What does "Grass Fed" really mean?

There's lots of confusion in grocery stores and co-ops and even restaurants regarding the various labels our food contains today.  Organic, Non GMO, Grass Fed, Natural, even Local has a meaning that is open to interpretation.

Consumer's Union has a new guide to consumer labels which addresses some of the confusion, and I highly recommend everyone take a look.  Its important to know what the labels are supposed to mean, and what they actually mean.  For example, USDA Certified Organic is a very rigorous label that is difficult for a farmer to obtain and retain.  "Local" can be used by pretty much anyone, and there's no clear definition.

We've been selling Lighthouse Farm 100% Grass Fed Beef since 2006.  We were using the term "Grass Fed" long before anyone decided to define it.  Some producers and purveyors of Grass Fed beef try to split hairs on what Grass Fed really means.  We use the term 100% Grass Fed, meaning that for the entire life of the animals we raise they only receive grass on pasture (in the summer) and stored grass hay (in winter).   

Our animals never get grain.  They get the best pasture all summer, starting in April, and running as long as possible in the fall, even into December if the snow tarries.

You might see terms like "forage-based" or "forage finished."  Forage can mean any food fed to beef cattle, it usually means pasture that is grazed, much like what we do at Lighthouse Farm.  But forage can also mean chopped corn silage, which certainly includes grain.  For those who want to be serious about avoid grain fed beef, be wary of any production model highlighting "forage" rather than 100% Grass Fed.

What about "Organic?"  The USDA regulates the term "Organic," its definition and its use.  Organic farmers follow a detailed production system which restricts the use of most synthetic chemicals, and requires certain practices which enhance the soil on farms.  In order to become "Certified Organic," and be able to use the USDA Certified Organic Label, farms must be inspected annually, to ensure they've followed the guidelines.  

Despite managing our farm in accordance with organic guidelines and practices, Lighthouse Farm is not Certified Organic, nor do we process our animals at a Certified Organic meat processor.  That means we cannot call our meat "organic."  We've welcomed inspections by our customers, and all have found us to be above reproach.

If you want the best, healthiest beef, make sure you are getting 100% Grass Fed.  Give Lighthouse Farm 100% Grass Fed Beef a try today!