There is so much going on to make sure you don’t get sick. Industries exist to inspect, audit, test, clean, kill pathogens, refrigerate, distribute, train and finally cook and serve you food all in way that doesn’t make you ill. As a farmer, you are interested mostly in just growing good food. As a processor, suddenly keeping the food “clean” is important—keeping the pathogens out, packaging it correctly, doing the testing required. It is a lot of work.
But it wasn’t until I received an email with this re: line => “Your grass-fed beef keeps me alive – thank you” that the full weight of what we are doing hit me.
It never occurred to me that the WHAT we were serving was also a vital health concern for some. I fully believe organic and added hormone/antibiotic free meats are essential for good health and make up a vital, healthy lifestyle. Within that, though, was this conceit: healthier doesn’t make it a necessity. I know doctors who prescribe grassfed, organic meats to their patients for better protection against heart disease and other medical reasons, but this fell into my category of “healthier”.
Then Amy wrote me.
Amy has a condition called “Histamine Intolerance” which means that her body doesn’t make enzymes necessary to control her histamine levels, resulting in a hyper-sensitive allergic reaction to, well, almost everything (medicine, pollen, perfume, and FOOD). She wrote to tell me that this spring she was reduced to eating just FOUR FOODS that her body would tolerate.
In working with her health care providers, they began to work out which foods she could tolerate. Here is what she wrote:
“I want to thank you because your grass fed beef keeps me alive and kept me alive at my sickest – it is the only meat I can eat. I am so allergic to corn, soy, wheat, and rice that if I even eat beef from a cow that was grain-fed I have an allergic reaction. I have people depending on me, and I need to work. Your beef is how I am able to live my life, otherwise I am sick all the time. I eat 1 pound of the ground beef every day. My body relies on it.
I feel bad that cows have to die to keep me alive, and I would prefer to be a vegetarian, but I don’t get to have my way – I have to eat what my body will accept and won’t reject (have an allergic reaction to). Your cow is the only protein it accepts. So I have to eat this way because my body will be sick if I don’t, but it comforts me to at least know that you treat your animals humanely.
The work you all do is so important. To some us out there (like me!) whose bodies reject modern foods, our quality of life depends on your work.”
Now when we work, when we are going through our labeling and testing and haccp plans and sanitation, we aren’t just following the rules and keeping things clean. We are keeping Amy alive.