Eileen McGurty has chronic fatigue syndrome and was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, but those two things shouldn’t define her.
Because her body has too much inflammation, Eileen sought out a way to help heal herself naturally with local ingredients.
“I was already addressing inflammation,” Eileen explained. She wasn’t eating sugar or highly-processed foods but she still craved something sweet or satisfying in the morning to start her day out right.
Cue her interest in bone broth. Montana was encased in a cold winter when the thought passed by Eileen. If breakfast were to be hearty, then it had to be hot.
“I tried broth and sautéed vegetables with hard-boiled eggs. It was so satisfying, and it didn't even have to be sweet. It was comforting like chicken soup,” Eileen said.
Turns out, there's a reason we reach for broths like chicken soup when we're ill. They contain a key nutrient for health.
“It’s mainly about the collagen,” Eileen explained. “Our bodies produce collagen but not very efficiently. We need collagen to repair damage, and it’s a building block for connective tissues.
For example, when damage to the gut lining occurs, inflammation can spread and clog up normal cellular functions. As a result, the immune system isn’t as effective. Hair, skin, and nails lose luster and strength. Joints and ligaments become weak. Collagen helps mitigate those losses, so the body can begin healing itself.
Of course, knowing what’s good for us can lead to better health but enjoying what's good for us makes it a whole lot easier. That’s where bone broth excels. Drinking a warm elixir brings so much more enjoyment than popping pills and powders. According to Eileen, the secret is in the umami.
“It's sometimes called the sixth taste,” she said. “It’s that flavor of a savory, comforting, satisfying food. It feels cozy. That’s why I take the extra step of roasting the bones.”
That extra step is part of the 24-hour process Eileen goes through to make a quality product.
“Broth is slow food. It takes time to make. “If you simmer too low, then you won’t get the collagen out. If you boil it, then the collagen breaks down,” Eileen explained.
Before Eileen perfected that process, she shopped for broth stores. Her search emptied out into a dearth of options. All she could find were products made out-of-state from bones of unknown origin.
“I couldn’t find anything made locally. I thought, ‘This is ridiculous!’ Montana has all of these grass-fed, pasture-raised animals. The national brands have to get bones to a processing facility before they ship the broth to us. And bones are really heavy!”
For Eileen, that was a deal-breaker. As the former Director of Graduate Programs in Environmental Studies at Johns Hopkins University, Eileen insists that caring for our bodies cannot come at the expense of caring for our land. So, she turned to Missoula-area ranchers for ingredients. Eileen buys her beef bones from Oxbow Cattle Company in Missoula and chicken bones from Living River Farms in Stevensville.
“I buy my bones locally, so I can attach a name and a face to the ranchers who care for the land and the animals. By making the broth locally, I can save money and energy and reduce my carbon footprint,” she said.
Shoppers can find Eileen’s Mountain Meadow Bone Broth in the freezer section of area stores and at Missoula's winter and summer markets. Also, Eileen offers a subscription program through her website. Recently, she expanded her line to include chicken broth for pets. This spring, she will begin two-day ground shipping.
With each expansion, Eileen affirms her values. Sustainable land stewardship and quality, local ingredients remain priorities. She has tapped a niche and simmered the richness of our agricultural state into a warm cup of golden goodness.
Mountain Meadow Bone Broth