Above: “Anyone who says we can’t feed the world is talking b… s…,” said Glen Boudreaux yesterday. What a great family and what interesting folks! I was fascinated by what he had to say and his take on humane, wholesome farming and “pasture-based” ranching.
There’s so much to tell since the last post… a couple of truly outstanding meals and more than one exceptional bottle of wine. But all that will have to wait.
Yesterday, I had a fascinating conversation with the gentleman above, Glen Boudreaux, who (together with his lovely wife Honi, pronounced honey) has owned and managed a ranch in beautiful Brenham, Texas for more than 20 years — the Jolie Vue Farms. Glen and Honi hosted a farm-to-table dinner last night and I covered the event for one of my clients (one of the underwriters). You can see my post (together with some of my git’ fiddle picking) here.
Above: Mustard greens and blue corn grits, sourced locally and prepared by chef Paul Lewis who came in from Houston for the event.
Glen advocates a no-nonsense approach to farming and is a proponent of humane and wholesome, “pasture-based” ranching. Over the last two decades, he has revived a ranch that had been devastated by cotton farming and left to the weeds. Merely by encouraging and enabling the revival of native grasses, he is literally able to raise twice as many cattle per acre as the Texas department of agriculture believes possible. And he is convinced that his philosophy — if embraced by the world — would allow the global farming community to stamp out hunger. And frankly, when you shake this man’s hand and he looks you in the eye with a warmth and humanity not uncommon in the Texas farmland, you believe him.
Among the more fascinating topics of conversation with Glen: the parallels he sees between Jewish dietary law and his approach to ranching and butchering (the butchering, he explains, is as important as the farming and he carefully and “mercilessly” screens his clients, he told me); he loathes anyone who uses the word “natural” or “organic” in their packaging or labeling (see this fantastic post on his blog, What’s it all mean? Natural terminology can be confusing…); his admiration for “sissy” (Joel’s word) and “rebel” (Glen’s word) farmer Joel Salatin (check out this video I found this morning).
Above: Tracie P and I really loved this couple, Clay and Julia Theeck, who help the Boudreaux family manage their ranch. You wouldn’t think that it’s fascinating to hear someone talk about native grass until you talk to Clay and Julia. Their knowledge of the local plant life is incredible. Clay and Glen haven’t done anything to treat the soil on the Jolie Vue ranch. All they do is help the native grasses flourish.
Glen and Honi sell most of their cattle and pigs to locally based individuals who want to feed their children wholesome food. They also sell to the occasional restaurant, like Cullen’s in Houston, who also underwrote the dinner.
Ultimately, they believe that their livestock should be happy, that happy pigs and cattle make for the healthiest nutrition. Although chef Lewis may have had something to do with the delicious factor yesterday, it was the materia prima that played the starring role.
Above: “Jews may not have believed in the afterlife the way that we do,” said Glen. “But when you read [the dietary laws in] the Old Testament, you can tell that they were doing what they were doing because they knew that it was the right thing to do on earth.”
My life in Texas continues to inspire me on many levels. This state — this Republic! — is home to a wide spectrum of folks, from the love-happy, guitar-strumming, pot-toking hippies of our beloved Austin to the generous-of-spirit, G-d-fearing, gun-toting ranchers of the immensely beautiful plains. Somehow, beyond the stereo- and archetypes, no matter the gulf of difference between them, there seem to be a humanity and a gentleness that pervade their willfully shared ethos.
In the words of Gary P. Nunn…
I wanna go home with the armadillo
country music from Amarillo and Abilene
the friendliest people
and the prettiest women you ever seen