Hello and welcome to our first blog!
We are constantly asked very valid questions by our clients regarding the sources of our meats and to explain the various confusing labels they find on meats and poultry. We figured we would put it to rest once and for all.
At The Primitive Gourmet, we use only ingredients that are sourced locally. Our meats are all humanely raised, grass fed and grass finished and often organic unless we state otherwise (this might be due to client’s budget). Below are some definitions we have gathered from various sources ( USDA, FDA, Humane Society and articles from Consumer Reports and Time Magazine). Hope this helps you make better decisions of what YOU put on the table when it’s not coming from The Primitive Gourmet!!!!
Organic Considered the gold standard of labels, chickens marked organic are grown without antibiotics and while being raised, they must have access to the outdoors. It means they can’t be genetically modified, irradiated or cloned.
Raised Without Antibiotics Although the USDA has banned the term “antibiotic-free,” the claim that an animal has been “raised without antibiotics” implies that it has not received any antibiotics during the course of its lifetime. Buyers beware: The USDA does not verify these claims. The labels are applied at the discretion of the manufacturer.
Free-Range While this label conjures pastoral images of chickens happily pecking in green pastures, it only means that the animal has had access to an open area. The USDA allows this label to be placed on any poultry product that has had open-air access for a minimum of 5 minutes per day.
Hormone-Free The USDA prohibits the use of hormones in raising chickens. This is an established regulation. This isn’t a selling point for a particular brand – it’s a reiteration that the USDA prohibits the use of all hormones in raising poultry.
ALL NATURAL This means meat that is minimally processed with no artificial or synthetic products. It is not regulated, however, so anyone can put it on their package. This claim has no clout.
COOL (Country of Origin Labeling) USDA regulated. It states where meat was raised, slaughtered, and processed (and if this means multiple countries, as in the case of some ground meat, they should all be listed).
GRASS FED* USDA regulated. It means, very narrowly, that animals eat grass. According to the USDA definition, “grass-fed” animals can also be fed grain, and can be raised on grass in confinement, as long as they have access to pasture.
*As documented , “access” can be — and often is — nothing more than a facility with a door to a small outdoor area. Livestock is transferred to this facility after they have been conditioned to remain indoors in a facility with no such exit. Get to know your local butcher or rancher and get to know your meat.
FREE RANGE This means strictly that the animal has some access to outdoors. There is no regulation for use of this term, except in the case of chickens raised for consumption. “Pasture-raised” is a more meaningful term concerning the animal’s welfare.
ORGANIC USDA and third-party certified. This certification means that livestock wasn’t treated with hormones or antibiotics and was fed a pesticide-free diet.
VEGETARIAN FED Refers only to an animal’s diet and does not guarantee the animal was pastured or raised humanely.
AIR CHILLED This article addresses the treatment of living animals. Producers and retailers may also make claims about how the animal is handled between slaughter and purchase. Meat may be wet or dry-aged, frozen, and packaged in various ways.
HUMANELY RAISED; CERTIFIED HUMANE Many ranches now choose to undergo an audit by third parties such as Animal Welfare Association and Humane Farmed to high-light their extra care. This type of label wards against practices like overcrowding, castrating, early weaning, and denying animals access to pasture. It measures the entire life cycle in terms of animal health and well-being.
OTHER LABEL ITEMS:
BIODYNAMIC This pre-organic standard treats the whole ranching operation as an interrelated whole. While some meats are technically organic, a biodynamic farm assures the meat also came from a healthy, self-sustaining system.
LOCAL Producers who take part in this affidavit program state in writing that the animals were raised within 20 miles. This label is not certified [or confirmed] by a third party, such as the USDA or a labeling certifier.