Ever walked into a grocery store and felt a little bewildered by all the different claims that meat companies are making these days about the way that their animals are raised? Terms like cage-free, free range, hormone free, pasture raised, and all-natural are very common in today’s local food co-ops, Whole Foods Markets, online meat shops, and even Wal-Mart Supercenters but what do those terms really mean? What exactly can an all-natural pig be fed or not fed? What’s the difference between grass fed beef and pasture raised beef? In my recent series of blog posts over at the popular nutrition blog Mark’s Daily Apple, that’s exactly what I set out to educate my readers about. After digging down and finding out the true meaning of the claims that you see daily in your supermarket, you may consider raising your own little flock of pastured chickens or turkeys this year after all.
Post #1 - What You Should Know About Poultry Production Claims
First, I take a look at a Perdue chicken that claims to be “cage free” and vegetarian fed. I then discuss the fact that almost no chickens in the world are raised for meat in cages so the first claim is meaningless. I then discuss the fact that chickens are never naturally vegetarians!
I then examine the label of a Trader Joe’s “free range” USDA Organic chicken and explain that is was likely raised in a CAFO-style confinement chicken house with a cat door at one end.
Thirdly, I discuss the deceptive way that many companies use trade names like “Grassland Chicken” to trick their customers into thinking that their birds were raised outdoors.
Follow this link to read the full article about What You Should Know About Poultry Production Claims.
Post #2 - What You Should Know About Pork Production Claims
First, I take a look at a very well-known natural pork brand - Niman Ranch. With a little bit of investigation I show you how they can legally get away with not raising their pigs on pasture even though they lead you to believe that they do.
Second, I take a look at a Swift Premium All-Natural pork label and then explain how Swift’s all-natural pigs can legally be raised with the use of the drug ractopamine, a beta-adrenoceptor agonist that artificially promotes leanness in pigs.
Thirdly, I take a look at a couple of outfits that claim to offer pastured pork and help you understand what that does (and doesn’t) mean.
Follow this link to read the full article about What You Should Know About Pork Production Claims.
Post #3 - What You Should Know About Beef Production Claims
After giving some background information about the American beef industry, I explain the difference between grass-fed beef and pasture raised beef by way of an example. The example I use is a pasture raised beef company in south Texas, a place where many pastures simply lack grass.
Secondly, I take a look at an Applegate USDA Certified Organic beef product. I explain that it was made from beef that was raised in a feedlot where the cows had no access to grass.
I finish the beef production claims article by discussing the difference (or lack thereof) between grass fed and grass finished beef.
Follow this link to read the full article about What You Should Know About Beef Production Claims.
I really hope you enjoy these articles! The coupon codes mentioned at the end of each piece have now expired but feel free to head on over to our website where we keep a page updated with current Tendergrass Farms coupon codes.
Did a question come up while you were reading? Chime in via the comment field below.
David Maren is a founding farmer with Tendergrass Farms, a cooperative-style online grass fed meats shop that exists to help small time farmers achieve long-term economic sustainability by giving them the marketing channels they need to survive in the technological age. Weren’t able to raise enough grass fed beef, pastured pork, pastured chicken, or pastured turkey for your family this year? Tendergrass Farms can ship some right to your doorstep! www.GrassFedBeef.org