You’ve likely seen or heard beef described with terms like “grass fed”, “grass finished”, “grain finished”, “organic” and “natural”.
But what do these terms and labels actually mean?
In this post, we’re going to try and explain these terms. We’ll look at the USDA’s definition (if applicable), what these terms mean on our farm and for a typical farmer, and what these labels mean for a consumer – you!
Before we begin, please know that there is lots of confusion with these terms for various reasons, such as,
- Terms have changed over the years.
- The USDA’s definition of the terms and what consumers think the terms mean sometimes differs (more on that later).
- The terms can be vague and have multiple meanings. Since farming is made up of small, family-farms throughout the U.S., we all do things slightly differently. That doesn’t mean someone is doing it right and someone else is wrong, it’s just different. So, if a term is vague, different farms could interpret and apply it differently.
Grass Fed Beef:
This may surprise you, but the USDA doesn’t have an official definition for grass fed. In 2016, the Agricultural Marketing Service, a branch of the USDA, announced in a statement that it was dropping its official definition of “grass fed” because it doesn’t have the authority to define and determine whether grass fed claims are truthful and misleading.
Grass Fed Beef through the eyes of a Farmer:
All cattle (and we really mean all) spend the majority of their lives eating grass in the pasture. The biggest difference between cattle is what they eat at the end of their lives. This is also known as how they’re “finished” (more on that later).
At Clover Meadows Beef, all of our cattle are grass fed. They spend 100% of their lives in open pasture.
Grass Fed Beef through the eyes of a Consumer:
When you stroll through the aisle of your grocery store and see “grass fed”, it will probably be more expensive than a package of beef without that label. Unfortunately, this marketing term doesn’t mean much.[Read more…]