Labels Unveiled: Grass-Fed and Pasture-Raised

argylesock says… Here in Britain we see labels about outdoor-reared livestock, too. Some of those mean stuff, notably the RSPCA’s Freedom Food label which is about animal welfare. The Red Tractor and Quality Meat Standard labels mean stuff too, but not necessarily about livestock welfare. And I’ve heard discussion about whether ‘free range’ and ‘outdoor reared’ livestock are, in fact, better off than their indoor equivalents. As for any label including the word ‘happy’ – happy hens, happy pigs, happy cows – I’m not aware of any rules about what that has to mean. You can just label your product ‘Happy’ and hope people buy it.

Food (Policy) For Thought

Continuing with our mini-series, after our first installment, let’s turn to a buzzword that has gotten a lot of attention in the last years: grass-fed and/or pasture-raised animal products.

What is the label’s motto/what does it stand for?

The idea of grass-fed ruminants and pasture-raised other animals is that this production method is much more close to their natural environment and results in better animal welfare, better quality meat products and less environmental stress. Ruminants (cows, goats, sheep, etc.) are designed to eat and digest mainly fibrous grasses, plants and shrubs, and not starchy, low-fibre grains which they would get in an industrial setting. Therefore, pastured animals avoid a number of disorders that regularly occur in industrialized animal operations, such as “subacute acidosis”, which have to be combatted with the use of antibiotics. In addition, the meat of grass-fed beef, bison, lamb and goat is healthier for humans, too…

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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2 Responses to Labels Unveiled: Grass-Fed and Pasture-Raised

  1. EqFe says:

    There are all sorts of labels floating around. At this point I wouldn’t take comfort in any of them, especially in the US.

    • argylesock says:

      It’s sad that you feel that way. I do find myself comparing my country with yours, and preferring mine on several issues – not just food labelling but animal welfare, GM, and other issues which aren’t in the scope of this blog. But this blog isn’t a place for xenophobia so I won’t go that way.

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