Once considered a niche in the food industry, grass fed meats are an increasingly popular choice as consumer demand continues to grow and more people join the movement. Along those lines, the purpose of this year's event is continue to help producers, processors, distributors, and the ever expanding number of consumers grow their knowledge of the grass fed industry.
Typically reserved for those in grassland farming and ranching, this year's Grassfed Exchange Conference is designed to also provide a wealth of education and information to consumers, cooks, and chefs; and to allow for networking between the producers and the consumer. Organizers will demonstrate the ways people can integrate grass fed meats into their diets and further explain the industry's impact and influence on overall human health.
The 2016 event offers an impressive lineup of expert speakers on a wide range of topics important to the industry.
Since its inception in 2010, the Grassfed Exchange (GFE) has gone through a continuous learning process and succession. It started with the simple and effective sharing of cutting-edge livestock genetics and grassland management knowledge between regenerative ranchers and currently provides education for whole ecosystem management, soil-plant-animal-human nutrition, and the specific and broad-ranging economic benefits of a regenerative agriculture.
The 2016 GFE tour and conference will focus on how each of these parts can be synergistically molded together into a land regenerating, profitable, quality of life enhancing agricultural model.
Soils not only make up the foundation for all that we have the ability to accomplish in agriculture, but they are our direct link to truly harvesting nature's bounty. When focusing on soil health, we tend to manage for what we want and address root causes of problems, rather than simply attacking symptoms.
Many of those root causes can be addressed by aligning our production model with the raw landscape we have at our disposal. In other words, we are more apt to work with nature rather than against her by managing in synchrony with natural conditions.
Plants are an important tool providing multiple benefits. Not only are they our most effective method of harvesting solar energy, but they grow soils, protect ecosystems, purify our water, and provide high quality nutrition to animals and humans. Plants can play the ever important role of providing diversity, both to feed the herd of creatures below the ground - soil organisms - and the herd above the ground - livestock, wildlife and humans -- through nutrient dense leaf matter. If diverse plant communities are paired with healthy soils, the complementary relationship provides a resilient nutrition and habitat source for many living organisms, both wild and domesticated.
Animals are another multi-faceted tool providing a host of benefits. Being a living organism with certain behavior-based tendencies, they have the ability to select for their own nutrition, if given the opportunity. They assist greatly in management of our water and mineral cycles, provide a high quality protein food source, and can do most of this laborious work on their own under simple, yet effective management. Allowing these creatures to manipulate the landscape through strategic guidance, incredible benefits can be achieved by turning low quality plant fiber into high quality protein.
The human aspect brings an additional level of complexity to the equation. Not only do our bodies need an adequate quantity of food intake, but our bodies need and desire quality as well. Management of a grass-based operation focused on soil health, with a holistic approach, goes a long way in providing nutrient dense foods. The focus on more and more production does not alone accomplish the end goal of meeting the dietary needs of a growing population.
The reward of a regenerative grass-based agriculture culminates in the health of the human population and increased food production. Furthermore, the human variable is charged with accomplishing this greater purpose all while producing a profit, another component to true sustainability. This wealth can be built many ways, including in a monetary, biological or social sense.
** New this year will be a Thursday evening special event called "Taste of the South," an extended social and meal where participants can experience the flavor of local foods, grassfed meats, and grassfed dairy products prepared by renowned pit master Myron Mixon. This gathering offers attendees the chance to visit with the speakers, producers, and fellow farmers/ranchers. It will start with a keynote address by Dr. Mercola. The meal will be followed by entertainment from the Rockit City Band and Teddy Gentry, of the popular country group Alabama, a passionate believer in the benefits of grass fed meats.
Tour options on Day 1 include traveling to White Oak Pastures with Will Harris or visiting the University of Georgia Experiment Station at Watkinsville, Farmview Market and Fort Creek Farms.
Expert Speakers Scheduled:
Dr. Fred Pro venza - Professor Emeritus who will be presenting on how animals graze and thrive when highly diverse plant environments are made available
Dr. Joseph Mercola - Internationally renowned expert on human health as it relates to the food we eat
Ray Archuletta -- Renowned expert on soil health and how to reduce input costs through improvement of soil biology
Gabe Brown & Blaine Hitzfield - Highly integrated farm operators who produce grass fed beef, pastured poultry, pork, small ruminants, and produce grains, produce, etc. for marketing direct to the consumer.
Doug Peterson - Soil Health Expert and Adaptive Grazer
Dr. Dennis Hancock - a noted authority on forages
Burke Teichert - Internationally known Regenerative Rancher, author, and speaker...and others
To learn more about this year's speakers, entertainment and accommodations go to: www.grassfedexchange.com