Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

"Natural" vs. Free-Range & Grass-Fed

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • "Natural" vs. Free-Range & Grass-Fed

    My local preferred grocery is HEB. They are a Texas-based company which over the last several years has begun to provide more "healthier" and oftentimes, local options in their "Market" stores. In their Central Market stores (open early specifically for local chefs in Austin, Dallas, and Houston to shop for certain restaurants) you can often find items such as rattlesnake, alligator, pheasant, etc. They offer a wide selection of organic fruits and veggies. In their meat market they have a wide selection of choices but Organic, Grass-Fed, and Free-Range are not always seen very often except for small packages of ground beef or bison - save for the Central Markets which have the best selection of most anything one could want - on par with a Whole Foods or Trader Joes.

    They do, however, sell their own label "Natural" cuts of both beef and chicken listed with the following criteria:
    • No hormones
    • No antibiotics
    • No additives or preservatives
    • Vegetarian Fed
    • Minimally processed


    It seems like, with the exception of their diet, these animals have been raised to "organic" standards.

    My understanding of the "vegetarian" diet is that these animals have been primarily fed grains (corn, sorghum, etc)...no guarantee of the quality of food of course.

    Could one expect these to offer similar benefit (EFA profile) to cuts labeled Grass-Fed or Free-Range?

    One thing I noticed immediately, especially with the chicken cuts, was how little sodium there was compared to the frozen stuff in a bag.
    iHerb.com 1st time buyer $5 discount code: GIS836

  • #2
    Originally posted by Charlie Golf View Post
    My local preferred grocery is HEB. They are a Texas-based company which over the last several years has begun to provide more "healthier" and oftentimes, local options in their "Market" stores. In their Central Market stores (open early specifically for local chefs in Austin, Dallas, and Houston to shop for certain restaurants) you can often find items such as rattlesnake, alligator, pheasant, etc. They offer a wide selection of organic fruits and veggies. In their meat market they have a wide selection of choices but Organic, Grass-Fed, and Free-Range are not always seen very often except for small packages of ground beef or bison - save for the Central Markets which have the best selection of most anything one could want - on par with a Whole Foods or Trader Joes.

    They do, however, sell their own label "Natural" cuts of both beef and chicken listed with the following criteria:
    • No hormones
    • No antibiotics
    • No additives or preservatives
    • Vegetarian Fed
    • Minimally processed


    It seems like, with the exception of their diet, these animals have been raised to "organic" standards.

    My understanding of the "vegetarian" diet is that these animals have been primarily fed grains (corn, sorghum, etc)...no guarantee of the quality of food of course.

    Could one expect these to offer similar benefit (EFA profile) to cuts labeled Grass-Fed or Free-Range?

    One thing I noticed immediately, especially with the chicken cuts, was how little sodium there was compared to the frozen stuff in a bag.

    The best thing you could do would be to research labeling standards in the US. 'Natural' sounds like bullshit, same as 'free range' is bullshit in Australia.
    A steak a day keeps the doctor away

    Comment


    • #3
      I love those Central Market stores!

      They can't label something "grass-fed" if it's not. If the cattle is let outside but fed grain - they will usually call it "pasture-raised" or "free-range." They can also label it "grass-finished" (ahem, bs). In poultry, the "free-range" distinction is a little less concrete - there is no requirement as to the quality of the range or how long they are given access to it.

      Read up here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_range

      Comment


      • #4
        Tyson labels their frozen chicken breasts as "natural". There is no way considering how large they are. Them are factory farmed for sure.

        Comment


        • #5
          Unfortunately, you are going to see more confusion before clarity as the conventional meat processors retool their operations in response to a demand for "healthier" meats. I love Central Market, Whole Foods and Sprouts for what they offer in Dallas, but unfortunately, you still have to read the package and talk with someone to get the real details. For example, at Whole Foods, they have varying grades of pastured chicken. The scale goes from 1-5 depending on a set of criteria regarding amount of time in the cages vs. outside, etc. Interestingly, the person trying to "sell" me the higher quality more time outside chicken told me chickens do not like to go outside and that they have to force them to go outside. Having grown up on a farm, I know that to NOT be true...so I move on to source my chicken from a local farmer at the Dallas Farmer's Market. I know how their chickens are raised and allowed to forage for grubs, worms, etc.

          Originally posted by Charlie Golf View Post
          • No hormones
          • No antibiotics
          • No additives or preservatives
          • Vegetarian Fed
          • Minimally processed

          Could one expect these to offer similar benefit (EFA profile) to cuts labeled Grass-Fed or Free-Range?
          Certainly better than those fed with hormones, antibiotics, etc., but what if the grain they feed the chicken is not organic or has lots of pesticides, etc. It is still a better choice than conventional for sure, but not as optimal as true pastured chickens or Grass-fed and finished beef. Free-Range is quickly becoming a catch word like All Natural.

          Knowing the exact source of your meat by getting to know local farmers is the optimal way if possible. Ask them how big their paddocks are for the beef during raising time and if they have a different size for finishing. Ask exactly how the chickens are kept. Do they run the pastures or are they in long cages that allow them to go outside? If they offer tours, take a tour to see how you meat is raised. Second choice is to carefully scour places like Whole Food, Central Market and Sprouts for the best options and the third choice is to buy the stuff marked No Hormones, No antibiotics, etc.
          Last edited by Beef Cake; 04-29-2010, 07:24 AM.
          God is great, beer is good, people are crazy

          Trashy Women
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bz8Yptnh2kg
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYkG3...eature=related

          Beef Cake's Primal Hardcore Porn<strike>Erotica<strike>...er...I mean my journal...

          Comment


          • #6
            @ Suki: "Grass finished"...LOL sounds like a cow someone buffed to a high sheen with a pad of St. Augustine.

            Thanks for the replies. The HEB site actually gives a decent explanation of different labels too: http://www.heb.com/yourHEBStore/heal...tentID=4406004

            There are a few farms locally that have grass-fed beef and free-range poultry, but from what I can tell the quantities you have to purchase in are un-doable for me right now due to a lack of storage.
            iHerb.com 1st time buyer $5 discount code: GIS836

            Comment


            • #7
              I like your information which is very useful for me. Thanks.


              Turf Grass

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Charlie Golf View Post
                It seems like, with the exception of their diet, these animals have been raised to "organic" standards.
                Organic feed is the primary standard for labeling beef organic. They have to receive certified organic grains and/or be raised on certified organic grass. They also have to have unrestricted outdoor access, so no, they aren't anywhere close to the organic standard. Chicken aren't allowed to be given hormones by law in the US, so that's meaningless, as is the term "minimally processed". Chickens and pigs can basically eat anything, but feeding them scrap meal leftover from meat processing could potentially introduce pathogens (and this is how mad cow is transmitted in beef).

                Originally posted by Charlie Golf View Post
                My understanding of the "vegetarian" diet is that these animals have been primarily fed grains (corn, sorghum, etc)...no guarantee of the quality of food of course.

                Could one expect these to offer similar benefit (EFA profile) to cuts labeled Grass-Fed or Free-Range?
                Absolutely not. The vast majority of feed for the vast majority of food animals in the United States is grain, typically corn (as well as soy). The fatty acid profile of grassfed beef is specifically due to the grass and is not replicated by grain feeding. Additionally, feeding mostly grain to cows is inhumane, as they don't digest it well and it causes them to get sick and bloat. This is one of the main reasons they have to use antibiotics in beef to begin with.

                http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...ws/pollan.html
                Last edited by wildrover; 12-14-2015, 08:18 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Oh, and the reason you see less sodium in these products is because they presumably aren't pumped full of brine to make them heavier and more plump. Sodium also has a preservative effect, so this helps extend the shelf life of frozen and fresh chicken. Not having brine in your chicken is undoubtedly better for you and for your wallet. I say "presumably" because it seems that brine would fall under the "additives" category but I don't know what the labeling standards allow. Processors can still plump chicken with brine (including sodium phosphate) and call it "all-natural".

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plumping
                  Last edited by wildrover; 12-14-2015, 08:24 AM. Reason: clarification

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    fwiw, no commercial poultry receives hormones of any kind.
                    As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

                    Ernest Hemingway

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Moved to Austin three months ago after selling the 55 year Verizzo family home On The (Whitaker) Bayou. Technically, I'm no longer On The Bayou, but it's my moniker here.

                      I am flabergasted by H.E.B. And I recall one daughter, a half mile from the Whole Foods flag ship store and HQ, told me several years ago that she gets just as good stuff at HEB at a fraction of the cost. I have found their food prices, overall, to be about 2/3 of what I'm used to be paying in Florida or Colorado. That's across produce, frozen, meats, etc. And, they have many, many organic products at prices essentially no different for conventional. Canned beans, olive oil, peanut butter, etc.

                      Anyway, I know what you are asking about, regarding the different meat labels. As noodletoy points out, hormones have been illegal in chickens for some years. A lot of the claims for "Natural" are pretty much true for conventional beef, too. I think the only possibly significant one is "No antibiotics," which are a mainstay of the feedlots. But even there, cattle are being given far less than they used to, and there are laws that specify waiting periods between shots and slaughter. Not saying they all comply............

                      The only significant criteria I can see is the 100% grass fed option. All cattle are grass fed up to a certain weight, and then conventionally, they are shipped off to the feed lots where they are fed a decidedly not natural diet high in grains to add fat. There is no such thing as "grass finished," it's just 100% grass fed, beginning to end, or feedlot conventional.

                      A reason 100% grass fed is more expensive, (besides pricing opportunity) is that weight gains are less and so the rancher has to keep his capital around longer to attain a certain weight.

                      I noticed at HEB the grass fed beef comes from.............Australia! Like Texas can't provide those cows? Too weird. Also the price for the same product jumped several dollars a pound recently. I'm back to conventional.

                      In unground beef, look for yellow fat. That indicates grass fed.

                      I think what I've said is accurate, happy to admit if someone knows better.

                      A downside I've noticed for the deluxe beef and lamb is a lot more plastic packaging. Two layers and heavy.
                      Last edited by OnTheBayou; 12-14-2015, 11:19 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by OnTheBayou View Post
                        The only significant criteria I can see is the 100% grass fed option. All cattle are grass fed up to a certain weight, and then conventionally, they are shipped off to the feed lots where they are fed a decidedly not natural diet high in grains to add fat. There is no such thing as "grass finished," it's just 100% grass fed, beginning to end, or feedlot conventional.
                        Conventional calves receive grass until about six months old, then they are switched to grain for the rest of their lives. "Grass-finished" is a thing - a cow doesn't have to be fed exclusively grass to be labeled "grass fed". They can still be grain finished, which packs on extra weight (mostly fat) at the end of their lives. 99% of Americans prefer the marbling that results from grain feeding, so in addition to adding a few extra pounds in a hurry, it also makes for a more appealing product. If you're looking to maximize nutrition and/or humane treatment of cows, you want 100% grass fed and grass finished. In my experience it's rare to find this.

                        Originally posted by OnTheBayou View Post
                        A reason 100% grass fed is more expensive, (besides pricing opportunity) is that weight gains are less and so the rancher has to keep his capital around longer to attain a certain weight.
                        Yes, that's part of it. The other part is that you can't raise nearly as many cows on pasture as you can by intensively feeding them in the same acreage of feedlots.

                        Originally posted by OnTheBayou View Post
                        I noticed at HEB the grass fed beef comes from.............Australia! Like Texas can't provide those cows? Too weird. Also the price for the same product jumped several dollars a pound recently. I'm back to conventional.
                        This is very common, for several reasons. It never gets below freezing in most of Australia, so grass doesn't freeze and cows can graze year-round. There is also a lot of open grassland available; 70% of beef in Australia is grass fed and the companies there are huge and get economies of scale. Even with having to prepare it and ship it halfway around the world, it still comes out cheaper than American grassfed beef in most cases.
                        Last edited by wildrover; 12-15-2015, 07:41 AM. Reason: clarified

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by wildrover View Post
                          Conventional calves receive grass until about six months old, then they are switched to grain for the rest of their lives. "Grass-finished" is a thing - a cow doesn't have to be fed exclusively grass to be labeled "grass fed". They can still be grain finished, which packs on extra weight (mostly fat) at the end of their lives. 99% of Americans prefer the marbling that results from grain feeding, so in addition to adding a few extra pounds in a hurry, it also makes for a more appealing product. If you're looking to maximize nutrition and/or humane treatment of cows, you want 100% grass fed and grass finished. In my experience it's rare to find this.



                          Yes, that's part of it. The other part is that you can't raise nearly as many cows on pasture as you can by intensively feeding them in the same acreage of feedlots.



                          This is very common, for several reasons. It never gets below freezing in most of Australia, so grass doesn't freeze and cows can graze year-round. There is also a lot of open grassland available; 70% of beef in Australia is grass fed and the companies there are huge and get economies of scale. Even with having to prepare it and ship it halfway around the world, it still comes out cheaper than American grassfed beef in most cases.
                          Your first statement about the first six months on grass and then on to grain is wrong. Not only are the cows I see grazing on pasture pretty damned big, here's what the old Wikster says about feedlots: "Prior to entering a feedlot, cattle spend most of their life grazing on rangeland or on immature fields of grain such as green wheat pasture. Once cattle obtain an entry-level weight, about 650 to 700 pounds (300 kg), they are transferred to a feedlot "

                          While it does freeze in central Texas, there's plenty of hay to be made in the warmer months to carry through the low carrying capacity colder months. The importation of beef from half a world away, needing to stay frozen and probably traveling by air is not very good for the environment. Something about carrying coals to Newcastle, if you've ever heard that one.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by OnTheBayou View Post
                            Your first statement about the first six months on grass and then on to grain is wrong. Not only are the cows I see grazing on pasture pretty damned big, here's what the old Wikster says about feedlots: "Prior to entering a feedlot, cattle spend most of their life grazing on rangeland or on immature fields of grain such as green wheat pasture. Once cattle obtain an entry-level weight, about 650 to 700 pounds (300 kg), they are transferred to a feedlot "

                            While it does freeze in central Texas, there's plenty of hay to be made in the warmer months to carry through the low carrying capacity colder months. The importation of beef from half a world away, needing to stay frozen and probably traveling by air is not very good for the environment. Something about carrying coals to Newcastle, if you've ever heard that one.
                            You are correct, so far as Texas' cattle are concerned. Grazing on green winter wheat grass is common in Texas and Oklahoma. I presume its true for Kansas and eastern Colorado as well. But, the cattle have to be pulled from those pastures in the early spring to permit the wheat to grow and mature in time for the late April/May harvest. Beef cattle are sent to feedlots about 3 months prior to their targeted slaughter date.

                            There is also a difference in feeding of dairy cattle vs. cattle raised for meat. Dairy cattle are not sent to feedlots for fattening. That's a meat market practice. Still, many dairy cattle are supplemented with grain-based formulated feeds, not for fattening, but for consistent and maximum milk production.

                            The living conditions at large dairy farms isn't so different than feedlots, resembling factories more than farms. Dairy cattle in factory farms live in tight, dirty quarters, to be close-at-hand for milking. Both dairy farms and feedlots can be environmental nightmares. The images of pristine farms for milk production are images from a bygone era, except on small farms dedicated to the old traditions.

                            "Grass Fed" obviously has a growing appeal, both in beef and dairy sourcing. All I can urge anyone to do is to vet your sources carefully or avoid the products altogether. If GMOs bother you (they do me), then be aware that much alfalfa, a common grazing grass and source of hay as well as that green, green grass of winter wheat fields may be (probably is) a GMO variety. I believe, "organic" may be a more important criteria than "grass fed".
                            Stop by to visit at http://primalways.net
                            Old Paths ... New Journeys

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by OnTheBayou View Post
                              Your first statement about the first six months on grass and then on to grain is wrong. Not only are the cows I see grazing on pasture pretty damned big, here's what the old Wikster says about feedlots: "Prior to entering a feedlot, cattle spend most of their life grazing on rangeland or on immature fields of grain such as green wheat pasture. Once cattle obtain an entry-level weight, about 650 to 700 pounds (300 kg), they are transferred to a feedlot "
                              It does seem to be incorrect - I was taking from what Michael Pollan said in the article I linked earlier, but various sources seem to disagree. From what I just read from several sources (mostly cooperative extensions), calves are typically weaned after six months of age and often "backgrounded" for one to six months, during which time they receive some combination of grass, forage, and/or grain to transition them to living the rest of their lives in a feedlot eating grain. Pollan refers to "backgrounding pens", but most sources don't agree with his assumption that by six months of age, a cow has seen his last blade of grass. Everything I've read essentially says that there is a wide variation in practice and that once weaned at six to twelve months, they can background on grass or grain or go straight to a feedlot.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X