Grass-fed, Organic, Pasture-for-Life? How do these terms differ when talking about meat? In the UK, the words ‘grass-fed’ can be used to describe food (beef, lamb, milk, cheese, etc) from cows that have spent only part of their life grazing in the fields or eating dried grass. The rest of the time they will have been fed other less natural feeds, such as cereals or food-manufacturing waste (often from bread and biscuits).
Unfortunately ‘grass-fed’ has become a fashionable marketing term to add to labels. If you want to make sure the meat and dairy products you are buying have come from animals raised purely on pasture, look for the ‘Pasture for Life’ logo. This food is guaranteed to have been produced to the highest welfare standards and truly pasture-fed.
Often people think that all cows are fed on grass anyway and so are a bit puzzled by these new labels, but it is actually a rarity these days to find animals that graze on pasture with no other additional feed. In fact I hear that the supermarkets are concerned about starting to promote the ‘Pasture for Life’ accreditation label as it raises an awkward question in the mind of the consumer – ‘but what are the other animals fed?’
So not yet really on sale in supermarkets, although with a few exceptions. For example I have seen some National Trust lamb on the fresh meat counter at Sainsburys recently. Or I saw the poster at least, they didn’t actually have any in stock and the staff behind the counter didn’t know what it was talking about or what grass-fed or pasture-for-life was referring to!
Pasture-for-Life meat IS available from farmers markets and online orders.
Finally many ‘Pasture for Life’ farmers also have organic certification, the two labels compliment each other well. However being organic only requires 60% of the animals’ feed to come from fresh or dried grass, which means that up to 40% can be derived from concentrate feeds such as soya, maize or wheat.