10500 State Route 108 * Ellicott City * Maryland * 21042
Your source of locally raised meat and vegetables in Howard County and beyond.
First, let's look at definitions:
“Grass-fed” has recently become very popular with consumers. The American Grassfed Association (www.americangrassfed.org) defines grass-fed products from ruminants, including cattle, bison, goats, and sheep, as “those food products from animals that have eaten nothing but their mother’s milk and fresh grass or grass-type hay from their birth until harvest.” We have used the term "pasture-raised" which we consider interchangeable with "grass-fed" and which means to us that the animal is fed on grass, and only grass (or hay) for its entire life-time. The term "grass-finished" also implies the same thing. But you do need to read the fine print. If you decide that having "grass-fed" beef is important to you, carefully read what the farmer is saying about their products. Some farms finish their animals with corn before sending them to be processed.
“Natural” can mean many things. The term, as used by farmers at your local farmer’s market, implies that their produce or meat is grown or raised without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, hormones, or sub-therapeutic antibiotics. Many small farmers who have not gone through the certification process required by the Federal government to be "certified organic" but still follow the practices of organic farming described above may use the term "natural" to describe their farming practices. However, many large food producers have begun to use the term “natural” loosely, and its significance, therefore, has become less meaningful in the marketplace.
"Certified Organic" is an official designation for farms that have been certified by the USDA. According the the Organic Farming Research Foundation website, "Certified organic refers to agricultural products that have been grown and processed according to uniform standards, verified by independent state or private organizations accredited by the USDA. All products sold as "organic" must be certified. Certification includes annual submission of an organic system plan and inspection of farm fields and processing facilities. Inspectors verify that organic practices such as long-term soil management, buffering between organic farms and neighboring conventional farms, and recordkeeping are being followed. Certified organic requires the rejection of synthetic agrochemicals, irradiation and genetically engineered foods or ingredients. Since 2002, organic certification in the U.S. has taken place under the authority of the USDA National Organic Program, which accredits organic certifying agencies, and oversees the regulatory process. To find out more about the national organic certification requirements and organic program, please go to the USDA National Organic Program website www.ams.usda.gov/nop.
For more information on GRASS-FED ANIMALS and PRODUCTS, there are excellent resources from a number of organizations and websites that deserve review:
Eatwild The #1 Site for Grass-Fed Food & Facts www.eatwild.com Eatwild.com is your source for safe, healthy and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, dairy and other wild edibles. This website provides:
1. Comprehensive, accurate information about the benefits of raising animals on pasture.
2. A direct link to local farms that sell all-natural, delicious grass-fed products.
3. A marketplace for farmers who raise their livestock on pasture from birth to market
and who actively promote the welfare of their animals and the health of the land.
The easiest way to access all of the other excellent resources is to click on "Links" once you are on the www.eatwild.com site.
A brief review of the excellent value of grass-fed naturally-raised beef includes the following:
synthetic hormones, steroids, antibiotics or animal byproducts.