Liz Talks Podcast, Episode 30: Liz chats with Diana Rodgers of the Sacred Cow documentary

Liz and Diana Rodgers, friends and former podcast co-hosts, chat about Diana’s work in sustainable agriculture, the Sacred Cow book and documentary, and great characters in American television. 

Liz Talks Episode 30

  • Diana Rodgers, RD [3:08]
  • Liz Wolfe, NTP [21:20]
  • Sustainability and nutrition [31:52]
  • Global Food Justice [40:31]

TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to Liz Talks. I’m Liz, and I’m a nutritional therapy practitioner and best-selling author; but here, I’m 0% professional and 100% mom, spouse, friend, and over-analyzer. We’re going to talk food, beauty, family, fitness, mental health, friendship, marriage, and everything in between in this season of Liz Talks, and I’m so glad you’re along for the ride.

Remember; this is a podcast about thoughts, feelings, and opinions. And I definitely do not give individual, personal, or medical advice. 

This is episode 30, topic: Modern Farmgirls reunion episode with Diana Rodgers of Sustainable Dish, and the Sacred Cow book and documentary. 

In case you missed it, last weeks’ episode 29 was an interview with Abby Epstein; producer and director of the Business of Birth Control.  

Arrowhead Mills sponsors this podcast, and they’ve got an assortment of fantastic organic and sustainably produced flours, grains, and mixes that we use exclusively in my home. The next time you go to the store, I’d love to have you support a company that that supports my work and look for Arrowhead Mills products. You can also find them on Vitacost.com. Arrowhead Mills pancake mixes are all we use for our Saturday morning pancake tradition; I can’t recommend it enough.

This episode is another interview/chat with someone I dearly love. Diana Rodgers of Sustainable Dish. Diana is the producer and driving force; or one of the driving forces behind the book, Sacred Cow, and the documentary of the same name. Which is phenomenal. And she’s a cherished friend, and former podcast partner. we started the Modern Farmgirls podcast many years ago; like, more than 8 years ago, when I still lived on our farm. And, yes, I’ve now had like 3 or 4 podcasts over the last decade. {laughs} 

I absolutely adore Diana. And watching her career over the last decade has just been mind blowing. She’s so amazing, and she has such singularity of focus. And she’s doing such incredible things in the world. 

I first met Diana as a fellow NTP, and she was also going through her program to become a registered dietician. She was living on a working organic farm, and she’s since become just such an amazing advocate for sustainable agriculture and truth telling, even in the pro-meat category. We need reality checks sometimes, too. So this is less an interview than it is a catching up between the two of us, where we talk everything from what we’re doing professionally to great characters in American television, including Rip from Yellowstone and Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec.

And if you aren’t familiar with Diana’s work, you absolutely must follow her on Instagram. She is one of the best follows out there. And I love her dearly. So here we go; onto the podcast with Diana Rodgers of Sustainable Dish. 

  • Diana Rodgers, RD [3:08]

Diana Rodgers: Welcome to; this is a joint podcast endeavor with Liz Wolfe and Diana Rodgers. And I think a lot of my current listeners probably don’t realize that in the OG days, you and I had a podcast together. 

Liz Wolfe: Yes.

Diana Rodgers:  And I was recently in Kansas City, and we got to have lunch just last week. And it was so nice. And you’ve always been so supportive and so positive and you’re just such a great human, Liz. 

Liz Wolfe: Well, I think you’re a great human, too. And I don’t know that I have always been so sweet and supportive. But I have certainly always felt safe being very honest and direct and straightforward with you. And I’ve always appreciated about you that I could just bring the real-real, no matter what. So I’ve just loved that. I was going through our old text threads the other day. And I was like; I love her! 

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: Dang it. 

Diana Rodgers: So we thought we would do a joint podcast with the Sustainable Dish; and Liz, you just started a new podcast on your own. 

Liz Wolfe: Yes.

Diana Rodgers: What is the title of it? 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, so the old podcast was the Balanced Bites podcast, and I did that for 8 years. And I was doing that while we were getting Modern Farmgirls off the ground. Which, it was just not the stage of life for me to be trying to do two podcasts. {laughs} So Balanced Bites podcast went on for 8 years, and we closed it out a couple of years ago at episode 400. And a couple months ago, I just thought I was ready to start podcasting again. And so I’m on, I think episode; in the mid-20s of Liz Talks. Very low expectations, low complexity. It’s just me talking about whatever it is. 

So I’ve done interviews with; I did an interview with a gal that’s a CEO of a clean bra company. Which was super cool. I’ve talked to just some interesting thinkers. And I’ve also just talked about my own parenting journey type stuff; sleep training. Eating. All that type of stuff. So anything goes, basically.

Diana Rodgers: I remember the text from you, when you found out you were pregnant.

Liz Wolfe: Oh my god; which time? {laughs} 

Diana Rodgers: The first time. Because you didn’t think you were going to have kids. 

Liz Wolfe: No! And then I didn’t think I was going to have another kid. But here we are. With two of them. And really, the whole farm-kid. So we were never farming on the scale that you guys did. But we bought a little hobby farm before kids were ever in the picture. And even on that scale, it was just; it took me a long time to admit that I did not have the guts or the gumption for it. It was just too hard. Especially after I added a kid to the whole deal.

And I see these pictures of people with small farms who are gardening, do all kinds of more intense stuff, just with a baby strapped to their backs. And I just could never figure that out. So we failed. It was a good experience, but we failed.

Diana Rodgers: You just; you just shifted. You didn’t fail.

Liz Wolfe: We shifted. Yeah. Shifted back to suburbia. Which is just about as cushy as it could possibly be compared to what we were doing there. But we are closer to my parents, and it’s great. We live in Kansas City, which is just such a low-key place.

I was going to ask you how much of our conversation, when we got together in Kansas City, did you actually understand what I was saying? 

Diana Rodgers: What?!

Liz Wolfe: Because I had mad laryngitis. 

Diana Rodgers: Oh. 

Liz Wolfe: I could not get a sound out. So I was sitting there thinking; she must not be getting any of this.

Diana Rodgers: No, no, no. I did. I did. It was fine. Your allergies were getting the best of you.

Liz Wolfe: Oh my gosh; they really, really were.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. Same thing happened with Robb. They were living on this sort of small scale, homestead-ish type farm and kids plus farm was a lot. And they were feeling like they wanted to be kind of closer to other humans. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. 

Diana Rodgers: But they did that for a little bit and now they live in Kalispell, Montana. Kind of in the middle of nowhere. But they go frequently to a gym, and actually they’ve become very good friends with my buddies at Roam Free Ranch, the bison farmers out there. Which reminds me, also, that Discovery was filming a TV show with them. And I believe it’s live now. 

Liz Wolfe: How cool is that? With his whole family? 

Diana Rodgers: While you talk, I’m going to look up the title of this show. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, ok. Because I had something that I can say.

Diana Rodgers: I think it’s called Big Sky or something like that. But let me look it up while you…

Liz Wolfe: Ok, yeah. So the thing I was going to say, is I feel very lucky that we had the; I shouldn’t use lucky. I’m working on that. I feel very privileged that we were able to just bop around and try a couple of things. Because I know many people aren’t able to be like; let’s try the farm thing. Ok, that’s not working. Let’s sell that and let’s go back to suburbia, and whatever it is. So I totally; I feel very, very privileged around having had that ability. 

I will say, now that we’re here, I feel like the ideal; it does make me very uneasy to have. Because where we live you can have chickens. But it’s also really difficult, because the more compressed it gets. The more houses, the more trash cans, whatever it is; the more possums, raccoons, predators. We brought a couple of chickens with us when we moved here, and they were picked off immediately. And we built them literally Ft. Knox here. But when you’re penning up chickens, it’s just the reality of it. They can’t run away from a predator. They’re penned up. So if a hawk gets in there, or a raccoon gets in there, they’re done. Sitting duck type of situation. 

Diana Rodgers: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: So they were wiped out pretty darn quick. So it makes me a little uneasy that I have no ability, other than gardening. Which; ok. That’s fine. But, we’ve waited a year for our strawberries to start producing. And it’s like 6 strawberries a day. We waited a year. Spent a ton of money. Built a whole thing just for the freaking strawberries. So, just the meat and the eggs; the capacity to actually produce that of my own accord makes me a little uneasy that I don’t have that option out here. So there’s got to be some kind of balance. I don’t think we’ve quite struck it yet. Like our forever home type of situation. But I’m very grateful to have had both experiences.

Diana Rodgers: Yes. Well, I’m in the same boat now. Now that I’m no longer on the farm. I do have some raised beds behind me. And sadly, I’m going to be traveling so much this summer that I actually; I live in a duplex. And I asked my neighbors if they were interested. If I planted everything, and got it all ready, if they just wanted to keep it watered. I am going to be; I think my New Zealand/Australia trip is likely going to be more than 3 weeks long. Which I’m so excited for. But that’s a long time.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, it sounds terrible. {laughs} 

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: Ugh. I can’t even imagine.

Diana Rodgers: I found, by the way, the name of the show is called Under the Big Sky. 

Liz Wolfe: Oh. I love that.

Diana Rodgers: So folks can check that out. It’s about John and Brittany who are my friends, and now Robb and Niki and their kids friends in Montana.

Liz Wolfe: I have some; I mean, not friends, but acquaintances from high school who I believe ended up in Montana, and I believe they are bison farmers.

Diana Rodgers: Hmm.

Liz Wolfe: Ryan White? I think he was doing something savory institute related in Montana. You know them, don’t you? You’ve been to Montana. You must have met Ryan White. Come on! 

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: I think that’s his name. He was cool. He was a cool older kid. And then his wife’s sister was in my class. Anyway. I don’t know. I thought it was really cool. So at some point, when I want to go to Montana, I’m going to leverage that and be like; hey.

Diana Rodgers: As soon as you land? In Kalispell.

Liz Wolfe: Yes.

Diana Rodgers: And be like; Ryan White, here I am.

Liz Wolfe: Hey guys. Hey, looking for Ryan White. Oh yeah, right down the road. 

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: Why not.

Diana Rodgers: It is beautiful out there. It is quite tempting to me.

Liz Wolfe: Well, I’ve heard the venture capitalists have figured that out, too.

Diana Rodgers: I know! 

Liz Wolfe: I say that like I know. I watch Yellowstone.

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: I mean {laughing}.

Diana Rodgers: I haven’t, but people have sent me clips from that show. And apparently he really gave a vegan a talking to.

Liz Wolfe: Yes. 

Diana Rodgers: Yes.

Liz Wolfe: You know; the show has it’s narrative issues. But, and I’m very picky. But when you strike the right balance of a couple of really good characters. Like; Rip is just one of the best characters I have ever watched. I mean, I loved Ron Swanson. There are some characters that I just; are just perfection. And Rip is just this perfect character. Kevin Costner’s got the voice. They just put it together in a way that any issue is just so easily forgiven. It’s pretty great.

But yes, there was an episode where there was a little bit of a vegan reality check going on. And I appreciated it. I actually thought of you.

Diana Rodgers: Many people did. I was sent that several times. 

Liz Wolfe: So, this is going to go up on my podcast feed too. And I feel like everybody knows who you are already. But just in case; well, I can give your elevator pitch or you can give your elevator pitch. But you’re my friend, Diana Rodgers; registered dietitian, nutritional therapy practitioner, author of the book Sacred Cow, behind the documentary Sacred Cow. Like; just tell me what you want me to tell my people.

Diana Rodgers: Well, first, I was going to tell you about the film that I watched on my way home. {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: Oh, do it! 

Diana Rodgers: On the flight, because the character development was so good. 

Liz Wolfe: Oh, ok.

Diana Rodgers: It’s called Swan Song.

Liz Wolfe: Swan Song. Why don’t I know what that is? 

Diana Rodgers: It’s sort of like that film Big Fish. Like somebody sort of in the departure lounge reflecting on their life. 

Liz Wolfe: Oh. Is it? 

Diana Rodgers: I believe that’s what it was called. I’ll look it up at some point while we’re chatting. And if I got it wrong, I’ll let you know. But it was so good. 

Liz Wolfe: Emotional?

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. Emotional. Just amazing. It’s just a character sketch. A beautiful character development story. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: Anyway

Liz Wolfe: It’s odd how I can; so I don’t, I’m not moved by a lot that makes sense to be moved by. But I can walk into a college basketball game; like a women’s college basketball game, and instantly want to sob. And just be like; {sobbing} these kids are just putting it all out there. It’s just so; I don’t know. I have inappropriate emotional release syndrome. And I don’t know how to handle it. 

But I do really enjoy just the many, the multifaceted nature of character development. So I will definitely give that a watch.

Diana Rodgers: Yes. And I just confirmed that is the name of the film.

Liz Wolfe: Ok. Swan Song. Got it.

Diana Rodgers: I especially like characters that are like, not your traditionally likable characters.

Liz Wolfe: Yes. I do, too. There’s some complexity. Some depth. 

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: Which; you know. Obviously Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec is not in that category. That’s not his bucket. But I still think that character was just; I mean, it was played by the exact right person. And he did some; oh my gosh! Okay.

Diana Rodgers: Ah! We’re coming full circle. 

Liz Wolfe: Yes! That was not even intentional. 

Diana Rodgers: Look at you!

Liz Wolfe: Not even intentional.

Diana Rodgers: I was actually just chatting with Nick the other day. So I’ve become friends with him. 

Liz Wolfe: Oh, my God. Nick Offerman; Ron Swanson. Yes.

Diana Rodgers: Yes. And so; basically, he narrated the film Sacred Cow, which I produced. And it’s all about regenerative ag. And I was so sad because we recorded during COVID. And so, you know, one of the highlights of my film was getting to travel to all the different places to do film screenings, and also to do the narration recording in a real studio and everything. And all that just blew up in smoke. Right? 

And so Nick actually was in his bedroom with Zoom open with, like, GarageBand. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. 

Diana Rodgers: I mean, it was like, so bootstrap, you know.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. 

Diana Rodgers: And as he’s reading the script, he’s like, “Wow, I love this movie.” 

Liz Wolfe: Ah!! 

Diana Rodgers: But he really, really, truly; I don’t think people understand that he actually believes this. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: And so I did have him on my podcast. And we recorded together a little bit. We talked about the book that he wrote recently, which I’m looking for on my bookcase. I loved it so much. It’s Where the Deer and the Antelope Roam, I believe is the name of the book. 

Liz Wolfe: Yep.

Diana Rodgers: Yes. 

Liz Wolfe:  No. Where the Deer and the Antelope Play. 

Diana Rodgers: Where the Deer and the Antelope Play. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: Right. I knew it had to do with that song. 

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} 

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} And I didn’t even know who he was, to be quite honest. I learned about him through James Rebanks, who is the sheep farmer in my film, in England. And he said, “You know, you’re going to just miss Nick Offerman. He’s coming here tomorrow.” And I said, “Who’s that?” 

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} 

Diana Rodgers: And I guess they became friends on Twitter. And then Nick, like, goes there all the time, and like, loves his kids and all this stuff. And I started looking more into it. And Nick actually produced; or was one of the producers on the film Look and See about Wendell Berry. And is a huge, huge supporter of Wendell Berry’s work. And huge supporter of the work I do. 

And so we were just chatting the other day because Nick shared one of my Instagram posts, and got all kinds of crap. 

Liz Wolfe: Seriously? 

Diana Rodgers: Mm-hmm. And it was, you know, people were accusing him of being a shill for Big Meat. And, you know, so we were just kind of going back and forth. And just so disappointed in humanity 

Liz Wolfe: God, get a life, people.

Diana Rodgers: That nobody has a capacity for nuance.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: And just the ability to understand how nutritionally important meat is for people. So, that was… but, and also Nick has a woodshop. And I don’t know how many people know this about me, but I used to be a furniture maker. A very similar style to what Nick produces out of Offerman Woodshop. 

Liz Wolfe: That is so cool.

Diana Rodgers: And so we also had that in common as well.

Liz Wolfe: What kind of furniture did you make?

Diana Rodgers: Did you not know I was?

Liz Wolfe: I know I knew; I had to have known this about you at some point. But it has lapsed into the black hole of my memory.

Diana Rodgers: Mm-hmm. {laughs} So I, at one point, wanted to make all the things I used. That was my goal.

Liz Wolfe: That is so; that is so all of us 10 to 20 years ago. Like; you know. Yes, I feel that. I feel that viscerally. {laughing} 

Diana Rodgers: So I’m actually; I’m in a ceramics class right now. 

Liz Wolfe: Oh my gosh. 

Diana Rodgers: I’m drinking out of one of my mugs. But I wanted to not only make all the plates, but also make all the silverware. I was taking silversmithing classes. And I, then; I was really interested in the idea of functional art. And so I studied this fine furniture making program out in Western Massachusetts. In East Hampton, Massachusetts, in an old mill building. It was really cool. It turns out that I’m really good at designing things and really not great at the exacting nature required in producing it. Having the patience to spend six months on one piece of furniture.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Diana Rodgers: Which just was not my thing. 

Liz Wolfe: Six months. That is a long time.

Diana Rodgers: But it’s a life skill, right? 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. 

Diana Rodgers: I learned how to make some dovetails. I learned a lot of patience. I learned what I don’t like, which is spending every single day on one piece of furniture. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: And; I don’t know. It’s just one of those things. So I have a few pieces of furniture in my house. And I greatly appreciate the people that have the patience to make the furniture. It is not my thing.

Liz Wolfe: Was this in college? After college?

Diana Rodgers: It was right after college.

Liz Wolfe: Right after college. It sounds like the beginning of a movie. Like a Diane Lane, or the Cameron Diaz. What’s that one where she switches houses with Kate Winslet? Like Diane at an old wood mill decides to; she’s left college and she doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. So she’s going to take a furniture class at an old wood mill and then you meet a recently widowed Liam Neeson. And oh, that’s sad, because he actually is widowed. I should have picked somebody else. But I don’t know any celebrities. 

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: And then the story just turns into some beautiful furniture building love-making story.

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} Well, basically what it was; I had met my ex, Andrew, in college. And he, after his freshman year, was asked not to return.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} 

Diana Rodgers: Because of his poor grades. {laughs} And so he then; it took him an extra year to finish, basically. And in this college area in Western Mass, there are so many colleges and so much labor and just no jobs at all. 

Liz Wolfe: Uh-huh.

Diana Rodgers: And so we were living out there. We’re waiting for Andrew to finish college. So I kind of, like; I didn’t have anything to do. So that was part of it. Is I was just kind of like hanging out. We were living together.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Sometimes when I don’t have anything else to do I take furniture building classes in old mills all the time. Why not? Why wouldn’t I? 

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: I just love your life. I know. I mean, I just love the story. I think that should be your next film.

  • Liz Wolfe, NTP [21:20]

Diana Rodgers: Oh. I can’t even imagine a next film, because it was a lot of work. But; but let’s talk about you; and I don’t know that my audience knows much. And this is so different, because lately my podcasts have been so like serious and clinical and I feel, like; ultra goofy with you right now.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} And now you’re going to bring me on.

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} So Liz, what has been sort of the main passion of yours? I mean, you’ve been really focused on being a mom the last; gosh, seven years or so. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: How long?

Liz Wolfe: Uh; seven and; seven and some change. But my other passion, besides my children, is following your career trajectory. 

Diana Rodgers: Oh, stop.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} Yeah, so the last like seven years. Okay. So, I think I probably started out in the real; whatever you want to call it, I don’t know. Real food, whatever, world online, probably in around 2010, 2011. And that was when it was like; I don’t know, the internet was different then. You know? You could say something, and people would see it. And you could have interesting conversations. We still lacked a little bit of nuance back then. But I think, you know, I’ve found a collective of people that are at least interested in context and nuance at this point. 

Back when I was mostly doing paleo, CrossFit type of stuff. And at that point I got really interested in, you know, the fact that what I had thought was so healthy; soy, and wheat, and all of that stuff, not really thinking about sourcing or nutrient content or anything like that. What I had thought was healthy; and of course, no meat ever. You know, like meat not good. I had a little stint as a vegan. I drank a lot of vegetable broth in college. 

But just to flip that on its head, and to imagine that this could possibly serve my body in any way, was a big leap in consciousness for me. And actually coming out of that. You know; over time, I kind of, you know, came out of the intensity of like the CrossFit/paleo world, and really just kind of started to get more interested in; I don’t know a little bit in food policy. Like how food is made, and how at the time, I was really interested. I wasn’t drinking milk, but I was learning about how raw milk was really being targeted by the government. And I watched; oh, gosh, there was a movie, and I can’t remember what it was called. But it was about raw milk, and I saw it, and I was like, “What in the world?” 

And so my leanings, nutritionally and politically, really changed during the course of that. Where I was actually really concerned with, not just kind of where my food came from, but also access to it. And those things don’t always coexist, right? Like, where your food comes from, and what you can actually access. And I know you talk about that a lot. Where it’s like; we can’t paint everything with this broad brush and say, you know, you can only eat a cow that was raised in a patch of flowers, you know, a massage and chiropractic every day. Slaughtered humanely with Barry Manilow playing in the background, or whatever it is. 

So thinking a lot about access; and again, context and nuance that you talk about all the time. And then eventually, I ended up; like I’m a writer by talent. That’s basically my only capability. And my only gift that I can give to the world is that I’m a basically competent writer. And also very curious. So I went through a nutrition certification. And I remember at the time, or shortly after, when we met, you were working on your RD. And I wanted to have some kind of background, some kind of foundation in this idea that the foods I thought were completely unhealthy are actually good for you. And important, not just for me, but also to everybody, and also to the world, actually, like healing the planet. 

And so I wrote a book called Eat the Yolks that made the Wall Street Journal bestseller list very briefly. So it did, okay. And, you know, I really come at things from a; I don’t know, a light-hearted perspective. There’s not; you know, there’s science in my book, but a lot of it kind of centers more around common sense and kind of breaking down some of those mental walls for people around their protein and their carbs and their fat and all of that. 

And I’ve done, you know, I’ve done some work in the skincare world, where I kind of got interested in what you put on your body. And then I got interested in the clothes I was wearing. And I kind of go through phases where I’m gathering; furiously gathering information about one thing or another. And if I were a little bit more pretentious than I am, I would probably consider myself, like, an independent writer. Not a journalist, but maybe like some kind of independent journalist of some kind. Where I like to learn and confer with experts and write things up so that people can really put the pieces together in a way that was helpful to me. 

So that’s kind of what I do. And then I left, and I was a mom for like, seven years. And now I’m back with a podcast about who knows what. But, I don’t know. It’s just the process of learning and being intellectually curious and having interesting conversations with cool people, like you. It’s definitely my passion right now. And I’m very much an introvert; so I was an introvert mode for probably five to seven years. And now I’m ready to kind of turn outward a little bit.

Diana Rodgers: And the social media and food landscape has really changed a lot.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: In the time that you’ve been gone. And you and I line up pretty similarly on a lot of things. We don’t have to talk about any of that if you don’t want to.

Liz Wolfe: I’ll talk about anything.

Diana Rodgers: But do you care to bring anything up at all?

Liz Wolfe: About my what?

Diana Rodgers: About like what you’re seeing out there in the landscape of…

Liz Wolfe: Oh, just how different it is?

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. I mean, I think that people are definitely more mean. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. 

Diana Rodgers: Like the vitriol is really intense.

Liz Wolfe: I will tell you; I do not envy your comment section. 

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: It would take a very strong, convicted person. And it’s been a growing experience for me, the last decade-plus. Because I’m very much a people pleaser, an Obliger. And having people support and, you know, thumbs up; like having the backing of people is very important to me. And for a long time, I cared what average; not average Joe, but what Joe six-pack on the internet was saying about me or to me. And in part, I think it’s been that struggle over the last, like 10 years, of coming to care much, much less to the point that I feel like I can start talking again. 

Because yeah, you’re right. I think probably one thing that was really one of the; what is it, impeti? The impetus. Among the many impeti of the reason that I wanted to get off the internet for a while was just because things were becoming so bad. And when you’re doing other things in your life; when your life is not sitting behind a screen and trolling people, it becomes emotionally untenable. So it was really; it was time to go. 

And even just; not just how horrible people are, but also how needy people are. And it’s really an indictment of, you know, our health care system in a lot of ways. Or maybe just how we deal with each other. That people feel like they have to go on the internet to find somebody to tell them what to do and how to fix themselves. The personal agency is just; it has evaporated. Confidence; the confidence that people maybe had at one point about finding what would be right for them and doing it, or being willing to experiment a little bit. I feel like it just doesn’t exist anymore. 

And, you know; I’m guilty to a degree. And of course, I want to be useful to people. But I’m also not an authority. And oftentimes I think people are seeking an authority. And if they don’t find that, then there’s a very thin line between that and becoming an internet troll because you have anger that you’re not finding the person that you need to find to follow and to, you know, to inform your choices. So that was a roundabout way of saying, yeah, the internet sucks.  

Diana Rodgers: Mm-hmm.

Liz Wolfe: I mean, what do you find? How do you handle your comments?

Diana Rodgers: I have someone else that helps me with it. {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} Oh, wow. Well, that’s problem-solving.

Diana Rodgers: Yes. And I actually have someone that reads all my emails before I get them.

Liz Wolfe: Well, that’s a good idea. 

Diana Rodgers: And that way; only because it, it can really bum me out. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: And I only have so much emotional energy. And I want that for my personal relationships, my children. And I want to be recording podcasts. I want to be traveling and doing all these great conferences and seeing all these great, you know, farms and meeting all these cool people that are doing amazing things. And I don’t have time for anything outside of that really. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: And so, I do limited emailing. And I’m just out there; I’ve got a great team through Global Food Justice. We’ve got a wonderful young woman who’s heading that project up. And then I’ve got a great team in place for Sustainable Dish that help me with the newsletters and the social media creation and managing all the partnerships of the organizations that want to work with us there. And it has meant that I don’t make very much money at all of this.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} 

Diana Rodgers: But it also means that I am emotionally healthy, and free to focus on the things that I think are most important.

Liz Wolfe: Well, I support that means of dealing with things. But you also are; you are right in some really, for whatever reason, I hate that it’s controversial, but it’s controversial. I mean, what we eat is controversial enough. But some of the things that you’re saying are even controversial to, like, the sustainability people, I would imagine. 

Diana Rodgers: Oh, totally. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. And so, you know; I’m still in that place where I’ve learned to care less about what people think. But perhaps I’ve also adapted in the direction of not saying a whole lot of things that are controversial. 

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} 

  • Sustainability and nutrition [31:52]

Liz Wolfe: So I don’t; that’s like maybe a negative adaptation. But; so some of the things you’re saying. What do you feel like rankles people the most between sustainability and nutrition?

Diana Rodgers: The biggest thing is that our protein requirements are likely much higher than the RDA.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Diana Rodgers: Animal source protein is not only optimal, but essential; I guess those two words are pretty similar. But we need to be eating animal-source protein, and we need a lot more than what people think.

Liz Wolfe: Just for general health. 

Diana Rodgers: Yes. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: And that it’s okay if it’s not perfect, regenerative meat. But I also think that we need more regenerative meat. So like, that’s a… people can’t handle that. And it ends up making traditional, you know, meat industry groups very angry that I say that there are, you know, better and worse ways to produce meat. Because they want to just pretend that there’s nothing wrong at all with the industry, and it’s all just great. And they’ve never done anything that they need to take ownership of. Right?

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: And that’s wrong. Right?

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. 

Diana Rodgers: There are serious issues with modern meat production.

Liz Wolfe: Well, not even just the production of the meat itself, but also in how they treat their employees, and their employment practices, and all that, too.

Diana Rodgers: Exactly. But then at the same time, I just got the most infuriating email from Food Tank. And Food Tank is like a sort of a food think tank. The woman that runs it went to Tufts, and she holds all these conferences and everything. And she said that because meat was considered essential during COVID, and there were so many deaths attributed to workers in meat processing, meatpacking plants, we should eat less meat.

Liz Wolfe: Oh, that’s a long tail on that kite.

Diana Rodgers: And that is the reason why the meat industry sucks. Is because we have deaths from COVID from people that worked in the meat industry. And I was like; hmm. I wonder if I could find out how many people worked in a water bottling plant that got COVID. Right? 

Liz Wolfe: Ah. Uh-huh. 

Diana Rodgers: And does that mean we should not drink water?

Liz Wolfe: That’s too; that’s too easy. {laughs} That’s like; I mean, that’s low-hanging fruit right there. I don’t know about the educational system at Tufts. But. I’m going to get hate mail from people at Tufts.

Diana Rodgers: Um; oh, well, I already do because I was highly critical. They put out this Food Compass.

Liz Wolfe: Uh-huh. Like a moral compass?

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: Yikes. 

Diana Rodgers: Kind of. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: Because it wasn’t based in science, that’s for sure. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: Cheerios were rated like a 97, on a scale of 1 to 100. Raspberries were 100. 

Liz Wolfe: Is this like golf, where a high score is bad?

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} Beef was a 24. Fake eggs were healthier than real eggs, because of cholesterol and fat. 

Liz Wolfe: Oh, Lord. 

Diana Rodgers: I mean, the whole thing was like a complete joke. Like, peanut M&Ms were better than butter, and all this stuff. And so; and that came out of; the lead author is the head of the nutrition department at Tufts.

Liz Wolfe: That’s just provably absurd. Is it not? 

Diana Rodgers: Mm-hmm. Absurd.

Liz Wolfe: And sometimes I think I’ve lost my; not my compass. But sometimes I think I’ve lost my awareness of the state of the world. Because I think; gosh, we’ve been talking about this for 10 years. Like, I wrote a book in 2014 about; you know, the truth about cholesterol and saturated fat. And so we’re past that now. We don’t have to talk about it anymore. But apparently, we do.

Diana Rodgers: It is amazing and sad. And then he got all mad that we were cherry-picking his study. 

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Diana Rodgers: And I’m like; no, no, no. We’re not cherry-picking; because these are actual numbers in your; these are foods in your study. And we’re just pointing out which ones, like Froot Loops, are better than drinking whole milk or eating cheese. That is your study. This is nothing cherry-picking about this.

Liz Wolfe: I mean, I do love a call out of a logical fallacy, but maybe we shouldn’t be using them in that way. {laughing} I mean, that’s just painful. And so you actually had an exchange?

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. Well, there was another researcher; Ty Beal, on Twitter that was a little louder. And he works for an organization called GAIN, which is sort of tied to the United Nations. And so he’s got cred, and he’s a PhD in nutrition. And I know that Dariush was not very happy with him. I don’t know that I am even on Dariush’s radar. But anyhow. 

So, to say that meat is healthy; is essential; but that it can be done in better ways. But that people who are of low income should still just buy the meat, and not the Froot Loops.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Diana Rodgers: That is a position that doesn’t work for anybody. So it doesn’t work for the grass-fed producers, because they like, in general. Some get it. But, in general, I have found those in the regenerative community want to tell people to either eat beans and rice or eat regenerative meat. 

Liz Wolfe: Uh-huh.

Diana Rodgers: Like; those are the two choices. Never, ever, ever eat typical beef. And then for the folks in the typical beef industry world, they never want to even acknowledge anything that’s going on in the regenerative space at all. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: And that they might be able to learn something from it. So it ends up where there’s not a lot of allies.

Liz Wolfe: So; and it kind of would, I don’t know what the word is; preclude. But any one industry throwing their full support behind you is just…

Diana Rodgers: Nothing. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. 

Diana Rodgers: So it’s laughable when people say, “Oh, you must be employed by Big Beef.”  

Liz Wolfe: Right.

Diana Rodgers: Like, do you know how much easier life would be if I was?

Liz Wolfe: Uh-huh.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, if you could just sell out a little bit. 

Diana Rodgers: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. {Laughs} So who, then; who is hiring you? Who wants to talk to you? Who wants to hear what you have to say? Besides me, and people. Besides people? What companies and corporations?

Diana Rodgers: Yeah. So through the Global Food Justice Alliance, I have three individual donors who are all women, who are all ex-vegan women. 

Liz Wolfe: Wow. 

Diana Rodgers: And they’re the main source of my funding, are these three individuals; they don’t even know each other. Well, actually, I’ve introduced them now. So they know each other. But they just happen to have foundations that they donate to different organizations, and they get it. And it was nutrition that was their main interest, plus the agriculture. And then I have a Patreon account where people donate. 

And then through Sustainable Dish, I work with different brands. Like there’s a really cool ice cream company that just sent me some samples of like A2 regenerative ice cream, which I’m pretty excited about. So I have a lot of samples. This sustainably farmed salmon came in, and it’s delicious. And not all salmon farming is the big evil bad thing. And people need to hear that. There was a calamari brand, that; also I mean, people do not eat enough calamari.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} This is your personal opinion? 

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: Is this supported by science? Is this the consensus?

Diana Rodgers: And so anyway. So I’m open to like-minded organizations that share my mission. There aren’t that many.

Liz Wolfe: Okay, so. In a nutshell. Is the mission just to; I mean, I feel like I know the answer. But I’m actually really curious, because you cover so much ground. What would your elevator pitch be? Like; what’s your mission?

Diana Rodgers: My mission is to make sure that all people have access to the most nutrient-dense foods, which include animal-source foods, like meat, milk, and eggs.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Irrespective of; not irrespective of source, but the best that they can possibly access.

Diana Rodgers: Yes.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. 

Diana Rodgers: Yes. And I think it’s a food equity issue.

  • Global Food Justice [40:31]

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm. Okay. So Global Food Justice. Will you talk about that, because I follow that on Instagram, but I want to hear more from you.

Diana Rodgers: Yep. So it’s the nonprofit that has sprung out of the film Sacred Cow. We had an impact campaign going for Sacred Cow where we were just kind of extending the message of Sacred Cow. And then what happened was the UN Food System summit was happening in New York City last summer, summer of 2021. And the Secretary General was basically circumventing all the standard protocols and adopting the Eat Lancet diet. 

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Diana Rodgers: So this diet where you can only eat like one blueberries’ size worth of meat per person per day. 

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} 

Diana Rodgers: And you can eat two blueberries’ worth of chicken, but then you can have; I forget, it was like 15 blueberries’ worth of sugar. 

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} 15 blueberries’ worth of sugar. 

Diana Rodgers: I was trying to put it in the context of like, you know, something. Because it’s all in grams and stuff like that. 

Liz Wolfe: Oh my gosh. 

Diana Rodgers: And so; actually, another nutrition sort of writer/researcher reached out to me saying, “I don’t want to do this, but you should do this.” 

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} 

Diana Rodgers: Start a nonprofit to advocate for meat. Period. And so I got a food truck. We wrapped a food truck. You can rent them for three days. So day one, they wrap it in your logo and everything. 

Liz Wolfe: What?! 

Diana Rodgers: Day two, you use it, and day three, they unwrap it and give it back to the person who owns the food truck. And it comes with the permits and everything. So we got this food truck. We set up on the streets of New York City handing out regenerative hotdogs, and sausages, and bone broth to people right during the food system summit. Just trying to create a little bit of buzz around the fact that meat is important for the planet.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Diana Rodgers: Meaning people, the environment, food equity, prosperity. All have that. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. 

Diana Rodgers: And so most of the travel I’m doing now is trying to make sure that the anti-meat narrative does not gain a hold in International Food Policy. 

Liz Wolfe: Uh-huh.

Diana Rodgers: So I’m traveling all over the place. I’m meeting with corporations. I’m meeting with nonprofits. I’m basically rebranding the narrative around meat.

Liz Wolfe: You do a lot of myth-busting, too, around like climate change, and cow contributions to climate change. 

Diana Rodgers: Mm-hmm.

Liz Wolfe: And you’re right, it’s not; I think I take for granted some of these things, thinking there’s this huge community that already understands this stuff. But I have; there was this small conversation among friends the other day, where we were talking about that exact thing. Like; eating meat, and climate change. And I was like; oh. This is not just happening amongst, like, stuffy, you know, monocle-wearing people that have no actual impact on policy. Like this is not only like a grassroots conversation that’s completely misguided, but it’s also in the top offices that are actually generating policy around the world.

Diana Rodgers: Oh, yeah. And the Global Burden of Disease Study is a perfect example of how the anti-meat narrative is actually influencing science and the papers that are coming out. Because there was no evidence at all in the 30 times higher chance that meat is going to kill you in the span of two years with no new research coming out. It’s just meat is laughably taboo.

Liz Wolfe: Gah, that’s so strange. So I was noticing that; was it Beyond Meat? Their stock is like, plummeting of late. Did you have like a nice little moment around that? {laughs} 

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} I heard that. I try not to open any stock information right now, these days. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, yeah. 

Diana Rodgers: And just kind of like, hope it all works out. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. {laughs} Fingers crossed. 

Diana Rodgers: {laughs} Yeah. 

Liz Wolfe: Okay, so will you tell me; like give me like a little myth-busting byte about cows and climate change. I want to make it; I want to put it on my Instagram for my podcast episodes.

Diana Rodgers: Okay. There was a study that came out that looked at what would happen if the United States reduced; or, sorry, eliminated all animal source foods from our diets. And they found that the emissions would only decrease by 2.6%. But overall calories would increase, overall carbs would increase, and nutrient deficiencies would increase. And so it’s actually not worth it at all to try to invoke policies that reduce or eliminate meat. Because it’s only going to harm people’s health, and it’s not going to really make a dent in global greenhouse gas emissions.

Liz Wolfe: This is just mind-boggling. I still; I still cannot. What is it that people need to see to grip; if not, the entire argument, at least that there is nuance and context that are required to really understand where we’re going with this? What is the buy-in that people need?

Diana Rodgers: Well, you know, unfortunately, it’s really coming, this bias is being taught in schools. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: I really want to hire; just this week, I decided I’d really like to hire somebody to come up with a curriculum that, you know; I know that there are plant-based organizations that will go into schools 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: With these beautiful lesson plans and everything and kind of take over for the day and teach people about why eating meat is so wrong. I would like to have a middle school and high school option for people to go into schools and do the same thing. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: Basically. Because it’s just coming from so many different angles. There are not enough people that are educated enough to know the arguments, which I think is why a lot of people don’t engage. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Diana Rodgers: Because they might know the nutrition, but they don’t know the environmental piece. Or they might not know how to argue the ethics piece. And, honestly, there’s no money in it anyway. 

Liz Wolfe: Right.

Diana Rodgers: You’re just going to lose followers. But, like; why care? So that’s where we end up.

Liz Wolfe: I feel like this is an entirely; this is much less important. This is much less impactful. But I have like a workout program. Like a mom fitness workout program. And from the very beginning, we were like; we’re not staging this. We’re not couching this as a; look at Sad Fat Liz before, and look at Happy Lean Liz after. We were like; it has nothing to do with body fat percentage, body composition. It has to do with how can you move and what can you do? But figuring out how to disseminate this program without that type of shallow in. Not even a shallow in, but some type of really; whatever, visually appealing or, you know, quick appeals to kind of your baser instinct type of buy-in, is really, really hard. 

And when it’s something that involves these sprawling intricacies of what you’re talking about, it’s like; bringing people into that. You know, there are people like me that are just 100% bought in. But, you know, your vegan friend Cathy down the street, who runs 67 miles a day, and eats edamame and acai bowls. That’s that much harder, because people just want something that’s simple. That’s a sound bite. That looks good. That promises that they; for the most part, maybe even with diet stuff, too. But workout; diet stuff, any of it. They want some kind of promise around body composition. Or something that just kind of has that main mass appeal. And it’s just really, really tough.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah, and I think, you know, there’s only so many things you can care about or know about in the world. 

Liz Wolfe: Right. Right, right, right. 

Diana Rodgers: Right? Like, you know. People have a lot of stressors. They have a lot to worry about. 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. 

Diana Rodgers: They want to just, kind of; they want a simple solution because there’s just; life can be hard for a lot of people.

Liz Wolfe: That’s true. 

Diana Rodgers: So I get it. But at the same time; the people that should know better need to know better.

Liz Wolfe: Right? Yeah. That’s definitely a distinction. There’s kind of that; the masses, you know. The people that we don’t necessarily have a built-in connection with, that aren’t already kind of bought into something that we’re already talking about. That group of people, you know, know better, do better. But that larger group of people just; you’re not going to capture their attention until they get sick, maybe? Or until they have a very personal connection with the material. And that’s not something that we can foster necessarily. It just kind of has to happen.

Diana Rodgers: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: I don’t know. 

Diana Rodgers: Yeah, well, we’ll both keep trying and doing our best. {laughs} 

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} Fingers crossed for you, friend. I guess we’re not going to solve it right now.

Diana Rodgers: We’re not going to solve it right now. And it is a beautiful afternoon. And I’m going to take the afternoon off and go hang out with my son for a little bit and get some outside time. And check off from the world for a little while.

Liz Wolfe: Well, I think that’s a great idea. I’m so glad I got to see you last week, and that we got to catch up and do this. And just that I get to be witness to all of your awesome work. It’s just; it’s very validating for me to say that we are friends. So thank you for that. {laughs} 

Diana Rodgers: Aww. And I want everyone who’s listening to this that doesn’t already follow you to please follow you. You are on Instagram at; is it still Real Food Liz? 

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. It’s @RealFoodLiz. I got that blue checkmark, so I’ve got to keep the name, you know? 

Diana Rodgers: Yep. Yep. Good for you.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, @RealFoodLiz. And you are @SustainableDish?

Diana Rodgers: That’s correct. Sustainable Dish. And then, if you care, @GlobalFoodJustice. 

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} We all care. We care 100%. 

Diana Rodgers: All right. Well, have a wonderful afternoon. It was so nice to visit with you.

Liz Wolfe: All right, you too, my dear. I’ll talk to you later.

That’s it for episode 30, friends. A big thank you to Diana for catching up with me. And to Arrowhead Mills for making this episode possible. Remember, you can ask me anything by sending me a DM @RealFoodLIz on Instagram. But the best way to ask is to go to www.RealFoodLiz.com/AskLiz. That way, your questions won’t get lost in my inbox. 

I appreciate you! I’ll see you next week.

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