What Free Range Meat Really Means
When it comes to the food industry today we hear a lot of buzzwords like “organic,” “free range,” and “cruelty free.” It’s not always apparent what all these terms actually mean, though. Some cynical consumers might see these terms and dismiss them as marketing tricks to get people to buy more expensive food. But a closer look into the matter reveals there are legitimate reasons for the rise of this type of food. And while some of these products might cost a bit more than standard ones, there’s good reason for it.
In recent years more consumers have asked for their meat products to come from animals who live under better conditions. There is a moral aspect to this as well as a potential nutritional one. While there hasn’t been conclusive evidence yet, some believe that animals who live more natural, less stressful lives provide better tasting, more nutritious meat. Studies are being done to examine these claims on what is now called “sustainable meat.”
What is Free Range Meat?
At first glance the term “free range meat” sounds almost silly. Does it mean your steak has traversed the globe at one point? Free range meat refers to meat products derived from animals that lived under specific conditions laid out by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In short, the animals in question must have access to pasture during their lives, meaning the majority of their time is spent roaming freely outdoors as is their natural state.
But there is more to free range or free roaming products than this broad requirement. The FDA breaks down the requirements for free range meat by animal. So, both cattle and sheep can never be confined to a feedlot, and swine need to have continuous access to pasture for 80% or more of their lives.
What Does Grass Fed Mean?
Another term gaining popularity with many meat consumers is “grass fed.” Grass fed meat, as it sounds, basically refers to meat from animals whose primary diet was grass during their lives. While grass isn’t 100% of the animal’s diet, the FDA’s standard for the grass fed label is that 80% of the animal’s energy source consisted of forage or grass.
As with free range meat, some consumers buy grass fed beef because they argue that it’s more ethical for cattle to be grass fed, as this is more in line with their natural diet. Additionally, there is actual evidence that grass fed meat contains more antioxidants, vitamins, and omega-3 fat than non-grass fed meat. This is because the latter type of meat comes from animals who are often overly fed and fattened up for the sake of producing the most meat for the lowest cost.
Where Does One Buy Sustainable Meat?
Fortunately more grocery stores, restaurants, and delis are beginning to carry free range pork, beef, and chicken to appeal to a wider range of consumers. However, this trend is still relatively new, and some people might not live near a store that sells sustainable meat. These people can still purchase free range meat for sale online. The internet has provided us with loads of information, but it can now even bring food to our doorstep. Buying free range meat for sale online is convenient and often fast. Local meat farmers can sell their meat online directly to their customers, and consumers now have a wider option of the kinds of meat they can buy.
Now you have a better idea of what some of these new food terms mean and why they matter. And remember, if you can’t find it in the store, you can buy free range meat for sale online and try it yourself!