Meat Label Confusion
In reading about the USDA’s new ruling for labeling meat from grass fed livestock I was struck by the statement that “a growing number of farmers across the country are turning to this modern approach to livestock production”. Perhaps a more accurate statement would have been that many farmers are returning to a more traditional method of raising their livestock in pastures as opposed to confined animal feeding operations. This labeling is meant to aide consumers in choosing either grass fed, meaning livestock fed solely on grasses, hay or non-grain vegetation, or meat from CAFO operations. In all, it remains to be seen whether this will help consumers or yet be one more thing that will complicate and confuse the label reading public. There are already labels which read either “natural, “organic”, or “free range” that have consumers scratching their head in wonder and dismay. While grass fed is reported to be leaner and higher in beneficial fats the flavor of beef relates highly to the cow’s diet and past studies show nearly 80 percent of consumers prefer corn fed beef. So for consumers it seems to simply come down to a matter of taste.