Episode 73: Eating Local
Ron discusses his Stills disease diagnosis and how that lead him to overhaul his diet with locally sourced foods and ultimately share his knowledge with others through the inception of his company Bone-In Foods.
The content of this podcast has not been evaluated by Health Canada or the FDA. It is educational in nature and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult a qualified medical professional to see if a diet, lifestyle change, or supplement is right for you. Any supplements mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please note that the opinions of the guests or hosts are their own and may not reflect those of Advanced Orthomolecular Research, Inc.
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Welcome to Supplementing Health, a podcast presented by Advanced Orthomolecular Research. We are all about applying evidence based and effective dietary lifestyle and natural health product strategies for your optimal health. In each episode, we will feature very engaging clinicians and experts from the world of functional and naturopathic medicine to help achieve our mission to empower people to lead their best lives naturally.
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[01:06] Welcome to Supplementing Health. Today we will be discussing Still’s Disease with Ron Mirante and how his diagnosis led to the conception of Bone-in Food. Thanks for joining me today, Ron.
[01:16] Ron Mirante: Thank you for having me.
[01:18] Cassy Price: So, Still’s Disease is a rare form of inflammatory arthritis. Would you mind sharing a little bit about your diagnosis for people who may not be familiar and where you were at when you got that diagnosis?
[01:30] Ron Mirante: Sure. It was about seven years ago. I was diagnosed with Still’s Disease through exemption basically meaning I started to have these autoimmune conditions and doctors, I had seen seven specialists, couldn’t diagnose me any other way other than through how I responded to medication and prescription. It started with very high fevers, joint issues and flare ups to the point where after thirty days my wife was helping me out of bed. It was a pretty serious condition, and it was very concerning. Long story short I continued on with my medications and prescriptions until I sought a more naturopathic homeopathic way of doing so through food which had led us on our path today.
[02:31] Cassy Price: Was there a pivotal moment in your experience that made you decide that now is the time to go that more natural route?
[02:39] Ron Mirante: Yeah. They had thrown me on very high dosages of ‘steroids’ prednisone about 80 mg a day which is 75 mg more than what is acceptable for the human body on a long-term basis. The reason it became very severe was that it eventually attacked my heart. Where it started in all of my joints and created extreme fatigue and I had lost about 35lbs, it started to affect my pericardium, which is the sack that protects my heart, it started to flare up. Fortunately for me it flared outwards, so it really just affected my breathing. That was when a rheumatologist of the seven specialists that I had seen threw me on high doses of the prednisone because of the way that I responded within 24 hours they were able to diagnose me. Then I was forced onto those prescriptions indefinitely by my rheumatologist because we had to control this inflammation around my heart to limit the scar tissue that was creating. Every time I started weaning myself off the drugs, within months periods it extended about two or three years, every time I tried to wean myself off those drugs my heart would flare back up again. So, they threw me on biologic treatments which were new to the market and not covered by insurance which really wreaked havoc on me and my wife and our family future. That was when I realised that maybe I needed to make a lifestyle change.
[04:51] Cassy Price: You had mentioned that all of this was on the onset of travelling. Do you travel a lot, and have you pulled any food and nutrition habits from other cultures along the way?
[04:29] Ron Mirante: Yes. I did travel a lot. Definitely more in South America but we had also travelled quite a bit over in Europe, so I did have a lot of access to different parasites and different bacteria across the world. You know I started with indigenous cultures and definitely stepped outside of what my body and immune system was capable and familiar with for sure. I was forced onto vaccinations depending on where I travelled, like your Yellow Fever card Hepatitis A and B, a lot of them were suggested depending on which areas I was travelling to but I think the abundance of vaccinations across those four or five years just wreaked havoc on my immune system. I did get a chance to experience different life and different cultures around the world for sure.
[05:27] Cassy Price: And were there any particular food elements or nutrition elements from those different cultures that you have now adopted and use in your day-to-day life?
[05:37] Ron Mirante: Yes. Complete whole foods. When I stayed at the indigenous cultures if they didn’t raise it or grow it, they weren’t eating it. On the occasion they would take a four-hour ride in a canoe to the local city to buy a cake for their one-year-old for the kid’s birthday but that was the extent of their processed food. Anything else that they were eating was whole and grown by then or raised by them or hunted by them. One of the most fascinating things was staying with them. They had hunted a tapir. They threw it over a smoke fire because they didn’t have access to energy. There was no power on this facility so how do you hunt something and keep it preserved without cold temperature regulation? They basically threw it over a fire and smoke, and it rotated every single day and then they would just slither pieces off it little by little as they needed it. They basically cooked this animal for it had to be six or seven weeks by the time I got there and then the best part was once they were done with all the meat products; they would take all of the smoked bones and they would boil them in water over fire and just dip through that on the occasion to get all of the nutrients from the bones of that animal. So, this animal that they hunted extended for three months into their family of thirty. So, a very long nose to tail practice that modern day has drifted away from.
[07:17] Cassy Price: So, speaking of that bone broth. That is a huge part of Bone-in Foods. So, what about bone broth are the benefits that you find most exciting?
[07:32] Ron Mirante: So, the benefits are the collogen content, the healthy fat content, the fact that you are using an animal to its complete nose to tail philosophy where nothing goes to waste. There are ample benefits to bone broths if someone doesn’t have a histamine intolerance. So, I reaped the benefits from it because I had an autoimmune disorder and I have no issues with histamine. The collogen was helping with the inflammation in my joints, the discomfort that I was waking up to every morning. This was also in transition from prednisone and prescription that was also assisting me at that time but the benefits of bone broth between vitamins, minerals, fat, collogen, there is really no comparison on the market in terms of a super food nutritionally because they do contain all twenty-one essential amino acids. There are eight essential amino acids that our body doesn’t naturally product that we need to get from an outside source and you can get them all from bone broths. For those that have a histamine intolerance I have noticed that there is a better acceptance from it when it is turned into a soup or a stew because you are fulfilling that amino acid complexity better, so it is easier digested and more bioavailable.
[09:00] Cassy Price: So, then did the benefits that you found from consuming bone broth with your diagnosis play a role with the conception of Bone-in Foods?
[09:09] Ron Mirante: It totally did. When I started researching nutrition and I learned after my experiences travelling the benefits of these nose to tail philosophy and getting all of your essential amino acids and the influence it has on your immune system, I really started to just streamline a whole food diet per say. I went complete 180 from processed eating out to only cooking in every day with my wife and trying to use every part of the animal from where we were sourcing it. This was a difficult transition. I did use the more common markets we are more familiar with before actually finding farmers and going direct to them so that I can see complete transparency on how these animals are raised so between the bone broths and eating a whole food diet it substantially changed my health.
[10:14] Cassy Price: So, what are the guiding principles behind your brand?
[10:19] Ron Mirante: So, it is basically just taking ancestral wisdom and applying it to what we have available today in modern day. Modern day food systems, you know, are available and convenient at a big transition in our evolution to more community organised environments verses being widespread and being in our own indigenous primitive culture. So, you know modern day helped in being able to supply people with the food that they needed. The issue is that it is not the food anymore. It is the nutritional starvation and degradation that we are going through now where we are not ‘eating’ instead our diet is highly processed food. So, that transition and those guidelines play a part in Bone-in Foods. Like how can we take what has already been modernised and bring it back to an ancestral mindset where animals are raised more naturally? Where there is not a lot of human interaction? They are influencing the health of the soil and the health of the land which then also influences the health of the vegetables and the produce and the fruit that we eat. How do we streamline that to be more intimate in our community so that there is complete transparency, and that people are more confident in the food decisions that they are making? But also, how do we make that abundant enough so we can start to eliminate our need for a modern-day industrial food practice and farming practice? Our guidelines are really clean, whole food, complete transparency and direct to consumers so it is as fresh as it can be because the fresher these ingredients are, the more nutritious they are.
[12:13] Cassy Price: Now, as I am sure you‘ve experienced yourself in your journey, it is not always easy in our convenient modern day society to get all of those qualities in a single item, so do you have any tips for people on how to start making these changes in their own lives and transition from our current convenience based lives to more of this thought out planned and resourceful style?
[12:38] Ron Mirante: Yeah. That is a question I get asked a lot from our buyers because a lot of our buyers are in the inner cities so how do you make this transition when you are in a less rural area where you have the acreage and the ability to grow and you have neighbours who have the ability to grow. That is why we started the Bone-In a farm to door delivery service because we were trying to make that more convenient and accessible for those living in more urban areas. What I can say is that we do have the ability to grow indoors. We do have the ability to change our infrastructure so that certain buildings begin thinking more sustainably. I am actually seeing it in Jersey City where they are discussing roof top gardens and trying to create more of a community base just in those buildings. It is not expedited, and it is not in every developer’s plan. People I think in the more urban areas need to find their sources and figure where those sources are, visit farmers markets, try to eat as seasonally as possible, if you can’t there are markets that they can shop at that they can go to, then try to grow some of your basics. If you have to do it indoors, growing herbs like rosemary or thyme or something to spice up your food is a great start. There are ways to grow in these areas. My wife and I lived in a more low-income area of Jersey City for the period and our transition and in the backyard which was a dump, I completely cleaned it up, I didn’t own the property but I completely cleaned it up and grew tomatoes and food for some of the people on my block. It is always a practice that people can do, and I tell you some of the neighbours would be willing to pay for that.
[14:38] Cassy Price: For your condition inflammation is a big part of it and we know that a lot of chronic conditions have a tie to inflammation. So, the guts ability to digest food and absorb the nutrients can play a role in how much inflammation you get and kind of the sources of it and all that. How do Bone-In Foods support gut health and help to address that concern?
[15:05] Ron Mirante: So, that is a very broad question because it actually all starts in the soil. I am an environmentalist out of college. I studied soil science and now I am big into nutrition and just the similarities in our systems because we are all interrelated. The way these systems work for the biodiversity in our soil and the health of the biome in our soil is very similar to the way that our human bodies function and every animal functions in that manner. The healthier your soil, the more nutritious the plants, the more nutritious the animals that feed on those plants are going to be for you and more influential they will be on the health on your biome. Fermentation is a fantastic practice to influence gut health. Bone broth, because of the collogen, helps with the health of your gut lining which allow the microvilli to absorb more from the foods that they are eating and digesting. It is thinking about it in different scales from small eco systems with your gut to small eco systems with into your soil. So, the whole premise is, how do we, if we are concentrating all on the health and the soil of our land essentially all of the food that is produced from there is going to be beneficial to us and easier and more digestible. For some people who have a more intolerable gut lining or microbiome they may have to take this transition but there is going to be a transitional period that is going to be difficult for them because their gut systems are so aligned with our modern-day practice. That was actually the case for me. Even though I felt great eating the whole foods and that transition, there were certain foods that I couldn’t tolerate as well as I can today, six years into this business and eating this way and this lifestyle change. For instance, alkaloids in tomatoes I had a really hard time with nightshade vegetables and now I can tolerate them in minor doses. So, it is really paying attention to your body and feeling how everything that you ingest affects you because at the end of the day every cell in your body is derived from what you are ingesting through food, through your environment, through toxins and breathing. It is really streamlining since we know the importance of a healthy gut, how can I make my gut healthy? What probiotics, benefits, microbes can I feed my gut to allow me to absorb foods better and digest better and get the most nutritional availability from what I am eating?
[17:58] Cassy Price: Now, one of the criticisms that come up a lot with eating organic whole food local sourced etc. is that it can become quite costly. I mean many of us have a budget, so it is not always feasible to go 100% organic non-GMO locally grown. Do you have any tips on how to extend that budget as you are making the transition?
[18:27] Ron Mirante: Yeah, for sure. Nose to tail is the best idea that I can share. You can get ample benefits from bones which you can buy from a local farmer for very little. Most farmers, regenerative farmers or organic farmers are, I hate to say it, throw away a lot of their bones because they have no home for them or no place to bring them. So, we are just discarding animal bones when there is so much that can be produced form them. Just as a base to a soup or a stew or something to sip on in the case of stomach indigestion, there are so many benefits that you can get from the bones and then the less familiar cuts are actually the most nutritious. So, organ meats like liver or kidneys, a lot of people don’t like these things between you and I Cassy, I actually eat them raw, I don’t even cook them, only because I trust the source that they are coming from. It would be a different story if it was the other way around. These are practices that we have evolved from and we need to evolve to and if we realise that once we start to make that transition you can be quite surprised and once we are cooking more because a lot of people say they don’t have it in their budget but most of the time we are eating out two or three times a week and I would say that is probably the average, I am pretty sure I read that somewhere.
[19:56] Ron Mirante: When you are eating out you are spending not just for the food but for the labour and the infrastructure and we all want to eat out, my wife and I still try to eat out once in a while but we cook three meals a day for our family and I tell you what we spend maybe $200 a week working with local regenerative farmers and feeding ourselves three times a week. There is also the conversation of portion control. We eat way too much as society than we used to. If we are going to look back at ancestor wisdom, these people used to eat one big meal a day but now we have three courses throughout the day. They used to eat one big meal maybe every two days and then just feed and snack on fruits and berries or whatever they can forage. It is really shifting our patterns from what we know and looking back to ancestral wisdom and saying “we really should be using each and every part of this animal. We really should be minimising our portions based off how we feel and the energies that it provides us. We need to prioritise our budget.” I think in this country in the United States, food is fifth on our priority list in terms of where we budget our money and it should be number one and I think with that slight transition we can eventually shift the entire paradigm that surrounds our food system.
[21:31] Cassy Price: That is very fascinating. It makes sense. There is a lot of talk about paleo diet and getting back to our roots and stuff. it is true that when you start to reposition how we are looking at where we are spending our budget and what we are prioritising the nutrients maybe like you said the convenience of someone else doing the labour for us and stuff like that it can change the way you spread your budget. I think that is a good point to bring up. Your website is Bone-InFood.com and there people can purchase a variety of different items from the different collections like bone broth meat product etc. is there a specific area that you and your company service?
[22:25] Ron Mirante: So, we service all of New Jersey. We just opened up to New York and parts of the Pennsylvania area, mostly along the borders of the state of New Jersey. We really are trying to make it streamlined and direct to consumers as fresh as possible, so we have to minimise our overhead. We don’t have big trucks on the road. This is all personal drivers basically coming to the farm where we are packing. Farmers are bringing to us in the morning. We are packing everything fresh. Drivers come and pick everything up and then disperse it. We will have about five drivers on the road with their cars or SUVs full of orders for people in the area and we try to do that twice a week currently. When the pandemic hit, we ran into a sourcing issue because the high demand in the transition for better quality food because people were all of a sudden very concerned about their immune systems as they should be, we ran into a supply shortage so based off the criteria that Bone-In is trying to meet. We have branched out and we have met new farmers and we have farmers reaching out to us to help with their distribution in the marketing of these things. So, it is really trying to streamline direct to consumers. Things are being harvested in the morning and at your door by the middle of the afternoon. They are not sitting in refrigeration or in a warehouse, these things are coming direct from the farm, direct to us, and then packaged and direct to you. It has been quite an experience trying to work with those logistics especially when the pandemic hit. It is definitely working out and we are excited for it.
[24:05] Cassy Price: That is very cool. I can imagine you have had some headaches over the past couple of years here with everything that has been going on, but it is a great premise. I think that is really cool to have this source that farm to table food. For people that are not in your immediate service area do you have resources for them to start educating themselves and creating these relationships on their own in their local area?
[24:32] Ron Mirante: Yeah, for sure. I have been noticing a lot of businesses similar to mine especially since the pandemic hit that are beginning to pop up in different areas. I had a woman from Chicago reach out and ask if we can ship and in my mind I am like “I don’t feel comfortable shipping a bag of vegetables and a box of meat to you.” There are other companies doing that but obviously they are importing and exporting meats from around the world. We are talking about carbon footprints and those things do need to be minimalised and they do need to be more direct to consumer especially when we are talking about the complexity of the food system that we need to adapt for future sustainability purposes. So, I basically did a farm to door delivery search in Chicago and two options popped up and I suggested them to her and said, “I don’t know how good their practices are and I don’t know the details of it but they do exist.” So, there are also a lot of online sources. There is a site called eatwild.com that people can check to find the local farmers in their area that are practicing either regenerative agriculture or organic agriculture and then just a lot of reading. There are some great books by Joel Salatin who is a famer down in Virginia. I read a lot of nutritional books to get you in a guideline like Sally Fallon Western Aid Price Foundation. She is fantastic. She discusses the nutritional science and how it relates to ancestral wisdom so you can kind of gain an idea of where our systems shifted and when and how we can get back to that system. She discusses a lot of preservation and fermentation as I had mentioned to you which are ways to extend the period and length of something that we are growing or hunted so that we can get all of the benefits of that animal at a more effective affordable price.
[26:31] Cassy Price: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to share all of your knowledge and your experience and where that has got you so far with me today. I really appreciate it and I think there is a lot of information here that our listeners can use to start their own sustainable whole food diet if they choose. So, thank you so much.
[26:52] Ron Mirante: Thank you. I appreciate you having me.
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