Why is it so difficult to find high-quality, pasture-raised meats these days?

It seems like we’re years into the natural-organic-pasture-raised health craze, yet it’s still a pain to find grass-fed barbecue and meats from healthy animals in general.

With the majority of our cow friends being fattened up on a completely unnatural diet of corn, GMOs, and other nonsense, it’s clear, now more than ever, that there’s a disconnect between industry standards, and I’m using that term loosely, and what’s best for the health of ourselves and our families, not to mention our longevity.

To help us figure it all out, we’re here with Mike Salguero, who’s the CEO and founder of ButcherBox, the first delivery service dedicated to providing 100% grass-fed beef, organic chicken and heritage pork direct to people like you and me.

Mike is also a CrossFit enthusiast, an avid lover of the outdoors, so he’s in good company here.

On this show with Mike, you’re going to learn:

  • The critical differences between grass-fed beef and feedlot beef, and what it means to your health
  • What to look out for when shopping for and choosing your meats
  • How to feed yourself and your family when you’re low on sleep and out of time
  • And tons more…

Let’s go hang out with Mike.

Mike Salguero: Grass-Fed Beef vs Feedlot Beef

Abel: Mike, thanks so much for joining us on the show.

Thanks for having me.

Abel: Let’s get right into it. Why is it so difficult, almost no matter where I am, especially in North America, to find high quality pasture-raised, grass-fed, or just generally clean meat?

Basically, starting in the 1950s and 1960s, this country became obsessed with cheap meat. So, it was all about how cheaply could you grow an animal.

What the meat industry did is they moved in a direction of confined feeding operations and overuse of antibiotics. Antibiotics help an animal put on a lot of weight really quickly.

And then, basically give them a bunch of corn and soy and grains and have them grow fatter and fatter and fatter.

And so in the beef world, if you think about the way that we grade steak, there’s, Choice, Prime, Select. All that means is it’s how much fat were you able to put into the animal. That’s what’s called the mark of quality.

That’s very different than, say, New Zealand or Australia or other places, where there’s lots of land and people have just kept cows grazing on grass for years.

I got into this because my wife and I were doing an elimination diet and it said, “Eat grass-fed beef.” And then we did a Whole30 diet and it said, “Eat grass-fed beef.”

And I was like, “What is this stuff?”

I started trying to find it and couldn’t find it. It wasn’t in our grocery store. The only thing I could find was a brick of ground beef.

And I hear that from people, it’s like, I want to eat grass-fed beef, but I can only find ground beef.

It’s so hard to find, one, because the industry went in a completely different direction. And two, at your local grocery store, there’s not a big demand for it. We hope someday will be much bigger,

Grocery stores tend to have issues with what they call shrink, where things spoil. It’s a big risk for them to carry a bunch of grass-fed briskets if they’re not going to sell.

That’s why you tend to see ground beef, and then maybe like a New York strip, as pretty much it in a grocery store.

Even Whole Foods in downtown Boston, it’s the same thing. It’s a very, very small selection of what you can get.

Pastured Vs. Feedlot: What Happens on the Farm?

Abel: Wow. Which means that almost all of us are eating nothing but adulterated meat, because basically, like you said, it’s prime or it’s high quality if it has a ton of fat in there, and the way that you get fat in there is by feeding them antibiotics.

They still don’t know exactly why that works, it just makes them real fat.

They might feed them cement kiln dust or candy with the wrappers on it, just because the less healthy it is, the more quickly it fattens up that animal.

Yet, when you look just one step down the line in North America, and increasingly the world, has the biggest health epidemic ever of obesity and disease. Could you imagine those things interacting and that being somewhat of a relationship.

If you’re eating something that’s sick, it might be transferring those little pieces of sickness to you in some way, especially over time.

I think a lot of people who are listening right now might be in the stage where they’re just like,

“Yah, I’ve heard that I should have grass-fed and pasture-raised and all that, but what is the difference between a cow that has been raised eating grass in its natural environment, or at least as close to it as possible? What is the big difference, if you are eating a burger or a steak, why should you care?”

So, there’s tons of different lenses you can look at it through.

Every cow starts off the same way, it’s about six months in cow-calf, which is basically a cow drinking milk from its mother, and then the next year is spent on grass pasture, just eating grass.

So every cow that is raised in this country, unless it’s for something different like dairy, that’s how they’re raised.

And then 98% of the cows go to a feedlot, and a feedlot is a confined feeding operation where there might be 100,000 or 200,000, or more cows all in one area.

And they spend six months just getting as fat as possible by being fed a whole bunch of stuff.

The grass-fed route for that 2%, instead of going to a feedlot they actually go just keep eating grass, essentially.

Sometimes they trade hands, like there’s a grass finisher, who will just keep feeding them grass. But often times they just stay with the original farmer.

And it’s fascinating, as we’ve gotten more and more into this industry, and become a big player in the industry. So, a lot of the farmers get loans that expire at like 18 months, right?

So if you have a 1000 cows or 100 cows or whatever, these cows are really expensive, you basically can’t afford to keep it on grass, because you have to trade it at that moment, because your loans are structured that way.

There’s the whole bunch of structural things that keep perpetuating this kind of feeder cattle system.

And so, like I said before, people were obsessed with cheap meat and it’s kind of a marvel of the food technology, what has happened in meat and how protein is being derived from corn.

But for your listeners and certainly for people who follow The Wild Diet or try to eat low carb and think about healthy fats and stuff like that. If you think about what that animal’s eating and the fact that toxins are stored in your fat. They’re eating a diet of lots and lots of carbs, getting really fat in a kind of a toxic environment. And then, you’re consuming that yourself.

I don’t think there’s enough research to definitively say that’s super unhealthy for you, and certainly I wouldn’t want to be the guy to raise my hand and say that, but certainly there are health benefits, we believe, to eating grass-fed.

When I eat a regular steak, which doesn’t happen very often, it sits in my stomach, like I’d feel it. Clean meat doesn’t feel like that. It feels very different, almost like eating elk or wild game or something.

Abel: The first time I became a vegetarian when I was an angsty teenager, I think I was like 15 or something like that. We didn’t have much money, it was a real treat when dad would bring home steak and cook it up.

And I still remember just looking at that steak on my plate, it was grayish and kinda looked a little like shoe leather. And when I ate it, it just tasted dead.

There’s this death taste to it, almost like how fish gets fishy over time. And it had this taste, and I’m just like, “You know what, I’m not going to eat meat.”

And my dad just about flipped out because he thought I was just being an angsty and I’m sure I was.

But really I remember trying to eat this steak which is supposed to be the best, most luxurious thing an American could do. Especially an American man, if you follow these tropes or whatever, over time.

And I’m just like, “I don’t like this, I don’t want to eat this.”

And that really led me on a pretty fascinating journey for a while. Because then I got even sicker trying to eat vegetarian for a while.

But the meat part always kind of stuck with me, even when I stopped doing the vegetarian thing. I didn’t go back to red meat because I experienced that same, “I don’t really like this.”

Of course, if you covered it all up with mustard and ketchup and steak sauce, or horseradish or whatever, you can cover it up and pretend that you’re eating a high-quality steak.

But you’re right, It feels heavier when you eat it.

And when you transition more into the pasture-raised cattle. My parents had a couple of cows behind the house and with our neighbors, we were able to get some of the meat, which was tragic and kinda sad after befriending these animals over multiple seasons.

But man, you have a different relationship with your meat when you realize it’s coming from an animal with eyes that look at you. That have feelings, they’re like gigantic big dogs or goats. They’re very sentient, very conscious.

How different is that than just eating meat, because most people were trained to think that we’re just eating meat. It’s all the same, it’s a commodity. But it’s not.

There are multiple lenses right there.

There is better for the environment, there’s better for the animal. There’s better for the farmer, and you can take any of those and go with it.

So better for the animal. Cows weren’t created to sit in a confined feeding operation. And this is a very, very confined environment, where there’s a massive trough and they just drive a tractor down and just put corn in the trough. Corn, soy, grains.

Abel: Corn if they’re lucky.

Exactly. So and it’s all geared towards making them just want to eat more and more, and more.

You go see a cow in your backyard or in a field and they’re just happy chilling out in a field. Really, like no stress, no mooing, no fear. Just kind of hanging out.

As a guy who, obviously I’m part of the meat system, so I recognize every animal unfortunately has a bad day, which is the day that it’s slaughtered or the day that it’s harvested.

But we want to make the rest of the days as good as possible.

So, that’s the promise of pasture raising, of being really conscientious of what you do with your animals.

Certified humane is really to make sure that you’re doing everything possible to make that animal’s life as good as possible.

We actually have a lot of customers who are what I call “reformed vegetarian.”

but that are like,

But they’re like, “We’re vegetarian.” But then for health reasons were like, “I can’t do this anymore, I have to eat meat.”

And then it’s like, “Well, what kind of meat?”

“Alright, if I have to eat meat, I might as well make sure it’s the most conscientious meat possible.”

And we strive as a company to every day just improve the meat that we’re giving people and improve the standards. To just get better and better and better. So, it’s been a fun journey for sure.

Pastured Cattle and the Carbon Effect

Abel: You guys are doing a great job. But if I could, I’d love to play devil’s advocate for a second, just because I know that we’ll get some comments later about this.

What about the people who say that you are taking part in destroying the world because it’s slaughtering animals, and we shouldn’t be eating meat in the first place?

How do you think about that, especially running a company with multiple people? And I know that you really care.

There’s usually two kind of things that are destroying the world. So there’s that one, and then there’s also carbon.

So, cows emit a lot of carbon. There’s a bunch of movies that have come out about how it’s all about animals, specifically cows.

So on the carbon side of environmental effects, there’s actually a bunch of really interesting work happening right now around grass feeding and how it’s helping the ecosystem.

What you’re seeing actually across this country is fields that used to be corn, or fields that were over cropped, and over the years there’s just not a lot of topsoil or rich nutrients there anymore.

But they’re putting animals back on pasture there, and the cows are eating and pooping, and using their hooves, and it’s creating this really, really rich grassland.

And what the research is showing is that the grassland becomes a carbon sequestration, which means it’s taking carbon out of the atmosphere.

So there’s actually some really interesting research happening right now around pasture raising, potentially even being not only carbon neutral, but actually a net benefit, like it’s pulling more carbon out than it is putting into the atmosphere.

Abel: Well, it makes a lot of sense.

And the way it goes into the atmosphere is methane gas from cows farting. It’s just crazy.

So, I think there’s some really good research and really exciting stuff certainly for grass-fed that helps me cope with that.

I’ve toured a lot of these facilities. I think it’s was part of my job, if I’m going to be selling meat, I want to see how it’s done.

And on one hand, I too, stopped eating meat for a while. I too felt pretty sick and then started eating meat again.

I think humans seem to thrive better with meat in their diet.

And then if you’re going to thrive better on meat, we might as well do our part to make as much of an impact as we can on the meat industry.

When I started even three years ago, doing ButcherBox… We just celebrated our third year anniversary…

Abel: Wow. Congrats.

Thank you. People thought we were kinda crazy. Like at meat conferences, like, “Grass-fed beef?” Like, “What? Are you kidding?”

And now huge companies are like, “Oh yah, we’ve heard of you guys, we’re really interested in what you’re doing.”

People are actually making changes on the ground in a big way, which is really exciting.

Because one piece is, “Okay, can we do things for our community?”

And then the other thing is like, “Can we actually make an impact on this whole industry?”

The big overarching mission is, how do we make grass-fed beef and responsibly raised animals the norm, rather than the exception?

Abel: Yah, do you see that getting better over time, over the past five years, say, or the three years that you’ve been doing it?

For sure. It is getting better because consumers are demanding it.

Consumers are less focused on, “Hey, give me the cheapest meat possible.”

There are a lot of people that are still focused on that.

But then there are people who are focused on better standards, using better breeds, making sure the animals are treated well.

There’s a lot of different things that are happening on the fringes, that are becoming more and more mainstream.

So you go to Panera, and they’ve got antibiotic free chicken. And Purdue kinda set the standard actually in 2014. They had already been antibiotic free for two years and announced it at a chicken council meeting, was like, “We’re antibiotic free, we’re not looking back.”

And that just dramatically changed the industry.

So it is happening. It’s a slow process, it’s too slow for people like me. But I do think changes are happening.

That being said, it’s a very old industry and you’ve got people who have been in the industry for a long time and don’t necessarily believe that change is needed.

Abel: This is interesting, and I’m sure there are a lot of people listening who might be thinking of transferring from the vegetarian to light meat.

It seems like if you eat grass-fed, or wild, or pasture-raised meat it’s almost like you’re in between being a vegetarian and being a normal American in one way or another.

I’d like to think that it’s a bit more spiritual, because you’re honoring the animals that you’re eating, at least more so than you would have from the traditional system where it’s just a commodity, or a hot dog or whatever.

But no, this had eyeballs. This was an actual animal at one point.

And it was raised the way that nature intended. Right?

Abel: Yah. Raised the way that nature intended, why should that be such an aberration in everyone’s mind?

In the entire meat industry it’s like, “What, you’re going to raise a cow the way that nature would? That’s insane.”

Yet when you look at how our bodies function and especially the animals that we eat, it’s definitely more healthy. It doesn’t matter how much research we have or do not have.

Living your life the way that nature intended is important, and it seems to be a self-defense against a lot of the shenanigans that have been going on for many years that has made us so sick.

But one thing that did help me in transferring from being a vegetarian and not eating meat to eating it again was… If you think about a cow or a buffalo, how many cows could you eat in a year? Even if you’re eating a pound or two every single day, how much does a typical cow weigh?

So, a grass-fed animal you’re probably looking at 600 to 700 pounds of meat and I think the average American is eating like 50 pounds of beef something like that?

50-80 pounds of beef a year.

So yah, you’re talking about one cow feeding a lot of people.

Abel: If you have two pounds of meat a day, every single day, then you’ll eat one cow a year.

It’s like that Shel Silverstein poem of eating a whale or something like that from being a kid.

It is certainly a sacrifice that the animal is making, or that’s happening, so that you can eat, but at the same time, it’s not like you’re going around killing all the buffalo for example, to eat meat every once in while.

I think that’s important to think about and talk about.

Totally. The slaughterhouses and that side of the meat process I think is incredibly important to talk about, and often times, people don’t talk about it.

There’s a statistic out there that 40% of people don’t touch their meat.

Abel: Wow.

So they open it up and throw it in the pan. So, there’s actually like a disassociation between handling the meat and handling what they’re eating.

Abel: By design it seems.

And I think that that just spreads out. And, I don’t really want to know what happens, what happens at a slaughterhouse.

We took a video of the inside of a slaughterhouse and showed it to our whole company, and it’s like, “Everyone here needs to know what goes on.”

Temple Grandin & More Humane Slaughtering

The facilities that we work with, there was actually this woman named Temple Grandin. There’s a movie with Claire Danes out about her. And she is on the spectrum, and she feels like an animal feels.

So she actually goes into these facilities and starts all the way in the back, which is where the trucks load the cows or drop them off.

And she’s like, “Oh that flag up there is freaking me out because it’s flapping and it’s making me scared.”

Or, “This wall is not high enough. We need to change this.”

And they basically change the entire processing side to match what she feels and to make her feel better.

And then there’s a machine that basically gives the cow like a hug before the bolt, which goes into their skull, before the bolt gets used. And like I said, it’s a reality of what we do.

If you eat meat, that’s a reality of what happens to the animal that you ate.

But the sense that I got from the places I’ve toured is like, “Wow, this is done in a way that’s honoring the animal and is as humane as possible. It’s like people really respect what’s happening.”

And then on the chicken and pork side, they actually use gases.

Abel: Oh really?

Yah. It’s a slow stunning.

The way chicken used to be done is a big conveyor belt.

A big conveyor belt, it dips into a water bath that is electrocuted and that stuns them and then something slits their throat down the line and some companies have started putting in gas stunning.

So essentially, the chicken goes through, it’s a mix of oxygen, oxygen with a little bit of carbon dioxide, more carbon dioxide and they pass out, which is dramatically changed at that moment for the chicken.

If you’re talking about companies doing things right or thinking about things differently, I’ve found that the larger the facility, which is actually kind of counterintuitive, but the larger the facility, the more they care about these types of improvements. And it’s mainly financial.

But if you think about it, if a cow is not super relaxed, it actually spikes its pH levels and you can taste that in the meat, and so the quality goes down.

If you’re putting 1,500 animals through a day, they have every incentive to make sure that it’s the highest quality possible.

This is actually one of the more surprising things getting involved in this business. I always approached meat with a thought of, smaller is better.

If the animal is slaughtered at Jim’s Slaughterhouse down the street, that must be better than the big facility.

But what you find out on the ground is Jim’s Slaughterhouse down the street is the one that has a whole bunch of violations for things like the bolt gun not working well. Because there’s just not enough throughput for them to care as much.

Abel: Or they might not have the resources, right, to replace all the equipment that needs to be replaced.

Exactly. Versus, if you’re doing 1,500 a day, that’s what about 200 an hour, or three per minute. So you can’t stop the line, it’s like an auto assembly plant, right? You don’t just stop the line.

So everything works really efficiently, which was counter to what I was expecting when I first walked into one of those places.

Abel: I remember reading some of what you talked about before, with that coddling device with the cows. Is that unique to cows, or does it work with pigs as well, and other animals?

Pigs go into an elevator, and then they get dropped down and do that gas thing, and then they get brought up. So no, it’s a different process for each of them.

But this woman, Temple Grandin, goes into all of them. Well, not every slaughterhouse, but the slaughterhouses in particular that we work with also work with Temple Grandin. And she’s walks through and makes sure that they’re as good as possible.

Abel: Yah, isn’t that amazing? If you look back at humans, or Native American beliefs in eating meat, some things that I’ve read basically explain that they went on vision quests, or in their dreams or in meditations. They would go to the animals beforehand, before the hunt, and get their permission for the harvest or for the slaughter to bring it back to their families and their tribe.

And, you put that in contrast to what you find at a typical slaughterhouse, and then you follow that down the line until it becomes a McDonald’s hamburger, or that packaged meat that no one ever touches, that’s going to give you diseases because we’re all afraid of it, but we’re supposed to be eating it at the same time.

It’s a really bizarre reality that we’ve all been conditioned to accept when it comes to eating meat.

It’s a really bizarre reality that we’ve all been conditioned to accept when it comes to eating meat. TWEET

How to Smoke Your Own BBQ (& Save Money)

And I can’t blame vegans and vegetarians. In fact, we were them ourselves for a while, because it almost leaves you no other option when you look around, in typical grocery stores anyway, at typical places where you eat out, you just can’t really find, or at least you couldn’t really find, the high quality stuff, the animals that were treated well.

And I think we all, if we knew that we had the option, we would prefer the healthy animals that were spiritually healthy, physically healthy.

And then if you eat them, they’re going to be nutritionally healthy.

But one thing that I thought was really interesting while living in Austin, Texas for almost 10 years, and now we live in Colorado, but living there was really an epicenter of the ancestral health movement, of the paleo movement, of a lot of big conferences.

And also a big epicenter of barbecue and meat eating. Because it’s Texas right?

And basically the entire time I lived there, I could not find grass-fed barbecue. And I could not find pasture-raised chicken that was smoked at a barbecue place.

Maybe it’s just because it’s Texas, but even in other places around the country, certainly it’s almost impossible to find a grass-fed or pasture-raised high-quality meats at those places.

And I’m just like, “Well, that’s a huge bummer,” so I bascially just stopped eating barbecue. I stopped eating that stuff.

Until about two months ago.

I also haven’t been barbecuing on a propane grill, just because I don’t like the idea of cooking over an unnatural petroleum-based flame.

But I got a smoker for a couple hundred bucks two months ago, and I’ve done three batches with your meat from ButcherBox. Some of the big roasts, some of the smaller ones, and they come out tasting like the best barbecue I’ve ever had in my life.

One of them I used mesquite wood chips, for the most recent batch I used hickory. And I’m learning so much about how smoking meat works, and how to brine.

At first when I got some of the big roasts from you guys, because we don’t typically go out and get big multiple pound roasts of chuck or anything else like that.

I’m like, “What am I going to do with this?”

And so, crock pot is good, can be fun, oven can work, too. But man, that smoker has really changed our lives. It’s been a wonderful thing to experience, and it’s really not more difficult than barbecuing.

The taste of the grass-fed meats in that barbecue is just so much better.

Yah, so much.

Abel: Than the barbecue that I’m used to. Because you can cover it up, like I said before, with all that barbecue sauce and all of that dry rub and whatever. And yah, it’ll taste good.

It’ll be like good barbecue, but then it sits in your stomach, and it feels terrible.

And what I’ve noticed about these things we’ve smoked ourselves, is that it’s really, it’s much lighter. We can slice it up real thin, almost like a lunch meat. And it just came out so good.

So anyone who’s listening right now, if you don’t know what to do with too much grass-fed meat, or if you’re in a cow share or something like that, which ButcherBox is basically like a cow share from afar, which is wonderful.

It’s a really fun thing to get into, to get closer to your meat instead of being afraid of it, never touching it like most people.

If you get a more intimate relationship with what you’re eating and how you prepare it, it can really pay off in a lot of ways. And it saves a lot of money, too.

Yah, for sure.  The instant pot’s really good for that, too. Just throw something in the instant pot, turn it on.

Abel: It’s easy.

Super easy. I actually sometimes take those roasts, don’t even unfreeze them, and just throw them in instant pot.

Abel: Oh really? I didn’t know you could do that.

Oh yah, it’s pretty amazing.

Abel: How long does it take?

I’d probably want to give it like an hour on high pressure. Comes out amazing.

Abel: Wow. Do you brine it? Or give it a dry rub or anything? I guess you couldn’t if it’s frozen.

Yah, I do. I do. I try a whole bunch of stuff.

I’ve got three young kids, and in the most convenient no-time type of thing, you just take that whole cut, throw it in and put in some tomatoes, vegetables, stuff like that, a little bit of red wine and then just cook it.

Abel: Nice.

Yah, tastes great.  But yah, our meat definitely tastes way better than anything else out there, at least in my opinion.

Abel: As long as you cook it right. Could you tell people quickly if they haven’t cooked with grass-fed beef in particular before, what are the little differences?

Yah, sure. So grass-fed beef has less fat because generally it wasn’t fed all those things we were talking about to fatten it up.

So, usually it gets tougher at well done or on the higher end of cooking. So we tell people to take it off before they normally would take off a normal steak.

And so if you’re on the more rare side, medium rare side, that would be better for grass-fed beef.

We actually just opened a test kitchen, and we are creating something we’re calling Meat University right now because we know that we have a really big obligation to help empower people to cook well and cook meals and feel proud about what they’ve cooked.

One of the things we talk about is that home-cooked meals is a declining industry, right?

Abel: It’s true.

Bringing Back Home Cooked Meals

All across the country people are not eating at home.

And if they do eat at home, I read some crazy stat that said that about 60% of the time people are eating some already pre-prepared thing that they’re just opening up and eating.

Abel: Sixty? Wow.

Yah, it’s crazy. So the stats of people who cook a dinner and then eat it, it’s declining. It’s in decline.

The people that like ButcherBox are definitely excited about taking that piece of meat and thinking about a different recipe and cooking it.

And so we’re trying to do whatever we can to help empower people to realize this isn’t that hard, it’s not complicated. You can do very simple things, very simple ingredients and make something amazing.

Abel: One thing that really helped us in terms of making it easier, taking less time is, for example, instead of doing one of those big roasts when I smoke it up, I’ll throw in three or four roasts or different cuts.

And then what you won’t eat that week, you freeze the rest of it and you don’t have to cook meat again for like two months.

Right. Yah.

Abel: And you don’t have to buy meat again for a while because you have it. It’s all ready, it’s all yours. You can divvy it up amongst your family as much as you want to.

But it’s so interesting how people pinch pennies on the food that they buy, yet like you said, aren’t really eating at home.

I’d say that we eat over 90% of our meals at home. It’s really an exception to eat out or even order food out.

But by doing that, health starts to almost happen automatically and you start saving a ton of money.

And so maybe that’s a good excuse for people to kind of like zig when everyone else is zagging or vice versa.

Where you’re expected to go out and eat this poor quality Easy-Bake Oven type food for every meal and your family, too, for the rest of your life, or you can actually learn how to create your own meals for less, that are going to be healthier, save you money, and also you’ll be learning a lot and experiencing a lot.

Alyson does the vast majority of our cooking and has for years. But when I find that one little thing like smoking meats and getting into brining or roasting my own coffee or making my own little elixirs or whatever, it’s so much fun to get into that and I think it’s a big thing that people are missing.

Because they kind of want somebody to tell them, “This is what you need to do and it’s going to be really easy and it’s all done for you.”

But in fact, it’s more like, “Here are the guidelines to practice some nutritional and health self-defense in your life and you’re going to have to do pretty much all the work with you or your family together.”

So you might as well make it fun, because it is. People used to cook for recreation. It wasn’t a chore.

It was a luxury and it still is. That hasn’t changed.


Abel: It’s just our perspective has changed really.

Yup, and we’ve become a society where we don’t have time for anything.

And so I know in my family, me being home for dinner is really important, and helping to cook it and just eat with my family, and that’s one of the coolest things about doing what I do. Thinking about all the thousands of people who will go home tonight and eat ButcherBox, it’s really humbling and neat.

It drives us forward to just activate this vision of helping people to eat and live healthier lives. And eat meat that they believe in and that is a step above or multiple steps above what they’re used to.

Abel: It feels different, it tastes different, it’s totally worth it.

It’s a little weird at first, when we got our first ButcherBox, but we’ve been eating from ButcherBox for years now. We really appreciate it, especially when we were living out in the Smoky Mountains, in the middle of nowhere.

We literally had to drive to a different timezone if we wanted to go to Whole Foods. It was two and a half hours away.

We were in Tennessee, and so the idea that we got this big old box of meat delivered to our doorstep even though we’re in the middle of nowhere was really… It felt new and exciting and kinda crazy.

And we’re like, “Oh crap. What are we going to do with all this meat?”

And it’s just been so great ever since then. I want people to know that it’s not all figured out at the beginning.

The first time people go shopping when they go on a health kick, right? It’s like, “I’m going to do the wild thing!”

And they come home with this like, all these groceries. They’re like, “Crap, I don’t know how to cook any of this stuff.”

Yah, right.

Abel: “I don’t know what to do.”

And instead of being overwhelmed yet again and thinking that you don’t have time, what if you just like carve out a little bit of time, and be like, “I’m going to figure this out. It’s my responsibility to figure how to eat the highest quality stuff, how to prepare it.”

And it can really be great fun to get into that, not only by yourself, but especially with your family or with your loved ones or your friends.

Cooking in a communal way is something that we’ve really lost sight of, and it’s so powerful, especially once you all sit down together as equals, hopefully, at the table once everything has been prepared and share it with each other.

It can’t help but be a spiritual thing when you have dinner that way.

But to your point, we’re coming up on time, but speaking of not having enough time, anyone I’m sure who has three little kids running around has their own share of challenges.

So, do you have any words of advice for the people who really want to make changes and improvements to their life, but say, “You know, I have all these kids,” or “I have this job that’s making things too hard to do it.”

What would you say to them?

Yah so, just a little bit of background on my situation.

Three years ago, like I said, I started the company. I had a one year old at the time. And then, a year later, we welcomed identical twin girls.

So I have three kids, one’s 4 and the twins are 2. So it was bonkers, it’s crazy.

The big piece of advice that I try to give people is, especially people who are dealing with the kids situation and juggling all the balls, you tend to be able to do the things that you make a priority. So it just depends on what you want to make your priority.

So, if waking up and going to CrossFit is your priority, you’re going to do that. If being home for dinner is a priority, you’re going to make the time.

Generally, people don’t have time for things they haven’t really made a priority in their life.

I ran a company before this, and I used to be the kind to get to work at 7:30 in the morning and be the last one to leave at night, and work, work, work, work, work, work.

And what I realized when my daughter Marley was born, my first daughter, it was like, “You know what? I think I’m just kind of pretending to work most of the time here. I don’t really think I’m doing good work on the 10th hour of doing work.”

And it’s like more badge of honor that I can say, “Oh, I worked 80 hours this week,” rather than I’m actually doing productive stuff.

Abel: Wow, that’s really insightful. I think a lot of people could learn from that.

Yah. So I’ve found, get in, be as productive as possible, and then get out and do other stuff in your life.

And obviously, it depends on your job and whatnot, but there’s so much more to life than slaving away at a job and thinking that is the only thing you’ve got going.

My first company basically imploded, raised a bunch of money. We had like Google and we raised a $30 million deal and the whole thing fell apart.

Abel: Wow.

And so I spent six years pounding my head against the table trying to make this work, working as much, sacrificing everything, sacrificing my health, sacrificing my family.

And at the end of it, it was like, “Huh, well, alright. I gave that my all and it didn’t really work, so what was the point of that?”

Why don’t I live my life and then have my company kind of fit in to the lifestyle I want to live. TWEET

And I know that’s a big thing for you as well, because I’ve seen you talk about being able to live wherever you want, being able to do whatever you want.

Because being an entrepreneur or choosing to go out on your own, is way more about what kind of lifestyle do you want to have, than it is about how many hours should I do work in this job.

Abel: It is. And as a CEO with a bunch of little kids, especially twins running around, it seems like you’re doing an excellent job on the business side, and I would think on the family side, too.

I hope so.

Abel: Seems like you’re keeping your head above water.

Yah, treading.

Abel: But really a lot of people are drowning right now, especially once you factor in social media technology, all these things that are distracting our attention from what we really want to be doing with our lives it seems.

Yah, it’s social media. Just your phone, all the distractions, all the things happening.

And I’m by no means an expert in any of this. But for me it’s been helpful to just have boundaries. The phone doesn’t come in the bedroom, and I’m not going to look at this for the first hour.

Whatever those boundaries are that help you cope with the just mountain of information and advertising and all this stuff that just hits you.

It definitely takes conscious planning, not just letting it hit you and hoping for the best.

Abel: It does.

Well anyway, we’re just about out of time, but I want to say, ButcherBox has been one of our favorite and most reliable places to get meat for many years now.

And you guys have really, despite growing so quickly, it seems like you’re really doing an excellent job, and that’s rare.

We’ve seen so many people try to do good things flame out or people try to do good things and then they’re like, “Oh we can make money doing this.” And then they start doing bad things.

And so you guys are a great example, I think, not only for those who should be and can be eating healthy, but also for entrepreneurs who are starting out.

Literally, now you are feeding the world healthier meat and that is a really powerful thing.

Where to Find Mike Salguero

Abel: What’s the best place for people to find you?

ButcherBox.com. And we’re running a special right now for your listeners. They can head over to Butcherbox.com/abeljames for a pretty sweet deal.

Our ground beef tastes amazing. So, that’s a good one.

Abel: Right on. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show, Mike. I would love to talk for three plus hours about all of this and really get into it again, but we’ll just have to have you back on.

Alright, that sounds great. Thank you for having me.

Before You Go…

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What did you think of this interview with Mike? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts!

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