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4 Things to consider before buying pasture-raised meat.

written by

Nathan Masser

posted on

February 22, 2024

So you’ve decided you’re ready to try pasture-raised meats. A quick Google search leaves you with more questions than answers about where to start. Here are 4 quick things to consider before purchasing pasture-raised meats.

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Practices-

You first must figure out what farming practices and principles you care about. (Organic, grass-fed, humanely raised, pasture-based, environmental impact, etc) The amount of information now readily available on the internet is truly immense. Make sure to thoroughly search each farming aspect you care about and rank them in order of importance to you. This is a vital first step that will help you begin making your decision.

Transparency - 

It is more important than ever to make sure you have healthy and safe food on your table. It is easy to get caught up in the convenience of running to the supermarket and grabbing the cheapest option from the meat case. You can look at the packaging and see buzz words like humanly raised, grass-fed, and pasture-based. Words like these have turned from meaningful labels guiding consumers on what to purchase to marketing tactics used by big companies that persuade you to buy their products. 

Federal and state agencies watered down these guidelines to ensure large companies can use these labels to promote their product. If you take the time to read up on the requirements for some of these labels you will realize that they are bogus. (Remember that these are also the bare minimum requirements farmers must follow to use the label!)

How can you find transparency in today’s food market? 

By knowing your farmer! 

We live in an age where everything we do can be pictured, recorded, or documented in a matter of seconds. As customers, you deserve to see how your food is being raised. You should always feel free to ask questions and learn more. Find a farmer who is willing to share his/her practices with you either on social media, a website, a newsletter, or better yet willing to take you on a farm tour!

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Local-

As the Row 7 Seed Company co-founder Dan Barber said, “Buying local isn't always the easiest or cheapest option, but it's an investment in the health of our communities and the vitality of our food system. And that's a price worth paying." 

Buying locally has changed a lot in the past 100 years. When my great-great-grandfather began to deliver his local produce to the neighboring coal towns, he loaded his horse and wagon by hand, made the 10-mile trip over the mountains that took 4 hours, went door to door selling his produce, and then made the 4-hour trip back home. 

Now with the same or less amount of effort, we can ship farm fresh products through UPS over 200 miles directly to your door. You can take virtual farm tours, watch us on social media, and have direct conversations with your farmer in real-time from anywhere in the world.

To us, buying local means supporting your community. Communities are no longer limited to a geographical location but by individuals with a common goal in mind. By supporting smaller farms, you’re not only helping the farmer’s family, but you also help the family butcher shop, a hatchery trying to pass down its business to the next generation, the local feed supplier, and the struggling small-scale packaging supplier who is trying to get his business started. 

I’m sure you see where I’m going with this, buying locally no longer has to mean buying from someone close to you on the map. It means to support a business whose goals and aspirations for the growth of your community are closest to yours.

Value to your family -

Now that you’ve decided you're ready to try pasture-raised meats, you load your cart up with some of your favorite cuts of beef, chicken, and pork, then you see the price tag. Due to the smaller scale, time, and effort, small-scale family farms often have to charge more than the supermarket to overcome the cost of production.

We get it, it can be a struggle to justify the price compared to the supermarket. Remember you’ve done the research, you're positive it is a superior product, and you want what is best for you and your family. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help ease your mind,

Are you comfortable with the food your family is eating?

What value do you put on your family’s health?

How does the food you eat correspond to your health?

What am I willing to do to make my family healthier? Happier?



I hope this helped you to make new, informed decisions on what you feed your family. Feel free to contact us with questions or concerns about how your food is being raised. 

Nathan Masser

info@redhillharvest.com


More from the blog

3 reasons why you should (NOT!) go vegan.

A recent study by Vegetarian Times shows that 7.3 million people follow vegetarian diets in the U.S.A. alone, and the number is rising daily!  It’s almost understandable why this trend is rising in a world full of fake news and food mislabeling. Recently, I did some research concerning these common misconceptions. Without further adieu, here are the top three reasons people go vegan (and the truth about these polarizing issues). #1 Environmental Impact Over 90% of all meat produced in America is raised in CAFOs. (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) What is a CAFO, you ask? CAFO stands for Confined Animal Feed Operation and includes all farms that raise more than a set number of animals. For example, a CAFO of cattle is 1,000 animals, whereas a CAFO of chickens starts at 30,000. To learn more about CAFOs, click here. Large amounts of carbon emissions are released into the atmosphere in a CAFO. Feed needs to be grown, processed, and trucked in. Then, after feeding, the manure must be trucked out and spread onto farmland. This large amount of trucking and processing makes many of these CAFOs detrimental to our environment.  Arguably, the most significant environmental concern in our region (Mid-Atlantic) is the over-application of manure. If you drive through PA, NJ, MD, NY, or VA, you will see countless large poultry CAFOs. These farms generated millions of tons of manure, which was more than they could ever use to add fertility to the soils of their farms. This led to manure being over-applied, causing runoff and the pollution of streams and rivers. To help solve this problem in our community, the government (taxpayers) have financed a facility to dehydrate poultry manure to divert it away from the area. What should you do? Becoming vegan simply does not mean eliminating environmental issues. Each system of raising food has its own set of problems. Fruit and vegetable farming, processing, and trucking can be as bad as animal production. For example, most of the produce we eat on the East Coast must be shipped from California or other countries before it reaches our plate.  Click here to watch John Dutton from the show Yellowstone simple explanation on the issues of veganism.  Knowing where your food comes from is essential to combat these environmental issues. You can make a difference by sourcing your food from farmers who use green practices such as cover cropping and rotational grazing.  Cover crops pull carbon from the atmosphere into our soils, helping to counteract animal carbon emissions.  Rotational grazing leads to a healthy level of manure distribution throughout every acre without additional hauling. Invest in a farm whose practices work with nature rather than against it and whose goal is to regenerate the environment rather than sustain it.  #2 Animal Welfare In large confinement operations, animals are contained by the thousands. Although farmers must follow USDA’s requirements for sq. ft./ animal, disease can spread quickly when many animals are confined to a small area. Recently, the avian flu has been all over the news. This disease travels through wildlife and transmits to poultry through their saliva. It is a significant threat to poultry production in America.  Poultry is often raised in a confined house in a controlled environment. This environment is created to help keep the birds from getting ill from rain or cold weather. While it does a very good job of keeping them safe from the elements, it also weakens their immune systems because they are never exposed to harsh climates. When events such as the avian flu happen, problems arise because the flocks are not suited to protect themselves from this illness. We witnessed how this disease affected our local farms. A recent outbreak led to over 40,000 birds being killed due to their weak immune systems, which is a big problem for American farmers. The final and most concerning animal welfare issue in the vegan community is the treatment of animals.  Farmers often hire laborers to help with the day-to-day chores of farm life. These workers see so many animals daily that they can lose respect for the animals they care for. While every farm is not this way, we can not turn a blind eye to the fact that this mistreatment of animals does happen, and it is an issue that needs to be fixed. What should you do? This one is very straightforward. VISIT YOUR FARMER!!  Find a farmer who is willing to show you around their farm. 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This fat contains cholesterol that is very high in saturated fat, causing many people with high cholesterol and heart issues to go vegan. What should you do? There’s no denying that a diverse diet is key to health. However, meat provides essential, natural nutrients not found in fruits, veggies, and nuts.  So, where do you turn for healthier meat? Stop going to the supermarket and head straight to your farmer. Buy grass-fed or pasture-raised meats, which are leaner and have less saturated fat than their grain-fed counterparts.  Grass-fed beef is becoming increasingly popular because of its higher concentration of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid). This acid helps to aid in weight loss and lower cholesterol. You can learn more about the fantastic benefits of CLA by clicking here. Why grass-fed or pasture-raised?  The microbes in a ruminant animal's (AKA Cow’s) gut make CLA. There is a higher microbe count in grass-fed beef because the plants they eat are alive and full of bugs! Recent studies have shown a 300%—500% increase in CLAs in grass-fed beef, making it a much better alternative to manufactured supplements, often made from seed oils like safflower and corn. Knowing all of the facts is essential before you go vegan. Don’t let yourself be misled by flashy marketing campaigns or cool packaging in the supermarket trying to persuade you to buy their food. Purchase your food from farms that you can visit. Talk to your farmer and ask him/her questions about how your food is raised, and make sure they know WHY they follow the practices they follow.  It is now more important than ever to have food you can trust. Click the link below and contact us to schedule a farm visit today! Talk to a farmer you can trust today! Red Hill Harvest Phone:(570) 900-1566 Email: info@redhillharvest.com

Farm Stewardship at Red Hill Harvest

Last Easter, I shared the fact that we always try our best to nurture our community and environment through decisions based on our faith, ancestorial knowledge, and new information gained from experience and education. I want to share with you, exactly how we do this day in and day out on our farm.

VIDEO: What do grass-fed cattle eat over the winter?

What do Grass-fed Cattle eat over the winter? We often get asked this question once the weather turns cold and the grass stops growing. In the video below, I talk about how we make sure our cows' stomachs are full over the winter. I hope you enjoyed watching the video. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to info@redhillharvest.com or simply call us at (570) 900-1566. 

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