What do we mean by "grass-fed" meat?
There are many misleading labels in the food industry. Just because a label states that meat is "free range," "natural," "organic," "lean," "heart friendly", "select," "choice," or "prime" doesn't mean that it's actually grass-fed. The U.S. Department of Agriculture considers grain-fed and organic meat to be "natural" meat products. In most cases those nice sounding meat products have been grain-fed, grain-supplemented, or grain-finished. In the same vein, some producers think that if their cattle are on pasture and are fed "only a little" grain as a "supplementation" they still qualify for the grass-fed label. Not so in our book! But the USDA's rule book is more lenient.
Other label traps many people fall for are "free range," "humanely raised," "brown eggs," "hormone free," and "vegetable-fed." In terms of nutrition, these labels are meaningless. Of course we all support proper animal handling techniques. But to imply that only Mom-and-Pop outfits provide proper care of animals is slanderous and unprofessional. In fact, if the truth be known, on average the larger ranches and processing plants sometimes have the very best records in animal handling and care!
The point is, when it comes to food, the most important factor to consider is the nutritional component. In that respect the only important difference between meat products is what the animals were fed. All grass-fed, grass-finished meats have 100% of the nutrients required by man in perfect balance. Grain-fed meats, no matter how they are labeled, are anemic and nutritionally deficient. Grass-fed meats are the most perfect food for optimum health. That's what really counts.
The very idea that grass-fed beef is a good and healthier eating experience is rather new to most Americans who have been raised almost exclusively on grain-fed meats. So a lot of work will be needed over the next few decades to re-educate the American consumer about proper nutrition and what is and what is not good wholesome food. But educating the public is only half of the problem. Just like nearly all mothers today who feed grain to their children, most of the nation's livestock producers in North American do not have a clue about raising cattle solely on grass. Most of them believe they must feed grain in order for their livestock to grow, to carry them through the winter, or to finish them prior to slaughter. Those beliefs can change, but it will take many years to accomplish because it will only happen as health-conscience consumers vote with their dollars.
We have been strong advocates for eating grass-fed meats since 1999, long before grass-fed meats became part of the national healthy-eating movement. While many pet owners are now moving away from feeding grain to their beloved animals, most people still eat grains and grain-based products themselves and feed them to their children. Is it possible that in America we value our pets more than ourselves or even more than our children? Now that's food for thought!
What is the big deal about grass-fed and grass-finished meat? Is it worth it to pay extra for grass-fed? The articles in this section (see side panel directory) will answer these and many other questions regarding 100% grass-fed, grass-finished meat.
Here's to your continued education and improved health!
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