Meats labeled “Grass-fed” can be misleading, here is what you should look for when you buy “Grass-fed” products to maximize the health benefits.
The term “Grass-fed” refers to an animal’s diet. Most cattle in the US start out life living in a pasture, grazing on grass and feeding on their mother’s milk. They then are transferred to a “feedlot” where they commonly receive a diet primarily based on grains, mainly corn.
Many people are aware of the term “Grass-fed” as being a better alternative, but do you know that the “Grass-fed” label has no restrictions regarding pesticide use? When a product is labeled “Grass-fed,” it means that during an animals entire life, it has been fed a diet mainly of grass or other forage. However, there are no restrictions for farmers to use pesticides on their fields or the use of antibiotics on the animals. This means, you could be eating meat that was grazing on fields laced with pesticides and injected with antibiotics, despite being labeled “Grass-fed.” Farmers could be obeying a non spraying policy program on their pastures but their neighbors as far away as 25 miles could be spraying their fields and winds could transport those poisons onto unexpected grass land without them knowing this.
The real product to purchase is meat with both “Grass-fed” and “Organic” labeling. For products to carry the “Organic” label, a government-approved certifier inspects the farm to verify that land is free of synthetic chemicals, the food is grown organically, the animals are certified free of antibiotics and added hormones and that all organic rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards have been followed. This means the animals were not given any antibiotics or growth hormones, and fed a diet free of pesticides and fertilizers. Companies that handle the processing of the organic food must also be certified by the USDA and follow all of the rules of processing organically. Each organic farmer’s pastures must be tested yearly for any signs of synthetic chemicals & any and all feed outside of grass (hay included) must be certified as organic. A violation of the organic rules including finding poisons in the grazing lands could result in lost of certification or penalties.
The bottom line: An educated buyer of organic, grass-fed meats is a healthier buyer.