Edible Bozeman

What Animals Teach Us About Food

Fred Provenza is, forks down, the most brilliant advocate of bringing us back to wholesome food. Consuming Provenza’s book Nourishment: What Animals Can Teach Us About Rediscovering Our Nutritional Wisdom (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018) will stir up your wholesome food choices, help you master your local food biome, and pursue your local producers with moxie.

Provenza’s book unveils the mystery of nutritional wisdom: how wild and domestic animals still have it, and how humans have lost it. The author delivers a full-course meal of science and some pinches of simple reality about where we sit with our connection to food. He discusses his years as a researcher of grazing animals and their unfettered ways to browse and choose what they need and he relates humans’ shortfall at doing the same. Provenza shares his view on our current nutritional situation and the reasons why we are there. Nourishment calls out our food choices that are driven by a culture that has created foods that are miles away from wholesome, making a call to action and challenging us to check in with our nutritional wisdom.

I picked up this book so I could explain why we graze our beef the way we do and was hoping to sell more beef. I learned so much about grazing behavior and human behavior regarding food selection. I was encouraged to listen to Ben Greenfield Fitness’s podcast with Provenza, where he discusses providing “whole foods for your food,” making the point that “wholesome foods are grown in good conditions.” At Barney Creek Livestock we provide a diversity of grasses for the cows to browse and graze. This diversity, Provenza explains, “is going to influence the flavor and biochemical composition of the meat and fat,” ultimately improving our product for the health of our customers.

As I read Nourishment, I realized we are headed on the right track. We provide wholesome food for our community and share our story with our customers. We do our best to inform them about how our methods are providing whole foods.

We feed the soil microbiology, we conduct plant tissue tests to ensure our grass is providing proper nutrition, we move our animals across the land to stimulate plant growth and sequester carbon, and we raise our animals in a low-stress environment.

I connected with this book on many levels—as a mother, a consumer, and as a rancher raising food for my community. As you read Nourishment, reflect on how lucky we are to live “down the road” from a rancher, then take a few moments to study your local food biome and go visit. And remember to ask your rancher questions about how your food is raised.

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