Conventional meats generally come from animals raised in confined areas, fed inappropriate diets, pumped full of antibiotics and hormones, then washed with toxic chemicals. Force of Nature, a regeneratively-sourced meat company based in Austin, TX., is one of the leaders in the regenerative agriculture food revolution. The company is committed to improving environments, ecosystems, animal agriculture systems, as well as, changing the lives of people for the better. In this episode, Dr. Jack Wolfson talks with Force of Nature’s CEO, Robert Sansom, about the role of regenerative agriculture in our health and how they are trying to serve consumers while helping the land stewards on the frontline. Robby also discusses the myriad of food challenges we are facing today, as well as how we can take action, adapt, grow, and make positive changes.
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Carnivore Challenge Teams Up With Force of Nature And Robert Sansom
I’ve got a fantastic guest that I want to introduce to you all with an amazing product. This is Robby Sansom. He’s with Force of Nature, the company and it has a very unique line of food items that you need to know about. Specifically, if you know stuff about us, again, I love to do challenges. We’ve got an upcoming Carnivore Challenge. We do these carnivore challenges. Again, carnivores are a great way to do a reset, detox or reboot, whatever you want to call it. This is a seven-day challenge and one of the sponsors of that is Force of Nature. Robby, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here and talk about all the cool stuff that you’re doing. It’s certainly a passion of mine. I’m happy to help and share some information that, hopefully, is valuable to your consumers. I think for us, we’re trying to start a food revolution. That doesn’t happen without consumers, so I love to connect them with things that they’re already passionate about. I’m eager to hear where we take this.
You’re with Force of Nature and before that, you were with EPIC foods, EPIC bars. Most people are familiar with it. I met you guys back in 2014 and was immediately in love with the concept of what you guys were doing. Maybe take us back to how EPIC started, how you were involved with EPIC and fast forward to now, what started Force of Nature?
It’s obviously a long and a story with many turns. I’ll try to make it as brief as possible. With EPIC Provisions, we wanted to create healthy protein and make it convenient. That’s where the bars and the jerky and some of the more packable things came into play. The origins of that brand and company were a vegan energy bar company that my co-founders had started.
They were trying to do what conventional wisdom told them to do, to be healthy for themselves and to be more considerate towards animals and other social factors and to do what’s right for the environment. They had pursued a vegan lifestyle. The result of that was a myriad of health issues that they were faced with, which eventually led them to adjust their food philosophy and incorporating healthy proteins.
Hence, immediate pivot from a vegan energy bar company to a meat-based energy bar company, which created that category but those values of, “How do we honor these animals? How do we honor these lands,” and do all of these at the same time as we’re optimizing our own human health? That started us down the journey and the rabbit hole of, “What is healthy meat and where does it come from?”
It’s healthy animals. Healthy animals come from healthy lands. They got to be eating healthy diets and have to be treated well. They have to be able to express their evolutionary behaviors and so on and so forth. That journey with EPIC opened the door to us to go down the rabbit hole of regenerative agriculture. What we did there was fun.
Healthy meat comes from healthy animals. Healthy animals come from healthy lands eating healthy diets and being treated well.
We were able to sell that company at one point and to General Mills. With the influence and scale of a large company like that, we were able to do many things within that organization but the thing that we’re most proud of is we helped. We aren’t solely responsible but we helped put regenerative agriculture on the map. They were the first Fortune 500 company to take a stance and say, “We’re going to convert a million acres of our supply chain from conventional agriculture to regenerative agriculture.” Now many other Fortune 500 companies have followed suit. It’s been incredible and important for our mission. For us, that was back in 2016.
Our mission never changed. The brand may have been sold, but we still want to go out there and try to improve environments, ecosystems, animal agriculture systems, the livelihood and wellbeing of these communities and people. Ultimately, even make sure consumers are getting what they want. We’ll talk about what consumers are getting versus what they desire. For us, Force of Nature is an evolution of that same mission. We can go out and support all of those things now and do it in pounds, not ounces.
When I first came across Force of Nature, I happened to be walking around my local natural grocery store. In the frozen section, there was this cool-looking packaging, Force of Nature. Immediately, I was struck by the quality of this product. Again, what it said on there, as far as 100% grass-fed, grass-finished pasture-raised animals, the coolest thing about it and I’ve tried all your different products, but the blends.
You have these ancestral blends where you’re bringing in the liver and you’re bringing in the heart. Albeit at maybe smaller amounts to keep the palatability that’s there. How we’ve used that as a family in our home and I’ve got a lot of patients and clients who have used the product as well. You guys started Force of Nature. Describe to the audience as far as the quality of the animals that you guys are using in there. Maybe even touch on what’s different about your company compared to so many others, certainly in the conventional space.
I’m going to take start with the second half of that question first and then we’ll get into practices and standards and the quality of animals because that goes deep. Force of Nature, in a nutshell, is a company that sells meat. For folks that aren’t familiar with us and what you saw. You saw meat in retail, amongst other places. I gave the origin story, the transition from EPIC but what we started doing many years ago was building regenerative supply chains.
It’s essentially building supply chains of animal protein that was honoring the animal, the land, the producer and delivering a better-quality product for consumers. We started to figure out we could build those supply chains faster than demand for those products was catching on or at least education about the value of those products was catching on.
We started Force of Nature specifically to address that, to be a consumer-focused brand where we create more awareness and food issues and more access for a better call to action. For a long time, higher attribute proteins are available but you don’t have access to them. Folks didn’t understand why it’s important to get meat that’s not sprayed with toxic chemicals or animals that weren’t sick and sedentary their entire life before they became your food and so on and so forth. We wanted to build this brand to be about how do we bring consumers into this food revolution? How do we catalyze them and allow them to be the true force for positive change that they can be?
Force of Nature is a meat brand. We sell meat, but we sell meat and retail. I think we have 7,000 retail distribution points across the country now. We’re pretty widely available. Not everywhere, but getting there. We sell meat direct to consumers online. You can go onto our website and order our products and get any combination of them and we’ll ship them to your door. We sell meat into food services. Some top restaurants in the country carry the products and rollout. Essentially what that is about is we want to be anywhere consumers are.
We want to make it as easy as possible and address that call to action so they can go out and find better protein where they are and how they prefer to do their shopping. Beyond the accessibility of it, we offer bison, traditional proteins and poultry, pork and beef. We also offer bison and venison and elk and other cool things and in a variety of cuts. Whether they be the steaks and middle cuts or whether they be the grinds. In an innovative grind format, if you talked about the ancestral blend, which we can dive into because it’s fun. There’s a lot that’s important there to talk about.
Now we’re rolling out some new stuff, too, hot off the press. I’m probably jumping the gun a little bit, but sausages will be coming out soon. I’m ready to eat sausage links. That’ll be the first that have claims that are higher than antibiotics for your natural. Breakfast sausage, what you might see in a Jimmy Dean but with our sourcing standards and stuff.
Again, familiar formats, great protein selection, anywhere you want to get it or however, you want to get it. We’re trying to make it where these awesome land stewards on the front end who are doing wonderful things that we’re all benefiting from are able to connect with consumers who are interested in supporting these operations and systems. Now, connecting those two is a challenge and we’re building that connection and trying to serve consumers.
I appreciate it. We touched back to the organs because there’s a lot of companies that are doing high-quality, grass-fed and grass-finished products. When it comes to though, as far as the health benefits of eating pure muscle meat, as opposed to incorporating the organs, I think that there’s a lot of authorities that understand that the healthiest part of animals typically is the liver. It’s the hardest, those organs.
Other animals, when they kill other animals, go after those organ meats. As we teach people to embrace that into their diets, again, people have lost that cultural aspect of how they used to eat for thousands of years. They’ve lost the taste of it. You mentioned to someone, “Grass-fed animal liver is one of the healthiest foods on the planet,” but that’s going to be a deal-breaker to so many people.
I think what’s amazing is that as you guys pre-incorporate that into the ancestral blends and the grind is unique. Also, how the consumer, us, can take that and put it into a chili or can do anything with it. Whether it’s making burgers and lasagna or whatever it may be. You can put that in there and that’s a great way to get it into because I’ll eat liver all day long. Again, other people’s families don’t and won’t, so it’s fantastic that you guys did that.
That’s the product that we use the most of in my household too, for those very same reasons. Further clarification with anybody in the audience. We offer a normal standard beef ground meat. We offer bison ground meat and we offer chicken ground meat. Separately, we have an ancestral line of beef, bison and chicken where we blended in organs into that. That’s what you’re speaking to, but even in the name of it. It was a source of frustration for me. I’m thinking to myself, “How are these considered byproducts of production?”
The modern palate has deviated from some of these flavor profiles. We need to reincorporate the ancestral blend into our diet.
Our ancestors, these would have been the most highly sought after, the most desirable cuts on an entire animal. Even our animal ancestors, as you had mentioned, go straight to those. We need to reincorporate into our diet. How do we do that? What do we name it? That’s the reason why it became the ancestral blend because it’s honoring our ancestors and the value that they knew. The wisdom and food nutrition that they carried forward for us. You mentioned the blend, a huge part of it. The modern palette has deviated from some of those flavor profiles and folks like you and I love it and probably seek it out but maybe others are a little timid.
Certainly, the blend and the ratio are such that you want to bring the nutritional value without maybe what might be an awkward thing to some consumers from a flavor profile. There’s that component, but then there’s also what’s evolutionarily consistent. None of our ancestors ate a diet of 100% liver. When you kill a 2,000-pound animal and you get a 15 pound, 20-pound liver. I think that there’s probably some ratio or a blend.
From that health and nutrition standpoint of like, “Let’s make sure that we’re balancing.” Not to mention that there’s only so much liver in the world and they come from however many animals and how much ground meat you get. We can only blend so much is based on how many animals we have as well. Those are the three factors for the blend. The end product is something that’s incredibly nutritionally dense and very tasty. It’s some of our most popular products. It says a lot about where consumers are headed. It’s exciting because people are demanding better food.
Myself and a lot of others, I guess health authorities, if you will. I’ll throw myself into that category. I say that because again, medical doctors received zero training in nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. My ability to embrace that and to teach that to as many people as possible over here at Natural Heart Doctor, let them know that these organs are healthy.
Can you imagine that a cardiologist is saying, “Eat animal products,” which is as opposite of what the current recommendations are and let alone embrace the organs that are in there? Not many cardiologists are saying, “Eat grass-fed liver. Eat grass-fed hearts.” The liver is the best source of B vitamins, certain fats, certain proteins of, things like choline and a nose and inositol. It’s the most bioavailable and bioabsorbable format of those as well.
Everyone’s talking about CoQ10 and how important CoQ10 is. The heart is a fantastic source of that what I said. As far as the percentages, I don’t want to scare people off to thinking that in some a liver sausage or heart sausage product. It does. It’s got like that perfect ratio but as you said, it’s per Mother Nature. Also, probably that taste profile would suit everybody. Let me extend that and talk about one of your latest offerings. At least that was new to me was the ancestral chicken blend. Even there, you throw in the skin some other ancestral foods that are into that blend. Tell us about it.
That’s the one that we’re excited about. I feel like the chicken has and so as to beef too. Largely in the conventional space, but it’s boring. There’s a lot of information coming out on different issues in chicken, but effectively, in agriculture, we bred animals to be sedentary, to grow big, fast, cheap and crappy food and produce poundage, efficiently. Not to taste good and not to be nutritious. Obviously, our chickens are different.
We’re working with different breeds and different food products and different living environments. I think chicken meat has it potentially good, but ground chicken is probably even a further extension from some of the better preparations of chicken. It can be pretty plain and yet, we have things like foie gras or fry the skin of chicken being so rich and flavorful. That chicken fat profile is so delicious.
Whether it’s the foie in the liver or the fat from the skin, it tastes so good. It’s like, “How do we have this?” It has become, again, broadly a bland chicken product when there are such incredible flavors within this animal. Why don’t we bring those forward and celebrate those? The ancestral chicken blend is that, hearts and livers, as well as the gizzards and, in this case, the skin. The stuff that brings nutritional value and in the case of chicken, remarkable flavor.
I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, it is fundamentally the most nutritious and absolutely the best tasting ground chicken in the world. I don’t buy ground chicken or ground Turkey or those things because I love red meat. I love ruminants. I love the fact that you get out of it. Our chicken ancestral is it’s special. I have a taste for it, for sure.
Before trying the product from you guys, I had not had ground chicken or any ground poultry, maybe even like ever. It’s not something that I would ever go into a restaurant and saw it on the menu. I would never get that over again, grass-fed beef patty or burger or something like that, some pork product, which you guys have a fantastic line of ground pork products as well.
Back to the chicken again and we were talking about that before we started recording, as far as adding that to some broth. I’m sure you can make an amazing broth just with that alone, but we happen to have some frozen beef broth and then we added the ground chicken ancestral blend and no vegetables because it was carnivore-ish, if that’s what you’re trying to go for.
The flavor was out of this world and nourishing and satiating. The first time we took it anywhere was on a ten-hour car ride. I was giving that to my wife and me. We were eating that as we were going along. We were so enthralled by the quality of the product was. We certainly appreciate it. We do have this upcoming Carnivore Challenge.
Again, we’re talking to Robby Sansom. He is one of the Founders of Force of Nature. We called up and said, “We’re running this Carnivore Challenge. We would like for you guys to be involved. We love the product and what you guys are doing.” You guys have been gracious enough to give us a code that we can use called Carnivore10. It gets you $10 off your order with Force of Nature.
Understanding that when it comes to quality food and quality products, we need to be willing to pay and support more for those. There are a lot more expensive than the conventional farm factory tortured animal products that we would never ever eat. If you know Natural Heart Doctor and The Wolfsons, we never ever compromise from that.
People are demanding better food. It says a lot about where consumers are headed.
In fact, I’ve got a trip coming up where I’m speaking in Wisconsin. I’m looking at a farm-to-table in Wisconsin and where I’m going to be able to eat there. I’m looking for local natural grocery stores where I will be able to get food. Again, the Carnivore 10 is what people are going to use. Robby, do you have insight into carnivores? Have you ever done carnivore challenges? Have you guys ever supported any other people in this arena?
There are two things. One, I want to touch on that part about the price and the value and the cost of meat. Let’s come back to that because it’s important. I could open some people’s eyes to the value versus cheap food, as far as carnivore goes, absolutely. I’m a huge fan. I’ve been following it myself personally. Several of us throughout the company has experimented with carnivore diets for a variety of reasons. Both, full meat-based carnivores and some of it being maybe the more Paul Saladino, carnivore-ish, incorporating some berries and fruits and maybe some honey. It’s awesome.
The concept of paying attention to what works and recognizing an individual, people experimenting and finding how their body responds to different things. Learning, growing and adapting to their own needs and reactions. I think testing those different things for yourself makes sense. I personally know a lot of people who have seen profoundly positive benefits from it, again, in a variety of ways. Who doesn’t like eating a lot of meat? Certainly, something that, as a meat-selling company, we love to see but I think it’s something more than the value to our business. Something we’re proud to see and happy to see because it’s bringing quality and health to people’s lives.
You mentioned my buddy Paul Saladino and we asked you, we’re doing the carnivore challenge, which is a seven-day program. I don’t think that carnivores be the long-term solution unless you go carnivore-ish and you’re incorporating some plant materials and the berries and the raw honey. I’m good with that. Personally, our carnivore pyramid also includes coconut, avocado and olives.
With that being said, one issue that I would take with a lot of the carnivore people is that they forget to pay attention to seafood. To me, with all due respect to the folks over at Force of Nature, seafood is the healthiest food on the planet. It is the number one healthiest food. I’m going to ask you when are you guys going to put together some ancestral seafood blend?
Some roe with color, maybe. That might be a phase of the plan we haven’t quite got to yet. Now, we’re trying to take on major issues in agriculture, on land. There are 30 billion acres of land on the planet that are habitable and we practice agriculture on eleven billion of them. It’s pleating the whole myriad of challenges that we’re focused on trying to help mitigate and resolve. I’m with you there. I love seafood. I might have some questions for you on the concentrations of maybe some toxic metals that I’m trying to get my head around and learn more about.
My wife is pregnant. We were on a trip and we were eating seafood every day. We’re scratching our heads trying to figure out where’s the balance of the types of fish and the frequency of use and so. It’s not quite in our plans yet, but I would agree. It’s certainly part of a healthy diet. Fish and ruminate animals, as well as poultry animals, are all great meat sources.
That’s the point. Once again, it’s the highlight, the benefits of all these different food categories that have been vilified by mainstream media and agriculture, big-box Ag and bringing this back to say, “There’s nothing healthier than whole seafood. There’s nothing healthier than the whole animal products. Look how the egg has been vilified.” I say, “An egg is a cocoon for a baby chicken.” It contains everything for a chicken to come to life. Try raising a chicken on oatmeal, you’re not going to get very far in doing so.
Again, to embrace common sense and what the animal world already knows as far as like a lion and tiger. These animals all know instinctually what to eat. For some reason, we tend to have all these different arguments about it. Let me say because you brought up the seafood thing really quick. Again, I test people’s toxic metals for a living.
It’s what I do on a daily basis. The people that are eating sardines, wild salmon, anchovies and shellfish are not coming up high in metals. Metals may be a concern with some of the big fish like the tuna, shark and swordfish. It’s not that those necessarily should be avoided. It’s that they’re not necessary when you have all these other possibilities.
The number one thing any pregnant woman could do as far as food is concerned is to pack themselves with omega-3 fats from animals, but specifically from seafood. It’s the seafood that has the EPA and ultimately, the DHA, which is the ultimate when it comes to the brain formation of a new baby. In fact, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology reversed their decades-old stance of telling women to avoid seafood because they were concerned about the metals. It was a major mistake and they realized that. Again, you’re getting all these infants that are born with low levels of omega-3. Could you take supplements? You could, but you and I would both agree that nothing replaces the real deal, the real food.
Thanks for that. It’s reassuring to know that we’ve been doing the right things and some of the areas where we’ve steered clear of the conventional wisdom. Even when you’re educated and you’re on the inside, it’s hard to know where those boundaries sometimes lie because the common narrative is so loud and pervasive.
You guys can take those anchovies and the sardines and run them through the grinder and make some tasty blend. I’ll look forward to that. Also, to that measure, like the salmon roe, everything is inside of that little egg of how a salmon comes to life. Think about that. Again, medical doctors have lost common sense. I’ll give you any final words that you want to say but we appreciate teaming up with Force of Nature on the Carnivore Challenge. I think we’re going to get a lot of people into that. Again, it’s about creating a community of health-minded people, letting them know what is healthy overall and from a cardiovascular standpoint.
A carnivore may not be a long-term strategy for people, but again, it’s a great way to nourish the body while you’re breaking some of the bad habits. You’re breaking some of the sugar cravings and the carb cravings and even things like alcohol. One thing we do allow in our carnival challenge is coffee. For those people that are interested in drinking organic mold mycotoxin-free coffee, we allow that because that’s how we survive through the Carnivore Challenge. We appreciate you guys and your support. Say hello to Taylor and Katie. Any final words that you want to leave us with?
Even when you’re educated and you’re on the inside, it’s hard to know where the boundaries sometimes lie because the common narrative is so loud and permissive.
I feel like there are two questions you asked, but I didn’t answer. I didn’t explain the quality of the protein and what regenerative is. That’s critically important for the audience.
What’s the difference between a $3 a pound package of meat and what you guys are doing?
What’s happened in meat production is it’s been commodified. The simplest way to think about it and I gave an example of that. Things have been bred to grow fast on cheap food and produce pounded, but not in nutrition and flavor. Commodification is the promotion of price above all else at the expense of above all else. Further, we have this Ag farm bill system that synthetically lowers prices by subsidizing things and so on and so forth.
What we’ve done is we’ve created cheap food, not quality food. Some of the externalities of that are you have humans and plants and on land that farmers are losing. We lose about 5,000 or 10,000 farms a year. These are family farms. These are family legacies because this system is squeezing them off of their land. You also have processing facilities where people are living in some pretty rough and existing in pretty challenging conditions.
We’re degrading our land base, spraying toxic chemicals, spraying herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and all of this stuff. We are tilling up our land, releasing carbon into the atmosphere, not pulling it back down. There is a myriad of challenges. Pollinators are dying off. We have dead zones in oceans from these toxic chemicals that run off our land. We have floods and droughts.
All of this ties back to the incredible and massive scale of agriculture. There are no monocultures in nature. There are no places where there are only animals, which is what you see in a feedlot or any places where there are rows of monoculture corn. It is what you see across the US for part of the year where there are probably 500 million acres of rows of corn that are getting sprayed four and five times a year with toxic chemicals.
Half of the surface of the United States is under the influence of agriculture practices. We need to shift that. We need the animals and plants to function in balanced harmony. We don’t need sedentary animals being fed evolutionarily inconsistent diets with synthetic foods that are laced with chemicals becoming what we end up feeding ourselves in our family because it’s cheap. What we want is food that is being raised in these environments consistent with the way, for example, bison would have roamed across the plants and come back and had that symbiotic relationship.
Also, the keystone species. A keystone species mean they have a disproportionately positive effect on an environment. The way we manage our animals on our agricultural lands should be to emulate nature so that we are performing key ecosystem services so that nature is functioning in a way that it has evolved after billions of years to evolve. That it’s realizing its full potential because the health of an ecosystem is going to directly influence and be the key foundation for the health of what comes out of it, whether that’s plants or animals.
We need to use animals to create healthy ecosystems so we get healthy food in the form of those animals. That’s what we’re doing with bison, beef, poultry and stuff. The side effects of that are happier animals and animals that are treated better because they’re getting to live and do what they’re evolved to do. We as consumers are getting a better product because it’s not only healthier for us, we can be proud of it. It’s not some animal that was pulled young, put in confinement, fed antibiotics because it needs to exist in an environment that otherwise wouldn’t be compatible with life and so on and so forth.
The cost thing is interesting though, because you’re right. What we sell is a premium product in the space. Our beef is more expensive than the conventional beef that has been sedentary and fed a cheap diet. From a values perspective, theirs is cheap. Ours is valuable. They have taken shortcuts to reduce the price. We have invested in the quality of the product to deliver what consumers want. On the broader perspective of what’s cheap and what’s not, on a per ounce basis, our beef is less expensive than a Hershey’s bar. The perspective we have is totally out of whack.
On a per-ounce basis, the most premium products we offer are cheaper than olive oil, wine and way cheaper than almonds. In some cases, cheaper than Lay’s potato chips and certainly cheaper than Hershey bars. Even when you look at an individual who may be getting their primary source of calories from a food desert, like in a convenience store, they’re going out and buying a cheap soda drink or fountain drink, some cheap chips and processed food.
They could be getting better calories that are more nutritionally dense and legitimately more cost-effective for them by buying our products rather than buying that. I challenged us to shift our own paradigm on what we think is appropriate to pay for food. Why would meat coming from living animals with the potential to be the most nutritious food source that we have be the cheapest thing that we buy? It doesn’t make sense.
When it comes to how people use their dollars, most people don’t have a problem going to Starbucks for a Frappuccino for $6. As you said, think about alcohol addiction and what people spend on bottles of wine. Even extrapolating outside of the food and how people will spend money on whether it’s clothing or travel or cars or even as simple as getting their hair and their nails done. Again, we got to spend the money on quality food first if we want to survive as healthy individuals and as a species on planet Earth. It’s fantastic information.
Robby Sansom is one of the Founders over at Force of Nature, a sponsor of Carnivore Challenge. Carnivore is a great way to save money, too, because, again, everything’s so nutrient-dense that you find yourself you’re not even eating that much, which is spectacular as well. It is a cost savings strategy, ultimately and you’re saving money in the downstream as far as sickness, pharmaceuticals, hospitalizations, doctor’s visits and time loss from work. It’s fantastic savings for the long term. Again, Robby, thank you to everybody over at Force of Nature. Join us for the upcoming Carnivore Challenge. Carnivore10 is the code you want to use to get $10 off your order over at Force of Nature. We’ll see you inside the Carnivore Challenge. Thank you.