Taylor Collins lives an EPIC life.
From his daybreak nature hikes, to bow hunting Elk on the EPIC Bison ranch in Colorado, to swimming with dolphins in Hawaii, this co-founder of EPIC Provisions is doing his part to inspire and help millions of people every day.
A few years ago, Taylor and his wife Katie, the other co-founder of EPIC, found themselves need of a food source that could sustain them – no, replenish, nuerish and rejuvenate them – for even more EPIC performance and adventure.
As accomplished triathletes looking for a performance edge, they converted from vegetarians, switched to an ancestral approach to nutrition (and living), created their fast-growing jerky company and have helped push the grass-fed food and farming movements onto the verge of a full-scale revolution.
Their start-up EPIC Provisions, was recently purchased by General Mills and as Taylor says, all eyes are on EPIC and General Mills, anxiously awaiting the outcome of this monumental “experiment” as Taylor calls it.
Can tiny little EPIC be the catalyst for the change in farming and food that we’ve been waiting for?
According to Taylor, the answer is yes. I believe him – in part because I want to see that change – but I also think he’s onto something.
Enjoy this episode of the Optimal Performance Podcast and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Here’s what you’ll learn from EPIC co-founder Taylor Collins on this episode of the Optimal Performance Podcast:
- How the co-founders of EPIC Provisions go on EPIC vacations to Hawaii and other outdoor adventures
- How this adventurer and business owner “hacks” his morning and workouts for optimal physical and mental performance
- Book recommendations and the scientific connection between exercise and the brain, and the ancestral approach to a holistic lifestyle
- From vegetarian triathletes to meat-eating, adventure-seeking, agricultural and food industry revolutionaries (game changers?)
- What your blood type can tell you about your ancestry, the food you should eat, even the job you should have
- Whole Foods told Taylor and Katie “no, this is a bad idea”…they did it anyway, and now Whole Foods is a major distributor of EPIC Provisions
- How passion can trump experience
- EPIC’s initiatives to change the destructive, resource-depleting industrial farming practices into sustainable – even restorative – farms that provide higher quality foods and a “net positive” for the environment
- “The Whole Animal Initiative” and how less waste can lead to better futures for ranchers and meat producers
- Why our ancestors preferred organ meats and actually threw the muscle cuts to their dogs
- EPIC was bought-out by General Mills…what does this marriage between “big food” and the small grass-fed industry mean for the future of our movement?
- Accelerating the positive impact on the planet; creating oppurtunities for team/ranchers/manufacturers; and producing revenue – the monumental holy trinity that EPIC is striving for in order to prove that these methods can be reproduced to revolutionize the food and farming industries
- Where can you find more of EPIC & Taylor Collins
- Taylor’s Top 3 Tips To #LiveOptimal
Links & Resources
Find your local grass-fed farmers with Eat Wild’s Grass-Fed Farm Directory
White Oak Pastures in Southern Georgia
Field & Stream – watch for the “Hunt to Harvest” Elk video
Barefoot Provisions – A great online resource for your primal hunting and gathering provisions.
Thrive Market – Another great resource for all your ancestral food needs.
CILTEP to help you think faster, focus better, and memorize more!
We want to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below and continue the conversation.
Changing the Food and Farming Industries with EPIC Co-Founder Taylor Collins
Ryan: You are listening to the Optimal Performance Podcast sponsored by Natural Stacks. If you’re into biohacking, performance or getting more out of life, this is the show for you! To learn more about building optimal performance into your life, check out naturalstacks.com.
Alright, happy Thursday all you optimal performers! I’m your host Ryan Munsey. Welcome to another episode of the Optimal Performance Podcast. I wanna welcome in today’s guest, Mr. Taylor Collins, co-founder of EPIC Provisions. Taylor, hello!
Taylor: Hey man, how are you doing?
Ryan: Great, great. So, first of all, the EPIC bars, they are appropriately named. Jerky sticks filled with grass-fed meat, no B.S. If you guys haven’t been exposed to this yet – I’m sure a lot of our listeners are aware of EPIC. But Taylor, thank you personally for creating these. And thanks for being here with us today, this is gonna be a cool episode.
Taylor: Sure, man. Yeah, thanks for having me. And happy to help you get some nourishing animal protein in your diet and also be here.
Ryan: Yeah. So, we’ll go through a little bit of housekeeping first guys. As always, go to naturalstacks.com so that you can see the video version of this podcast and get the show notes, links and resources. I’m sure Taylor is gonna drop a lot of knowledge on us. We’ll have links to everything that he talks about so you guys can just click and further dig into whatever we talk about. Also, if you haven’t done so, make sure that while you’re on the site you sign up for our VIP list and you can stay up to date with all of the information and happenings that are going on in our world. Make sure you share the Optimal Performance Podcast with anybody that you know who would enjoy or benefit from what we’re talking about. So, with that said, let’s get right into this. Taylor and I have already been talking a little bit before we hit record about our love for hunting. So, I wish we recorded some of that. Maybe we’ll touch on that later on if we have time, Taylor. But you just got back from Hawaii, man. What – what does the co-founder of EPIC Provisions do on vacation in Hawaii?
Taylor: [laughs] Um, so – so my wife is my – the other half of the co-founder and so we’re in a pretty – I mean, I’m probably the luckiest guy because I get to a) create a bad ass business with my lover but also she’s pretty epic and she does cool things. And so, we kind of kid around but when we go on vacation it very much is like a boot camp. And more than anything it’s our excuse to be outside as much as we possibly can and to probably do, like, 2 a day, 3 a day workouts and just get completely shredded to where when it’s time to come home, I mean, we’re exhausted. So, we did just tons of, like, open ocean swimming, some surfing, hiked some huge mountains, we rented bicycles and rode across the island. So, I mean, there was never a dull moment. Very little lounging and relaxing, like, truly Hawaiian style.
Ryan: That is so cool. That sounds like the perfect vacation. What – what kind of travel hacks or tips can you share with us? I’m sure somebody like you who has a – if nothing else, you had a backpack loaded down with EPIC bars.
Taylor: Yeah, man. I mean [laughs], for us it – yeah, we always have – probably, you know, it’s gonna be your best opportunity and best bet to bring some of your staples and your favorites. And so, like, for me, because we are pushing it so hard and honestly working out pretty vigorously when we’re on vacation. I mean, definitely wanna have some kind of grass-fed meat in my diet so I am gonna bring, like, some jerky snacks or some EPIC bars. But then, for me, too, lately I’ve been hitting the gym pretty hard and so we continue always to do that on vacation. So, you know, I’ll always bring some collagen or some whey or some Natural Stacks combo where you can just put it in a little plastic bag. I mean, in all honestly, you know, like now doing it there’s – I just wanna make sure that I get the protein that I need and I love, still I love butter coffees every morning. And so, I can find butter, I can find coffee, you know. Hit or miss on MCT Oil but, like, yeah, just come collagen, whey protein. Bam, dump it in there. It’s good stuff.
Ryan: I’m sure they have some coffee and coconuts in Hawaii.
Taylor: [laughs] Totally! Yeah.
Ryan: So, yeah, you mentioned butter coffee. What other, like, morning routines do you have whether it’s at home or on the road? I mean, you’re active, you’re into fitness. Obviously as a business owner you’ve gotta be mentally sharp. What kinds of things are you doing to kinda get yourself into that best state for performance? Whether it’s at home or on the road.
Taylor: Yeah, man. Every morning in Austin, my wife and I will wake up and we’ll either go on, like an hour run in the Greenbelt. So, we have this really beautiful natural preserve right outside of our – our house. And so, really, immersing ourselves in nature, kinda trying to do it when the sun’s coming up. So, like, you’re running – and I run with my dog and so it’s like this really awesome primal connection where it’s very low light and so you’re kind of – really it enhances your other senses. So, your sense of – your vision is, like, really dialing in and just your general awareness and your proprioception, your body awareness has to be like heightened or you’re gonna sprain your ankle. And to do that and to see, like, the sun come up and feel the warmth on your skin and really get to experience, like, the transition from night today, being outside, being a part of that really inspires me and helps me get really creative towards the day and focused on the things I wanna accomplish. And then, you know, after that it really comes down to I’ll either do a butter coffee or I’ll – I make bone broth quite a bit. And so, you know, I’ll boil bones usually once a week. Monster pots. And then I’ll just make killer soups out of it. And so, you know, I’ll heat something up like that. A soup as well. And – and then start my day. And then, you know, go super hard, feel really great and focused, really sustained energy. Honestly, like, I don’t have to eat again ’til 1 or 2 o’clock and really productive mornings.
Ryan: Awesome, awesome. Now, as you mentioned some of that – the running where your sentence – senses have to be heightened. I just read ‘Go Wild’ by John Ratey. I don’t know if you’ve – have you read that book?
Ryan: He’s a phenomenal researcher and writer and he wrote another book, ‘Spark’, that is – it was actually his first book and the most recent one was ‘Go Wild’. So, for you guys listening, those are 2 great books to check out. But ‘Spark’ talks about the connection between exercise and the brain. And then in ‘Go Wild’ they talk about, basically, getting back to a lot of ancestral patterns whether it’s through exercise, mindfulness or diet. But they talk a lot about – very much like you said – the comparison of running or being outdoors in a state where you have to have all of your senses at full awareness compared to being able to get on a treadmill and just check out. And there’s a lot of research going into it showing that it increases neurogenesis and that with – there have actually been some studies where a couple of schools had a zero period experimental class and in this zero period they had the kids do intense exercise and they found that these children did that and then went into their school day and that they performed significantly better in school after starting their day with exercise. Especially exercise that, you know, engaged all their senses like you’re talking about. So, it’s really cool that, I mean, you kinda stumbled onto that just by being connected to your body and nature and figured it out. Like hey, this is what works.
Taylor: Yeah, man. It’s a trance. It’s a trance state where you just have a heightened sense of awareness. And honestly, I’d say like, some of my greatest accomplishments, some of my greatest ideas, greatest problem-solving has happened being in that exact state. Just being one with nature, being very grounded, being very inspired by my surroundings and just having this mindfulness that I can’t achieve anywhere else.
Ryan: Well, and this is a perfect segue to go right into talking about EPIC. I mean, you guys – you – basically, the story is you were tired of – you guys lived this epic and adventurous life that you’ve just kind of described to us. You got tired of, you know, all these high sugar or fruit-filled bars and you wanted something that was, you know, more meat based. Tell us about the beginnings of EPIC.
Taylor: Yeah, man. I mean, it’s been a – it’s been a journey and it’s been a saga. And I think – I think that’s how life should be. I think you should always try to grow and to learn and always evolve and develop over time because, I mean, if you’re not you’re a) really boring, you’re just not really diversified. You don’t really understand that much holistically about the world. And so, we, for a really long time my wife and I were vegetarians and we thought that’s how athletes were optimized. And we were both training for Ironman races, Ultra Trail races, so a lot of like really high level endurance sports. And conventional wisdom, I mean, I was in an exercise sports science program, I was a physical therapist. I went to graduate school. And so, along my entire educational training, you know, was like these diets that were low in fat, high in carbohydrates, those were what athletes, you know, optimized on. So, we thought we were doing the right thing and we did it for a really long time and our bodies were just getting shredded and we never really reached. We always felt like we were missing something. And um, so, you know, as we got more and more serious about sports, Katie actually won a really big Ironman race in Wisconsin and qualified for the Kona, which is the world championship Ironman. And it was at that point where her body just completely, like, all the nuts and bolts and all like the duct tape that we’re throwing on her to just like try to piece her together completely crumbled. And um, a big disaster. And so, we – we just, again, like took this opportunity to learn and to pivot and to grow. And it was certainly outside of our comfort zone but definitely just did a whole 180-degree pivot on our diet and it was the best decision we ever made. And so, we started introducing, like, high-quality fats, you know, grass-fed animal meats and really eliminating sugars, carbs, really, kind of conventional, you know processed sports performance. And it was game changing, we could never go back. And so we – we now are like we had – we basically had, like, this whole vegetarian culture that we’d created that we just flipped the switch overnight and started eating meat and we had to find a product that could really like satiate that hunger that we had and this fuel that really helped our bodies perform and thrive. And so, that was the genesis of creating EPIC. And I mean, when we were really conceptualizing this we’d go out on big, like, 100-mile bike rides and we’d bring, like, a pound of bacon each. Where normally we’d maybe like slam, I don’t know, 10 sugar goo, like goo gel carbohydrate gels –
Taylor: – on this ride. And just drink some, like, nasty, sludgy, like carbohydrate mixture in our water bottles. But, you know, like we would say okay, this – obviously, like, eating this way makes us feel good for recovery, it makes us feel good just like when we’re focusing and thinking and creating and doing business. But, like, does this actually work for us when we’re performing and competing? And so we started experimenting there and again it was just next level. And so, really inspired to create something that just athletes, people on the go, people who are mindful about ingredients could put in their bag and just really like kick ass and feel good about it.
Ryan: Yeah. You guys have an amazing product and I love it. And like I said earlier thank you guys for doing it. As you talk about that transition, though, what were some of the resources that you guys used to educate yourselves on how to make that transition that maybe you could share with our listeners and if somebody wanted either just more information, you know, for pleasure’s sake. Or just to look into resources for knowledge to make that switch themselves.
Taylor: Sure. Yeah, the very first book that kind of introduced us more to a primal diet was called ‘Eat Right for Your Blood Type’ and it’s by a guy named D’Adamo. And, essentially, you know, he says um: ‘Hey, look at the evolution of our species. Every time there’s a dramatic shift in diet, that represents a change in blood type throughout history.’ And so, whereas like our – the original blood type is O, like O positive, O negative and that’s when our ancestors were, like, strictly eating a hunter gatherer diet. And then when things started shifting and we started introducing agriculture, that’s when, like, the blood shifted from an O to an A. And then, B – the shift – like, B got introduced into the pool whenever our ancestors started, you know, like domesticating animals and doing things like drinking milk, making cheese, consuming a lot of dairy. And so, and then, like, the latest evolution is AB which is kind of like this weird genetic mutation that no one can really understand. And it’s just like really kind of fucked up. Like it’s – it’s like a mutt. And so the assumption is it’s introduced with a lot of the shitty food that we’re eating now as a culture. And so – so Katie and I thought this was really fascinating. Other cultures around the world believe in this. Like in certain Asian countries when they’re hiring for certain positions, like in big companies, if it’s a management role they’ll say: ‘Hey, you need to be this type of blood type’ –
Taylor: – because there’s – yeah, certain characteristics that are represented and accurate within this – with these people. And there’s other countries where um, you know, like if people are dating or looking for a life partner they will actually look for compatibility with blood type. And so there’s some – so there’s some truth to this in Western society, Western culture really knows nothing about it. But, so we – we actually had our blood tested and when I was reading this book it was saying all these characteristics of O type blood and it was talking about, like, your preference or your affinity for exercise and kind of like these people tend to be a little bit more into explosive exercise, competitive. Whereas like, A blood type tends to be more into like namaste, yoga, like, water aerobics. And they all have different characteristics and then they have personality characteristics. And we were reading this and Katie and I were just like: ‘Shit, if we are not O, like I’m gonna be really pissed because this is like-’
Ryan: [laughs] That means you have to take up yoga.
Taylor: Yeah. It’s like I’m not taking yoga, I – like, for me, it doesn’t work.
Taylor: It’s just, I’ve tried it. And so we both went to blood bank and donated blood. And we were both O positive and so that was kind of a little bit of a fist pump and, like, let’s go hard and let’s just try out this theory, this idea of eating a certain way that’s consistent with our blood and our genetics and that was a phenomenal intro to primal eating.
Ryan: Awesome, awesome. Well, that’s a cool resource. Thank you for sharing that one. And I’m actually – I’m trying to peek around the corner. I have a bookshelf over here and I – my mom actually bought me that book for a gift. And I haven’t read it [laughs]. I’m sorry, mom!
Taylor: You’re gonna love it.
Taylor: It’s really interesting.
Ryan: So, I have to dig in to that one. But –
Taylor: Yeah. There’s something really interesting about it. Do you know your blood type?
Ryan: I don’t! And I think that’s why I didn’t read the book. I was like I don’t wanna read the book if I don’t know which one of these I am.
Taylor: Most people – most people don’t know their blood type before this which is also pretty strange. But I think one of the most fun things to do as you’re reading this book – just make a list of all your close friends and your family members and – and honestly. So, like, we wrote down probably 15 of our closest friends and family members and reading this book we wrote, like, we took educated guesses on their blood type based on this book. And I think we had like an 80% success rate. Which is pretty crazy.
Ryan: That is awesome.
Taylor: So that’s pretty fun.
Ryan: Yeah, that’s really cool. And I just wanna go back to, for our listeners, I realize a lot of people do enjoy yoga. I like it, I love the mobility aspect. That was just kind of a joke ’cause I could tell Taylor was not a huge fan. You didn’t – you didn’t wanna be – you didn’t want to have to switch your modality of your favorite exercise.
Taylor: Totally. And yeah, I agree, man. You can’t – like, no one lifestyle or diet is cookie cutter and yeah, yoga has a very special place in many people’s lives.
Ryan: And I’m actually a huge fan of Bikram yoga. That’s my favorite way to meditate. I like it to – to kinda decompress from all of the intense and heavy lifting that I do. So, just throw that one out there.
Taylor: No, yeah. Yogi’s, you guys are way more popular than, probably like the endurance ultra runners in this community of ours. We’re way more outcast than you guys.
Ryan: So, Taylor, what kind of hurdles did you guys face when you began with EPIC that maybe you didn’t expect to see or face?
Taylor: Yeah. I think one of the biggest learning opportunities that we try to continue to integrate into our business and our lives is when you have an idea you need to make sure the idea’s polished up before you start pitching it. And the real application of this was we, you know, all of our, kind of, mentors in life, people who has always been there for Katie and I – we’ve always been entrepreneurs – and all these people when we were reaching out telling them about the idea, everyone said: ‘That’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard. Don’t do it, that’s stupid.’ We actually went to Whole Foods because it’s – the global office is based in Austin so it’s right down the street. And we told their buying team about this product that was gonna change the world and it’s gonna be called EPIC and it was this meat bar and they said: ‘That’s disgusting, don’t do it. Like, whatever you do, don’t do that. We’re not taking it.’ And so, like, the lesson learned there and the challenge was, like, if you’re creating something, like, when you’re presenting it I’d say it’s really important to present it in a form that people can connect and get behind. And so for us that’s with branding – I think a lot of other companies the branding, your messaging, your consumer-facing front is more important than anything else. So like, when we actually developed the package for the very first time and handed over the product to Whole Foods and buyers and our mentors, that’s when things clicked and people said: ‘Yeah, this is killer, this is bad ass, this is gonna change things.’ And so, you know, I – I think that’s really important and I’d encourage a lot of entrepreneurs and creative thinkers to really integrate that into your life somehow.
Ryan: I think – I would highlight, too, the fact that, you know, you guys were flat out told by somebody quite influential: ‘Hey, don’t do this.’ And you did it anyway. ‘Cause you believed in it and it was what you wanted to do and now look at it.
Taylor: Totally! Yeah, yeah. Huge point, man. And I tell entrepreneurs that all the time. There’s no one repeatable path to business. Just like in life there’s no, like, one single repeatable path to optimizing your life. There’s a lot variability and I think at the end of the day you need to rely on your instinct and you need to really get a – you need to be able to like listen to your gut and understand how to do that. And when you can, it’s next level. You’re unstoppable.
Ryan: That is – I – that’s just so cool. I had no idea that that many people would have told you up front like: ‘Hey, we don’t think this is a good idea.’ What other lessons have you guys learned through creating this company and building it to what it is now?
Taylor: Yeah. Um, man, I think um, I think surrounding yourself by people that are in line with what you’re doing and see the mission, the value and they get behind it is way more important than surrounding yourself with people who are quote-unquote industry experts or hey, this guy has been doing it for 20 years. This guy helped build this company and they just exited for X amount of money. Like, those people are, honestly, like in my experience overrated and kind of full of themselves. But like, we have really learned to identify and spot people who are passionate and who are just so into the greater purpose and mission of the brand. And those are the people that I think are really impactful and can really separate you from competition or really just help inspire you to continue to just drive forward, push the envelope and try to be the best version of yourself. So, that’s been a huge one for us.
Ryan: Alright, very cool. So, let’s – let’s kinda take that and let’s talk about something that I know you and I are both passionate about. You already mentioned agriculture a little while ago. So, let’s talk about farming and some su- if I can get that word out – some sustainability stuff, ethics. I know you guys control – you guys have your own ranch where most of your meat comes from, right? So, talk to us about that side of EPIC.
Taylor: Yeah so um, we – we actually – we don’t have our own ranch yet. So, that’s something that we’ve been working on for the past 3 months. And um, we’re really trying to get this conveniently located ranch property, ideally 30 minutes outside of Austin, Texas where it can serve as an educational center. Something that brings in buyers, decision-makers, even consumers. So, people can actually come connect with the land and see things very holistically. And again, like, what we do is we’re very particular on the sources of our animal protein. And so, we’d like for our ranchers to think about things holistically. We get way more excited if one of our producers – are – consider themselves, like, a grass farmer than a bison rancher or a beef rancher because they’re really focusing in on where everything begins which is the land and the quality of the land and the health of the land. Because that’s really the only way to create healthy f- healthy animals. And then healthy animals create healthy food. But without that healthy land element, just can’t really do a good job nailing the second 2. So, I mean, for us, we’ve really worked hard to dispel this myth. There’s so many, like, myths in the world and these are things that we’re all learning and growing. But like, one of the most prevalent ones is that agriculture, especially meat production, is not sustainable, it can’t feed the world. Even more so there’s people that will argue to the death that it’s destructive and degenerative, causing pollution, contributing to climate change and carbon CO2 emissions through methane and other gases. And you just really have to question that. And so, for us we work in a context that’s holistic and so, this is some educational training provided by a guy named Allan Savory. But essentially, when you manage herds of animals consistent with how these herds of animals have evolved over millions of years, you can actually regenerate, restore, heal the earth, heal the grasslands and this is just fantastic for sequestering carbon, retaining water – so being super drought resistant – having really great microorganisms living in the soil, creating tons of biodiversity for native species and migratory species. And so, it’s really like, through this, through putting animals on grass where they’re intended to and where they belong, can we really create these amazing ecosystems that can actually help, you know, reverse climate change and do a lot of really good things positive for the planet.
Ryan: I love that answer. I think – so, when you’re talking – what you’re describing, this kind of utopia, is more of a what we call polyculture and that’s the way nature was always designed to be. And a lot of the – the talk of methane emissions, you know, the water issues, those are all coming from places where you’re seeing monocultures and farming practices that have been kind of pioneered through efficiency models for kind of what we call conventional farming. That’s the part that’s not sustainable, that’s the part that’s gonna cause issues for the environment, you know. Is that correct?
Taylor: Yeah, absolutely. We’re talking about, like, industrialized agriculture and high-intensity agriculture where you’re relying on tons of external inputs. So, you know, like, you’re bringing in feed from across the planet to feed your cows and maybe, like, the rainforest was mowed down so that people could plant fucking corn there. And so, like, there’s no question that that’s totally inefficient, obviously destructive, very short-sighted. And you know, like, then you’re introducing fertilizers and pesticides and, like, this system is totally broken and jacked and no one’s debating that. But the conversation really is this isn’t the only system so –
Taylor: – let’s focus on an alternative that’s actually – it’s not even sustainable. Like, let’s question the word sustainable. Let’s use words like regenerative, restorative, healing, because we can actually create a net positive –
Taylor: – and that’s what we should be really shooting for and, you know, that’s like a really amazing opportunity to use animals to do that.
Ryan: Yeah, so, for people listening, how can they get involved or how can they start to do their part to help, kind of, make that wave get bigger and move forward?
Taylor: Yeah. Great question. I mean, there’s tons of ranchers out there that kind of have this heightened mindfulness and operate in a holistic context. And, I mean, for us, you know, you should just kind of search your local, you know, farmer’s markets, ask people how they raise their animals. But if there ever is a doubt you know, be happy to share some of our favorite ranchers but there’s a really big – probably the largest farm in the United States that’s doing this is called White Oak Pastures and they’re in Southern Georgia. And they ship all over the world. And they’re actually gonna be at PaleoFx this year. But these guys – yeah, I mean, talking about, like you said, multi-species pastures. These guys have 12 different species of animals all interacting in the same pasture. So, they’re like replicating the Serengeti plains of Africa and it’s just incredible. It’s the most – I mean, the ecosystem there is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life. So –
Ryan: That’s cool!
Taylor: Yeah, finding people like that, supporting them.
Ryan: Yeah. So, I guess, be conscious of where you spend your dollar. You know, every dollar that you spend in the store, one way or the other is a vote, right.
Taylor: Totally! Yeah, 100%. Yeah, you – I mean, with the meat that you purchase, you essentially are raising animals because you’re influencing, you’re casting a vote for what kind of livestock system you wanna support. And – and this is kind of a discrepancy. So, if you’re vegetarian and you say like: ‘It’s unethical’, or vegan: ‘I don’t wanna support – I don’t wanna support this system’, so you’re opting out, you’re not voting. But it is important to vote ’cause that’s the only way you can make a change. Because if you don’t vote there’s still gonna be, like, conventional, high-intensity industrial agriculture versus, like, polyculture, holistic management. And, like, stepping out, not voting for either, you just like missed this opportunity to make an impact and influence people. And so – so yeah, vote with your dollars.
Ryan: Another thing that you guys are starting to be champions of is the nose to tail movement. And that’s another thing that we’re seeing a lot of in the Paleo world, too. Can you explain that for our listeners?
Taylor: Yeah! A big effort of EPIC this year, 2016, is what we’re calling the Whole Animal Initiative. And so, the genesis of this was um, we’re having conversations with our producers and we’re saying: ‘Hey, we want you to grow your herd. We want you to um, you know, like we want you to have 10,000 bison in this pasture. Like, why do you only have 800?’ And a lot of these ranchers are saying: ‘Well, you know, traditionally this is how the meat industry works.’ A jerky company will come in and they’ll say: ‘I wanna buy -‘ like eye around for some products. So, they’ll take, you know, like 4-8% of the entire animal by weight. And those economics – the rancher’s still at a lot of risk to grow the herd. And so, we’ve been able to – to come up with this program where we can say now like: ‘Hey, Mr. Rancher, we want you to have 10,000 bison in that pasture and we’ll commit to buying all 10,000 of those bison because we’re gonna find a way to use every piece of it.’ And so, that’s – that’s really powerful. I mean, that’s industry making impact and changing land and changing animal welfare standards. And – and so, that’s really exciting. So, right now, I mean like with our beef we’re using upwards of, like, 80-90% of the entire animal through the entire line of products that we make.
Ryan: That’s amazing! That’s amazing.
Ryan: And some of these new products. You’ve got the bone broth on the market, you have the – the beef tallow, right? And that’s part of the animal fat line?
Taylor: Totally! Yeah. The animal fats are being rendered for traditional cooking oils. And then, like you said, all the bones are being, you know, slow-cooked for broths. And then we’re even using some of the organ meats to make jerky with the organ meats and then the other cuts of the animals we’ll make our bars with and our jerky bites. And then – we even like at Expo West this year, at some of our trade shows we’ll actually take some of the hides from the animals and we’ll make lanyards or wallets or other things and kind of give them out to some of our customers.
Ryan: I tried the beef – the grass-fed beef liver jerky at BodyHacking Convention and it’s great.
Ryan: Yeah, that was – I was so excited to see it and I was so excited that it tastes great.
Taylor: Cool. Yeah, good. I’m glad you tried it.
Ryan: That’s gonna be my new way to consume liver. It’s the least – it’s the least offensive way I’ve ever found.
Taylor: Yeah, it – and that was the goal, man. I mean, it’s like a – everyone knows: hey, I should be eating more liver. It’s nutritionally just incredible. But it’s challenging a) to find good liver and to prepare it and b) most people don’t like the way it tastes when you cook it at home. So, we really wanted to create this product, you know, like a little kid, it could be packed in their school lunch and they wouldn’t freak out. ‘Cause that’s kind of, like, my wife. She eats 3 or 4 bags of that a week but she will not touch liver if I cook it at home. So go figure.
Ryan: What’s the best way to cook liver if we’re gonna cook it at home?
Taylor: I mean, I – I just like stuff um, –
Ryan: You just like the gamey stuff?
Taylor: Yeah, I mean, I’ll just eat it. I just eat it. But for me, I think, I’d say for most people who are getting into it maybe for the first time, you should probably like a) try to make a pâté recipe or b) like, bread it in some kind of like coconut flour or almond flour and then fry it. It’s kind of cheating because, I mean, it’s like friend chicken or something. It’s – obviously, that makes it taste really delicious.
Taylor: But do it.
Ryan: I – I gotta ask now that you just mentioned the pâté. The last time I was in Austin I got to eat at Dai Due – I think I’m saying that correctly.
Ryan: And they had an amazing liver mousse.
Ryan: That’s gotta be one of your favorite restaurants down there.
Taylor: [laughs] Yeah, that place is awesome. Yeah, I’ve had some great like pork jowls and other really cool, like beef heart and some other really awesome organ meats there.
Ryan: So, that’s a really cool restaurant that’s doing things very similar to you guys where it’s, you know, high-quality meats, animals that are grass-fed, pasture-raised and then it’s, you know, using the entire animal.
Ryan: Not just, like, the muscle cuts.
Taylor: Totally. Yeah, and it’s interesting like when you say the muscle cuts but just really to like think back at ancestral eating and how we evolved as a species. Like, our ancestors, when they’d hunt an elk and they’d kill it they would go like right on into the organ meats. Like, they’d cut it open, eat the organ meats right there and then they’d crack open the bones and like eat the marrow. And um, and they’d leave, like, these prize super lean muscle cuts that modern culture loves. It’s just like, feed ’em to the dogs or like leave ’em for the other scavenger animals.
Taylor: So, there’s something to that. There’s something to eating more holistically, eating more of the animal. Or at least expanding that ’cause I think we’re missing some of the most nutrient-rich parts sometimes.
Ryan: Yeah. So now, I guess, going forward with you guys, you guys just had some amazing news recently. You can correct me on the phrasing if you want but I guess you were acquired, purchased by General Mills?
Taylor: Correct! Yeah.
Ryan: So, that’s awesome. And, I mean, to me it’s – as a consumer and as somebody who has followed you guys from the first time I saw an EPIC bar, I think it’s amazing to see that big food is acknowledging the demand for all the things that we’ve talked about in the last 30 minutes. And – and I guess the other side of that is – I don’t wanna say a concern because, I mean, I see how passionate you are and I know that, you know, you’ll continue to try to use them as a platform to push this forward. So, I guess – that’s what I think I would like to hear and our listeners wanna hear is, you know, how – what have you heard from big food in terms of, you know, moving forward with this and how can you guys use that larger platform to, you know, help spread this message?
Taylor: Yeah, for sure. I mean, what happened with EPIC being acquired by General Mills, which is an enormous company, is um, it really is revolutionary and it shouldn’t be taken for granted because this is a really monumental stance a big food company took to invest in such a small company, and a mission-driven company. And even what we’ve seen in the past 3 months, I mean, EPIC is continuing to operate completely autonomously out of Austin, Texas. No one from General Mills is telling us how to run our business. Obviously, they wanna help out ’cause they’re really excited in –
Taylor: But really, the challenge is sometimes blocking that and using the – accessing the resources we want, but also keeping away the things that we don’t need or we don’t want. And so, kind of going back to the concept of, you know, like voting with your dollars and supporting what kind of livestock system, what kind of ranchers do you wanna support. I mean, the same thing is happening here because there’s this really exciting opportunity where – it’s bound to happen where, like, a company like EPIC or another really mission-driven company maybe Natural Stacks or something else, like, it’s gonna happen one day. But like, really what’s gonna happen now is everyone in the entire food industry, from all these mega-corporations are watching this experiment. And if things work out positively and for us we’re measuring that by a) we’re accelerating our positive impact on the planet, b) we’re creating really awesome economic opportunities, growing our team, partnering with ranchers, partnering with co-packers in small towns. Like, that’s really, really positive. And then there’s also a revenue component of that because without the revenue component we can’t have any impact. Like, we’re just, we’re not creating, we’re not converting quickly enough.
Taylor: But if we can do all these things and retain our culture and retain our values and our same operating philosophies, then this is monumental ’cause other big food companies are gonna start operating this way. Like, people will be less likely to develop, like 5 more shitty Pop-Tart flavors that no one cares about and creating, like, this shitty commercial for Fruit Roll-Ups that like cost this company like 10 million dollars to create. And this is, like, real money that they can reinvest and people, entrepreneurs, destructive thinkers that can really actually create change, positive change. And then also, I mean, General Mills is trying to learn a lot from us. So, I think next week they’re sending their director of culture down here. We’ve had multiple meetings with, like, higher ups in the organization; the president, the CEO. And people are really, really respecting how we operate culturally and really trying to learn from that, implement it. And the intention really is, like, hey you need to, at the end of the day, like, if you don’t adapt with the changing times and how consumers are changing and how they want food then, you know, they’re all gonna be extinct. And so, really the only option is to purchase young, mission-driven companies because if General Mills tried to make EPIC, EPIC rip-off. Like, no one would have – it would have been just totally bull shit.
Taylor: It’s – and so that’s really the only option right now.
Ryan: Yeah, I think you nailed that. I mean, the people who are that attracted to your mission and your brand would see right through, you know, somebody trying to create a knock-off, you know, if the values and the commitment weren’t there the way it is for you guys.
Taylor: Right, yeah. 100%. Um, so, I mean, you know, we’re really excited. We’ve already been able to increase – like, create some really positive things that we’ve never been able to accomplish like converting ranchers. We’ve already, in the last 3 months, like doubled the supply chain of grass-fed bison in the United States by basically pre-committing, prepaying animals to take their animals. Where we, Epic, before, we never could have afforded to do that. But this is a really awesome resource.
Ryan: That is really cool. I’m really happy to hear that. That’s so awesome. Now, before we came on you told me that you guys just – you have some new wild game flavors and lines coming out. And you guys did something truly epic, you went and with a bow killed the first elk to become part of the – the elk bars.
Taylor: Yeah, man. That was an adventure of a lifetime. But it honestly started, like, at our EPIC HQ in Austin, write like 1 thing they want to do before they die on the wall. And that’s kind of generic, like people do that, but we actually, like, make people do this shit. Like, check this off in 1 year. Like, not before you’re dead but in 12 months. And so, our director of ops Kirk Blanchard who was our first hire, you know, like 3 years ago he wrote: bow-hunt a monster elk in Colorado. And so, like, shit let’s do it! So, we’re kicking off this brand new wild game line, so we’re making wild boar product, venison, salmon and then a very limited run elk product. And so, we went out to Colorado. We actually went out on one of our bison ranches for 6 days and hiked, I mean, we had to have hiked over 100 miles all along the continental divide. And, you know, it really came down to the freaking last 2 hours of daylight.
Ryan: Oh God, on the last day.
Taylor: On day 6! And we’re just like: ‘Shit!’ Like the pressure’s on. We had – we brought out a really amazing film crew to document the hunt to harvest adventure. And, I mean, I don’t wanna spill the ending but, I’m smiling. [laughs] We got it. So yeah, that video is gonna come out this week. But it’s gonna be pretty legit. It’s beautiful.
Ryan: So where will we – where will we be able to see that video?
Taylor: Yeah, it’s gonna be Field and Stream online. They’re pretty –
Taylor: Yeah, pretty cool outdoor website. They’re gonna – they’re gonna show it first but it’s also gonna be on our website through our social media this week as well.
Ryan: Okay, awesome. Taylor, I think I could sit here and talk to you all day long. I’m sure that you have a business to go run. We appreciate your time. Before we let you go, couple of questions for you. Number 1, aside from the video, where can our listeners get more about – learn more about you guys, get the bars, stock up on all EPIC provisions?
Taylor: Sure, man! You can go to epicbar.com and really get dialed in. We have a lot of cool, like, limited small batch stuff there, special products that you can purchase there or, you know, like most people go to Thrive or Amazon or Barefoot Provisions. Places like that are great resources as well.
Ryan: Okay. Barefoot Provisions also carries Natural Stacks products. So, I’m gonna say go to Barefoot Provisions.
Taylor: And Barefoot Provisions will ship your shit to Canada. What?
Ryan: Yeah! Those guys are awesome, we love ’em.
Taylor: Yeah, they’re legit. I sho- I bought 400 dollars’ worth of stuff on Barefoot Provisions last week. [laughs] It’s ridiculous.
Ryan: So, you guys listening, we’ll have links to the book, all the websites, everything that we talked about go to naturalstacks.com you’ll be able to – under the blog tab – you’ll be able to see the video version of this podcast with Taylor. Taylor, before we let you go, all of our guests have to answer this question: your top 3 tips to live optimal or live epic.
Taylor: Man, I mean, we – we kinda touched on it so I’m not gonna be too repetitive and redundant. But number 1, most important is listen to your gut, follow your instincts. Like, tap into that. Trust your heart. Because no one knows better than yourself. Number 2 would be um, I think just diet. Nutrition is so ridiculously key. It’s been a catalyst for myself being healthy and well and performing at my gym and on the trails and racing. But also just, like you said, in business it carries over, it’s very holistic, it helps me focus. So, I mean, for me, primal diet works incredibly well. And then I’d say number 3 is gonna be to find the love of your life if you’re interested in that and make sure that that person is gonna, like, inspire you every day and really challenge you to become the best person you can be. So, done.
Ryan: Awesome, awesome. Taylor, this has been a blast. And I’m looking forward to catching up with you guys in person in a couple of weeks. We got, what, 2 months to PaleoFx?
Taylor: Dude, I’m so pumped.