to be had, right?

And for me, like how do you go about finding

the best meal in the world?

Is there a device you could give essentially?

There’s that sense of anticipation, right?

So if it’s the best meal, I’d say for you,

it would need to be on the heels of something

where you’d pushed yourself with a fast

or with an athletic event, right?

Or something like you would be coming into it

with a sense of anticipation because of deprivation.

You’d be hungry for it in a bigger sense of the word,

like hungry for deep nutrition on your soul level

as well as your belly.

So I’d say that you’d have to think about it

as a phase of things, like multiple things.

And then I also think, you love meat, you love cheese.

You have to have some things that come together, right?

Like there’s gotta be some specific elements

of just your favorite flavors in that.

But there could be flavors yet to be discovered.

That’s a whole other thing because I just emotionally

and physically feel good on meat,

but that doesn’t mean like maybe like a rice based dish,

like sushi or something like that,

or Indian cuisine where it’s like sauces

and the breads and whatever.

I love that stuff too.

So we’re not talking about like a meal is an experience

that could be like a one night stand,

but with a piece of food, right?

It could be a totally different

than what actually makes you feel good

when you eat it every day.

Yeah, absolutely.

Completely, completely analogous.

I get that.

I mean, you also though, there’s elements of comfort

and love and those different pieces for you.

But I think you gotta look at like,

where would you go somewhere?

Like would you go to a place where you could hike in Japan

and then end up in a little place where you eat something?

That’s where I would think you were gonna have

that magic moment.

Maybe someplace you go to Mongolia

and you’re in a really extreme environment

for three or four days,

and then you come back and you’re in a farm

and you get something on the table that’s a surprise

and you’re hungry.

Like that’s gonna be the moment where you’re gonna explode

in the instance of like the culinary level

for Alexa levels up, right?

That’s the journey for you.

But it has to be, I think from understanding you,

like a combination of that pushing yourself anticipation

and something about the, exactly, and the environment.

Well, I definitely, definitely,

like some fasting is part of a great meal for me.

So like 24 hours is like the minimum.

You’re more sensitive to the richness of any experience

for me when I fast 24 hours.

And so that’s a requirement.

For a good meal is 24 hour fast, I think.

It’s just like you’re able to taste,

I don’t know, maybe it’s psychological,

but you’re able to disassemble the various flavors

in a meal as simple as like even a chicken breast.

There’s all kinds of flavors going on.

Because like when you cook a chicken breast,

there’s like the outside, the inside.

I mean, the volume of the meat tastes different

as you eat like the different fibers.

And you can like tell all those differences as you’re eating

when you’re fasting, and you can appreciate that.

And of course, you’re right,

part of the journey is important.

It makes me think like whether restaurants

is the right place to explore or what.

I’m envisioning it on a farm for you.

And I’m envisioning it in a place

that’s like really into ag and food.

You know, like even a place like Romania.

You know, like they have incredible farms, right?

Where it’s not gonna get any like fancy restaurants there,

but you’re probably gonna have some amazing little cheeses

and cured meats, and you might go to some, you know,

have some experience and end up in a place

with like four things on the plate

and each of them blows your mind.

You know, like, or Japan is another place like that.

I think Vietnam, Laos, like, I mean, those are countries

where there’s like these incredible niche ingredients

and this essentialism around food.

That’s fascinating.

Or maybe it’s in Russia with Putin.

That might be the best meal in the world.

With him on the farm.

Yeah, that’d be, it’s hard to reproduce that.

If that is in fact a good meal, it’d be, you know,

it’s hard to get them out to the farm,

but maybe one time they’d be the best meal.

What about you?

For me, like it’s the ingredients that I associate

with like indulgence, like be fresh bread

with like my favorite cultured butter on it,

be food of my childhood.

I grew up in Oregon.

We always had salmon and I smoked salmon or salmon eggs,

like really good salmon eggs.

I love cheese.

I love goat cheese.

I love all kinds of cheese.

There’d be cheese.

I love meat, obviously.

I’m imagining it’s sort of like an abundance

of like 10 things I love.

It’s not a dish.

You know, it’s like all the yummy things.

All of your indulgences on the same plate, yeah.

And there isn’t like, for me, there’s not like a big cake

or something super like that.

It’s like really yummy things that I love,

like really fresh, crusty, delicious bread that’s warm

and it’s got a bunch of butter on it

and I can put some salt on it and eat a big slab of that.

That’s just, that’s where I’m at.

That’s funny.

And so meat to you is not like one of those indulgences?

Oh, definitely.

There’d definitely be steak there too.

I’m just imagining not like there isn’t a specific dish.

It’s like eight or 10 things, right?

It’s the fresh bread.

It’s something like fishy, yummy,

probably be really good fresh berries too.

There’d be a steak or a pork chop

or something like meaty and delicious and savory.

There’d be some cheese,

just a bunch of different things that I love to eat

that like all kind of check boxes for me

is probably what would make me happiest.

I’m afraid of variety.

I like the focus when you can just,

this is all you have,

the scarcity of just this is the one ingredient

and really appreciating it or maybe one thing,

like one full complex flavor, whatever the heck that is.

It’s like the distraction,

the serial dating nature of having a bunch of things

on a plate is, yeah,

for some reason that prevents me

from fully enjoying any one of them.

I don’t know why that is.

The more healthy way to do it is the variety.

Your way is the healthier way to do it.

Is alcohol involved?

I don’t drink very much.

I like red wine, but I just don’t really,

I love red wine with good food.

I also cofounded a rum business that’s an organic rum,

so I love that product,

but that’s not, for me,

it’s like I’m more interested in the food, I’d say.

Is there some connection between your chef life,

cooking and music?

Does this music have a role in the experience?

I love artistic expression,

and that’s always had a role in my life

in the same way I love to paint and draw

and all the different things.

I was a professional musician when I lived in Sicily,

by definition, technicality,

because I played in the municipal band.

So I would march around the town with all the funerals.

I get like 50 euro every time I’d march in a funeral

playing my oboe, so it’s given me,

I like that because I like to,

like you were talking about going to farms,

like what I quested for was experience and connection,

in places where I could learn things.

That’s been the through line of my learning journey.

I’ve learned things and sought knowledge

that I can’t get in any conventional learning environment,

and so what are the tools that let me do that?

It was like being adaptable and comfortable

in different cultures,

but also having common ground points

that allow you to connect with people,

so music’s one of those things.

So I love music, but I also,

there’s any number of enjoy of food,

being able to pitch in and help in the kitchen,

you know, like cards,

like those are when you’re dealing with

getting into like farming communities and stuff,

that stuff really helps, right?

So I basically have cultivated tools

that let me drop into places where I can learn,

and so those are all kind of a piece.

Those are just tools to get in there.

That said, we did listen to Justin Bieber earlier today.

I need to get more into him.

I need to understand the full complexity of the Biebs.

You’re trying to achieve what hunting stands for,

but at a much larger scale,

which is what kind of Belcampo stands for,

but what are your thoughts on hunting as a source of meat?

It’s amazing, 100% pro hunting.

I think the reason that hunting flips the switch

for so many people is because it’s the first thing

they’ve had clean meat in their lives.

Okay, so I think that the hunter’s journey,

when people get so turned on by hunting,

they’re just like, oh my God, I’m never going back.

I’m saying that’s great if you’ve got access to that,

or if you know the guy who’ll give you the backstrap,

awesome, but that’s not achievable for most of us,

and I do think that talking to hunters

about their experiences, what they love about it,

many of them are just outdoors,

and I say that because most of them are men,

but most of them love the outdoors aspect of it

and being out in the wild,

but a lot of them, it’s because of how they feel

when they eat the meat, and it’s because they’re eating,

I mean, 99% of meat in America is made a very specific way,

and it’s in a way that is pretty inflammatory,

not incredibly delicious, and when you’re on that extreme,

and then you toggle to having

this totally different style of product,

it feels radically different in your body,

so of course you’re like, I’ll never go back.

So when I talk about us being on that spectrum,

it’s like, well, it’s, hunted meat’s,

I mean, I can never on any commercial operation

create the variety of the biodiversity of species

that an elk gets when it’s wandering around of its own,

I mean, there’s no way you can do that on a farm,

so there’s always gonna be that extra five or 10%

that those wild animals are gonna have,

and those wild animals also fast for longer,

so they go through periods of starvation,

and that creates an even slower growth for musculature

that’s gonna create even more unique flavor

and characteristics, so that’s why there’s that extra

in the hunted meat, but you can come a lot closer

with regenerative traditional farming

to that flavor and health

than with any other type of farming I know,

so that’s where I see it on the spectrum.

I love that people are getting excited about game,

because it’s better for your health,

it’s got all the same characteristics

as regenerative farmed meat,

and it gets people turned on to simple, delicious food.

You know, you shouldn’t have to cover food

with sauce that’s got corn syrup and soy,

a bunch of junk in it to make it palatable.

If you gotta put sauce on your food,

you need to look at your ingredients.

You need to revisit what you’re starting from,

because if you have to put a bunch of things

to mask flavor onto anything you’re eating,

you’re trying to basically fool your palate

into doing what’s not best for your body.

We’re trying to tell our palates,

like, just make it through this plate

so you can get the calories in,

and we’re masking the fact

that we don’t actually find it very appetizing.

So we’re kind of teaching ourselves

to overcome our instinct with food.

We’re saying, here’s this kind of bland base substrate,

not very interesting, I’m not like sparking to it.

Awesome, put sugar and salt on it.

This up the hyperprocess flavor profile.

Great, done.

And then you’re sparked to it.

That’s a very short road,

and that’s, I think, a lot of the health problems

we have now is because we’re masking flavors

and basically trying to get ourselves

to move down this path of the same way

we behave around all hyperprocess foods.

And that gets us into a mess with our health.

So if we can get things like game

where people love the flavor out of the gate,

but it’s natural, simple, mentally processed,

that’s a win.

Yeah, it reverses that hyperprocessing trend

that we’re on as a human species.

And that’s the promise of regenerative farming,

that’s the promise of hunting.

Obviously, the former can be scaled,

the hunting, I think, cannot be scaled, right?

But in many ways, the hunting inspires the world

that this is the right way to eat.


And that naturally leads to then

the humane farming, regenerative farming idea,

which is this idea that hunting represents.

How do you scale that?

Well, if you look at, we’re talking about

people use this sort of marketing language

of happy cows or that kind of thing.

You’re talking about the happiest animals,

it’s wild animals, right?

So if you wonder why these practices are good,

talk to hunters.

You’re talking about animals that have lived

in their evolutionary capacity, right?

Who have played their role in the ecosystem,

who’ve lived their meaning of life, right?

And that’s a very powerfully different kind of role

than livestock production.

So I think if we can make our livestock production

as similar to wild as possible,

then we’re a lot of steps closer.

So you said the animals are happiest in the wild

and that’s where they find meaning.

What about us, the human animal?

What’s the meaning for us, do you think?

You’ve monitored the life cycle of a lot of living beings.

You ever look in the mirror and think like,

why the hell are we humans here?

I mean, thriving, reducing suffering, creating goodness.

I mean, those are the things I see in animals behavior.

They’re mostly interested in reducing suffering

and nurturing, right?

Those are the things that I think evolutionarily.

And we humans are just clever

and we wanna be able to try to do that

at a bigger and bigger scale.

As much as possible, reduce the suffering in the world.

And somehow that alleviates us of our own suffering.

That’s the Russian thing, life is suffering

and somehow helping others alleviates it

and come up with creative solutions to do that.

That’s really interesting.

It’s almost consciousness is the thing

that led to suffering, but it also led

to the desire to alleviate the suffering.

It’s a feedback loop.

Consciousness creates suffering

and the desire to alleviate it.

Is there yet a pretty nonlinear life?

Your parents were professors.

You have done a lot of sort of incredible things

that many would say kind of like,

how the hell are you gonna get this done?

Is there advice you can give to young people today,

like high school, college, about how to do,

how to live a similarly nonlinear crazy life

and accomplish, be as successful as you have been

about whether it’s just their career or life in general?

The greatest gifts I’ve been given

have come from pursuing curiosity.

Just trying to understand the thing you’re curious about

and allowing yourself to be curious about it

and just going with it.

And also pursuing things that are like deeply joyful for me.

Not what society wants, but you just personally,

just on your own, you’re happy that you did it.

And that’s something that in the times

when I strayed from that, my life has been harder.

So it’s fundamentally, what are we on earth to do?

To live and thrive.

And so pursuing things that are curious

and satisfying and interesting and joyful

and allow me to grow.

So I made a number of choices to do things

that were more complicated and not considered cool

at the time.

Although now it’s cool to work on farms.

It wasn’t when I started my career in animal agriculture.

And it was like, but just deeply interesting to me.

And I felt like there was just lots to learn.

And so that’s been the path for me

is like going for something that’s curious and hard

and sticking with it and being open to it.

And growing elements that give me joy through that.

So I also, for people who are starting out

in their careers and want to do something different too,

it’s like, get out of your comfort.

Go to a place that you’ve got something to learn from

and let it teach you that.

And you’ll get beat up.

Like I got beat up by that experience.

Like it was really hard.

I laugh about now working in Sicily for,

and the funny experiences I had there, but it was hard.

I was lonely and cried a lot.

It was stressful.

It was like, it was hard.

It was really hard.

And when you’re inside of it,

you didn’t know how it’s going to turn out.

You didn’t know it’s going to turn out well.

And I’m like, why didn’t I get a job doing something

that all my friends are doing?

And I didn’t speak the language yet.

I had to learn foreign language and learn how to function.

And it was very lonely and very challenging,

but then that’s where my resilience started to grow.

So the things I learned, they helped me grow.

So the things I learned there ended up just being

about resilience and understanding the language

of subtlety in meaning.

So that’s something that’s carried me through my life.

But it was a curiosity about cheese making

and about like just living in a village that was there.

I’m like, wouldn’t it be amazing

to just live in a really rural village.

And you just went with it.

And I just like, this seems incredible

and have a place where you can,

the people seem interesting, the food seems good.

And let’s just like try this and see what I can learn.

And that like putting yourself out of your comfort zone

in a place where you have a chance to learn

and grow is the secret.

Because it’s, you grow through discomfort.

People think that you grow when you get

into this environment where everything’s

like kind of sailing along,

but like growth actually comes through pain.

It’s like growth comes from being cut down

and beat down and having to regrow and double down.

And so that kind of opportunity,

you have to seek it out.

You have to put yourself in the line of fire a bit.

If the situation sucks,

it’s a sign that you might be doing something right

in the sense that you’re on the path

at the end of which you’ll be a better person

if you allow yourself to grow in that way.

Like as opposed to resisting it,

just going along with the journey and persevering.

And that ended us up in this incredible place.

This whole conversation, I’ll probably overlay a video.

I’m looking at a gorgeous mountain

and it’s an incredible farm.

Thank you so much for a meal yesterday.

That was incredible.

The cheese, the fish eggs,

just everything about this place.

Looking up, you can see the stars.

The stars at night are beautiful

and there’s a peacefulness to it.

I had a pretty hard week actually,

just emotionally in many ways.

And just coming here, it’s immediately,

so much of it is lifted.

So I really deeply appreciate Anya

that you would invite me here

and that you have this conversation.

This was really awesome.

So thank you so much.

Thank you.

Thanks for listening to this conversation

with Anya Fernald and thank you to Gala Games,

Athletic Greens, Four Sigmatic and Fundrise.

Check them out in the description to support this podcast.

And now let me leave you with some words

from the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

Thank you for listening.

I hope to see you next time.

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