Pine Shine Farms bringing a food revolution to Pine Island
Tom Scannell purchased the property now known as Pine Shine Farms in 2006, when it was a citrus grove. He had been on the east coast of Florida and said he fell in love with Pine Island right away. He found a passion for human nutrition and regenerative agriculture, by way of organic farming and clean food.
“There’s that whole Hippocrates thing,” Scannell said, “you know, thy food is thy medicine and thy medicine is thy food.”
He clarified that when Pine Shine Farms was born it was not simply a business opportunity to him but rather a desire to pursue a road toward health and nutrition. Only a handful of large corporations, he said, control over 90 percent of the agricultural industry, which he said makes it difficult for small farms interested in producing only clean food.
“People generally spend more time choosing their car mechanic than thinking about the quality of the food they ingest or where they’re getting it,” Scannell said.
Scannell explained something often done by multinational meat corporations in our country called “cool labeling,” whereby meat products, such as chickens that are raised in China are brought over to the U.S. for processing, packaged and then sold as having been made in America without further explanation. The regulatory environment makes it very difficult, he says, for someone like him to fare amongst these multi-billion dollar corporations.
“There’s a whole food revolution going on right now to get the antibiotics, to get the pesticides, to get the growth hormones, to get the heavy metals, to get all the toxins out of our food and get it back to where it once was,” Scannell said. “Medicine–to keep us healthy and it’s a whole lot cheaper to stay healthy than to get sick and try to get better with some patented prescription.”
Scannell said it has been his experience that you cannot change anyone’s mind about any of this, emphasizing the importance of becoming educated and educating those around you with the facts. At Pine Shine Farms they are growing lamb and grass finished meats, meat-chickens, as well as eggs, and turkeys. The animals are all pasture raised without the use of chemicals. There is a heavy focus on meat Scannell said, adding that in his opinion meat has been demonized for the past 50 years.
“The real science that’s finally starting to come out now is that saturated fats are actually very good for you,” Scannell said. “Your brain is 60 percent fat. Cholesterol is manufactured in the brain. Cholesterol is not the problem, it’s the other things associated with cholesterol carried through your bloodstream that causes cardio vascular disease.”
According to Scannell sugar is the real enemy, combined with a lack of nutritional education, which prevents most of the population from learning this. Contrary to the opinions of many, he believes meat to be the densest, most nutritional food item on earth, adding that the most nutrition one can derive from meat comes from the organs.
“When a wild animal kills its prey, it doesn’t eat the shoulder or the shank,” Scannell said. “It eats the organs first because that’s where the good stuff is. In one or two generations we’ve stopped eating organs and they’re so good for you.”
He cited the liver, brain, and hearts of animals as examples of food with the most nutritional value. His suggestion is not only to eat well, but also to eat local. Buying and consuming food that has been grown and processed locally is one way to combat the consumption of chemicals and poisons, which ultimately cause a break down in our bodies and overall health. Another myth, he said, is that eating well is too costly.
“A bag of potato chips has maybe 3 or 4 ounces of actual potatoes,” Scannell said, “and people pay $3 to $5 for a bag. You can get a half-pound Idaho potato for less than 50 cents. A banana costs around 19 cents. This notion that eating well is more expensive is another one of those falsehoods.”
Certain restrictions, required for sanitary reasons aren’t necessarily helpful according to Scannell. The United States, for instance, requires anyone who sells eggs from a chicken to wash and then immediately refrigerate the eggs. Conversely, in parts of Europe, this is not a requirement, Scannell said.
“If you don’t wash the eggs, you can keep them on the countertop for three to four weeks at a time,” Scannell said. “When the egg is laid there is a film–a membrane that the chicken lays over the shell that keeps them impermeable, so they’re safe at room temperature for weeks. Once we wash them, which we’re required to do by law if we want to sell them, they must be instantly refrigerated at under 40 degrees or they will spoil.”
Scannell said some “agri-tourism” may be in the future for Pine Shine Farms, as it is a growing industry due to the disenfranchisement of a more nutrition-oriented population. His desire is to educate people about plants, animals, and agricultural production when they visit the farm.
“I might have some hay bails and a tractor and just load it up and drive people around the farm and have a talk,” Scannell said. “Purpose is important.”
The humane treatment of animals is as important to Scannell as the gratitude he said we should feel by them doing their part. He emphasized that allowing a pig to be a pig and a cow to be a cow is an important part of the journey between humans and animals.
“They are dying for us,” Scannell said. “They become a part of us, and we them. That is the cycle of life and death. It all starts with nutrition, which is directly linked to the environment. If we keep it local, we can all rely on each other and become stronger. We become part of this tribe.”