The Best Grass Fed Beef Is Local: Here's Why

written by

Nolan Masser

posted on

June 21, 2022

Not all grass fed beef is created equal. 

The grass fed beef that you find in the grocery store and the grass fed beef that you get from our farm share some similarities, but taste completely different due to how the animals were raised and the distance the meat traveled to get to you. 

In fact, much of the grass fed beef sold in the United States, even that labeled “Product of U.S.A” is not raised or slaughtered here.

How is this possible? And what meat should you eat instead? Let’s break the issue down. 

Grass Fed Beef isn’t Standardized 

To begin with, there are no legally defined standards for grass fed beef. This means that there aren’t any government regulations specifying how a cow must be raised for the beef to be labeled as grass fed. 

All the USDA requires is an affidavit outlining how the meat farm operates their grass feeding program. They often don’t follow up to confirm these plans which leads to a wide range of quality control. 

Our beef, which comes from pasture raised animals that spend their entire lives eating grass grown on our farm, is labeled grass fed. At the same time, beef that comes from animals raised on feedlots who eat grass pellets out of troughs can also be labeled grass fed. As you can imagine, the resulting beef is very different! 

Most Grass Fed Beef is Imported Beef 

There’s a big problem in the beef industry right now. It has to do with imported beef. As it currently stands, any meat that’s processed in the United States can be labeled as a “Product of U.S.A.”. As long as the piece of beef is sliced into steaks in a USDA inspected processing plant, it doesn’t matter where the animal was raised or even slaughtered.

This is a particularly large issue within the grass fed beef industry. In 2018, only 15% of grass fed beef sold in the United States was raised by American producers¹. The rest was imported beef. Yikes! 

Imported grass fed beef comes primarily from countries like Australia, Uruguay, and Brazil where there are meat farms set up to raise grass fed beef as cheaply as possible. The end goal isn’t the best tasting product, it’s the biggest profits for large corporations. 

Country of Origin Labeling is Important 

Right now there are bills in Congress looking to change how beef labeling works. Instead of country of origin being determined by where the meat is processed, it will be based on where the animal was raised.

If the country of origin labeling bills pass, imported beef will no longer be able to be labeled as “Product of U.S.A” even if it was cut into steaks here. This will be a big win for domestic grass fed beef farmers like us, but it’s not guaranteed. 

Buying Local Grass Fed Beef is the Best Option

The only way to ensure that your grass fed beef is delicious and verify that it was pasture raised in the United States is to buy it from a local farmer that you know. 

The benefits of local grass fed beef are countless, but a few major ones include

  1. Better taste - Our cows eat a wide range of grasses and get lots of exercise moving around the pasture. The end result is well marbled, rich, beefy steaks and grinds. We have a neighbor who thought he didn’t like grass fed beef because he had only eaten the stuff from the store. One taste of ours however, and he’s a convert! 
  2. Less of a carbon footprint - Our cows are raised using regenerative practices which means that they are actively helping to sequester carbon, instead of being brought thousands of miles across the ocean and contributing to pollution. 
  3. Transparency - There are no secrets about how we farm. We love answering questions and showing people our process. We can guarantee that the meat you’re eating was raised the right way.

We firmly believe in eating grass fed beef for its health and environmental benefits, however we also know that not all beef has those benefits in equal amounts. If you’re ready to try grass fed beef that does what it's supposed to, click here to shop now! 


1. “Foreign beef can legally be labeled “Product of U.S.A.” It’s killing America’s grass-fed industry.”  

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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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:

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.

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