Matilda, aka 'Til' Brown, used to be vegan. Given her latest project, The Good Farm Shop, is all about meat and regenerative farming, it begs the question, why the 180°?
The short answer is Til met her foodie husband, Scott Gooding. And the rest, as they say, is history. "Scott introduced me to ethical meat providers, which was really the main problem I had with the meat industry," she said.
"I love meat! So, it wasn't a case of not liking meat, I just didn't want to contribute to a system of farming that harmed animals and gave them a sub-par life. "Once I found out there was an alternative, I was relieved. My body has suffered from being vegan and vegetarian for years, and it was time to reboot with ethical animal protein.
"Scott is a foodie and he cooks with health in mind. He is also a nutritionist and lives and breathes healthy food. I know whatever he makes for me is going to be so good for my body.
"I think his slow cooked lamb would be my favourite. It was the first meat dish he cooked for me and the one that made me say goodby to my non meat-eating ways. He also does and amazing pork stir-fry. Basically, anything he cooks is delicious. Even the way he cooks pan fried broccolini with lemon is amazing!".
"I grew up on fad diets," confessed Til. "All through my teens my weight fluctuated. I tried to solve that by jumping from one diet to another. I had eating disorders well into my 20s. Being an actress didn't help. It wasn't until I met Scott that I really healed my body and changed the way I saw food. It was no longer the enemy. He taught me to love and embrace healthy fats. He taught me about quality food and food provenance, and helped me love it again. My body healed and my weight stabilised.
"Health to me now is about balance, not self-deprivation. I spent way too long depriving my body of delicious, healthy, nutrient dense food. I make sure I enjoy it now. I enjoy a natural wine a few nights a week, and Loco Love chocolates are a nice treat!".
It's important to understand not all meat is created equal, and it's this ethos on which the very foundation of The Good Farm Shop was born. Using 100% pasture-raised regeneratively farmed animal produce, the business began initially as a meat delivery service offering a 'cow-share', that has grown into a grocery delivery service with a twist, now also delivering ready-made, high-quality and gluten-free meals using all organic ingredients, less the preservatives, fillers or nasty oils.
"It's great to be able to work with my husband, and I absolutely love feeling like I have a focus and that I am doing something good, something I have leave behind as a legacy to my kids." said Til.
Sure, ethically farmed meat is typically more expensive than conventionally raised meat, but the benefits to your health and the environment make it a worthwhile investment. The way in which an animal is raised, fed unhealthy diets, kept in inhumane conditions, and given antibiotics and growth hormones can all have not only a significant impact on the quality of the meat, but eating ethically farmed meat can provide an array of health benefits, especially for women going through peri-menopause and post-menopause.
Health benefits of eating ethically farmed meat as an alternative to factory farming are many, including high quality protein, essential for building and repairing tissues in the body. Protein is, of course, additionally important for maintaining muscle mass, which tends to decrease with age. To this end, ethically farmed meat can provide all the essential amino acids that the body needs, making it a complete protein source.
Ethically farmed meat (EFM or regenerative farmed meat) is also jam-packed with essential vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function properly. Beef, for example, is a great source of iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. Iron is important for transporting oxygen throughout the body, while zinc is necessary for immune function and wound healing. Vitamin B12 is needed for proper nerve function and red blood cell production, and vitamin D is important for bone health. For women going through peri-menopause and post-menopause experiencing a decline in estrogen levels (which can lead to symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings), ethically farmed meat can help balance hormones because it contains saturated and monounsaturated fats, vital for hormone production. Eating a diet that is high in healthy fats can further help reduce inflammation in the body, which can contribute to hormonal imbalances.
Osteoporosis is yet another issue for women in older age, and again EFM can be of benefit as it helps to support bone health, containing essential nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, all important for building and maintaining strong bones.
If all meat isn't created equal, so to when it comes to your garden-variety farm and a regenerative farm, with regenerative farming extending into land and soil care, along with bio-diversity of plant and animal species.
"It's about working with nature, not against it," stresses Til. "In doing so, the uses of pesticides, chemicals and synthetic fertilisers are kept to a bare minimum, if any. Conventional or industrial farming does the opposite. It relies on chemical inputs to grow feed and produce food.
"Over a long period of time, the soil and organic matter is degraded. When soil is healthy, it has the capacity to not only store water, which creates less flooding, but also stores carbon, which as we all know, is paramount to the planet right now. Regenerative farming can have a hugely positive impact on the environment. I haven't met an environmentalist who doesn't champion regenerative farming."
If Til could give any personal advice to the world right now, it's to learn about soil.
"It's the most underrated thing on earth! It literally keeps us alive, but we treat it like dirt!" she laughs.
Throughout our interview, Til insightful muses on many big world issues facing the planet today, yet her energy remains firmly in a space of giving back to and educating her local community, enjoying her husband and family, and grounded, living-in-the-now spirituality.
"I'm lucky that I have a husband who thinks I'm a goddess. Health care and spirituality are a big part of my life, but I think today, more than any protocol or routine, healthcare and spirituality manifests as joy and gratitude. I'm lucky to be alive, and lucky to be healthy. Reminding myself of that is important", she said.
And as for advice she would give to her younger self?
"I could write a book! But really, it all comes down to this - trust, and enjoy the ride!".