Glenn Elzinga: Grass Fed Beef from the Mountains of Idaho

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Alderspring Ranch produces some of the best tasting and highest quality grass fed beef in North America. Glenn Elzinga, expert organic rancher and owner of Alderspring Ranch, shares what goes into creating Bulletproof approved beef and why it’. For over 20 years Glenn and Caryl Elzinga have worked hard and stayed true to the land and the cattle that roam on it. It’s a family ranch with a ton of heart and in this episode you will hear Glenn and I really geek out about beef. You will learn about the roots of Alderspring, why it’s so important not to micro-manage roaming cattle, how eating grass fed beef makes you more Bulletproof, and a lot more!

Alderspring Ranch is a real place, a family ranch. Glenn and Caryl Elzinga have grown grass fed and finished beef in Idaho’s Rocky Mountains for over 20 years. It is in the wild and pristine setting of Idaho’s high Pahsimeroi Valley that they found the ideal place to raise their certified organic Angus beef. In addition, Glenn’s background in forest ecology and Caryl’s as a PhD in plant ecology specifically equipped them to manage their landscape-level ranch comprised of over 70 square miles of high elevation wildlands- one of the largest certified organic ranches in the U.S They are experts at producing top quality cuts of beef for the discerning public. They are the opposite of a corporate outfit or a front through which to funnel odd cattle. Their passion is to grow the best beef you’ve ever had, and do it in a way that benefits all parts of an agricultural system, including the consumer, the land, the community, the cattle, and family.

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What You Will Hear

Children playing in the sun at Alderspring Ranch

  •     1:51 – Welcome Glenn
  •    2:00 – Glenn discusses his business and family history
  •    4:00 – How Alderspring… sprang up!
  •    5:20 – Wild cattle – Wild landscapes
  •    5:40 – The range of grass fed meat in America
  •    6:44 – Grass fed fraud
  •    7:03 – USDA methods to measure grass fed flavor/nutrition
  •    8:11 – What are the grocery store differences in beef? How to choose?
  • 10:08 – Hydroponic agriculture
  • 12:05 – Beef is a super food
  • 12:30 – Fusarium and the corn hangover
  • 13:00 – Taste the difference (ribeye)
  • 13:40 – Farmland as a precious commodity
  • 14:10 – Eat grass fed on Bulletproof and know your rancher
  • 14:45 – If you ate 1 pound of meat a day how many animals will you eat in a year?
  • 15:50 – Don’t micro-manage the cattle!
  • 17:10 – How is grass fed beef farming sustainable?
  • 18:50 – Permaculture and the potential of carbon (re-establishing native grasslands)
  • 20:44 – The problem with soil
  • 22:00 – Counting earthworms
  • 23:25 – The future of grass fed beef?
  • 24:20 – Why isn’t beef artisanal?
  • 24:42 – Alderspring meat is the best beef that Dave has ever had!
  • 26:24 – Be a discerning eater/consumer
  • 26:50 – How good quality beef can help your sex life
  • 28:00 – Get high with grass fed beef
  • 28:40 – What do cows eat during winter?
  • 31:00 – Is silage a good idea?
  • 31:50 – Cows and mycotoxins = less vigor
  •  34:11 – Meat processing and flavor variation within seasons
  • 35:20 – How do you humanely kill a cow?
  • 37:35 – How do you process a dead cow?
  • 39:03 – Why some meat is tough
  • 40:41 – Aging beef
  • 45:40 – Bad BPA
  • 47:25 – How to buy the farm?
  • 49:29 – Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
  • 52:00 – Meat subscriptions
  • 54:00 – Top 3 recommendations to kicking more ass!

From the Show:


Alderspring Ranch

Alderspring Facebook

Podcast Episode #42 With Glenn Elizinga (1.0)

The ForbesLife A-List

Being More Bulletproof

The Red Meat Scapegoat

Why Grass Fed Meat is Healthier Than Grain Fed

The Benefits of Grass Fed Meat Part-2

Questions for the podcast?

Leave your questions and responses in the comments section below so I can answer them in the next podcast.

You can also ask your questions via Podcast Question formThe Bulletproof ForumTwitter, and Facebook!

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By Dave Asprey

  • Chris

    Living in Montana I’m blessed with choices. What I struggle with is how to determine if a block of cattle are hormone free/antibiotic free. Any advice?

  • fighttakes

    Glenn is an amazing guy, and has an incredible product. I just don’t understand his dig against Joel Salatin’s (who I learned about via this podcast) method of “mob stock” grazing.

    Glenn let’s his cattle decide for themselves what grasses they eat by spreading 400 head over 70 square miles of forest and derides ranchers who don’t let their animals run free.

    Joel shuttles the same 400 head across his land 2 acres at a time forcing the animals to compete for forage. Joel says that he is mimicking bovines in the wild standing shoulder to shoulder for safety.

    Joel does not just look at what the grass can do for the animal. He is equally focused on what the animals can do to help the best grasses flourish. When you drive past 50 acres with cattle free to move as they please, the cattle eat the preferred grasses and leave the rest. This gives a competitive advantage to the weeds. Joel’s cattle eat everything.

    Joel has created pastures that yield close to 400 cow days per acre, and he has added six inches of topsoil to those fields.

    There is nothing wrong with Glenn’s running 400 cattle on the lands he has access to. There is also nothing wrong with Joel’s operation. They are both feeding people the best food in the world.

    Its just that Joel uses a lot less land, and sends 3 times as many cattle to slaughter, plus hogs, and turkeys and chickens and rabbits and eggs.

    • Gary

      I would also be interested in Dave’s thoughts on Joel’s use of biomimicry.

    • ash

      we use joels same practice model and it really does improve the land. it keeps the grass in a good cycle to help the soil build more healthily

    • Glenn Elzinga

      Glenn here. I think this may need some clarification. I have great respect for Joel Salatin and what he does, and I don’t think I criticized him in my interview. My concern is with managed grazing on lands planted to monocultures or very limited diversity. I think the nutrient profile from such beef is not going to be what people are looking for in an optimal diet. Joel has essentially treated his pastures like wild meadows, with no tillage or planting, for a long time (I think several decades-Joel stands on the shoulders of his parents and the good work they did on their farm). As a result, his soil biota is probably very diverse, resulting in nutrient-dense forage. Joel and his farm, however, are unfortunately an anomaly. Most U.S. farmland has been aggressively tilled and farmed for a century or more, and it is well-known that our soils are depleted.

      I think Joel and I share a similar love for the land, but that will be expressed in very different ways because the environments in which we work are very different. Joel works on managed pastures with a rainfall of 45 inches or more and a 7-8 month growing season. His land will produce more per acre than I could ever dream of because of rainfall and heat. I work in the wild Rocky Mountain West with a rainfall of 11-12 inches and 3 month frost-free growing season. Joel works with many introduced pasture species. I work primarily with native plants and plant communities and because of our climate and western situation, our cattle essentially mimic deer and elk, traveling across large landscapes and eating what they wish. We manage our cattle at a landscape scale to improve riparian areas, decrease weed populations, improve aspen regeneration, increase seedling success of desirable native grasses, and other things.

      I will argue this, however, although I’m probably going to get in trouble 🙂 . In the wild, cattle do not mob. I’ve been watching elk, deer and bison in the wild for a few decades now, and none of them mob. If there are predators, they may mob up, but then they are moving, not eating. Cattle, left to their own devices, will travel in small groups like deer, or when in larger groups, will spread out like elk and bison do. Ecologically, however, you can use mob grazing by cattle to meet a resource objective. For example, using mob grazing you can make the cattle eat everything and level the competitive playing field between different plant species and reduce the weedy species. We have used mob grazing to meet ecological objectives (eliminate weeds, reduce an undesirable grass in a pasture, etc.). Is it effective? Yes, and it is one of the most exciting things to us: that we have this grazing tool to create positive ecological change. Do I think it makes the best-tasting most nutritious beef? Frankly, I do not. Therefore, most of our resource management based grazing is done with mother cows, not our finishing beef. And I think Joel actually does this as well- letting the finish beef go on a paddock first and giving them free choice and then making the mother cows clean up behind them.

      • fighttakes

        Thanks for clarifying.

        I went back to the audio, and what set me off comes at 16:10. Where you say that moving animals from paddock to paddock is “totally wrong thinking”.

        In a long conversation every word isn’t going to come across exactly as you intend.

        Glad to read this message from you.

        While you are clearly correct that there are vast amounts of farmland in tillage, there is also a vast amount in pasture.

        Joel’s model is the best use of that resource that I have seen.

  • I’ve heard you mention video in a few of the podcasts but the only one I’ve seen is the one with Christopher Ryan. Have the others been published anywhere?

  • mac

    I just got my food allergy test back and am allergic to beef and dairy. The majority of my diet is currently grass fed beef from alderspring ranch and grass fed Kerry gold butter. What should I do?

    • John Kempf

      I would suggest the proof of an allergy is in your response to the food you are supposedly allergic too. Try eliminating them for some time and see how your body responds.

      From personal experience I believe that many allergy tests can be mistaken. I suspect the reason might be that they are running the lab tests with ‘junk’ food, which may very well contain allergens and ‘funny’ proteins, while the healthy foods you are consuming may not contain those same toxins.

      Prove it to your own satisfaction first. Believe your body before the lab test.

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  • Jennifer

    What was the ted talk that he mentioned? I want to watch it

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  • Donna L. Laich

    I just listened to podcast #64 with Glenn. He sounds amazing and I would love to buy his product but I have a problem with the shipping cost (and fuel used to transport). Do you know of any east coast farms with similar integrity.

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