Eating Healthy on the Farm

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I grew up in a generation of fast food, junk food, my mother cooking everything with butter, just an unhealthy existence. My parents have been overweight most of my life, and I refuse to be in that position. I thought I was eating healthy, except for my urge to have ice cream every night for dessert, which started when I was a child. About three years ago I was feeling terrible, no energy and depressed. I was a stay-at-home mom with little ones, my youngest only 2 at the time. I didn’t exercise much and ate OK, so I thought. I decided it was time to find a doctor and get a check up. I got a huge wake up call when she told me that my HDL (good cholesterol) was really low and my LDL (bad cholesterol) was too high. I also had vitamin deficiencies, which accounted for the low energy. She scared the crap out of me, saying stuff like heart attack and stroke. I was only 37, I was not old enough for that talk yet, or was I?

My parents and in-laws take handfuls of pills (sorry, guys, but it’s true), and I did not want that to be me. I decided right there I was going to change my diet and start exercising. That is not easy with little ones but I made the effort of doing exercise videos every day and taking walks with my little one in the stroller. I cut out anything that had saturated fat over 2 grams, which is a lot. No more butter, cheese, ice cream, everything that I loved. I missed it at first but it didn’t take long to start shedding the pounds. Holy cow, I lost more than 10 pounds quickly and was at a weight and size I had not seen in my adult life.

So fast forward a couple years when we decided to have a farm. We had chickens back then but that was it. After tons of research, I have found that raising pastured animals and consuming raw milk is so much more healthful for you. Meat, eggs and dairy from pastured raised animals is lower in fat and calories, and richer in antioxidants and vitamins. Eggs from pastured hens contain up to 10 times more Omega 3s than from chickens in cages that get no greens. Granted, we do give our animals some grain but our goal is mostly pasture. Meat is very expensive and not very appealing to me at the store, so why not raise it ourselves? My husband is a hunter, and we also eat a ton of venison, which is very low in saturated fat. It is a lean red meat. I have not bought beef in many years and won’t, unless we raise it ourselves, which is a future goal.

So far, we have successfully raised chickens, turkeys, geese and a pig for meat. It was sad to say goodbye to Piggy, but those are the best pork chops I have eaten in a long time. Next year, we are thinking of raising two pigs and offering less grain and more pasture. I am also going to try my hand at making lard from the back fat. Lard from pastured pigs is much healthier than the stuff you buy in the store that is hydrogenated. I am all about using good fats.

I don’t want to forget to mention that I grow a big garden full of veggies that I freeze. Kale and garlic are a big part of my diet. You need lots of greens to keep you healthy.

This year was the first year that I milked my goat and there are many benefits to consuming raw goat’s milk. I know there are lots of rules when it comes to buying raw milk but we are lucky that we have it available to ourselves. I have stopped milking this year but I have a ton filling up my freezer.

We do also buy cow’s milk but I try to balance them in my diet. When milk is pasteurized, all the good enzymes and good bacteria are killed in the process. Goat’s milk can be digested in about 20 minutes when cow’s milk takes up to 3 hours. If you have issues digesting cow’s milk, try goat’s milk, it may be your solution. The Journal of American Medicine states “goat’s milk is the most complete food known.”

So three years after that first visit to the doctor, I have greatly improved my health. I am fit and active and proud of my accomplishments. I have raised my HDL 9 points into the good range and lowered my LDL more than 30 points. Having a farm definitely keeps me active and now I don’t even know how to relax unless it is at night watching TV with my husband and children. I just turned 40 and am happier and healthier than I have been my whole adult life, thanks to living on the farm. I know everyone can’t have a farm and grow your own meat and vegetables but you can support your local farmer. Learn more about Conley Farm on Facebook.