A Conversation with Prescott Frost
I recently spoke with Prescott Frost, the great-grandson of Robert Frost, who is an organic grass-fed beef rancher and online butcher extraordinaire. He paints a picture of humans, animals, and nature coexisting in harmony. This isn’t about being vegan or carnivorous, it’s about the food system being broken and needing a solution.
I also recently posted about the health and environmental benefits of grass-fed beef along with a service for sharing cows in the Philadelphia area called Philly Cow Share. Since then, I have received an abundance of comments and emails asking where to get grass-fed beef other places in the country, and what to do in the winter. I turned to Frost to answer some of these questions, as his company offers monthly shipment and flexible payment plans.
What to do when there is no rancher or farmer within reach:
While I am lucky enough to have many local farmers and services like cow shares nearby, not everyone has been blessed with such grass-fed luck. While specialty stores and large-scale grocery stores often have a supply of grass-fed beef, their prices are frequently beyond reasonable. One major grocery store with organic foods (not to mention names) has a great variety of organic vegetables, but the meat prices on average are nearly double what I pay at the local farms.
Well, my goal of trying to get healthy, humane, grass-fed beef from ranchers and farmers without paying the middle man led me to an unlikely source. For those of you unfamiliar with Prescott Frost, he runs a large 100% organic, grass-fed beef ranch in the Nebraska Sandhills. Interestingly, when the farm his great-grandfather originally purchased was passed down to he and his brother, Frost said “we are going organic or are selling it”. He eventually shifted gears to raising cattle, and his goal of doing it right continues as his cattle are 100% grass-fed and organic.
Unlike the corn and soybean fields that stretch for miles throughout the US, Frost’s ranch supports 700 native plant species. For those of you who recently saw the movie “Fresh”, we know about the damage that single-crop farming on a large scale can do to the environment. As Frost commented, “Not only is this better for the environment and sustainability, but it’s better for the animals, for the community, and for us.”
What about buying local?
While I have received many emails and questions from readers without local options, I know many of my readers are locavores and tend to support local farms and businesses. I asked Frost how he responds to those who think all meat should come from a local source. His answer was surprising at first, but interesting: “Nebraska is to local grass-fed beef as Napa is to local wine”. I am not sure if Frost knows of my love for a good wine or if he has used such a line before, but his point was well taken. He elaborated: “While it’s nice to be able to get grass-fed beef within walking or driving distance, this isn’t possible nor does it necessarily make sense when you are in the center of a large city. Land is limited and expensive, and shipments are already coming in on a daily basis upon which we can piggyback our goods.” This lessens the environmental impact of shipping. I still think buying local, IF you can, is wonderful but from all your responses I also realize that for many, many people buying from a local farm is NOT an option. And that’s where companies like that of Mr. Frost’s are a huge asset.
When Nature and Nurture Combine Powers: The Real Story Here
The recurrent theme throughout our conversation was that of the necessity to entwine our ways with nature, returning to our pastoral lifestyle as it was in the past. When discussing the confined feeding operations (CFOs) and “petrol-based” modern farming, Frost’s disgust came through the phone as vividly as if he were in the next room. Calling the land that his cows roam as the “Napa Valley” of beef is quite different than crowding them in a barn like CFOs. We also discussed his goal of replacing every acre of corn to grass, which he laughed about and responded “maybe not every, but the more the better”. Another two birds killed with one stone, as less corn fed to both humans and cows will make the world a healthier and better place.
The real health goal here is to replace the factory-made “frankenbeef” with healthy pastured-beef in a way that is more accessible and more affordable to us average consumers. However, through our conversation, it became clear that there is so much more to this. While the need for more animal rights and compassionate care are obvious, forming a greater bond with our food sources, our environment, and nature itself becomes inevitable when contemplating all the benefits of returning to a more pastoral lifestyle from our distant past. This is clearly important at this current time, where cows are stuffed into CFOs and injected with hormones and antibiotics, with their meat ground up and laced with pink slime. Pink slime has recently been all over the news: it is the animal leftovers after the butchering process that are often used in pet food and cooking oil. It is first infused with ammonia to kill all the E. Coli and other harmful bacteria, but is often added back to ground beef as a filler and sold to you in your local supermarket.
Back to Nature:
While non-nature lovers and those who didn’t grow up surrounded by several acres of forest tucked into the mountains of western Pennsylvania may not understand this, but seeing a picture of one of Prescott’s cows grazing next to a stream in high grass with mountains in the background gave me shivers. In fact, those who spent a recent trip with me in Holland or the South American countryside can vouch for the fact that I am moved by the sight of cows peacefully grazing in a pasture.
However, no one quite captures the interplay of man, nature, and pastoral life like Paulus Potter. While I am in no way an art expert, I am strangely fascinated with the work of Potter, a famous 17th century Dutch painter. Caveman Doctor is definitely lacking in “the arts” as most of his time is spent in health-related topics. However, Potter has caught his eye. He portrays the pastoral lifestyle in the Dutch countryside from several centuries ago and reveals the interplay and nature and man like no other. (I also have spent time in the countryside of Holland watching cows roam the pasture, which may have something to do with it…).
Potter understood that we need animals as much as they need us, and when done properly, we can take care of each other. Potter expressed this symbiosis beautifully and simply through his paintings. This sentiment can be extended to Frost, who left Los Angeles as a stockbroker to get his hands dirty raising organic cattle in a manner that, if were Potter still alive, he would be displaying on a canvas. The blending of perfecting your trade during the day and raising food at home is a pipedream of mine, many of my readers, and most modern cavemen.
Continuing the Interplay between Man and Nature
Just as Robert Frost expressed his talent with writing, and Potter artistically depicted the pastoral harmony between man and nature, Prescott continues this artistry in his own way through his imprint on the land. As he explained to me, his cows roam and graze, adding fertilizer and nitrogen to the pasture. Meanwhile chickens tag along and eat flies and larva from the manure of cows (decreasing the amount of pestering flies to the cows), and in addition add their own fertilizer to the land. While Potter never depicted a similar interaction with chickens in his paintings, I’m sure he would be pleased at this interchange of nature. It became pretty apparent that this interplay between the different animals and the environment (and humans) is the symbiotic relationship Nature intended. As Frost points out, “we need ruminants to turn the grass into manure, to put their footsteps on the land. We used to have horses to use to tend to the land. After 1947 and world war II, they were giving away free tractors if you traded in your horse.” He continued to explain how this in part lead to our current “petro-based economy” in farming, the first of many steps towards our food supply being industrialized.
Prescott and I also discussed how buffalo and other animals used to roam freely throughout the West. Now they are gone and we need a replacement. Cows are the ruminants that, when not stuffed full of grains or antibiotics, can provide the fuel nature needs to help crops and vegetation grow dense with nutrients and vitamins. As Frost stated, “80% of antibiotics in this country are used for farm animals”. This fact absolutely blew me away. Most of our antibiotics go towards cows that only need antibiotics because we force them into unnatural living conditions.
It’s time for Paleo followers and Cavemen to unite with animal lovers for the greater good of animals, and in turn mankind. I get a fair share of emails from vegans and vegetarians chastising me for my comments concerning meat consumption. They need to stop and realize that we are all pushing for the more ethical treatment of animals and sustainability of the environment. If we want to accomplish this, we need to work together.
We need cows as much as nature needs them. Let’s treat them right by giving them the foods they were made to eat, and the space they were made to occupy, and get rid of the inhumane conditions. They will happily repay us by providing our soil, plants, and food with an abundant supply of nutrients and vitamins.
Frost isn’t the only one pushing for sustainability and improving our health, the environment, and the fair treatment of animals. Many ranchers and farmers around the country are also following the responsible path to raising cattle. Most can be found on eatwild.com or internet searches. The other option (the way my grandparents did it) is to ask around your local areas and check out the surrounding farms.
The tide is turning and sustainable farming is taking this country by storm. The immoral crowding of cows, stuffing them full of grains, hormones, and antibiotics will hopefully soon be a thing of the past. I am grateful for all moral farmers and cattleman out there like Prescott Frost who are actively making this change, and for Paulus Potter, who shows us through his art how we should treat our animals.
Caveman Doctor readers can receive 20% off orders from PrescottFrost.com now through May 15, 2012 by inputting the code “CavemanBeef” at checkout.
All images were printed with permission from Prescott Frost Inc. and its public relations firm organicworks PR.
© Caveman Doctor 2012. All Rights Reserved.