We advertise our beef herd as “Animal Welfare Approved” and “Certified Grassfed by AWG“, but what do these labels mean?  I don’t know about you, but when it comes to checking out claims, I turn to Consumer Reports.  In August 2015, Consumer Reports published a “Beef Report“:

Cover of August 2015 Beef Report. Current Consumer Report information is available at: http://greenerchoices.org/

Cover of August 2015 Beef Report. Updates available at: http://greenerchoices.org/

Let’s take a look at some of the report findings:

Consumer Reports – Sustainable Beef-Production Practices:

  • Cows are ruminants—their natural behavior consists of grazing. Allowing beef cattle to graze on well-managed pastures from birth to slaughter (often referred to as 100 percent grass-fed) is at the core of sustainable beef production. What’s good for animal welfare is also good for the environment and for consumers.
  • … pastures can only feed herds of a certain size, and in a properly managed pasture, the stressful and crowded disease-promoting conditions of the feedlot are eliminated. Healthier, less stressed animals need fewer antibiotics and other drugs to stay healthy.
  • Soils of grazing land can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Managing cattle carefully to ensure that pastures are grazed moderately means restoring soil quality and cutting greenhouse gases by keeping carbon in the soil as organic matter rather than releasing it into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
  • More water is conserved in grass-based systems compared with conventional ones.
  • Grass-fed beef isn’t just better for animals, public health, and the planet; it may be healthier for individual consumers as well.

If you have followed our past blog posts, the above findings are familiar information.  It is nice to have the credibility of Consumer Reports back up what we know as common sense observations in the natural world.

OK, but what about labels?

The 2015 Beef Report had plenty to say about labels.  From “Highly Meaningful” labels to labels that have no meaning at all.  Please refer to the full report for all the label categories.  A quick look at the first two labels under the “Highly Meaningful Labels” as “Verified” we find:

  1. Animal Welfare Approved
  2. Certified Grassfed by AWG

In a January 26, 2017 update at http://greenerchoices.org/, Certified Grassfed by AWG, is one of the four “labels to look for” when “choosing grass fed”.

Curious to read more?

Our farm is third party reviewed for Animal Welfare Approved and Certified Grassfed by AWG.  For more information on these specific labels we direct you to these resources:

  • A Greener World (AWG) — “North America’s most trusted and transparent farm certifier.”
  • Animal Welfare Approved (Program of AWG), remains the only label in the marketplace to ensure the following:
    • Meaningful, verified, outdoor pasture and range based systems–not just a door at the end of a building or an outdoor concrete run
      • No cages, crates or feedlots–ever
      • Verified environmentally sustainable farming and ranching
      • Responsible stewardship of public resources like air, water, soil and antibiotics
      • Independent farms/farmers meeting the highest animal welfare standards in the U.S. and Canada
      • Prohibit the use of hormones (like rBST), animal byproducts or routine antibiotics
      • Industry-leading high welfare handling and management from birth through slaughter
      • Independent standards for the inspection of slaughter plants
        • (January 2017 AWA Press Release)
  • Certified Grassfed by AWG
    • Guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100 percent grass and forage diet, raised outdoors on pasture or range, and managed according to the highest welfare and environmental standards on an independent family farm.

This is all good and well, but remember:

We invite you to come see the farm and our animals for yourself.  Join other past visitors of our farm.  We urge you to know your farmer and your food.  We prefer to be certified by YOU, our customer.

We hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and you are ready to take on a new year!  As the new year begins, many of us will take a moment to reflect on our health.  Some of us may even be considering going on a DIET.  As Dr. Joseph Mercola, noted alternative health doctor says, 

     “We are all on a diet.  

Be on a healthy one.”

So what is a “healthy diet”?  The tag line of our website reads “Where soil, grass, animals and sunlight equals health”.  Sound like a weird equation?  Below I summarize and then list some quotes from the 2010 presentation “Healthy Soil, Healthy Farms, Healthy Food, Healthy People” by retired University of Missouri Agriculture Economics Professor John Ikerd.

Doug’s summary of “Healthy Soil, Healthy Farms, Healthy Food, Healthy People”:

Our current food system is broken as reflected by the current health of our family, friends and society as a whole.  The growing health problems such as cancer, obesity and food allergies are all symptoms of our current food system.  Nutrient levels in common garden crops has dropped significantly over the past 50 years.  Today’s industrial agriculture profits are driven by quantity rather than by quality.  Any kind of CHANGE for an individual is almost impossible unless we are convinced by circumstances that the change would be in our best interest.  To change there must be an alternative to what we are currently doing and a belief that the transition will be worth the effort to make the change.  The good news, there is hope; sick people are finding farmers with a passion for quality over quantity.  Surprisingly these “new American Farmers” in many cases grow better food at a lower cost because of their love for what they are doing.  These farmers focus their efforts on rebuilding health from the soil, to the plants, to the animals, to the entire farm, to the food they produce which is reflected in the health of their customers.  These “new” farmers fall under a number of labels, but a broad definition they seem to fall under is “sustainable farmers”.  Basically these new farmers are “creating farming systems that can meet the needs of the present without diminishing opportunities for the future.”

Some noted quotes:

  • “quick, convenient, cheap food has made Americans the most overfed and undernourished people in the world”
  • “today’s children are the first generation whose members are expected to live shorter lives than their parents”
  • “Health care in America already consumes more than 17-percent of our GDP, nearly three times as much as the 7-percent claimed by agriculture/food”
  • “their medical problem may well be a consequence of their eating food with chemical additives or agrochemical residues, or eating manufactured ‘food-like substances'”
  • “Animals and men are biochemical photographs of the soil”
  • “A truly healthy soil will produce healthy plants, healthy animals, and healthy people.”
  • “work in harmony with nature to produce healthy animals and healthy crops by maintaining healthy soils.”
  • “The links among healthy soils, healthy foods, and healthy people certainly makes sense; in this, there is hope.”

 Conclusion:

When a local doctor told me that a daily pill was basically the only option to treat my digestive health issues, I decided to research opportunities for change.  I went in pursuit of alternatives to our current health system of taking a pill.  At the time I wasn’t even considering a change to my diet but in the end, a change in diet was what I needed.  My health improved, no pills required!  As you reflect on your health and the health of your family at the beginning of the new year, we invite you to search out these “new American Farmers” where you live.  The love they have for what they are doing will be evident in the food they are producing.  As explained in the article, your health is a reflection of the food you are consuming.
Happy New Year from D S Family Farm!