With all of the supply chain issues affecting the food we see in the grocery store, the average consumer may look at a cut of beef and think, “Beef is beef, right?” Unfortunately, there are a large number of terms that packagers may put on their product, and making sense of them can be a complicated endeavor. To make matters worse, a scant few of those terms are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, meaning that their inclusion on a package is no real indication of quality.
Take, for example, “all-natural.” While many may assume all-natural beef to be of a higher quality than beef not labeled as such, this is not necessarily so. According to the USDA, any fresh meat product can be labeled as “natural” as long as no artificial flavorings or synthetic ingredients have been used, and the final product is “minimally processed.”
This does not preclude the use of antibiotics in the cattle, either as a preventive measure or in response to illness or infection. However, this does also require a certain time frame to pass, allowing the medication to pass through the cattle’s systems before they are butchered and processed for sale.
The term “natural” also does not rule out the use of hormones in the cattle. Rather, it simply means that if hormones are used in the cattle, they must be approved by the USDA for use in cattle. But be on the lookout for any product that claims to be “hormone free.” Some hormones occur naturally in cattle, so any label claiming otherwise is at best misinformed and at worst misleading. Instead, you should look for products with “no added hormones” or “raised without hormones.”
To ensure you are obtaining the highest quality, grass-fed beef and supporting Florida agriculture, consider sourcing your beef from local ranches, like Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch. Grass-fed beef offers a number of health benefits, including fewer calories than conventional beef, it’s higher in Vitamin A, B, and E, folic acid, and cancer-fighting CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) than any other type of commercially available meat. Visit their website at dh-lr.com to learn more.