In a food paradigm that has valued muscle meats above all other parts of the animal, farmers have taken an economic loss for bones, organs, hides, and fats for decades. Undervaluing the fifth quarter of the animal has had a far-reaching impact on public health, ecological balance, and lead to an erosion of how animals are respected as a whole.
For Alysa Seeland, founder and CEO of FOND Bone Broth, these nutrient dense, often overlooked materials were a large part of her personal health journey and her entrepreneurial path to having a positive ecological impact as well as supporting farmers economically. Land to Market sat down with Alysa to talk about how FOND utilizes parts of animals that are seen as a byproduct for the meat industry and how this bolsters the regenerative movement from an ecological to farmer to consumer level.
We love being part of the nose-to-tail effort. For us at FOND, we mostly source bones and fat, which are so nutrient-dense but often overlooked parts of the animal. In sourcing regeneratively we are supporting farmers in being even more profitable by helping them use every single aspect of the animals they are producing. One of the things we consistently ran into when we were sourcing exclusively from Texas in our early days, was that ranchers would have truckloads of bones that would need to be disposed of or pay to put in storage. Bones take up a lot of freezer space and storage costs add up fast. There's a lot of cost that goes into getting an animal to market weight and then to continue to incur cost in the storage after processing is very hard. In turning these bones into a shelf stable product, FOND adds value to aspects of the animal that are costly for farmers.
What is so beautiful about that is that FOND Bone Broth doesn't expire. We have a two-year best-by date, which is what is suggested, but the bone broth actually doesn't start to degrade in nutrients for five years. We can turn these gorgeous raw materials into a product that people can buy and consume for years that doesn't require any extra energy to process it. The bone broth itself is not even being stored in the freezer or the refrigerator. We love that FOND Bone Broth is a beautiful solution to climate change in that it's shelf-stable. Once it's made, it just takes up space in your pantry.
One of the things that we have been working to explain to customers is that what we're really doing is really like upcycling. It's not that farmers can't find a place for these bones at all, but they are expensive to store and largely go to pet food or they're burned. They're burned, which for me is, oh my goodness, it's almost painful. There's this gorgeous, incredibly nutritious product which has a nutrient density that really shines, especially when you're looking at places like Pasture Bird that have six times the glutathione as regular cage-free chicken. There are lots of studies on the nutrient density of regeneratively raised meats, and they have significantly more omega-3s and a better omega-3:omega-6 ratio than conventionally raised meat. So the product is better for the consumer. The animal has lived a much higher quality of life, and we've then contributed to putting those nutrients back into the soil instead of just drawing from that ecological bank account from which there's an end date if we're not replenishing it.
The opportunity to use these bones is a privilege and it's also a responsibility to contribute in a way that is not plundering, but is replenishing. We want this product to be available for generations. We want regenerative agriculture to be supported for generations. I have five boys, and a lot of the ways that we do things are centered around what our world will look like for them. When you think about the topsoil really coming into crisis in 2050, we're not talking about 2300, we're talking about 30 years from now. We're not talking about an environmental crisis in which at some point the sun is going to go out, we're talking about in our generation or shortly thereafter, seeing this topsoil issue become a really deep crisis.
The way that we do things at FOND is thinking about our future, supporting the farmers here in the US that are replenishing these nutrients in the soil. The ruminants are taking nutrients from the vegetation and replenishing that as they graze on the land. As a food manufacturer, we have to be thinking about the ways in which we participate that will be sustainable for generations to come. One of the things that people often say, "Well, isn't regenerative agriculture expensive?" And I think that's kind of a boogeyman, like when you look at the real cost of the conventional food system as we know it, there are so many hidden costs to the environment and human health. There is an exorbitant and expensive cost to large scale commercial farming that we’re seeing contribute to the rapid rise in chronic disease and we will continue to see its cost for the next generation and beyond.