Big Box Store Grass-fed Meats
I recently got a question: Steve can you tell me the difference between store-bought grassfed meat and farm fresh meat?
I like that kind of question. It gives me a chance to vent a bit so I replied:
Hi W, thanks for the question!
The main difference is that with meat raised on a farm, you know the people, you know where the meat came from and can verify what they do personally. I.E. ask for photos or even visit and look yourself. You can also get a feeling for who the farmer is and whether he is snowing you or not. Sometimes that is pretty difficult, but most times you can sort of tell how he feels about things. With the store-bought stuff, it is difficult to say what is actually going on. And you KNOW they are going to give you a corporate answer. They aren’t stupid or they wouldn’t have become a big-box store.
For instance the biggest retailer on the planet is now providing grassfed beef. I went online to trace where it comes from. There was a phone number to call but the data wasn’t easily available as to where it came from. Like “Farms in Idaho” or “Farms in North Dakota”. Or even: “5% comes from X or Y farm and the rest comes from Argentina where all they raise is grass-fed beef.”
I did a bit more research and came up with a ranch in Idaho, or North Dakota or something like that, I forget which place it was. The ranch has about 5000 acres and I think about a thousand cows. This retailer is going to go through the production from a thousand cows in about 10 minutes and I am not joking at all. Even 15 or 20 thousand cows would last a very short time at this place. I am not saying that the biggest retailer on the planet doesn’t actually sell grassfed beef. I am just saying that you don’t know where it comes from and can’t easily find out. If you did get hold of some actual person, they would not be the person that actually runs the farm. They would be a person sitting in a room full of phone answer-ers getting paid not very much. I am not trying to run down this big retailer, they do supply a lot of stuff that I buy myself. The fact is though that if you want to have a connection and some actual accountability with where your food comes from, you will have to go somewhere else. There is no way that government is going to watch over that big of an entity and keep your food the way you want it. That big of an entity has people who write laws and give them to the law makers. That big of an entity has people sitting in the lobbies of government schmoozing the law and rule makers. A lot of the rule makers get their start at big places like the above not-named place. Saying they are WRONG for schmoozing and/or making the rules is not going to change things. Voting with your wallet IS going to change something.
I personally think a lot of the meat comes from Argentina (totally my opinion, i have NO hard data to back this up). Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with Argentina beef. It is just that if a huge retailer is going to sell grassfed beef, the customer should be able to tell where it came from and how it was raised. I can tell you where my beef came from and show you the pastures where it was grazed. if I bought the animal from another farmer, I personally know that farmer and know what that animal was fed. I can also show you their pastures.
I doubt that huge retailer or any other big grocery store chain will ever be able to show where each animal came from. They are just too big.
You would probably also not get a personal, real, heartfelt rant like this from a big retailer.
Hope that helps.