[00:00:00] Dave: You are listening to The Human Upgrade with Dave Asprey. And today we’re going to talk about one of my favorite topics of all time– dirt. No, I don’t mean regenerative agriculture and the fact that grass-fed animals make for healthy soil, and that actually having run a regenerative ag farm for almost 10 years, uh, that I can see that firsthand. That’s a fundamental part of the Bulletproof Diet and just biohacking in general. But there’s reasons for that. So what we’re going to talk about today is not just dirt, but why your kids ought to be eating some dirt and the other things that kids ought to eat.
Our guest today is Andrea Bemis, who is the genius behind the farm-to-table blog called Let Them Eat Dirt, which is a name I absolutely love, and has written a couple incredible books called Dishing Up the Dirt and Local Dirt. And she and I both share a really strong belief in the family dinner. And she’s worked on helping parents navigate away from the weird chemicals and additives that are in the foods a lot of us have allowed our kids to consume.
My kids don’t eat that junk. They actually almost always recognize it themselves at this point, being 13 and 16, but it took years to get them there. And part of it was we started out not doing that. So Andrea is going to teach you today on the show what to do to help your kids eat the foods that make them stronger.
And also there’s a ritual around dinner. And I can tell you I’ve had dinner with my kids every single night that I was home to a ridiculous extent, probably more so than any other CEO that I know because it’s so important to me. So this is someone who shares the biohacking values that I have. Andrea, welcome.
[00:01:48] Andrea: Thank you Dave. Thanks for having me.
[00:01:50] Dave: All right. Why don’t kids want eat good stuff?
[00:01:53] Andrea: Well, because their taste buds have been hijacked. I think that early on kids are exposed to processed carbohydrates, processed sugar, stuff that comes out of a package from early on, and it changes their brain chemistry. It changes their taste buds, and it’s addicting, and it’s sad that their taste buds from infancy can be altered.
[00:02:18] Dave: What is the first mistake that parents of very, very young children make?
[00:02:24] Andrea: Well, I’ll speak from– my mistake was probably taking my pediatrician’s advice to a t. Just the rice cereal. That my baby could pretty much eat what I was eating, even if it was like French fries. The reason I wrote this book is because I started to steer off my own path, which is I have an organic vegetable farm, and all of a sudden, I was shopping the baby food aisle when my baby was six months old. And I was like, this doesn’t feel right. So I think that the first mistake that I made was shopping the baby food aisle.
[00:02:57] Dave: You actually have a farm, which is a major fantasy for a lot of listeners, and you went to the baby food aisle. Why?
[00:03:05] Andrea: Because I was a new vulnerable mom and my pediatrician recommended rice cereal. And so that’s what I did as, again, a vulnerable mom that was like, well, the doctor knows. And very soon after, it didn’t feel right. But that was my first mistake, was in the baby food aisle.
[00:03:26] Dave: Now, to be clear, there are some functional pediatricians, actually a good number, who run thriving practices that teach you how to feed your baby. So I don’t want to throw the profession under the bus. However, the vast majority of pediatricians will tell you to eat formula instead of breast milk, and they’ll tell you to buy like low-quality processed food that has a sticker on it that says it’s good for you or good for your baby with no evidence behind it. So that does happen because that’s what they all do, not because it’s science-based.
[00:04:00] Andrea: Mm-hmm.
[00:04:01] Dave: How long did it take you to figure out that pre-packaged, highly processed baby food wasn’t right for your kid?
[00:04:07] Andrea: Oh, prettysoon. I would say within the first couple of days my baby was super constipated, and I knew in my gut that, wait, we have a grocery store outside our house, which I’m very lucky. I know that that’s not the case for 99% of moms and dads, but I had to listen to my gut. And my gut was saying I didn’t need to be cruising the aisles at the grocery store.
[00:04:32] Dave: I’ve seen though, even vegan kids whose parents mean really well, where they have failure to thrive. They have brittle bones. They have a lack of cholesterol and saturated fat in their diet, even though breast milk is predominantly saturated fat, uh, and things like that. So you aren’t talking about switching to just vegetables, are you? Because kids have a hard time with that.
[00:04:55] Andrea: They do, and I talk about this in my book. To back up, once I steered off my path, I dove into childhood nutrition from more of a holistic perspective. And also knowing me as agrown woman, what I need to eat and thrive is protein, meat, vegetables. And I started to think, well, that’s got to be similar to my child, my baby.
So I started to do my own research that was not as conventional and started to learn more about what babies and young kids need to thrive. And that is harder to find in pre-packaged prepared foods. So yeah, we can grow the vegetables, but we’ve got to go to the meat– our neighbors are meat farmers.
Again, we’re lucky. I wrote this book from a place of bounty. I live in a very bountiful area, but you don’t have to live on a farm or live next to farms to feed your kids nutrient-dense foods. And some of the first foods that I learned that are the best and most gentle on the digestive system are meats, liver, beef, um, which– one thing I learned too is babies, and you’ve got kids, when they’re really little, things don’t taste– they’re more accepting when they’re younger. It’s as they get older that– and I’m in it. I’m in the weeds with my toddler, but it’s a good time to introduce their taste buds to very strong, interesting flavors so that they get that foundation. And that’s what I want every mom and dad to know. Get the gnarly flavors in because they’ll start to accept it and have an appreciation for it.
[00:06:40] Dave: One of my favorite pictures of my daughter when she was probably around two, is she’s holding a lamb chop and trying to eat it. So it’s like a smiley face made out of meat. And she has this just ravenous happy look on her face like, they’re just getting it. And then, uh, on the 4th of July, I cooked grass-fed lamb chops at a barbecue for a bunch of people, and I passed them out. And as soon as I was done, one of the moms at the party runs up and goes, my baby really liked that and wants more. Where can I get more? I’m like, oh no, I gave away all the meat popsicles. But they will eat it. And they love it. And they know that it makes them thrive.
[00:07:15] Andrea: And yet, I think they like it because their body is hungry for it.
[00:07:20] Dave: Yeah. The first foods that I fed my kids when they went off of breast milk, which was around 12 months for the first one, 10 months for the second one because he just didn’t want to was actually water with collagen, grated liver, uh, and a little bit of MCT oil because it’s so predominant in breast milk.
And we’d blend that up, and they would drink it. There was a little bit of salt too. And they would drink it, and it was just fine. And this was supplemental. I’m not recommending anyone do that as the only food you feed your kid. But that was very successful. And since then, because they’re not allergic, as many, uh, egg yolks as they wanted, we would put raw egg yolk in there. They also would eat little bits of blended meat that we would blend ourselves. What would you change about that, knowing what you know now?
[00:08:10] Andrea: I mean, that all sounds great. Knowing what I know now is– I mean, I’m big on the egg yolks, the grated meat. I think what I’m doing differently with– I have a three-year-old, and my youngest just turned one a couple days ago, is I did more purees with my older one, and my younger one wanted more of the finger food.
So for me, it was like, here is the egg. I would do a soft-boiled egg yolk, or here is the pork chop, or the beef chop, lamb chop, giving her the whole pieces of food, which is different than with my older one. I was more nervous, and that’s why I have the puree in the cookbook as well because I want to meet parents where they’re at. They can skip the purees and go straight to the next section, which is more of the finger foods, or like I did with my second, is more of the finger foods from the get go. So they’re working on their pincer grasp and getting the nutrients in that way.
[00:09:08] Dave: What percentage of your time do you spend managing your farm?
[00:09:13] Andrea: Oh, God. Our farm is our livelihood. It is a full operation. Since I had– my oldest is three. We’ve hired extra help. So the farm, my husband is full-time. We’ve got a crew of– there’s five of us out there. And I’m out there every day, but I’m in and out because I’ve got the kiddos.
[00:09:34] Dave: And how big is your farm?
[00:09:35] Andrea: So we’re on six acres, and we cultivate just under three.
[00:09:40] Dave: Okay. For people listening, you’re thinking you want to bug out homestead. Good plan, by the way. I think I was early to the party building one on, uh, Vancouver Island and all of that. We had 32 acres, and of that, about three acres was, um, plants, and then the rest of it was pigs, and sheep, and chickens, and a couple cows. Not the rest of it. A lot of it’s just forests, but we had the animals roaming around.
I didn’t find that we would have been able to subsist as a family on three acres of just vegetables. There’s just not enough nutrients and vegetables. That is a starvation level diet. You could do it with chickens and eggs if you’re a desperate, but I mean, at least have a couple pigs every year. They’re the cheapest way of making protein. Or sheep, which just mows the lawn for you. They just crap everywhere, but then you can eat them. So it’s a good trade off. No lawn mowing, occasional poop shoveling. Do you guys ever think about adding animals?
[00:10:28] Andrea: We’ve done pigs, and we’ve done chickens, but we keep it pretty– um, we’ve got neighbors that do all the meat. They’re really good at it. We’re like, you know what? You do the livestock. We’ll stick to the vegetables.
[00:10:42] Dave: Yeah. Our friend George down the road had 300 head of grass-fed cattle. And given what cows did to our pasture, I’m like, yeah, we’ll just buy his cows. It’s just easier that way.
[00:10:50] Andrea: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:10:51] Dave: So people listen going, what the heck, 90% of small farmers have a day job, and they come home, and they farm because it’s really hard to make a living. You have enough help on the farm with five people, then you got to pay them. And it’s like, it is not a low-stress lifestyle. How often do you leave the farm to go on vacation?
[00:11:07] Andrea: Oh, never.
[00:11:09] Dave: Yeah. That’s the other thing. If you leave, the chicken starve or something eats them. It holds you down.
[00:11:14] Andrea: No. Things will die. Things will die. I mean, we’re watering constantly. We run a CSA. I mean, people have already bought in. We’ve already collected money. We’ve got to produce. So we collect money before we even have something to show for it every year. Yeah, no, we don’t vacation. Yeah, we got to sell a lot more head lettuce before we can go on fancy vacations.
[00:11:35] Dave: So I want listeners to know that’s the life of small farmers, which is not a bad life, but it’s not what you think it is. And the alternative to that, before I had the farmers, I would take the kids, both of them, when they were basically six months, whatever, two, two and a half, I’d put them in a red wagon, and we’d drive it in the back of the station wagon because I refused to drive a minivan to the farmer’s market.
And then I shuttle the kids around and have a backpack with heads of fennel sticking out like hair from the Predator movie, and the blueberries packed around the kids. And it was a two-hour family event, but I’d feed the family organic stuff from local farmers. And it was cheaper than going to Whole Foods anyway. And it was fresher. And so I want everyone listening to get a CSA, if you don’t know what that is, do you have a list, something on your website that talks about your CSA?
[00:12:22] Andrea: Yeah, on our farm website, which is gotumbleweed.com.
[00:12:26] Dave: Gotumbleweed.com. Okay. And for your book, what’s your book website for how to feed your kids?
[00:12:30] Andrea: letthemeatdirtkids.com.
[00:12:33] Dave: Okay. letthemeatdirtkids.com. All right, so if you don’t know what a CSA is, it’s community supported agriculture. So you basically tell the farmer, hey, here’s a 100 bucks, or whatever it is, or you pay a monthly thing, and then the farmer agrees that they’ll provide X amount of produce that’s in season. And they just deliver a box, or you pick it up.
It’s the cheapest way, and it also provides a way for the farmers to predict demand and to know what to grow. So it’s a really win-win. And if you do that, you cut out the middleman who makes most of the money anyway, so the farmer’s happier. You get fresher food, so you’re happier. And they don’t put weird chemicals on the organic food.
Like the new, uh, Bill Gates sponsored Apeel, which is a chemical mix. 95%-ish of what is in it is unlisted. They don’t even tell you what it is, but we know 5% is organic citric acid. But I’d like to know the rest of it. For all we know, it’s testosterone-lowering alien space junk because they haven’t told us. And I don’t think we want to be eating things that are undisclosed ingredients.
That’s something that I don’t know. They’ve already tried to inject undisclosed ingredients that didn’t work very well. So maybe we don’t want that on our food either. Tell us what’s in there. Don’t lie. Not a big thing, but that’s what they’re doing. So that’s why you buy from a CSA. And thank you for doing that work. I know how hard it is. We never could launch a CSA. It was too much work.
[00:13:52] Andrea: Yeah. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of work.
[00:13:54] Dave: All right. Let’s go back to kids. But guys, that’s how you do it. Go to the farmer’s market, and, uh, the kids will pick out the eggs from the egg lady, and you’ll have really good family time as well. And then they get connected to their food. All right, so you found after two days constipation from industrial food. Shocking. And then you went back to the stuff we talked about, mostly meat, maybe some cooked pureed vegetables, like the recipes in your book, right?
[00:14:19] Andrea: Mm-hmm.
[00:14:20] Dave: Talk to me about the Baby Food Facts report that you cover in your book.
[00:14:25] Andrea: Well, yeah, I will pull that up right now because this is what inspired me to start doing this because these are troubling statistics. The Baby Food Facts Report from Uconn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health found only four out of 80 baby and toddler snacks met nutritious standards. Additionally, 50% of baby food snacks and 83% of toddler food snacks contain added sweeteners. We’re truly training our children to prefer sugary foods from the very beginning.
[00:14:58] Dave: Wow. So you can get peas and carrots and just a little bit of table sugar so then kids become preferential for it. I’d say we never gave our kids a lot of stuff. They get some honey or whatever and a piece of fruit or maybe two per day, but they can’t live on fruit because that’s also a source of sugar.
They like their sugar now, but not to crazy extent. My son whose 13, uh, he had a chance. He said, no, I’m going to try a coke. I’ve never had a coke. Occasionally, he had ginger ale or something, which I tell him, don’t drink that. Drink some coconut water if you want sugar at least.
But, uh, so he tried it, and he was like, this is gross. It’s too sweet. It doesn’t taste good. Why do people drink it? I don’t get it. And I was like, man, I want to high five myself for that one. Um, because it was his palate that decided, not a judgment thing. Because you don’t want to make kids have orthorexia or anything else either, right?
[00:15:48] Andrea: Right. It’s a tricky balance whenthey’re young, the educational component. But also exactly not leading a trail to towards an eating disorder or orthorexia. And through my research, I learned too, children under the age of two are so susceptible to this because that is when they’re taste preferences are being developed.
So if they haven’t had that yet, we’re not depriving them. I get that all the time. Well, aren’t you depriving your kid of treats? No. No, I’m not. Um, I think that when they get bigger, they can make their own decisions. But those first couple of years when their little systems are developing, I think it’s really important to give them a chance.
And the CDC, another statistic that’s so unsettling is that over 40% of children have one chronic illness. And it’s such a bummer to read that. And these are our kids. This is the future. This is who’s going to be running the country, and we’re not giving them a chance to have their bodies operate the way that they’re designed to operate.
[00:16:53] Dave: I don’t know, Andrea. It seems like that’s really good news. All you have to do is invest all of the proceeds from your CSA in Pfizer and other big pharmaceutical companies, and then you could turn all the children’s illness into profits because after all, we eat profits, not food, right?
[00:17:07] Andrea: Right.
[00:17:07] Dave: So 40%, it’s shocking.
[00:17:11] Andrea: Mm-hmm.
[00:17:12] Dave: I had a lot of those when I was young, and I did eat processed foods. We didn’t know any better in the ’80s. The macaroni and cheese, replacing butter with squeezed margarine, uh, lots of corn syrup, diet sodas, the whole nine yards in an effort, a sincere effort to be healthy because, like you, you did what the pediatrician said. And that’s what you did if you wanted to be healthy.
And I always struggled with my weight, and gut-wrenching gas, and a brain that didn’t work, and all sorts of health problems that were unnecessary that I’ve since turned around and left behind as a biohacker. The whole biohacking movement was based on here’s the bad stuff that happens from bad nutrition and an indoor environment that’s just bad for you. In my case, toxic mold, and pesticides, and heavy metals, and all that stuff. What do you think about heavy metals in baby foods?
[00:18:03] Andrea: Well, that was a startling report that came out as well. And the answer, it goes back to eating closer to home, knowing more of where your food is coming from. I know that heavy metals can be natural in the soil as well, but this stuff is being marketed to kids, and that it’s– I read that report, I don’t know, in the New York Times, but there was five times the amount of lead that’s acceptable in, I think it’s like the pouches.
And it’s unsettling. AndI don’t know all the numbers, but hearing these statistics, I want to eat closer to home. I want my kids to grow up knowing that food isn’t coming from a package, supporting a more local system, if and when that’s an option.
[00:18:49] Dave: I don’t think my kids have ever had a puree out of a squeeze pack, just because the lining of that is so full of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. When your kids are young, you want their hormones working because that’s when stuff’s getting wired in. And so the fact that it contains one apple that’s been beaten all the crap and is actually hundreds of apples that have been blended into the amount equal to one apple, and heated, and sterilized, whatever else they do, and then they give you this thing and you think you’re giving your kid an apple.
No, you just eat an apple if that’s what you wanted to do. So some of the ways that those metals get in there, it can be from the packaging, but a lot of things that come from outside the US or from older farms in the US, they’re using brass bearings in the equipment that harvests, or washes, or grinds the food.
And in the US, they’re supposed to be using stainless steel. Brass breaks down when you grind the nuts. So a lot of these jungle products are naturally high because the farm equipment is third-world farm equipment versus high-end stuff, especially for processed foods. And people don’t know that. And you could fix the problem except, I believe that this was a WHO thing from about 10 years ago.
I’m not promising it was the WHO. It could have been another regulatory body, but I’m pretty sure it was the WHO. Um, they went around, and they were setting, uh, food standards for the allowable amount of metals, especially lead in baby foods. And one of the countries in Africa said, well, these levels are so high that if we allow this, this’ll 10x increase the amount of kidney cancer in kids.
And they said, yeah, but it’s cheaper. And they were overruled, and they had to do it. So we have a problem with international treaties subverting the sovereignty of governments. And the WHO is not a government entity, and it has no rights to do that. So this is why your package baby food absolutely sucks. And you just want to do it.
All right. Tell me, in your recipe book, I know how hard it is to be on a farm, which usually farms are not close to good grocery stores because the land is cheaper when you’re far away from good grocery stores. So farms are usually in food deserts unless you grow it. Do you blend and freeze? Do you do a lot of processing at home? What can parents do?
[00:21:08] Andrea: Oh, for sure. Blend and freeze. If you are with our CSA, I offer a lot of recipes because a lot of our CSA members have kiddos where you’re using the whole– if you’ve got turnips, you’re using the greens as well as the turnip roots. And a chest freezer I think is one of the best investments for somebody that wants to eat locally and sustainably.
I think it’s one of the most economical ways to extend the food that you’re buying. But going back to even the baby food, one thing that I’ve learned, and I’m not a nutritionist, but this is all through my research, but a lot of vegetables and fruits are fat soluble. So if you’re just eating pureed carrots, well, you’re not getting all the benefits of what’s in that if you’re not having that with a nourishing fat.
So again, it cancels out the–and I’m guilty of this. As a mom, I’m like, oh, it’s carrots. But it’s like, well, my kid isn’t getting the full potential of what’s in that carrot if it’s not beingserved properly. And I think that goes back to the baby food packaged stuff where it feels like it’s a good thing to be giving. But we don’t know. And again, as parents, it’s a major bummer.
We don’t all know, and I know that people– we’re just doing the best we can and trying to make ends meet, but I want to offer hope for parents that you don’t have to break the bank. You don’t have to be a nutritionist or a scientist to feed your kids well. But the food industry and what we’re exposed to, it’s damaging.
[00:22:42] Dave: One of my happiest moments as a biohacker is I got invited to speak at David Wolfe’s conference. David Wolfe is a well-known raw vegan. And we’ll say we don’t agree on a lot of things. I used to be raw vegan. Thank God I didn’t voice that on my kids because it really messed up my health. And it has for actually millions of people. People, they quit doing the vegan diet for a good reason.
Not that you stop eating plants necessarily. You just don’t eat only plants. So I went up, and I said, guys, here’s the compounds that are good in your vegetables. And there are some bad ones in some of them too, but all of these are fat soluble. And here’s why grass-fed ghee, which is clarified butter, why it’s good for animals. It’s good for soil. And when you put grass-fed ghee with your pureed carrots or whatever other plant stuff, you get the polyphenols much better. So there’s a case that supports your health, supports the planet, and supports animals as long as it’s from animals that are well treated. And I came back the next year and gave a similar talk, and two-thirds of the audience was no longer vegan.
And today David Wolfe sells grass-fed ghee as one of his products. So these are now technically vegetarians. Uh, we’ll probably never agree on how delicious a ribeye is. That’s okay. But we agree on human health, animal health, and environmental health. It just so happens that ghee helps on all those. Do you use ghee or olive oil? What kinds of oils do you recommend for kids?
[00:24:11] Andrea: The main cooking fat in the cookbook is ghee, and there’s olive oil in there. I use duck fat, tallow, but the main cooking fat in there, because I think it’s really accessible for parents too is ghee.
[00:24:25] Dave: Yeah. And in my house, and in the Bulletproof Diet, it’s always been ghee, tallow, duck fat, which is not quite as good as tallow, but still pretty good, or rendered lard from pasture-raised pigs that didn’t eat corn and soy, which is decent, but not amazing. And maybe some coconut oil or palm oil if you need to, or the local restaurant wants to use palm oil. That’s a safe oil. It’s just not as good as the others. So that’s amazing for kids. And what happens when kids start eating those kinds of oils?
[00:24:57] Andrea: I think it’s good for their brains.
[00:24:59] Dave: Yeah.
[00:25:00] Andrea: It’s good for their bodies. I mean, they’re growing so rapidly that I think it just feeds their brains.
[00:25:08] Dave: In the studies, I’ve seen it feeds their brains. It also accelerates their metabolism. Saturated fats warm you up. The polyunsaturated fats slow metabolic rate. And when you first eat only plant oils for about six weeks, you get a high from it because your body panics and gives you extra thyroid hormone until your thyroid runs out of the ability to do that.
And then your metabolism starts to slow. In fact, it’s omega-6 fats that cause bears to hibernate in the winter. If you give them butter, they don’t hibernate. They just keep going. So I don’t want my kids hibernating. Uh, it doesn’t seem like it’s good for them. And so that’s one of the things. It’s energy, and it’s also satiety.
There’s a couple stories that come up for me. One of them is incredibly bougie, but we feed our kids in the morning. It was back when they were younger. It was avocados and smoked salmon for breakfast because smoked salmon from Costco. You can get sockeye salmon. It’s actually surprisingly cheap. More expensive than bologna, but not that much more expensive.
And we would do that with some grain-free wrap that we would put together for them. And they loved it. But then one day, my son, as all toddlers do was like, nah. I don’t want to. And I said, hey, some kids who go to school don’t get any breakfast, or maybe they just get a bag of chips.
You’re really lucky to have smoked salmon. And he looks at me, almost has tears inside. He goes, you mean their mommies don’t make them– because this is what he wanted for breakfast. He goes, you mean their mommies don’t make them bacon and duck eggs for breakfast? Because our local farm had duck eggs.
So he’s having the best food on the planet, and he is just mad because he didn’t get that food instead of the other best food on the planet. And I just was shaking my head going, you have no idea. But he did eat the smoked salmon, so that was good. And then my daughter came home from kindergarten or first grade, whatever, and she says, daddy, as soon as I get to school, the teachers try to make me eat, and I’m not hungry. I just had breakfast. How can the other kids eat? Don’t they have breakfast? I said, well, ask them what they have. And she comes back and says, little Susie, or whatever her name is, she had a green apple for breakfast. And I said, well, if you ate a green apple, would you be hungry? And she said, yeah. I go, that’s why the teachers are doing it. So we had to actually sit down with the teachers and say, don’t make my kid eat if she’s not hungry.
[00:27:33] Andrea: Mm-hmm.
[00:27:33] Dave: How do you handle that with your kids?
[00:27:35] Andrea: Well, I think that, I talk about this in the cookbook, we over snack. I want my kids to eat meals over snacksand to honor their body. If they’re saying they’re not hungry, I’m not going to force them to eat. They know their body. I don’t know their body. But I think that what happens, and I’m guilty of this, so I’m not perfect, is when my kids have oversnacked, they aren’t going to come to the table hungry. They are going to pick around. If there’s a new food that I want them to eat, they’re less likely to eat it if they’re not hungry.
And I think that snacks, they’re just marketed to schools, preschools, all of us. We live in a snack-obsessed world. And so I think that snacks are fine, but I try to be mindful about them because I really do think sitting down and having real meals is what is the healthiest and keeps us full and feeling better than grazing.
[00:28:27] Dave: One of the things that worked for me when the kids were protesting new foods is, and I only had to do this once actually, I said, you know what, I’m so happy that you’ve decided to join me in an intermittent fast. It turns out our bodies could live for 60 whole days or more without dying of starvation, even if we’re really hungry.
So let’s both put our food in the fridge, and we can intermittent fast as long as you like. And instead of the normal thing, which is parents, we innately feel like we are starving if our child is hungry because we’re wired by mother nature to make sure our kids eat. It’s a very deep, visceral parental response, but it’s automated in your body’s operating system. And when I said that, my son just looked at me. He was fine. And then he ate, and he never pulled it again because they eat what we eat. The downside of that was going to go to a restaurant, there’s no kids’ menu.
[00:29:23] Andrea: They’re expensive.
[00:29:25] Dave: They look at the kid’s menu, and they’re like, what is this crap? Are you serious? Macaroni and cheese and fish sticks? Our tummies would hurt if we ate that. We’re not going to eat that because they have eaten it once or twice and they’ve tummies hurt. And we’re done with that. So it is expensive.
We go out to eat, they eat the salmon, or they eat the steak because that’s what they have at restaurants that’s edible. And all this lasagna with whatever chemicals in it, it doesn’t work. Everyone’s hungrier, gets a headache after they eat that. It tastes good, but it’s not a good choice. So yeah, it’s quite expensive, but that’s why we eat at home a lot.
[00:29:57] Andrea: Yeah. And I say that a lot too. The cookbook is marketed as kid food, but the recipes, they’re family recipes. Therefore it’sadult food, kid food. It’s the same thing. And that’s what I’m trying to– I had to market the book, but I want this to be for parents. We have to eat the same foods as our kids because we’re modeling what wewant them to be eating. So they need to see us eating the foods that we want them to be enjoying. And they’re not the exception. I think at the dinner table– sounds exhausting to be cooking two different meals anyways. But, um, I want my kids to see us enjoying the foods with them.
[00:30:38] Dave: How many dishwashers do you have?
[00:30:40] Andrea: We don’t have a dishwasher.
[00:30:41] Dave: Holy crap. You have a farm and no dishwasher. Are you a masochist?
[00:30:45] Andrea: Um, yes. We do not have a dishwasher. Small house, small kitchen. I’m actually at my friend’s house right now because my house is two crazy to be doing an interview.
[00:30:55] Dave: Two small kids. I get it.
[00:30:56] Andrea: But yeah, no. We have a dog, so he’s our–
[00:30:59] Dave: Oh, similar.
[00:31:00] Andrea: Yeah, so he does a lot of the cleanup, but no dishwasher.
[00:31:03] Dave: Wow. So one of the things that– because we’re doing three meals a day, usually with the kids, and it’s just too many dishes. So I lobbied very hard to get a second dishwasher put in, and it changed our lives. It saves at least 45 minutes a day because you’ve just set the table out of one dishwasher and cleared it into the other. And oh my God, it wasliterally so much more quality time with the kids. But our dogs don’t eat people food because when they do, they fart all over the place, and it didn’t work for them. So they just eat raw meat, and they’re much happier. So there we go.
[00:31:32] Andrea: Yeah. Our dogs don’t have the best diet, but yeah, no dishwasher. There’s a lot of dishes. There’s a lot of dishes. But I’ve gotten efficient. I’ve never had a dishwasher, so I don’t know thedifference.
[00:31:44] Dave: All right.
[00:31:45] Andrea: Maybe that’s it.
[00:31:46] Dave: Hat’s off. That’s impressive. Uh, I thought you were going to say you had one. I was going to upsell you on two.
[00:31:52] Andrea: Yeah. I don’t know.
[00:31:54] Dave: Wow. It does become, for a lot of parents, though, especially if you have a normal job with a normal commute, the amount of time it takes to do food prep, even if you’re not doing the crazy vegan thing I used to do, where it’s two hours of soaking, and blending, and sprouting, and all that crap, it can be just overwhelming. So what’s the fastest recipe in your book?
[00:32:13] Andrea: Oh gosh, you’re putting me on the spot. The fastest recipe, eggs. That’s my lazy dinner, is doing some omelet or [Inaudible], just a quick stove top eggs, which I have in here. But I do a lot of, uh, I call them just pancakes, but these two ingredient pancakes where it’s eggs and either meat or– and you can dollop it with some yogurt or some herbs on top.
But I do these little blender meat or vegetable pancakes with eggs and just fry them up. And that can be a meal with a little side. But all the recipes in the book are catered towards busy parents because I’m there. I don’t want to be spending out, but you are cooking. They are still recipes. You are still cooking, but they are with busy parents with jobs in mind.
[00:33:07] Dave: It’s so tempting to go to Uber Eats or somebody and just have some seed oil soaked, slightly cold restaurant food sent to your house that’s expensive, and you feel like you’re saving time, and then you realize your trash can is full. You got to take the trash out, and you had to tip the delivery guy, and you just realize you didn’t save time when you did that.
And when you become efficient in your kitchen, which parenting drives kitchen efficiency in a way that’s insane, when you do that, like, oh, I cook the entire thing in one pot. We did a lot of soups. Uh, I love the omelete thing. It works really well. And we throw the veggies and the meat in the pan, saute them a bit, take some blended raw egg stuff and pour it on them, and there you go. It’s an actual protein and fat-rich healthy meal unless you’re allergic to eggs, which a lot of kids are these days. So I love that. And it’s one pan or maybe two if you have to do two at a time. So I’d love that, that you put that in the cookbook.
[00:34:03] Andrea: And there’s a lot of sheetpan meals in the cookbook as well. So it’s same idea, one pan in the oven and just got to chop a little bit. But yeah.
[00:34:13] Dave: It’s totally manageable.
Why does it take up to 30 exposures for a baby to get used to a particular food?
[00:34:20] Andrea: So this is what I learned from a feeding specialist, a child feeding specialist. Most kids, it’s not up to 30, but it can take up to 30 exposures. And I think that there can be a fear around a new food or what it looks like, what it feels like in their mouth. It goes back to you modeling what you want your kids to eat.
So even if your a kid doesn’t eat something, I always encourage parents, don’t say my kid doesn’t like this anymore. They’re learning. They’re still learning. They’re new eaters. So I think if you want your kids to like beats, continue to serve them maybe in different ways, but even if they’re not eating them, I think it’s still important to have them on the plate. I don’t think we should let our kids hear us say, oh, they don’t like that, or they’re not going to eat that.
And I’ve had to catch myself with like, oh, she’s not going to eat that. And we don’t know. They’ll surprise us. And they go through phases, and that’s just part of toddlerhood and young children. But I think that the 30 exposures, it’s a high number, but it’s a real study that, yeah, it can take a while, so don’t give up if your kid turns their nose up at broccoli. Keep going.
[00:35:31] Dave: One of the things that I learned as a parent, as a farming parent, is that if my kids usually liked, say, broccoli or some food, and then one night, like, I don’t want to eat that, I used to just make them eat it. Come on. That’s what you do. And what I noticed was that those were the nights when I wouldn’t feel good after dinner, and the kids would misbehave, and they’d have tummy aches.
And eventually, I realized that there is something called Alternaria brassicae, which is a type of mold that grows in Brassica, which is broccoli, and cabbage, and things like that. And it grows when they’re wet. I live in Canada where it’s always wet. And most of the research on that particular mold is from Russia.
But I would notice too, in those nights, like, God, I got a weird headache, and I’m seeing colors. It’s called Alternaria because it makes you see colors. And it rips up your gut, and it’s just not good for you. So I realized my kids were using their internal radar to say, I don’t want to eat that. So after a while, especially after age five, I’m like, okay, if they always like this, but this time they don’t want to eat it, I probably shouldn’t eat it either, because some part of them knows.
And then it’s down to training versus intuition. And I still wouldn’t say that I’ve at all mastered it, but I noticed it enough that I always thought twice. But that’s only after they’re used to it and they like it. And if they suddenly don’t want to eat it that one time, you might ask them why. And if they don’t know why, maybe it’s all right to skip it. Do you do that?
[00:37:02] Andrea: Oh, totally. And it’s hard, but I try, and it goes back to, I can control what goes on the plate, but they ultimately control what goes into their mouth. And I want the dinner table to be a joyful place. And I think if we try and micromanage too much, it turns into not an enjoyable experience, but I do. Yeah, exactly. If my daughter’s saying my tummy hurts, or I’m full, I don’t want her to ignore her intuition. She knows how she feels. I don’t. And our rule for the most part is, that’s okay. You don’t have to eat, but we’ll save this for later. No snacks.
[00:37:43] Dave: One of my favorite types of recipes, even on the Bulletproof Diet, which works for kids, but it’s designed for anyone, is purees. And my all time favorite is a cauliflower mash, boil, or steam, or roast cauliflower, blend it with some butter, or some ghee, or whatever, and it tastes good.
In fact, I had that for lunch with my son today, and we threw some chunks of steak on it, and that was a very fast one-pan meal with probably three tablespoons of dried herbs to get all the polyphenols. And we’re full and happy after that. You have some amazing recipes like that in your book as well, but you do some interesting stuff. You talk about using duck fat or olive oil. So when you’re doing your deviled cauliflower mash, which is similar, but it’s got a unique take, do you remember that recipe off the top of your head?
[00:38:32] Andrea: I remember most of the components, but I add a hard-boiled egg yolk to it. Even since then, I’ll sometimes add two or three. It makes it extra creamy, extra nutritious, extra fatty. It’s delicious.
[00:38:45] Dave: And you also add some yogurt, goat, or cow. You don’t have it in your recipe, but I use sheep yogurt whenever I can because it’s the best you can get from human compatibility. And you do that, which gives it a real cheesy flavor along with some thyme. So that’s the recipe. I had not thought of adding a hard-boiled egg york, but I can see how that would be more of that deviled egg consistency. So there’s really good flavors, and that’s going to fill you up because of the fat, and you’re going to pair it probably with some protein, right?
[00:39:14] Andrea: Mm-hmm.
[00:39:14] Dave: What’s your favorite protein to eat with something like a deviled cauliflower mash?
[00:39:18] Andrea: Oh, a steak. I think a steak. And then just fork the steak, dip it in the mash, and that’s– yeah.
[00:39:27] Dave: It’s heavenly when you do that. I don’t know if it reminds me of childhood or something, but it’s better than mashed potatoes. The other thing that I’ve been doing for a long time is if I’m in a hurry, I will take some of the, uh, well, I used to use the Bulletproof collagen back when I was involved with the company.
But I will take a grass-fed collagen protein, and I will take a few scoops of that and put it in there. And it’s invisible. You cannot taste it. You cannot see it. Kids don’t even know it’s there. I tell them though because I want them to know. And then all of a sudden, you just added 60 grams of high quality animal protein to a meal that helps to build their connective tissue in their skin. And they don’t see it like they would a steak, even though they want the steak. So that’s my secret. I’ll add that to almost any recipe in your book, and you can’t tell.
[00:40:11] Andrea: I like that. I like that.
[00:40:15] Dave: All right. When kids are eight months and beyond, pediatricians say, don’t give salt to babies, but you talk about giving salt to babies. How dare you?
[00:40:29] Andrea: Yeah. Again, I wrote the book, I want people to takewhat they’re most comfortable with. So I use salt sparingly in recipes for the minerals, and it can help with digestion and help increase the nutrients of the food.
[00:40:44] Dave: How do you use it sparingly? That doesn’t seem to make any sense.
[00:40:47] Andrea: I use it sparingly, but you would have a heavy hand it sounds like. So I think go with whatever you’re comfortable with. But if you Google salt and baby, no one– when I was starting to feed my children, yeah, no salt. And anytime you have a recipe out there with salt, it’s like, don’t give this to babies under one. And just through my own reading up on it, I agreed to disagree.
[00:41:16] Dave: What did you find in your research on salt and digestion in babies?
[00:41:21] Andrea: Well, the cookbook that was the most inspiring to me, or the book was Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.
[00:41:27] Dave: Foundational.
[00:41:28] Andrea: Yeah, it really is. And I give her a lot of credit to making me feel more confident as a mom in the choices that I was making in the kitchen for my children. And she gets into talking about salt and children, and I felt more comfortable.
[00:41:43] Dave: Almost 20 years ago when I was running Palo Alto’s first anti-aging nonprofit education group, uh, before I started the bio movement, I gave this really carefully researched talk on salt and the history of why we decided salt was bad for us. It’s not. We used to eat about 20 grams of salt today because we didn’t have refrigerators and all of our meat and fish was salted. And it did not cause high blood pressure. It did not cause problems. It gave us a ton of minerals.
And so our salt consumption has dropped so much that if you were to follow the FDA’s guidelines– why anyone would listen to them after the last three or four years, I don’t know. But if you still followed their guidelines and had less than 2.4 grams of salt a day, for an adult, that is so low that it increases your heart attack risk. Because when sodium is too low, it increases stress, which increases a hormone in the blood called renin, which increases heart attack risk.
But if you were to instead have four grams of– when I do eight grams a day for my body weight and to keep my blood pressure where I want it, it completely changes your digestion, changes your life. And if you’re on a keto or a carnivore diet, you need even more. So the idea that your baby is supposed to not have salt, even though salt helps with a stress response, no, you probably don’t want to have a heavy hand of salt, but you do want a little bit of salt because we’re made out of salt water.
And how’s your baby supposed to hydrate if it doesn’t have a little bit of salt? So that advice is absurd, it’s wrongheaded, and it doesn’t make any sense. So the idea that somehow babies are little aliens that don’t need normal nutrients, a lot of that’s overblown, but don’t give your little baby’s honey. That seems like that might be a problem.
[00:43:30] Andrea: Right. Yeah.
[00:43:32] Dave: What’s your favorite sweetener for kids?
[00:43:35] Andrea: Whole dates.
[00:43:36] Dave: Whole dates.
[00:43:37] Andrea: Yeah. For the sweet treats, I’ll make a little date paste. And so instead of sugar, that’s how I sweeten the ketchup in the cookbook. I’ll sweeten any of the baked goods. I boil some water, and then soak some dates, and then blend that. And that’s the sweetener of choice.
[00:43:54] Dave: You can also buy date paste, right, that works on [Inaudible].
[00:43:57] Andrea: I think so, but actually, I don’t know. I’m sure you can. I’m sure you can.
[00:44:02] Dave: I always wonder about whogrounded up, what quality were the dates?
[00:44:05] Andrea: Uh-huh.
[00:44:06] Dave: Because let’s face it. If you have a beautiful date, are you going to sell a whole, or are you going to grind it up? That’s why peanut butter always has more aflatoxin than whole peanuts. Not that either one of those is good food for you for a variety of reasons, but the peanut butter– or even the almond butter that’s pre-ground. They use lower quality almonds because you can’t see them.
So you want to grind that yourself if you have the time to do it. And I certainly soaked and had enough dates to fill two lifetimes when I was a raw vegan. I guess I would worry if it was too much food. It’s just too much sugar, or dates are high in oxalic acid. And most babies don’t have a huge problem with it.
But if you give your babies a high oxalic acid diet, and they have the genetics for it, if they’re eating a ton of beets and a ton of kale because you heard those were healthy, even though they’re rough on you, especially in excess, and then you stack it up with a ton of dates and a ton of sweet potatoes that are also high, you may end up finding you’re getting too much of that plant nutrient. But I like dates as a general rule, but not in excess in the context of high oxalic acid.
[00:45:05] Andrea: Well, and that goes back to the variety, talking about the CSA. It’s like the best way to have a variety in your diet is you’re truly eating what’s available, which changes all the time.
[00:45:18] Dave: Are you pro kale or anti kale?
[00:45:20] Andrea: Well, I’ve heard you, and you are so anti kale, but we grow kale, so I’m pro kale on occasion.
[00:45:27] Dave: We actually grow a small row of kale as well. And I also use it for pictures of the pigs spitting it out because they don’t want to eat it unless there’s nothing else to eat. But I’m teasing. Uh, it’s because our farm manager likes kale, and, uh, eats it anyway. So I have no problem with people wanting to eat kale.
You want to eat some kale once or twice a week? Fine. But if you worship kale as a super food, It doesn’t do that. And excessive kale, I find, is a problem. So it’s like, okay, a variety of leafy green vegetables, you have some on occasion. For me, because I was a raw vegan and I raised my tissue stores of oxalic acid to absurd levels, what I find is, well, if I eat a big bowl of kale, the next day, I’d feel it in my low back, my shoulders, my hands. My grip strength isn’t strong. It’s oxalic acid depositions.
Those parts of my body never hurt when I don’t eat that stuff. And you also can find thulium in it. So if your soil’s super clean, you want to do it some of the time, I’m fine with that. It’s just the worship of kale to the exclusion of other easier to digest vegetables and meats is one of those things where I’m laughing every time I make fun of kale, um, because yes, it’s evil, but you can have a little bite of evil sometimes. It just tastes better with bacon and sugar on it. Just saying.
[00:46:52] Andrea: Copy that.
[00:46:53] Dave: Speaking of bacon, uh, what’s your thoughts on bacon and kids?
[00:47:00] Andrea: I think it’s fine. Again, we have access to good-quality bacon. I don’t think anything should be given in excess, but I personally don’t have a problem with good-quality bacon.
[00:47:12] Dave: Um, I looked at a lot of research on it, and finding good-quality bacon is absurdly hard because most people feed the pig stuff that makes them have a fat, the linoleic acid, the omega-6 that you don’t really want to eat a lot of. So you cook the bacon and toss out the bacon grease, but if the bacon is from healthy pigs that ate plants and even meat and things like that, like the best pigs you’re going to find are eating leftover milk from a regenerative farm.
They’re eating the leftover eggs, and they’re fat and happy. Those pigs, their fat is going to be much healthier for you, and you can use that rendered fat. So we ended up using our own pigs rendered fat. They ate all the organic vegetables from the local co-op and whatever we could grow on the farm.
And, man, that is some really good bacon. And I felt no problem giving to the kids, but we don’t burn it either. We cook it so it’s still relatively soft. Crispy bacon is probably not good for anyone, but soft bacon, depending on how it’s cured and all of that, I think it’s part of a healthy diet for most people. And it seems like you do that. So many kids are totally not afraid of bacon, but got to be nice to the pigs.
[00:48:20] Andrea: Yeah.
[00:48:21] Dave: What is the hardest vegetable to grow on your farm?
[00:48:26] Andrea: Oh, gosh. I will say we’ve been farming for 13 years now. We screw up a little less every year. At the top of my head, I mean, we used to really not be good at growing carrots. We’re great at growing carrots now. We’ve brought a lot of fertility into our farm, but we’ve had trouble with corn in the past. You’re probably not a huge fan of corn.
But we’ve had trouble with– also at [Inaudible], we’ve had trouble with tomatoes in the past, but we grow those in hoop houses now. Cauliflower. Cauliflower. That’s one that we’ve had a lot of trouble with. This is the first year that we’re doing spring cauliflower after years of not doing spring cauliflower and only doing fall. We get root maggots, usually, decimate our cauliflower, but I would say right now that’s one of the tougher ones for us to grow.
[00:49:10] Dave: You’re in Oregon, the Pacific Northwest. We’ve had problems. Uh, we finally got our cauliflower down. And fennel sometimes just goes to seed. I love a good fennel when I can get it, but it’s rough sometimes, and depends on the part of the world. The most challenging though was the haskap berry, which is a Siberian blueberry that has 80 times more polyphenols than blueberries.
And we found the ones hybridized for Canada, and they just barely produce. You go there, you eat 12 of them. Yay. I got 80 times less than my blueberries. It wasn’t worth it. So I don’t know how many listeners are going, Dave, why are you guys talking about this? I don’t care. Bottom line is, if you buy your veggies somewhere, there’s a farmer.
And there are a lot of people like Andrea out there who are working their butts off on small farms. They’re building soil, and they’re doing it right. And you can’t tell when you go to a grocery store whether it was grown by someone who cares or whether it was grown by some industrial conglomerate who put a sticker on it and sprayed it with whatever and called it organic.
And this is why I love farmer’s markets, and this is why I’ve gone to the trouble of building my own organic regenerative farm because biohacking change the environment around you and inside of you’d have control of your own biology. That goes double for your kids because they respond to the environment even more.
If you could have a garden that in and of itself is a massive, massive gift, it only needs to have one row of berries, and you’ll have a little one year old putting a little raspberry on the end of her finger and waving it around, and that teaches them something about food. It’s actually a sacred thing that kids need to know about.
Food doesn’t come from grocery stores, doesn’t come from squeeze packs, and it doesn’t come from golden arches. It comes from farmers, and it comes possibly from hunting and gathering if you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the world where you can do that. Uh, and when you teach them that, they lose all kinds of fears, and they’re very hard to program.
And it’s one of the reasons that there’s a very, very definitive war on small farmers right now, an economic war to make it harder and harder to do it. Around the world, you probably didn’t see this because, oh my god, some submarine full of people who shouldn’t have been on a submarine crashed. And during that time, 3,000 small farmers in Finland, some of them on their farms for five generations had their farm seized by the government because a cow farts, ignoring the fact that vegans fart 17 times more than non vegans according to studies.
So this was an absurd thing, but there is actually industrial companies trying to monopolize it. In the UK right now, it’s illegal to own a female pig because you might let it breed. God forbid you had self-reproducing food instead of buying spam at the store. Uh, so this stuff is slowly creeping in around the world, and it’s people like Andrea who are holding the line and telling you, wow, when you feed real food to your kids instead of what big chemical companies want you to call food, your kids thrive, and they can pay attention in class.
And then there’s no need for Adderall because you just have them go outside, and then they run around for a little while, and magically, it all works out. We are at a point where we can have distributed agriculture. There’s plenty of room and plenty of land for small farms to blossom and grow. And it can be economical, but it only happens when people are willing to do it and when the powers that be, at least for now, when they try to stop it because it makes it harder, and stressful, and more expensive.
So I want to say thank you personally, Andrea, for not just creating your farm and your CSA and making good food, but for studying it for your own kids and then writing a book about it. Because it’s hard. Two books. It’s hard to do that. I write books too. It’s a labor of love.
This show is part of getting the word out around your book, and I’m hopeful that people with kids or just people who want recipes that are quick, and easy, and good will pick it up and take a look at it because it’s hard work to run a farm. It’s hard work to write a book. And you’ve done both. So hats off for being a mom without a dishwasher, for god’s sake, a farmer, and an author, and someone whose just telling the truth in what you write. And that’s hard to do. So truly appreciate it
[00:53:20] Andrea: Thank you, Dave. Thanks for having me on.
[00:53:23] Dave: Guys, if you like the episode, you know what to do. You might pick up a copy of Let Them Eat Dirt. It’s on Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, or wherever you like to buy books. By the way, if you’re wondering why I say that every time, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or wherever you buy books, it’s because indie bookstores are the places of freedom to a certain point, still, anyway.
And Barnes & Noble has made great strides against Amazon. But if you say bad things about any of them, even how evil Amazon is, they might punish you for saying evil things about them or for saying truthful things about their evil. So I, for one, support our new AI robot overlords, just so the algorithms get everything clear. But you buy your books wherever you like to buy books. Request Andrea’s book, Let Them Eat Dirt, at your local indie bookstore, and maybe you’ll go to heaven.