People nowadays are getting more interested in what they eat and what is in their foods. One of these hot topics is eating meat responsibly.
Those that practice or are interested in flexitarianism can benefit from knowing as much as they can about the meat they eat. Flexitarianism is a great way to eat mostly vegetarian while adding meat to your diet from time to time.
What Is Sustainably Raised Meat?
Image via Flickr by USDAgov
Sustainably raised meats are based out of small organic farms. The animals are allowed to graze outside where the grass is pesticide-free. The meat is made in smaller amounts since the farms are small, which ends up with an outcome of higher quality meat.
Pasture raised, also called grass-fed animals, are allowed to graze outdoors during the day and go inside and night. These animals also have a varied diet since they are not kept indoors with limited foods to eat, such as grains and corn. The main fertilizer used on these small farms is manure, which helps maintain a healthy soil since nutrients are being recycled into the ground. Pasture-raised meats tend to be leaner than grain-fed meats, and have a slower “grow-time”, making for a tastier meal.
Organic should be chosen over natural. There are laws in place that define what organic meat is, and farmers are required to be certified in by an approved organization so that they can use organic as a label on their meat. There are certain laws under the USDA which protect the animals before they are slaughtered. The new guidelines under the USDA may lead to higher meat prices, but this will keep the quality of the meat high as well. The farmers stay away from chemical fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones.
Free range is where animals can go outdoors if they want to. “Outdoors” is a broad term that can mean a variety of things, however. The animals may just be able to get close to windows that are open or go outside to a confined area that only fits a few animals at a time. True “free range” farms will be very forthcoming with how the animals live. These farms are a great way to find out how much outside time the animals have access to. Free range animals may still be raised on a grain diet, so the meat itself may not be any healthier.
Natural is a misleading label on meats. There are no rules from the FDA and USDA for meats with natural labels. It does not mean anything if a food is labeled natural. This is just a marketing ploy to get you to buy the product.
It’s best to educate yourself on these terms, so that you know what they mean, and you are aware of what you are eating. You don’t have to give up meat completely if you look for sources of sustainably raised foods to ensure the meat you are eating was raised correctly. For those who want to know more about flexitarianism, check out Lifesum’s guide to get started.
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