We all want to eat healthy, but sometimes it can be confusing to understand the differences in labels when looking at food products. For example, what is the difference between grass fed beef, organic beef and organic grass fed beef? Do the labels really mean something different?
Organic beef is meat from animals that were born and raised on pasture that is organic and that the animal’s mother must have eaten organic feed for the last 1/3 of her gestational period. The organic label also takes into account their outdoor access, which is not restricted, and ensures animals are raised in a stress free and humane manner.
What does all that really mean? Well, to start, it means that no herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers or other chemicals have been used for at least the last three years on the pasture that the cattle live and graze on. Organic cattle also do not receive any antibiotics or added hormones to promote growth. All of this information is recorded and audited annually.
Beef with a grass fed label is actually significantly different from organic beef in Vancouver. While grass fed beef cattle are raised on pasture eating only grass, when they are unable to go outside and graze due to inclement weather or other reasons, they are provided with dried grasses known as silage. While this may still seem like a good solution, if the land they graze on and the silage they are fed isn’t organic, which means they may be exposed to chemicals, such as herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers or fungicides, then the grass fed beef will not be organic. Similarly, grass-finished beef is beef that is raised on natural forage as much as possible, but is fed grain when natural forage in not available. If the forage and the grain are organic, then the grass finished beef will be organic.
If you have to choose between grass fed or grass finished beef and factory farmed beef, the grass fed/finished varieties do offer a much better nutritional profile. They are higher in Omega 3s, lower in Omega 6s and has many additional nutrients that are not found in factory farmed beef.
But wait, there is one more category of beef to consider – organic grass fedor grass finished beef! This beef meets the criteria of both organic beef and grass fed or grass finished beef and is the best of both worlds. The animals are raised in a stress free and humane environment that meets all organic standards, while being grass fed or grass finished.
Next time you’re shopping and looking at labels, remember the key differences between grass fed beef, grass finished beef, organic grass fed or grass finished beef and organic beef in Vancouver. You’ll be able to make an informed food choice that works best for your health and your budget.