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Q: What does grass-fed mean?

A: There is no standardized definition of grass fed meat but it usually means that the beef is from cattle which were fed on grass throughout their lives. A more specific definition of grass fed beef is grass finished beef. Finishing takes place for 90 to 160 days before the cattle are slaughtered and processed. Some farmers switch their herds from grass to grain - usually corn - during this period, confining them in mass pens called feed lots to fatten them up. But beef that are grass finished eat only grass up to the time they are slaughtered and processed.

Grass finishing makes a significant difference in the nutritional value of the beef because when animals are fed grain there is a significant loss of nutrients like CLA and Omega 3. Some producers state that their beef is grass fed, but then note in fine print that it is grain finished.

There’s another thing to be aware of regarding the difference between how beef maybe labeled and how it is actually raised. Some farmers feed their cattle grass but don’t allow them to forage in a pasture. Instead, they confine them in close quarters all of their lives as opposed to handling them humanely. Ideally, cattle should not only be grass fed and finished, but pastured too.

Q: Why are grass-fed animals considered healthier?

A: Grazing on pasture is considered healthier both for animals and the people who eat them. Eating roughage provided by grasses and other plants foraged in the pasture, stimulates the production of saliva. The saliva helps to neutralize the acid in an animal’s digestive system. When cattle are fed on grain instead of grass, they produce less saliva, resulting in too much acid in their digestive tracts. As a result, grain-fed cattle often suffer from various ailments including intestinal damage, dehydration, liver abscesses and even death.

In addition, recent studies indicate that nutrients in grass-fed beef are higher than those in cattle raised on grain. According to this research, allowing cattle to graze naturally produces meat with ten times the beta-carotene and triple the amounts of Vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. And grass fed beef exhibits lower levels of unhealthy fats and dietary cholesterol, making it a good choice to promote cardiovascular health. It also eliminates the hormones and antibiotics used in most feed grains.

Q: What’s the difference between free range and pastured poultry?

A: Pastured poultry is raised and allowed to graze within a fenced in area in contrast to free range poultry that are given unlimited access to anywhere within the farm. However, if the ‘pasture area’ has too many chickens or contains little that’s good to eat, the animals may still not be well cared for. Good farmers like ours use “rotational grazing”, allowing the livestock to move from one pasture to another. This assures that the chickens have enough to forage on while enabling the rotated pasture to recover and grow. Rotation and making sure that there are never too many animals in one space helps keeps diseases under control, benefiting animals and pasture.

Q: What are bison?

A: Bison is the name preferred by the National Bison Association to American buffalo. Unlike the Asian Water buffalo and African Cape buffalo, American buffalo are actually members of the bovine family along with domestic cattle. A bison bull is the largest indigenous animal in North America and can grow to more than a ton and as tall as 6 feet at the hump. Although they are strong and can be aggressive, they can also jump like deer, outmaneuver horses in a run, and mow down fences like a tank!

Q: How does bison meat differ from beef?

A: Raw Bison meat is deeper red in color than beef because it isn’t marbled with fat. (The white

flecks of within the meat muscle in beef). Most people think bison tastes sweeter than beef yet because it has less fat, it has about a third less calories than beef.

Q: What is organic farming?

A: Organic farming is the oldest way to raise crops and livestock. But while today’s organic farmers try to work in harmony with nature rather than against it, they still take advantage of modern research and methods to grow more nutritious and delicious produce, poultry and meat.

The first tenant of organic farming is to do no harm toward the natural environment and the animals and people who live on it. This begins by building good soil structure and fertility by:

  • recycling and composting crop wastes and animal manures
  • cultivating the right soil at the right time through crop rotation
  • planting and turning over green manures and legumes
  • mulching on the soil surface
  • water conservation that makes good use of the water supply.

Unlike non-organic farming operations where chemicals are used to control pests. Organic farms

control and eliminate insects by:

  • careful planning and crop choice
  • using pest- resistant crops
  • crop rotation
  • encouraging the presence of useful predators like ladybugs and wasps
  • increasing genetic diversity
  • using natural pesticides

Q: Why is organically raised food more expensive than conventional food?

A: It’s partly a question of supply and demand: More people prefer organic food than can be accommodated by the supply and that pushes the price up. Typically, organically farmed food also demands more labor per unit to produce than conventionally farmed produce, poultry, and meat. In addition, after crops are harvested and meat is processed, the mandatory segregation of organic and conventional food adds to the labor and cost. In short, organically grown food is more expensive to produce, process, and therefore, buy.

Q: What is Zabiha- Halal mean?

A: This is the process by which animals are slaughtered for consumption according to the laws of Islam. The slaughter must be performed by a Muslim and a prayer said before killing the animal as a reminder that we don’t have the right to take a life except with God’s permission so we can feed ourselves.

The animal is killed with a sharp knife that severs the veins and arteries in the animal’s throat without injuring the animal’s nervous system or spinal cord. Massive bleeding occurs in a few seconds, the animal is rendered unconscious almost immediately. Since the spinal cord is left intact, and oxygen is cut off to the brain, the body convulses producing the maximum drainage of blood to carry away waste and bacteria. This improves the taste and shelf-life of the meat.

Q: Is Zabiha- Halal the same as Kosher?

A: No. If a product is certified as Kosher it does not mean that it is also Halal. Although there are some similarities between Kosher prepared meat and poultry and that certified as Halal, they are not the same in all aspects. For example the slaughter process differs between Halal and Kosher meat In the case of Halal meat and poultry processing, it must be done by a Muslim slaughterman who says a prayer thanking God for providing sustenance before each and every slaughter by reciting, “In the name of God – God is the Greatest - Bismillahi Allahu Akbar.”

Kosher processing by a Shochet, or Jewish slaughterman does not require the invocation of God's name on each animal before they are killed.

Another difference is how the carcass is used. In Halal the entire animal can be eaten as food but only the front fore quarter of the beef carcass is considered Kosher. Some meat companies and distributors attempt to sell hind quarters of Kosher carcasses as Halal beef. But this meat cannot be considered Halal since the Jewish Shochet does not adhere to Islamic Law and Halal guidelines by saying the proper prayer before each slaughter. This is an essential ritual and if it doesn’t take place the meat is not Halal.