Pasture-raising animals used to be a way of life for farmers across America, but after World War II, industrial farming caught on and changed the agricultural landscape. Factory farms and industrialized agriculture boomed, covering large portions of land with chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides to boost crop production. These methods might have made ingredients more affordable, but it’s come at a health cost for both humans and animals. When animals live in a crowded facility, stand in their own waste, and eat a steady stream of corn that doesn’t support their digestion, there’s a much greater likelihood they’ll need antibiotics due to the increased risk of infection. And if this kind of animal ends up in our weekly meal rotation, its poor health is essentially passed along to us. Fortunately, there’s another way.
What Is Pasture-Raised?
Animals that are pasture-raised live their life outdoors, roam freely year-round, and forage for food as nature intended. Pasture-raised doesn’t mean animals like cows and chickens don’t receive any supplemental grain (like during the winter months), so if you’re looking for 100 percent grass-fed protein, look for verification from the farmers you’re buying from.
Benefits of Pasture-Raised
When animals are pasture-raised, they do a big service to the soil. It can actually regenerate in part when livestock are rotated throughout the land on a regular basis. This practice, known as rotational grazing, helps the land stay healthy as the animals naturally fertilize, aerate, and prep the soil for regrowth. Rotational grazing can also help reduce the amount of carbon in the soil, which in turn counters the effects of global warming by offsetting the carbon emissions released through activities like deforestation, land clearing, and fossil fuel burning. Pretty amazing, right?
Top Pasture-Raised Brands
We’re stocked with lots of brands devoted to the pasture-raised philosophy. Here are our top three.
When we set out to create our Meat and Seafood program, it was essential to bring on partners dedicated to the practices we believe in like regenerative farming, sustainable fishing, ethical treatment of animals, and rotational grazing.
Our beef is sourced from the Patagonian prairies in Osorno, Chile, one of the few places in the world that allows for year-round grazing. Our cattle are 100 percent grass-fed, 365-days a year.
Fatworks loves to educate home cooks about the benefits of using quality cooking oils like lard, tallow, and duck fat. The brand works with a select group of farmers who employ antibiotic-free and pasture-raised practices and allow animals to eat their natural diet.
Looking for a secret flavor boost? Duck fat is what your dishes are missing! Enhance everything from confit-style dishes to roasted veggies, and even popcorn. This particular product is sourced from ducks that forage on land and raised with room to roam.
EPIC has been a champion of nose-to-tail cooking from the beginning. Its Whole Animal Project creates economic incentives for ranchers who pasture-raise their livestock, and the brand is committed to grassland restoration and sustainable practices, too.
This snack is made from organic, non-GMO, and antibiotic-free pork. Enjoy the crunchy rinds seasoned with paprika, salt, and other Tex-Mex spices.
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