According to the USDA, labeling animals as pasture-raised means that each animal had "continuous and unconfined access to pasture throughout that animals life cycle".
So what's the real difference?
Organic: Refers to an agricultural product produced in accordance to government regulations which stipulate the terms and conditions to be met to qualify as organic. Allows for synthetic substances to be used on the product, as long as approved by the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. (The USDA Organic Labeling Rules and Regulations / The National List. https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/national-list).
Free Range or Free Roaming: “Free Range” is regulated by the USDA for use on poultry only, (not eggs) and the USDA requires that birds have been given access to the outdoors but for an undetermined period each day. USDA considers five minutes of open-air access each day to be adequate for it to approve use of the “Free Range” claim on a poultry product. “Free range” claims on eggs are not regulated at all. (Certified Humane. “Free Range” and “Pasture Raised” officially defined by HFAC for Certified Humane® label, (n.d.). Retrieved from http://certifiedhumane.org/).
Pasture-Raised: Pastured livestock and poultry, moved frequently to new “salad bars,” offer landscape healing and nutritional superiority (Salatin, Joel. Polyface Guiding Principles, (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.polyfacefarms.com/principles/).
We believe that as agriculturalist's we have a duty to provide people with safe food, and that the animals that were processed to make it were humanely handled. Just because we choose to provide the community with food that was Pasture-Raised does not mean we are against other forms of animal agriculture. We have a duty to feed people, and unfortunately producing all food for all people using a Pasture-Raised system is not feasible. The reasons we choose to use Pasture-Raised livestock come down to the nutritional superiority for not only the animal but also the consumer and the natural and healing benefits it provides to the environment around us.
We want the consumer to be able to make educated decisions about their food, decisions that are based on facts.
Like these pictures? Hannah Shelton Photography
A few things we do know for sure.
- A study conducted by researchers at Penn State University's College of Agricultural Sciences found that hens raised on pasture produced eggs that were more nutritious than produced from commercial hens without access to pasture. They found those eggs had 2.5 times MORE Omega-3 Fatty Acids (heart-healthy y'all), 2 times MORE Vitamin E (antioxidant, keeps those pesky free-radicals away from your cells), as well as long-chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids like DHA (your body can't make this so you need it from your diet-it's goodness for your brain). They also showed a 38% higher concentration of Vitamin A (your eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys, and basically all organs love this). The difference in yolk color corresponds with a higher percentage of Beta-Carotene (That's why it's almost orange in color) and the birds enjoy their daily dose of Vitamin D from the sunshine!
- Meat, milk, and eggs all naturally contain the essential Vitamin B12. If we become deficient in B12 we are at risk for a multitude of health issues including anemia and neurological disorders. Our bodies absolutely require B12, so even if you don't eat meat, milk, or eggs you will need to supplement for it. The Center Cut wants to bring you the highest quality of these products, the pillars of a healthy diet. As stated by Thomas M. Campbell, MD, "I believe it to be clear that humans did not evolve as strict vegans. From what we currently know, I believe our requirement for B12 supports this point of view".
- Animals raised on pasture have been scientifically proven to contain more essential vitamins, healthier fats, and more Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Lambs specifically have been found to have 14% less fat and 8% more protein in comparison to lambs that were not raised on pasture. A study done by Clemson University researchers found that beef cattle finished on pasture also had higher levels of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium, and Beta-Carotene.
- Temple Grandin (totally fan girl-ING right now because she is amazing and we adore her) has extensive research showing how reducing stress in livestock improves not only animal welfare but also productivity and meat quality. Animals that are stressed before slaughter become agitated more easily, potentially harming themselves or others; and their meat is typically tougher with more dark cutters (meat that cannot be used in retail cuts). Raising animals on pasture doesn't necessarily make them happier than animals that are not, but the way animals are handled does have a huge influence on their happiness. Just treating them right from start to finish makes all the difference, and we believe in the humane treatment of all livestock. This is our number one priority because it's the right thing to do.
Like these pictures? Kenzee Myers Photography