When "Grassfed, Product of the USA"...ISN'T!

Actual American cattle on pasture!

Actual American cattle on pasture!

As grassfed meats have become more popular, it is getting easier to find in most grocery stores. Grassfed meats still only account for 3% of meats sold through retail outlets, but it isn't particulary hard to find a cut or two of meat that says "Grassfed" and "product of the United States."

What if I told you that both claims were lies? According to the American Grassfed Association, approximately 85% of "grassfed" meats in the grocery stores is actually imported meat, much of it from Australia or New Zealand. There's a law on the books (The Product of the USA Classification) that allows any product that is "further processed" in the US to be considered a product of the US. That means an animal can spend its entire life in another country, be harvested in that country (or another one) and as long as it is cut or repackaged within United States boundaries, be labeled as a product of the US. So you're not really buying what you think you are!

And another problem? Nobody verifies the "grassfed" label on that meat. That animal probably did spend at least part of it's life on grass, but nothing is stopping a producer in another country from feeding grain at any point or at any percentage in that animal's diet. What kind of health benefits do you think you'll get from that??? Of course, you'll still probably pay a premium for this "grassfed" (in name only) meat.

I'm a positive person, and I like to focus on good things. There are efforts underway to change the laws and policies that allow this mislabeling, but in the meantime, what can you do to ensure the meat you purchase offers the health and environmental benefits you desire? Buy from a farmer you trust. A rancher I know calls it First Person Certification - shake the hand of the person that is raising your meat. Ask them questions. Come on farm tours. And if necessary, buy a little freezer so you can feed your family the very best 100% grassfed meat, raised gently and carefully, close to your home!