Why is choosing the “right” food so complicated?
We’ve all been there. You’re at the supermarket picking up what you need for dinner and as you head down the aisle you’re amazed at the choices and you’re paralyzed by not being able to decipher the barrage of claims on labels. Besides that, you can’t remember which scientific study is credible and which has been debunked!
It’s a big problem these days: there’s just too much information out there. Too many catch phrases, too many detailed labels, too many conflicting points of view from too many experts - at some point it’s just information overload.
This is absolutely the case with beef!
OK - quick quiz TRUE OR FALSE - Let's see how versed you are with stuff that's on beef labels in the supermarket.
1. Most beef in the United States is "grass fed" - TRUE OR FALSE?
The answer is TRUE - and this is one of those confusing claims! Most beef cattle consume grass at some point in their lives, but over 95% end up in feed lots eating corn and other grains which are not natural for the cattle’s digestive system. Consumers should look for “grass fed and grass finished” - meaning the cattle were always on grass.
2. Most grass fed beef at the supermarket comes from small local farmers - TRUE OR FALSE?
This is FALSE - check the label and you’ll see “Product of Australia” most of the time - especially on the ground beef! There are local grass finished beef farmers right here in New England, but somehow it makes sense to import it all the way from Australia.
3. Grass fed and grass finished beef is significantly healthier for you - TRUE OR FALSE?
This one is TRUE!! When compared with other types of beef, grass-fed beef have:
Less total fat
More heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
More conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat that's thought to reduce heart disease and cancer risks
More antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E
So what is a consumer to do - short of getting a PhD in nutrition?
Why not choose your farmer instead?
Research and choose "your" farmer. Take a look at their operation and how they raise their cattle. Then, instead of wasting hours in the grocery store guessing about what’s right for your family, you'll be able to trust what you're feeding your family.
That is, frankly, the relationship we want to have with our customers at Heartstone Farm. Last year at least ⅓ of our customers visited the farm at some point. They saw our healthy cattle out on the pasture and I told them about the things we do - how we raise them and how we treat them humanely.
At the end of the day, instead of a confusing label, it was me they were trusting. And I take that responsibility seriously.
- Farmer Dan