Having read multiple definitions of grass-fed beef recently, I thought I would go back to basics and explain what we do, and what we mean when we say grass-fed, answering a few other questions along the way.
What do you mean by grass-fed?
It's simple; our cows are fed on a 100% grass diet. This means in the spring and summer, they are grazing the grass meadows of Lower Dairy Farm, and in the winter, we bring them into the cow barns and they munch on grass hay and silage from those very same fields.
I can see flowers in your fields.
If you look at our fields, you will notice other things grow in them too; these are not National Trust worthy lawns. Broadleaf weeds, wildflowers, docks, the odd nettle or two and a mass of dandelions in one field, but that's okay because it's great for bees, pollinators, birdlife and adds to the taste of the meat. Score for grass-fed beef all round! We manage the most rapacious of these invaders, cutting them by hand to control their never-ending desire to overrun our lovely, diverse grass fields.
Is it grass-fed or grass fed?
Ask a grammar boffin.
Grass-fed, pasture-fed, paleo, pasture-raised - I'm confused?
You and me, both. Keeping up as a consumer and producer is confusing.
As with all food labels, there's a risk that what starts out as something to shout about and be championed becomes appropriated by others jumping on the bandwagon and diluting its value. So another term pops up to promote the special qualities of the produce and you find yourself standing in the supermarket five minutes before closing inwardly screaming: "Chicken! I just want chicken!" But as frustrating as distinguishing labels can be, they are important because not all produce is created equal.
The lesson here is: if you see a term, question it. Whether it is on a pub menu, supermarket packet or in a small farm shop like ours, hold the producer, supplier and vendor accountable.
Our beef is pasture-fed, pasture-raised, paleo and free range, but to avoid screaming in the farm shop, we're sticking to: 100% grass-fed.