When choosing the meats to put in your fridge and freezer, consider the benefits of going natural and/or organic. Demand is growing for these categories, based on health and flavor preferences. Fortunately, natural beef producers are abundant in Colorado, and organic meat producers are growing in number. Elk meat is also becoming available at retail.
Where did your meal come from? By what standards was the food produced and processed? Not everybody wants to consider the journey our food takes before we bring it home to our kitchens. We’d all benefit, though, from being a little more conscious and informed when purchasing our food.
There are specific standards issued by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) with which all food producers must comply (http://www.ams.usda.gov).
Organic meats must be raised on 100% certified organic feed (whether forage or grain), without antibiotics or growth hormones, and with access to the outdoors. The organic label also means that irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used.
Natural meats requirements are less stringent, but still result in a healthier product than conventional. Though unregulated as to farm practices, animal products labeled “natural” must be minimally processed without artificial ingredients: they must not be altered with preservatives, artificial colors or flavors. There is no third-party verification system for the natural label, however, unlike for the organic label.
In contrast, conventional meats may be raised using growth hormones, non-medical application of antibiotics, and genetic-engineered feed. Conventional animal products have possibly been irradiated and processed with preservatives, artificial colors and/or flavors to improve the aesthetics of the meat.
There are two basic ways livestock raised for meat production can be fed and “finished.” Finishing is a widespread practice, in the last couple months of the animals’ lives, that brings a higher grade (quality) of meat:
• Grass finished animals eat a forage-based diet only, with no grain supplementation, just a rich grass during finishing. This process, which takes longer, yields a leaner cut of meat.
• Grain finished animals may be fed both forage and grains, with a higher ratio of grains during finishing. This process fattens animals more quickly and yields more marbling (fat), creating a more tender cut of meat.
Either way you prefer, consider how the livestock were raised, and what they were fed and finished on. After all, you are what you eat…and what the livestock consume, you ultimately will consume as well!
Created in Colorado provides you, the consumer, an opportunity to choose from among all natural beef and organic beef producers. We also provide an opportunity to choose from elk meat ranchers. Elk meat is a great source of protein, naturally very lean yet containing the high-nutrient content of red meats.
Enjoy the tremendous benefits in choosing fresh, locally produced food from verifiable sources. Too often, we purchase most of our food during convenient stops at large, conventional retail outlets, feeling no sense of control over the food quality. It simply became the way America has eaten since the bulk of us moved to the cities, and farming operations grew in scale to feed a growing population.
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