There is much debate online around Grass Fed Beef and Certified Organic Beef and which is best for you and your health. We hear it a lot from different people asking if it’s worth buying Certified Organic meat so we thought we would break it down here for you.
What is Grass Fed in Australia?
Grass fed beef comes from beef cattle raised in pastures, rather than on feed lots. In Australia, 97% of sheep and cattle are grass fed at any one time. Grass fed cattle can still be fed grain, but this usually only happens if the pasture is poor and their feed needs supplementing. It’s more expensive for farmers to feed cattle grain, and in Australia, we’re lucky to have lots of good grazing land.
However, grass fed beef has yellower fat, and some markets prefer whiter fat, so these cattle are ‘grain finished’. Other markets prefer their cattle to be grain fed. As an example, Wagyu beef is grain fed.
Cattle can be certified grass fed by PCAS (Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System). PCAS Certified grass-fed cattle can never be fed grains. They must be grass fed their whole lives.
What is Certified Organic in Australia?
There’s no single standard for organic meat in Australia, but there are a number of certified organic producers. Like grass fed, anyone can claim that their meat is organic, so to truly know what you’re getting, you need to look out for one of the certified organic logos. Australian Certified Organic is one of the most recognisable.
Generally speaking, organic meat is grown and produced without synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, growth hormones or antibiotics. Farming standards include ways of protecting soil, air and water quality, as well as working to protect natural habitats. Animals have to be free range, and have access to pastures and pesticide free and GMO-free food for their whole lives.
Animals are treated ethically, from ensuring that they live in a natural social environment, and their general welfare, to the way that they are transported to abattoirs. Organic meats also have to be processed without synthetic colours, flavours, preservatives etc.
Organic is the best of the best when it comes to animal welfare and what the animal is being fed on, as well as what they’re being supplemented with.
So which is best?
This seems that actually they are both beneficial to us as consumers and to the animal themselves and their welfare.
However, there are a couple of major difference between Grass Fed and Certified Organic – Certified Organic meat is subjected to strict standards around growth hormones and the actual pasture they are eating. Grass fed is all well and good but when you do a little research, the regulations from PCAS around the use of growth hormones are voluntary. This means the farmers can choose whether they want to give growth hormones to the animals or not, it’s not a standard they have to adhere to. Certified Organic meat cannot have any growth hormones at any point in order to keep their certification.
The other major difference is the grass that the animals are eating. Grass Fed meat is not regulated so the reality is; yes the animals get to eat grass and other pasture for their entire lives but that doesn’t stop human consumption of pesticides and herbicides due to these being used on the fields they are grazing. Certified Organic animals and their products cannot remain certified if there is the use of artificial pesticides and herbicides.
When we look at the facts around Grass Fed and Certified Organic meat, I know for me I would rather pay a little more for the guarantee that animals have led a happy life, being fed real food and allowed to live and they have not been eating poison that I would then end up eating. That’s worth more to me than a few extra $!
What do you think? Leave us a comment below.