Meat and Agriculture on Lift Big Eat Big (LBEB)

I have followed Brandon at Lift Big Eat Big (LBEB) on Instagram for awhile now. His Instagram channel will delight foodies, agriculturalists, health and fitness buffs of all levels… well basically everyone! Brandon asked me to write up an article for his website on myths in agriculture, so I did. In turn, I have asked Brandon to answer a few questions for me – stay tuned, you will see more from him.

Until then, head over to the LBEB webpage and check out my article, as well as all of the other great information. Like what you see? Sign up to receive the newsletter.

LBEB——————————-

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

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Nebraska Extension on Pure Nebraska: A partnership made on tv

A new partnership has recently been formed between Nebraska Extension and Pure Nebraska (a 10/11 news ag focused news program).

Pure Nebraska highlights an Extension Educator/program on Thursdays and a 4-H Educator/program on Fridays. Pretty cool huh?

I recently did a segment about meat labels here and you can listen to some of the great things my colleagues are doing here. I had a great time, and it was so fun to see the inside of a tv studio.

1011 interview
Pure Nebraska hosts: Taryn Vanderford and Jon Vanderford.

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

The top 10 of 2014…

I have completed my first full year of blogging! While I was not the most diligent blogger, I learned a lot, met some great people, and had some great conversations. My social media goals and expectations were exceeded! Many thanks to you, my readers for your interest. I have new ideas for blog posts and delivery methods in 2015, so stay tuned!

My top 10 blog posts of the year are as follows:

10. Jello, lipstick, and marshmallows – oh my! – learn more about the animal byproducts in the things we use daily!

9. Cold temps cause frozen ears – cute baby calf picture warning, and a useful product too!

8. Toothless Grins…Fun Fact Friday – because who doesn’t want to know random information about animals?!

7. Gluten Free Myths – a guest blog by my friend Dawn Earnesty, MS, RDN.

6. Caring for Livestock in Cold Temperatures – livestock receive the best care they can, even when temperatures plummet.

5. Organic and Natural Programs – part of the meat labeling series on why these terms are not interchangeable.

4. No added hormones and no antibiotics – part of the meat labeling series to help clear up confusion.

3. Growing up a Rich Rancher’s Kid – a fun post for me to write about perception of wealth.

2. Grain-fed and Grass-fed – part of a series on meat labeling terms, and better understanding what they really mean.

1. Dumping Discover – where I explain why I will be finding a new credit card company.

Cheers
Thanks for stopping by. Happy New Year. May it be full of health, wealth, and happiness! Cheers.

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

What is humanely raised/labeled?

To continue the meat labeling discussion, I want to discuss what humanely raised/labeled means.

As a refresher, you can catch up on the other labeling discussions: grain-fed and grass-fed, organic and natural programs, and no added hormones and no antibiotics.

As I searched for a true definition of what “humanely raised” is, I had a hard time finding a clear and accurate definition for all humanely labeled certification programs. I was able to gather, from several sources, a list of possible criterion that a livestock farmer or rancher would need to provide to his/her livestock to be considered “humanely raised”.

Humanely raised can be:
– Produced in an ethical and humane fashion
– Raised with minimal stress
– Access to ample feed and water
– No antibiotics
– No additional hormones
– Are not fed animal products/byproducts
– Anything that doesn’t come from a factory farm
– Animals raised on pastures
– Animals allowed to act naturally
– Product traceability back to the farmer
– Certified by a trustworthy, independent organization
– Processed in a conscientious manner

Heifers
Heifers enjoying the good life…

First, the humane label varies in its definition from program to program. These labels are not regulated under any USDA programs. This means that humane certification programs are provided through third-party, independent verifications – and the standards of each of these programs vary and are frequently arbitrary. The established standards for each of these programs are generally created, reviewed, and updated by an advisory committee. The members of this advisory committee are persons who may or may not be “experts” in food production, animal health, animal behavior, and/or animal care. Again, this advisory committee is chosen at the discretion of each humane certification program. Each of the humane certification programs should list and provide more information on the scientific advisory committee members; it is always advisable to investigate members and what organizations they represent. Are they from a university (in which they should be providing research based, unbiased information) or are they from an industry group? Some of the humane certification programs have used the “Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare” to guide their standards.

Poultrylabel
Chicken breasts with several labeling claims.

To be enrolled in a voluntary humane labeling program the livestock producer will pay a fee for the humane certification program organization to come out and conduct audits/site visits on his/her farm or ranch. The humane labeling program may provide feedback and guidance to the producer on ways they can better meet the standards. A follow-up audit or visit may be necessary before the livestock farmer or rancher receives official “humane labeling” capabilities. Additionally, the farmer or rancher may have audits/farm visits at regular intervals to ensure he/she is staying in compliance to the program standards.

LabeledTurkeyBreast
Turkey breast meat with a humanely raised claim.

The programs are so numerous I won’t explore all of the possible programs, their standards, fees, and criterion here as there are many of them. But I do want to highlight a couple of the ones I thought provided interesting or useful information.

The American Humane Association claims to be the first welfare certification program in the U.S. to ensure the humane treatment of farm animals, with history dating back to 1877! Not only do they protect farm animals from abuse and neglect, they also protect children and pets.

Certified Humane has actually done a pretty good job of comparing some of the standards for chicken beef, and pigs in comparison to other organizations. They have also provided one that is unique to just laying hens. These can be handy tools as there can be a large number of organizations offering humanely labeled certifications, making it a daunting task to compare and contrast the benefits of each.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), is responsible for verifying the humane treatment of livestock in harvest (slaughter) facilities. The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA) was originally passed in 1958; in 1978 the USDA’s FSIS passed the Humane Slaughter Act. This Act requires the proper treatment and humane handling of all food animals harvested in USDA inspected slaughter plants. However, it does not apply to chickens or other birds.

Salamilabeling
Salami with labeling claims.

You may be thinking why don’t all livestock farmers or ranchers enroll in a humane certification program? Some livestock farmers or ranchers choose to enroll in a voluntary, fee-based humane certification program to be able to offer a choice to consumers at the meat counter. As with most other special labeling claims, there is usually a price difference in meat products with the humane label versus meat products without the humane label. If “humanely raised” is important to you, you have the choice to purchase that product.

The important thing you should know is that all livestock farmers and ranchers do their very best to provide humane care to their animals. Unfortunately, there are rare occasions when a livestock farmer is not humane to the animals he/she is raising. That is not ok and not acceptable! I may be bold in saying this, but we hope all parents who are responsible for raising children do not intentionally harm those children, but we know that is not always the case, and some children do get mistreated. Some pet owners do not provide the best care for their pets. While it may be drastic to compare livestock animals, children, and pets to one another, the common theme is the majority of them have wonderful lives where they are well cared for, humanely raised, and loved by the people providing for them. When cases of abuse or neglect occur, we can all agree it is not ok and should not be tolerated – no matter if it is farm animals, children, or pets.

Calf with ear warmers by cow
A baby calf receiving humane treatment in cold temperatures!

Other meat labeling articles you may be interested in include: grain-fed and grass-fed, organic and natural, and no added hormones and no antibiotics.

No-added hormones & no antibiotics – meat labeling terms (3)

Hello from windy Nebraska! Today, in part three of the great Meat Labeling Terms series, we will discuss the ins-and-outs of no-added hormones and no antibiotics.

In case you missed it, we have discussed the differences between grain-fed and grass-fed as well as organic and natural programs over the last couple of days. Check it out!

The talk of antibiotics and additional hormones (and I say additional, because hormones exist naturally – yes they are naturally occurring in you and me, in plants and animals, in our pets and in our food production animals) always seems to be a conversation that people are passionate about. This post will help you better understand the labeling terms. The use of antibiotics and additional growth hormones by the industry will be posts for another day.

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Cooking up some flat iron steaks on the grill!

No-added hormones: All cellular organisms contain hormones, they are naturally occurring – there is no such thing as hormone free! When something is labeled “hormone free” or “no hormones”, it is a misnomer (as they are naturally occurring). The correct wording should be “no-added hormones”, “raised without added hormones”, “no hormones administered”, or “no synthetic hormones” (Labels that tell you a little, n.d.).

Hormones are NOT allowed in hog, poultry, or bison production. Yes, that is correct, no additional hormones are given to pigs, poultry, or bison!!

The statement “no hormones added” CANNOT be used on any packaging for pork, poultry, and/or bison items, unless it is followed by a statement that says “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in poultry/pork/bison” (Meat and poultry labeling terms, 2011; Labels that tell you a little, n.d.), so as not to mislead consumers into believing that these meat protein products were grown with additional hormones.

For other meat production animals, the term “no hormones administered” may be approved for use on the label if there is sufficient documentation indicating the producer has raised the animal without additional hormones (Meat and poultry labeling terms, 2011).

Labels indicating that no additional hormones were used can be used in any of the previously mentioned systems – organic, all-natural, naturally raised, grass-fed, grain-fed (organic and naturally raised are the only systems do not allow for the use of additional hormones). The no-added hormone labels do not account for the diet of the animal, access to pasture, or how the meat was processed.

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On this package of ground bison, the label indicates that it was raised without antibiotics or additional hormones. It also has the Federal statement on the label saying the use of hormones is prohibited in bison.

No antibiotics: Is also referred to as “raised without antibiotics” or “no antibiotics administered”. The term “no antibiotics added” may be used on labels for meat and/or poultry products if the producer can provide sufficient documentation indicating the animal was raised without antibiotics (Meat and poultry labeling terms, 2011; Labels that tell you a little, n.d.). This indicates that no antibiotics were used on the animal in its lifetime. Antibiotics are used to prevent and treat disease in animals – just like in humans. If an animal does have to be treated with an antibiotic for illness, the meat, milk, and/or eggs cannot be sold in an organic or naturally raised system and cannot have a label with the wording “raised without antibiotics” (Meat and poultry labeling terms, 2011).

Labels indicating that no antibiotics were used can be used in any of the previously mentioned systems – organic, all-natural, naturally raised, grass-fed, grain-fed (organic and naturally raised are the only systems do not allow for the use of additional hormones). The no antibiotic labels do not account for the diet of the animal, access to pasture, or how the meat was processed.

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The label indicates this beef was grown with no added antibiotics – which is a requirement of the organic and naturally raised programs.

When trying to decide which meat option is best for you, it is important to purchase meats that support your values and beliefs, as well as meats that fit into your budget. Shopping around is always advisable too. You have many options when it comes to purchasing meat, you may be able to purchase meat directly from a producer, a small or local butcher shop, your local retailer, a Farmer’s Market, or a bulk retailer. Finally, you may decide you prefer the taste of one of the meat types over another, and purchase based on taste and family preference.

Other meat labeling posts you may be interested in include: grain-fed and grass-fed, organic and natural programs, and humanely raised.

Organic vs. Natural Programs – meat labeling terms (2)

(Updated March 2017)

Yesterday I shared with you the difference between grain-fed and grass-fed. My former colleague, Carrie Schneider-Miller, MS, RD, in the Nebraska Extension Food, Nutrition, and Health focus area also recently discussed Is Grass-fed beef better?

Today, in part two of the great Meat Labeling Terms series, we will discuss the differences between organic, all-natural, and naturally raised.

DSC03914
Calves on pasture.

Organic:

Sales of organic products continue to grow, especially organic food products. Organic products now make up just over 4% of total U.S. food sales (USDA:ERS, 2016).

Organically labeled meat means that the animal’s diet can consist of any grain or forage product as long as those feed items are certified organic. This program is the most strict with the most guidelines, and is governed by the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP). To be certified organic, a grain or forage resource must not have had synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation applied, and/or had genetically engineered products produced on that ground in three or more years. Additionally, the livestock CANNOT receive antibiotics or additional growth hormones (USDA, 2013) (many hormones are naturally occurring in the animal, but no additional hormones are given by producers in this program).

What organic does not certify or guarantee — The important thing to keep in mind here is that organic only refers to what the animal has consumed. The NOP does not regulate or govern what happens to the meat during processing. Meaning that the meat may have additional colorants or products (spices, sauces, marinades, etc.) added to the final product, unlike all-natural meats.

Research has indicated that organic foods are NOT considered to be healthier or better for you than conventionally raised foods. However, people who may have food allergies, chemical allergies, or intolerance to preservatives may prefer organic food products. Additionally, organically produced strawberries, corn, and marionberries may be higher in antioxidants than the conventionally raised form. Research has also indicated that because there is no preservative use, organically grown products may be more susceptible to bacteria, parasites, and pathogen contamination (Natural and Organic Foods, n.d.).

It is also important to note that just because it is organic, does not mean it is pesticide or chemical free. Organic producers use natural chemicals versus synthetic chemicals. For more information read this.

How can you tell if the meat you are purchasing is organic? Look at the label. If a product is organic it will have the USDA organic seal. This indicates the product is certified organic and has 95% or more organic content. For multi-ingredient products such as bread or soup, if the label claims that it is made with specified organic ingredients, you can be confident that those specific ingredients have been certified organic (National Organic Program, 2012). If someone is claiming that a product is organic, but they are not certified, be cautious – the NOP says that a product cannot be marketed as organic unless it is certified. The only exemption is if a producer sells $5,000 or less in goods annually, then they are not required to become certified (Labeling Organic Products, 2012).

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Organic ground beef. Notice the label has the organic seal, it also says that no additional hormones or antibiotics have been added.

All-natural:

It is estimated that 375,000 to 425,000 head of cattle are produced under an all-natural regime (Natural Beef Profile, 2012); this would be a large portion of meat in the meat case. Meat, poultry, and eggs that carry the “natural” label CANNOT be altered during processing; this would include the addition of artificial ingredients (spices, marinades, sauces, etc.), the addition of colorants, the additional of chemical preservatives, making the meat minimally processed (does not fundamentally alter the product) (Natural beef, 2013; Meat and Poultry Labeling Terms, 2015). It should be noted that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been trying to define “natural”, as the above criterion that applied may now be outdated. It was being explored to consider how agricultural technologies (i.e. pesticides, thermal technologies, pasteurization, or irradiation) play into this discussion. Meat labeled as all-natural can come from an animal that has consumed any grain or forage product, organic or not. All-natural does NOT include any standards regarding farm practices; which means an animal can receive additional growth hormones or antibiotics. Additionally, there are no regulations on what the animal can or cannot consume.

Unlike organically labeled meats, there is no governing body for all-natural meat products. Again, it is a common myth the animals cannot receive growth hormones or antibiotics. This is false, each individual producer can decide if their animals can/need to receive growth hormones and/or antibiotics (USDA Meat and Poultry Labeling Terms, 2011). If you want to purchase meat from animals that have not received growth hormones or antibiotics then make sure you purchase your meat from a producer or retailer (look at the label) that you trust to provide meat that meets your requirements.

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All-natural ground bison. Notice the all-natural labeling and that it was raised without antibiotics or added hormones. As should be in the natural programs – it was minimally processed and contains no artificial ingredients.

Naturally raised:

Naturally raised did have a certification program and all products were certified by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) (Today’s Beef Choices, 2003). On January 12, 2016 the AMS agency withdrew the Naturally Raised Marketing Claim Standard.

However, prior to this change, all-natural and naturally raised should not have been used interchangeably – they are NOT the same thing. The naturally raised marketing claim indicated that livestock used for the production of meat and meat products had been raised entirely WITHOUT additional growth promotants, antibiotics (except for ionophores used as coccidiostats for parasite control), or animal by-products (no longer a common practice).

Since naturally raised does carry the “natural” label, the meat does not contain any artificial ingredients (spices, marinades, etc.), colorants, chemical ingredients, or other synthetic ingredients – making the meat minimally processed (does not fundamentally alter the product) (Natural beef, 2013).

bulls eating from bunk
Young bulls eating from a bunk feeder.

When trying to decide which meat option is best for you, it is important to purchase meats that support your values and beliefs, as well as meats that fit into your budget. Shopping around is always advisable too. You have many options when it comes to purchasing meat, you may be able to purchase meat directly from a producer, a small or local butcher shop, your local retailer, a Farmer’s Market, or a bulk retailer. Finally, you may decide you prefer the taste of one of the meat types over another, and purchase based on taste and family preference.

Other labeling articles you may find interesting include: Grain-fed and grass-fed, no added hormones and no antibiotics, and humanely raised.

Grain-fed vs. Grass-fed – meat labeling terms (1)

(Updated March 2017)

How many times have you been grocery shopping or watching your favorite television program and you see and/or hear that organic meat is better? Grain-fed tastes better? Grass-fed is healthier? It can be confusing, overwhelming, and frustrating – who do you trust?  Below I will provide you with the facts and truth, as well as resources to do some homework of your own.This discussion on meat labeling terms will be presented in a series so as not to overwhelm you with the amount of information in one post!

Meat is a nutrient dense food product. Specifically, beef is a good source of protein, zinc, B vitamins, iron, and other essential nutrients! (Beef Nutrition, 2007).

Apple Jack 012
Getting my BBQ on for a meat cutting and tasting demonstration.

Conventional/grain-fed:

Conventional or grain-fed is how the majority of meat animals are raised in the U.S. Conventionally raised meat means the animal receives grain through a balanced diet for a certain time period before it is harvested. Grain aids in helping the animal grow more quickly. It also increases the marbling (intramuscular fat), improving meat quality by making the meat flavorful, juicy, and tender. U.S. consumers not only prefer and consume grain-fed beef, but it is also exported to other countries.

Cattle raised in a feedlot are more efficient, offsetting the greenhouse impact of additional transport and feed production needed. Efficient weight gain offsets higher carbon footprint, and better digestibility of grains means less methane production (Peters et al., 2010).

When it comes to carcass quality, grain-fed cattle have a brighter, more cherry-red appearing meat product; larger Rib Eye Area (REA); higher Kidney, Pelvic, Heart (KPH) fat percentages (internal fat around the kidneys, in the pelvic region, and around the heart); higher Hot Carcass Weight (HCW); and more fat thickness over the ribs (Harrison et al., 1978). More fat on the carcass and larger carcasses means that the carcass cools more slowly. When a carcass cools slowly there is less cold shortening (shrinking of muscle fibers; short muscle fibers mean the meat is less tender); which attributes to increased tenderness. Grass-fed carcasses can have a problem with cold shortening due to the fact the carcass is usually lighter in weight and there is very little fat (Brewer & Calkins, 2003; Schroder,et al., 1980).

Research also indicates that grain-fed beef is more tender (as determined by the Warner-Bratzler Shear Force test and sensory panels), is juicier from the increased marbling (intramuscular fat), and is overall more desirable (Brewer & Calkins, 2003; Schroeder, et al., 1980; and Melton, et al., 1982).

Grain-fed beef can be labeled organic, as long as the grains and forages the animal consumes are certified organic. Grain-fed beef can also be labeled as all-natural, since there was no further processing of the meat during processing to be all-natural. Grain-fed beef can also be labeled as organic and all-natural – this would mean the animal has eaten certified organic grains and forages for the duration of its life and that no further processing of the meat was done during processing.

AppleJack 2011 007
Grain-fed beef on the BBQ.

Grass-fed:

On January 12, 2016 the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) withdrew the grass-fed claim for ruminant livestock (cattle and sheep) and the meat products derived from them. This announcement came with mixed reactions. The truth is that the term was somewhat deceiving, as it indicated only animals in a grass-fed system eat grass, when in actuality cattle and sheep primarily eat grass for their entire lives. The only exception is when animals produced for meat receive grain in the final months of their lives or if an animal needs to be supplemented with grain to maintain body condition. On the other end of the spectrum it was upsetting to some that the government would no longer help provide standards for this program, a program that seemed to be growing in popularity with consumers.

This new announcement does not completely remove all verification, according to conference call notes, a person can apply to the USDA – Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) for a grass-fed claim on their label. Additionally, AMS will have the authority to audit a company to ensure they are truthful in their marketing.

Prior to this major change, grass-fed meat meant that the animal should only consume grass and forages for its lifetime with the exception of milk consumed prior to weaning. Acceptable feeds included: grass (annual and perennial), grass forbs (e.g., legumes, Brassica), browse, cereal grain crops in the vegetative (pre-grain) state, hay, haylage, baleage, silage, crop residue without grain, and other roughage sources are considered suitable feed sources. Mineral and vitamin supplementation may have also be included in the routine feeding regimen. Additionally, animals could not be fed grain or grain byproducts and must have continuous access to pasture during the growing season. Depending on the cattle rancher/farmer, there are some variations to grass-fed. They are: finished on grass only, grown on grass then finished in dry lot, and feed high roughage ration in feedlot.

While it is common practice for producers of grass-fed meat to not give their animals additional hormones or antibiotics (McCluskey et al., 2005), there is no governing body to regulate this. If you want to purchase meat from animals that have not received growth hormones, antibiotics, or that have not consumed forages where pesticides were used, make sure you purchase your meat from a rancher/farmer or retailer that you trust to provide meat that meets your requirements.

Grass-fed beef is perceived to be healthier than conventionally (grain-fed) beef. Some health claims that can be made for grass-fed meat (specifically beef in this case) include:

  1. Some steak from grass-fed beef can be labeled as “lower in fat” than steak from conventionally (grain-fed) raised beef.
  2. Steak from grass-fed cattle can carry the health claim that foods low in total fat may reduce risk of cancer.
  3.  Steak and ground beef can be labeled “lean” or “extra lean”.
  4. Steak and ground beef from grass-fed cattle can carry the health claim that foods containing omega-3 fatty acids may reduce risk of heart disease (Clancy, 2006).

Other health claims indicate that grass-fed beef is higher in CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) and milk from pasture raised cows is higher in CLA and ALA (Alpha-Linoleic Acid (Clancy, 2006). Concerning fatty acids, grass-fed beef has 4% omega-3, 6% omega-6 minus CLA, and 3% CLA. Comparatively, grain-fed beef has 1% omega-3, 7% omega-6 minus CLA, and 1% CLA, respectively (Today’s Beef Choices, 2003). Interestingly, CLA is found naturally in meat and milk products of all animals – regardless of their feeding situation.

There are some limitations to grass-fed beef which include:

1. Increased production time – it takes twice as long for a grass-fed animal to be market ready. Grass-fed beef takes two to three years to finish, while conventionally (grain-fed) produced beef takes approximately 14 months.

2. Increased cost of production. Since it takes twice as long to reach an ideal harvest weight, it can cost twice as much to raise the animal.

3. Grass-fed animals produce more greenhouse gases because they grow more slowly, and are eating roughages for a longer period.

4. Less time on feed equals less emissions. Grass-fed creates more methane (high fiber diets are harder to digest) (Abend, 2010).

5. The seasonality of forage resources can be a challenge for producers (Brewer & Calkins, 2003; Schroeder et al., 1980).

6. Grass-fed beef has a darker muscle color, which generally means less customer appeal. (Schroeder et al., 1980; Reagan et al., 1977). Also, the flavor of the meat will change as the forages change; a grass-fed flavor may be detected.

7. Meat from grass-fed animals may be less tender, thus it will require more aging to help break down connective tissues (Brewer & Calkins, 2003; Schroeder et al., 1980; Melton et al., 1982).

Grass-fed beef is generally leaner, lower in fat, and has more omega-3 fatty acids. Beef should not be considered as a significant source of omega-3 fatty acids; fish (such as salmon, tuna, halibut, algae, krill), canola or soybean oil, some plants, walnuts, or ground flaxseed would be great options (Sacks, 2014; Omega-3 fatty acids, 2013).  Being leaner and lower in fat, grass-fed beef oftentimes sacrifices tenderness, juiciness, and flavor due to a decrease in marbling (the intramuscular fat) and an increase in connective tissue. It is important to prepare cuts of meat from grass-fed animals with moisture (or wet cooking methods); a dry heat cookery method may make the eating experience less desirable.

Just because meat is grass-fed does not mean it is produced in accordance to organic or all-natural standards (more on these later). Meat can be labeled as certified organic grass-fed, and this would mean the forages that the animal consumed met all organic certifications. Meat can also be labeled as all-natural grass-fed, and this would mean that the animal was grass-fed and there was no further processing of the meat during processing, but the forages consumed would not be considered organic. Finally, meat can be labeled grass-fed, organic, and all-natural – this would mean the animal has eaten certified organic forages for the duration of its life and that no further processing of the meat was done during processing. It should be mentioned that the more time and effort invested into growing a meat animal, the more the meat product may cost.

grass-grain-fed
Ground beef (prime and grass-fed) in the supermarket, notice the price difference.

When trying to decide which meat option is best for you, it is important to purchase meats that support your values and beliefs, as well as meats that fit into your budget. Shopping around is always advisable too. You have many options when it comes to purchasing meat, you may be able to purchase meat directly from a rancher/farmer, a small or local butcher shop, your local retailer, a Farmer’s Market, or a bulk retailer. Finally, you may decide you prefer the taste of one of the meat types over another, and purchase based on taste and your family preference.

Other meat labeling articles you may be interested in include: organic and natural, no added hormones and no antibiotics, and humanely raised.