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Is Your Grass Fed Meat Really Grass Fed?

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Is your grass fed meat really grass fed?

I get so so excited when I see more and more organic, non-gmo, grass fed and other ‘real food' items in all types of grocery stores!  I love that what was once ‘weird' and ‘alternative' is becoming more mainstream, particularly when it comes to meat.  

But I do keep wondering…is that grass fed meat really grass fed?

I was recently talking to my meat farmer, Nick Wallace, about the grass fed industry and boy did I learn a lot!

Read on for a DISCOUNT CODE for all of our readers to use!

Is Grass Fed Really Grass Fed?

When people think of grass fed meat, they think of the cows eating just that…grass.  That is what cows do…they eat grass.  

Their diets are supplemented with various dried grasses, hay, sometimes even a fermented hay or grass.  But most people who want grass fed beef don't think that the cow is being fed grains like corn, soy, canola, etc.  

Turns out…much of that grass fed meat really isn't what you think it is…


I know.  It is always disappointing to hear this and makes it so frustrating as a shopper. We try to do our best to read labels, choose nourishing foods but it can be so confusing for the consumer.   

What is Grass Fed?

It used to be that beef was produced by raising and finishing cows on grass exclusively.  For many reasons, the slow switch to grain feeding was made and by the 1980s, almost 100% of beef was raised on grain.  (source)

The USDA no longer controls the definition of grass fed itself and leaves it to The Food Safety Inspection Service is issuing some guidance.  Grass fed beef is generally considered beef that was produced by raising and finishing cows on grass and dried grasses and hay (no grains or grain by products).  

While the USDA still evaluates and approves grass-fed claims, the government no longer has an official definition of the term “grass-fed,” which means the phrase is now more open to interpretation. (source)

Most calves are raised on grass for a period of time…this is true of factory farm cows, grass fed cows…all of them.  It is when they are ‘finished' that grains are often introduced.

Truly grass fed beef is grass fed AND finished!

Grass fed beef has a completely different fat profile and has many health benefits that grain fed beef does not which makes it very desirable among people wanting to eat more ‘real' food.  

What is happening, is some producers are feeding cows DDG and are still able to claim the cow has been fed grass and no grains.  

What the Heck is DDG?

Good question.  I had no idea myself!

It all starts with ethanol plants that take (often gmo) corn and make ethanol.  The by product is fat, fiber and protein.  The fat often gets uses as corn oil.  The fiber and protein become a ‘dry distiller's grains' (DDG).  

The starch has been removed, leaving only the dry matter from the corn. There is no starch and it technically qualifies as a grass-fed supplement.

Often times, this DDG is used to feed ‘grass fed' cows.  If the feed lots are close by, the ethanol plants just ship out the wet distillery grain.  For those further away, they dry it and ship it as a dried grain. 

Often times, 15% of the cows' diets can contain this DDG (source)…this leftover by product of turning (often gmo) corn into ethanol.  

And, guess what?  It technically isn't considered a ‘grain'.  There is no starch left so it is a ‘grass fed supplement.'  So the ‘grass fed' label can stay.  It is a huge loop hole in the industry and one that I had no idea about!

What's the Big Deal?

Most people choosing grass fed meat do so because they believe grass fed meat to be healthier.  They are generally people trying to limit pesticides, antibiotics, artificial colors/flavors, gmos, etc from their diets.  People like ME!

Well, this DDG is a byproduct from GMO corn.  So whatever one is trying to avoid by not buying grain fed (often GMO) meat…you are still getting it in many ‘grass fed' beef products.  

This is so frustrating!  

What About Organic?

The USDA Organic certification is definitely a better choice of meat than much of what is sold at grocery stores.  This means the cows were fed 100% organic feed and forage and not administered antibiotics and hormones (source).

However, organic does not mean grass fed.  It does not mean the cow had quality living conditions.  It simply means it was fed an organic diet (non-gmo grain can still be used) and no antibiotics or hormones. 

If I had to choose at a grocery store, I would definitely choose organic over most other meats but I still prefer to purchase 100% grass fed.  

How Can You Get Quality Grass Fed Meat?

I prefer to find quality, 100% grass fed meat and to do that, I go to my farmer!

You really have to do your homework at this point, to be comfortable you are getting the real deal.  This is true with food, cleaning products, essential oils, supplements…you name it.  You have to do your research.  Talk to your farmer!  

Ask questions such as

  • Do you give your animals hormones?
  • Do you use antibiotics?  If so, when and why?
  • Are the cows fed anything besides grass and hay?
  • What age is the animal finished?
  • Do you feed DDG's?
  • Do you feed soy hulls or wheat mids?

I have talked to my farmer on the phone and am confident in the meat his company is producing.  

I am so glad that I use Wallace Farms for the meat we eat in our home.  We have been using this farm exclusively for 10 years now and we love it!  I buy beef, turkey, pork, chicken…even sometimes wild Alaskan salmon!

And until recently, Wallace Farms meat was only available to people living in the Chicagoland area and Iowa.  But now Nick Wallace is shipping for FREE nationwide!!!

What?  Yes!  FREE shipping NATIONWIDE!

I have a freezer in my garage and stock up on steaks, roasts, ground beef, chicken parts, whole chickens, pork, turkey and more!  I love it!


Discount Code

10% off Your Online Purchase with Wallace Farms

And guess what?  Wallace Farms has generously offered all of our readers a discount code of 10% off your order!!!  How awesome is that?  Free shipping AND a discount?  Woo hoo!!

Simply order from www.wallacefarms.com and use coupon code OHLARDY when you check out!  Easy peasy!



And that isn't all.  Nick Wallace has graciously offered to giveaway $100 gift certificate to one lucky winner!!!  How awesome is that?  I wish I could win…I need to place a big order!  haha!!

To enter, simply follow the steps in the Rafflecopter.  I will pick a winner on Friday, February 3 2017 at 11:59 pm EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Is your grass fed meat really grass fed?



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  1. This is a great post but it also a reminder for me that I just have to do the best I can. It seems that every time we (general “we”) turn around there’s something new to be cautious of. Just when you think you understand food, nutrition, origins, etc. there’s another blow. Because of the beef issue, I rarely eat it and getting it directly from a farmer is too costly and I don’t have a place to store it (deep freezer). Though the “new” info is frustrating, I’m thankful that you were able to do with research!

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