The Real-Life Happy Meal
Dr. Amy Hayek
Know Your Food is a 190-acre ranch located about two hours outside Dallas that gives anyone the opportunity to own and know their food. The consumer makes an investment in an animal, which is provided with a large pasture and good health care, and their family gets meat from the offspring of that animal for more than a decade. The mission of founders Bill Ormston, DVM, and Amy Hayek, DVM, is to provide consumers with healthy, chiropractically adjusted, grass fed, antibiotic- and hormone-free meat from which they truly know the origin.
As veterinarians with combined experience of 48 years, Ormston and Hayek are familiar with what goes on in an animal’s body under stress, “In conventional production, what ends up in an animal’s nervous system perpetuates. Our animals are happy to see us, and that is really important for their health and well-being, because it reduces levels of anxiety.” Hayek notes. Mainstream meat comes from animals in confinement at feedlots or factory farms that do not have access to the key elements required to be healthy. They typically live in stressful conditions in close quarters with other animals, which negatively impacts their entire nervous system, reproductive processes, sleep patterns and in turn, meat quality.
“Animals have evolved over centuries because of their response to the environment, so we want to be able to provide the right environment.” Hayek expresses. The cows, sheep, chickens and bees at Know Your Food live on sprawling pastures with a variety of grasses and plants to provide them with the nutrients they need. Chickens, for example, are omnivores that live outside and eat bugs, grass, seeds and even mice, which differs greatly from the “vegetarian-fed” labeling at health food stores. Hayek and Ormston humanely raise the animals in an appropriate living environment, creating a positive relationship.
This system is distinct from those that involve buying a steer from a butcher and putting it in the freezer, as the consumer often has no idea under what conditions that steer was raised. It’s also different than purchasing hormone-free and grass-fed meat from a natural foods market, which may come all the way from Australia. Hayek and Ormston’s clients can trust the integrity of their food source and not get confused by food labeling that may be misleading.
Know Your Food is revolutionary in that the consumer buys the chicken, cow or sheep; meaning they own that specific animal. A cow, for example, will give birth to calves that can feed a family for up 14 years. Hayek says, “We try to raise cows that have not been vaccinated, that are good producers and then we guide our clients towards the best quality meat there is.” Hayek and Ormston understand that most people cannot raise a cow or sheep in their backyard, so they have created a project that reconnects people that live in the city with farms.
“The real secret behind all this is that we are raising and boarding people’s animals, but what we are really raising are microbes in the soil and bees that will fertilize the plants. Without those two things, all else dies.” asserts Hayek. Bees are essential to the environment, so Know Your Foods has the option for meat eaters and vegetarians alike to own their own bees that fertilize the ranch, while providing the client with pure, organic honey.
“Historically, veterinarians’ real mission is to protect the food source. Even the USDA is made up primarily of veterinarians whose job it is to protect the food source.” reveals Hayek. Know Your Food works to provide quality meat, eggs and honey, while fulfilling their duty as veterinarians to protect the delicate foundation of all life. Both Hayek and Ormston maintain a practice at All Creatures Every Spine, providing holistic veterinary care to animals big and small.
“We are prepared to change the economics of farming. Farmers generally pay all the rent, which typically leads family farms to turn into corporate farms, where animals are separated from the ground and soil and grass to be raised in confinement,” Hayek explains. “Our goal is to franchise, and end up with shared farms like ours near every big metropolitan area, which we believe is beneficial for the farmer, animal and community as a whole.”