“Grass finished beef is different than grass fed beef,” farmer Dudley Tapp said, showing some farmers illegally use the term grass fed to encompass any portion of the cattle’s life feeding on grass while saying grass finished describes a different category.
Even though according to the USDA grass fed means grass fed for the duration of the animal’s life. Dudley Tapp, who recently spoke at the Grow Your Own Food Summit, 2014, was introduced as a sustainable diversified farmer yet when he said there is a difference between grass finished and grass fed beef he’s leading consumers astray.
“Every farm that markets this stuff has a different definition,” Tapp says.
This is where the problem lies for consumers.
“We’re doing the grass fed beef. We’ve experimented recently with grass finished beef. It’s different than grass fed.” Tapp reserves certain cows for milking while others are used for beef. When a cow is removed from the milking line and put on grass she is placed there for at least 90 days. “Then we’ll take her to the butcher for harvest.”
This means the cow is fed grain while being used as a milk cow but if she proves to not produce adequate milk she is moved to grass with no grain 90 days before harvest date and is considered grass fed, according to Tapp.
Dudley says “grass finished” is a different process altogether. In this situation he leaves the calf with its mother for ten months then weans the calf and puts it with the dairy herd on grass for the next 18 months. “We take them to butcher at 28 months and they are fat, similar to what you would see in a feed lot.”
The major difference for these “grass finished” beef he says is, “They’ve never had a bite of grain in their life.”
According to the USDA this is illegal labeling.
The USDA ruled in 2007, “Grass and/or forage shall be the feed source consumed for the lifetime of the ruminant animal, with the exception of milk consumed prior to weaning. The diet shall be derived solely from forage and animals cannot be fed grain or grain by-products and must have continuous access to pasture during the growing season.”
This means the term grass fed means just that, the ruminant animal has only been fed grass or forage. That is the law.
The USDA further explains, “Animals cannot be fed grain or grain byproducts and must have continuous access to pasture during the growing season.”
Beef Magazine reported in March of 2014, “Researchers in Texas A&M University’s Department of Animal Science have published the only two research studies that actually compared the effects of ground beef from grass-fed cattle and traditional, grain-fed cattle on risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type II diabetes in men.” They found no difference, yet ask any parent with a sensitive child who eats grain fed beef and the story is different.
This is why it is so vital that when a farmer states his meat is grass fed, it must indeed be grass fed, not grass fed for a portion of the animals life.
It is no secret that beef raised in America does not always follow these USDA guidelines.
The Chipotle restaurant chain has been recently making the switch to grass fed beef. Founder, chairman, and co-CEO Steve Ells, told the Huffington Post, “The restaurant chain doesn’t want beef that’s been shot up full of hormones and antibiotics; instead it’s looking for true grass-fed beef that are free from those foreign substances, and Australia is a leader in that field.”
Ells reported, “The cattle spend their entire lives grazing on pastures or rangelands, eating only grass or forages.” Since the demand is growing the supply should hopefully catch up with the need.
When purchasing grass fed beef from a store, if it displays the term AGA Certified this means they have been inspected by the American Grassfed Association proving, “Animals are fed only grass and forage from weaning until harvest.” Unlike the certified Organic status the fees for AGA Certified status are minimal at $250 a year for membership dues then $1 a head. Following this status is more of a promise than a regularly inspected stipulation as there are no rules for farmers to maintain this feeding regimen. If a complaint is made they are reinspected, as is stated here.
The best way to know what your meat was fed is to know and trust your local farmer. Ask him questions about his herd and their daily care.
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*Nourishing Plot is written by Becky Plotner, ND, traditional naturopath, GAPS who sees clients in Rossville, Georgia. Since her son was delivered from the effects of autism (Asperger’s syndrome), ADHD, bipolar disorder/manic depression, hypoglycemia and dyslexia through food she continued her education specializing in Leaky Gut and parasitology through Duke University, finishing with distinction. This is not a news article published by a paper trying to make money. This blog is put out by a mom who sees first hand the effects of nourishing food vs food-ish items. No company pays her for writing these blogs, she considers this a form of missionary work. It is her desire to scream it from the rooftops so that others don’t suffer from the damaging effect of today’s “food”.
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