Have you ever wanted to quit your day job and start a chicken farm? If this thought has ever crossed your mind, but you believe this is about as far-fetched a dream as becoming an astronaut at retirement age, think again.
The video above tells the story of Paul Grieve, who quit his accountant job to cofound Primal Pastures. As noted on its website, Primal Pastures is the outgrowth of:1
- A belief that we are experiencing a major food crisis
- A sound idea of how to fix it
- A vision of raising the best meat in the world produced in Southern California
Starting From Scratch
Grieve's journey from cubicle to farm really began when, at the age of 22, his health started failing. After doing some research, he and his family started following a Paleo diet, which led to significant improvements. Grieve's energy level soared and his arthritis disappeared. His father-in-law and brother both lost significant amounts of weight.
This ultimately led them to learn more about food in general — how it's produced and altered through various processes. Discouraged by the fact they could not find the kind of food they really wanted in their local grocery stores, the family decided to raise their own free-range chickens.
None of them knew anything about raising chickens when they first launched Primal Pastures. Armed with nothing except Joel Salatin's book, "Pastured Poultry Profit$,"2 they set out to raise a flock of 50 chickens. "We really just wanted to produce good food for our family," Grieve says. "That's how this whole thing started."
Fifty chickens turned into 100, then 200, then 400. Today, five years later, the Temecula, California, farm produces "healthy and happy" pastured poultry, pork turkey and duck, and grass fed beef and lamb. You can learn more about their farm operation on PrimalPastures.com.3
As you might expect, the venture has seen its fair share of drama. About nine months into it, they lost so many chickens to predators they nearly went out of business. At that point, they added dogs to protect the animals, and have not lost any of their livestock to predators since. They now have 14 dogs guarding the 140-acre farm.
Two Models of Food Production
As hinted at by Grieve, there are basically two vastly different models of food production today. The first, and most prevalent, is the large-scale agricultural model that takes a very mechanistic view toward life, whereas the other — the local, sustainable farm model — has a biological and holistic view.
The latter has the advantage of working with nature rather than against it, and by doing so, you don't need things like antibiotics to keep the flock healthy, or grain with feed additives to keep them nourished. All of those things actually end up doing far more harm than good, as it impacts the quality of the meat.
The widely-adopted, factory farm, "bigger is better" food system has reached a point where the fundamental weaknesses of it are becoming readily apparent, and foodborne disease and loss of nutrient content are just two of the most obvious side effects.
It's a proven fact that factory farmed and processed foods are far more likely to cause illness than unadulterated, organically-grown foods. This connection should be obvious, but many are still under the mistaken belief that a factory operation equates to better hygiene and quality control, when the exact opposite is actually true.
A pig rolling in mud on a small farm is far "cleaner" in terms of pathogenic bacteria than a factory-raised pig stuck in a tiny crate, covered in feces, being fed an unnatural diet of genetically modified grains and veterinary drugs.