By Myron Horst August 2009
As I looked at the old agriculture book, I found a comment about greasy pastures being the ideal. I had never heard of greasy pastures before. Why would anyone want greasy or oily pastures? Why would the best agricultural book, the Bible, say that greasy pastures were ideal? I had never heard of greasy pastures in all that I had ever read or heard about grass based farming. Does grass have oil in it? Yes, it does. As I researched into the oil in grass, it helped me to put a number of important pieces together of how we can improve the nutritional quality of our eggs and meats.
Over and over I have asked God to teach us how to farm. It has been amazing what He has taught me in unexpected places. Most people view the Bible as strictly a religious book and any references to agriculture are quickly spiritualized into a religious application or ignored as irrelevant. However, as I started looking at the Bible as a source for how to produce health giving food, I have been able to discover some important agricultural advice. I am discovering that God, as Creator, has given us in the Bible the secrets of how to have a long healthy life. There are many things there that we have never seen before.
One day I was reading in Exekiel 34:14 where it calls the pasture “FAT” pasture! In looking up the Hebrew word “fat” I found that it means “greasy”. The question that came to my mind was “why would we want a greasy pasture?” Evidently most translators of modern translations of the Bible couldn’t figure out why “greasy pastures” could be a correct translation, so they translated the word figuratively (rich pasture, lush pasture, green pasture, etc.) which totally hides the agricultural information that we need to know.
Here is what it says: Ezekiel 34:14 “I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.”
Some more verses on greasy pastures: 1 Chronicles 4:40 “And they found fat pasture and good, and the land was wide, and quiet, and peaceable; for they of Ham had dwelt there of old.”
Nehemiah 9:25 “And they took strong cities, and a fat land, and possessed houses full of all goods, wells digged, vineyards, and oliveyards, and fruit trees in abundance: so they did eat, and were filled, and became fat, and delighted themselves in thy great goodness.”
Nehemiah 9:35 “For they have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them, and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them, neither turned they from their wicked works.”
The oil content of our pasture is not an insignificant issue. It has much greater importance than I ever imagined. The oil content of pasture contains fatty acids and in particular, the Omega-3 fatty acid. By increasing the oil content of the pasture, it is possible to increase the Omega-3 in eggs, milk and grassfed meat. Not all grassfed eggs, milk, and meat have the same Omega-3 content. The Omega-3 in eggs, milk, and grassfed meat raised on pasture that had low oil content would be low. The more we can raise the oil content of the grass, the higher the omega-3, the healthier the chicken or animal, and the better the nutrient and health value of our food. Up to this point, I have not heard anyone make the connection between the oil level in grass and the Omega-3 level. Nor have I heard of anyone trying to increase the Omega-3 content of eggs, meat or milk by making improvements in the grass. This bit of information in Ezekiel 34 was an important puzzle piece in seeing the bigger picture. Improving the level of oil/Omega-3 is an important next step.
There has been a lot of research done on Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acid is very important in the health of both animals and people. When the Omega-3 consumption is decreased and Omega-6 increased health problems such as cancer significantly increase. Omega-3 has been found to decrease cancer tumors in laboratory animals. Grain fed meat tends to be low in Omega-3 fatty acids and high in Omega-6 fatty acids. Grass fed meat, on the other hand, has a much higher level of Omega-3 fatty acid, and a lower level of Omega-6 fatty acid. The high cancer rate in America is, in part, a result of the high consumption of grain fed meat, and a low consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is important for proper cell development. Therefore, greasy pastures are important for the health of the chickens or animals eating them, as well as for our health in eating the food products raised on the greasy pastures.
In further research, I found that we can increase the oil content of grass by increasing the brix (percent of sugar and mineral content) of the plants. As the sugar and mineral content of the plant sap is increased the oil and fatty acid content is also increased. Dan Skow, in the book Mainline Farming for Century 21 said, “When enough sugars are produced, the plant in turn produces more oils. When the oil content of a crop is increased, shelf life has been enhanced.” This correlation between high brix and high oil content can also be found there in the passages in Ezekiel 34:14 and 1 Chronicles 4:40. It is interesting to note that the word “good” can also be translated “sweet”. Here again the translators, ignorant of the concept of brix in plants, hid that agricultural understanding from us with their translation.
We found out about the concept of improving the brix in plants about two years ago. We have been trying to learn all that we can since then. Higher brix plants, fruits, and vegetables taste a lot better and are loaded with nutrients and trace minerals. The additional benefit is that high brix plants are highly productive. This year we have been pleased to see the brix level of our pastures come up from last year. Last year the clover brix was in the 4%-7% range. This year it has been in the 8% – 17% range. The improvement of the brix of the pasture showed up in our cows’ milk production. We noticed this when we moved the cows from an unimproved pasture to one of the chicken pastures. The milk production for one of our cows went from one gallon a day to two and a half gallons a day!
Increasing the brix of the plants is important. However, because of the value of oil in the pasture, it is important that we not only try to increase the rix of the pasture, but to also increase the oil content of the pasture as well. We need to find a simple, economical way to test the oil content of plants because the oil content of plants varies from species to species and possibly from day to day as well.