Produce stand laid out

"Grassfed" has recently become very popular with consumers. The American Grassfed Association (www.americangrassfed.org) defines grassfed products from ruminants, including cattle, bison, goats, and sheep, as "those food products from animals that have eaten nothing but their mother's milk and fresh grass or grass-type hay from their birth until harvest."

We have used the term "100% grassfed" to make it clear that the cows on our farm are fed on grass, and only grass (or hay) for their entire lifetime. The term "grass-finished" also implies the same thing. But you do need to read the fine print. If you decide that having "grassfed" beef is important to you, carefully read what the farmer is saying about their products. Many farms finish their animals with corn or other grains before sending them to be processed, so they are grassfed in the beginning of their lives, but NOT grassfed for 100% of their lives.

What about Natural and Certified Organic?

The claim "Natural" has been over-used in recently years and can mean many things. The term, as used by farmers at your local farmer's market, implies that their produce or meat is grown or raised without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, hormones, or sub-therapeutic antibiotics. Many small farmers who have not gone through the certification process required by the Federal government to be "certified organic" but still follow the practices of organic farming described above and may use the term "natural" to describe their farming practices.   However, many large food producers have begun to use the term "natural" loosely, and its significance, therefore, has become less meaningful.  The USDA defines NATURAL: as "a product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product. The label must include a statement explaining the meaning of the term natural (such as "no artificial ingredients; minimally processed").

"Certified Organic" is an official designation for farms that have been certified by the USDA.  According the Organic Farming Research Foundation website, "Certified organic refers to agricultural products that have been grown and processed according to uniform standards, verified by independent state or private organizations accredited by the USDA. All products sold as "organic" must be certified. Certification includes annual submission of an organic system plan and inspection of farm fields and processing facilities. Inspectors verify that organic practices such as long-term soil management, buffering between organic farms and neighboring conventional farms, and recordkeeping are being followed.  Certified organic requires the rejection of synthetic agrochemicals, irradiation and genetically engineered foods or ingredients. Since 2002, organic certification in the U.S. has taken place under the authority of the USDA National Organic Program, which accredits organic certifying agencies, and oversees the regulatory process. www.ams.usda.gov/nop.

Neither "natural" nor "certified organic" dictates whether the animal was pasture-raised, grassfed, or 100% grassfed. While many practices overlap between organic and grassfed its best to know what each label means so you know what you are buying.

At Clark's Farm we are not USDA certified organic, but we strive to follow organic standards, raise healthy animals, be sustainable stewards of the land, and provide a safe and reliable products to our community.

Why does grassfed matter?

…It matters because 100% grassfed beef is better for the health of the cows, the land, the environment, the farmers, and, of course, you the consumer! And buying from local farms is better for the local economy!

HEALTH BENEFITS:

  • High in Omega-3, CLA and favorable fatty acids
  • Favorable unsaturated to saturated fat ratio
  • Lower in total fat and cholesterol
  • High in antioxidants, such as Vitamin E
  • Higher in beta-carotene
  • Higher in B-vitamins, thiamin, and riboflavin
  • Health benefits are important not only for the consumer, but also for the animals during their lifespan. An animal raised on lush, green pastures is eating the diet its body is meant to digest, is not crowded and stressed, and does not need a constant input of antibiotics to keep it healthy.

70% of all antibiotics used in the United States every year are used in confined animal feeding operations. That can't be healthy for any of us.

ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS:

  • Pasturing animals encourages biodiversity, improves soil fertility and eliminates the waste-management problems associated with confinement-feeding operations.
  • Buying pasture-raised products from a local farmer greatly reduces transportation costs and helps keep local farms in business.
  • We are raising our animals in an environmentally friendly manner with humane care and sustainable practices.
  • We are part of a mentoring program supported by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation that encourages pasture-raising animals. It allows us to be excellent stewardship of farmland and the Bay.
  • We have our streams and wetlands in the Conservation Reserve Program.

ECONOMIC BENEFITS:

  • Every dollar you spend with a local farmer will cycle up to 3 dollars within the local economy, while every dollar you spend at a supermarket chain brings only about 20 cents into the local economy
  • Although pasture-raised meats are often slightly higher in price than the meat you can find in the grocery store, there is really no comparison in the quality of the product.
  • Looking at the health benefits of the meat, you are better off buying and eating a smaller amount of high quality, better tasting, healthier meat than buying a bulk package of sale-priced meat from the grocery store that comes from a confined animal processing operation.
  • It is important that we have vibrant, viable farms in every community so that our food does not need to travel great distances to get to us.
  • Our entire farm is in the state and county Farmland Preservation programs. None of it can be developed. Supporting the farmers in the Farmland Preservation program is good public policy and putting your money where your principles are!

Eatwild  The #1 Site for grassfed Food & Facts

Eatwild.com is your source for safe, healthy and nutritious grassfed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, dairy and other wild edibles.  This website provides comprehensive, accurate information about the benefits of raising animals on pasture. The easiest way to access all of the other excellent resources is to click on "Links" once you are on the www.eatwild.com site.  

What about Chickens and Pigs?

Raising chickens and pigs free range and on pasture has many of the same benefits for the animals, land, and consumers as listed above for grassfed beef. The big difference is that chickens and pigs need to eat a much more varied diet. Cows, sheep, goats, and bison will thrive on a grass-based diet, but chickens and pigs need a diet including grains, vegetables, weeds, fruits and insects.

At Clark's Farm we go one step further when feeding a varied diet to our pasture raised chickens and pigs, by offering them a non-GMO blend of grain. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Here are two links to information on GMOs: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-957532 ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_organism

Why pasture raised eggs and pork?

According to Mother Earth News Free Range Chicken Eggs have ...

  • 1/3 less cholesterol than commercial eggs
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 7 times for beta carotene

Pigs raised on pasture have 300 percent more vitamin E and 74 percent more selenium (a vital antioxidant) in their milk than pigs raised in confinement, according to Don C. Mahan Professor of Animal Sciences at Ohio State University. This bounty of nutrients promotes healthier litters, shorter farrowing times, and good milk let down. The pigs' meat is enriched with vitamins as well.

And don't forget the benefits of lard from pasture raised pigs…

Fatworks.com report that Lard is often considered a saturated fat, but in fact it has about 40% saturated, 50% monounsaturated and 10% polyunsaturated fatty acids. Lard from pastured pigs is also a good source of vitamin D.

As Shannon Hayes concludes in the Introduction to her cookbook "The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook"

" . . . One of the greatest joys of cooking and serving grassfed meats and dairy products is knowing that they are coming from farmers who have made conscious choices about stewarding the land in environmentally responsible ways, raising livestock in a humane fashion, and living their own lives in accordance with their values."

And finally ...

The Clark family is committed to providing you the best quality meat possible and doing it in a healthy, environmentally responsible and socially beneficial way.

And we are committed to the standard promoted by our family to "Never Sell The Land."