- SWGLA -  

SOUTHWEST GRASSFED LIVESTOCK ALLIANCE 

 ARIZONA - COLORADO - NEW MEXICO - UTAH - TEXAS - KANSAS

 

FREQUENTLY  ASKED  QUESTIONS

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS... ABOUT GRASSFED MEAT

Q: How does grassfed meat differ from the meat I buy in the store?

A: It is leaner, contains less fat, and has a healthier composition of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.  The meat will be more flavorful too.  You will know it has been raised on grass its' whole life.  Also most grassfed meat will not contain any antibiotics or growth hormones.

Q: What's the difference between grass-fed, grass-finished, natural and organic?

A: Grass-fed - The animal was raised on its mother’s milk and its growing years on open range pasture until they reach a certain size.  In the Southwest, most cattle graze on rangeland grass (rarely on irrigated pasture due to the arid conditions) and are supplemented with hay when necessary.  

Grass-finished - Same as  “Grassfed”. 

Natural - The animal was not treated with antibiotics or growth hormones.  

Organic - The producer must meet USDA organic standards related to certified organic feed, clinical use of antibiotics only, no growth hormones, and access to range or pasture during a large portion of the animal’s life. 

Your best bet, which circumvents the labeling confusion altogether, is to get in touch with a local farmer who can verify that the products are raised on pasture, without antibiotics and pesticides.  By going straight to the source, you’re likely getting the absolute best meat there is, USDA-certified or not.

Q: Why should I spend more money on grassfed meat than on regular store meat?

A: In many instances by purchasing your larger cuts of grassfed meat from a local rancher, your savings will be considerable compared to store bought meat.  Grassfed meat, by definition, is more nutrition, leaner and therefore healthier.  Grassfed meat is raised locally, by family farmers and ranchers practicing sustainable agriculture, by being good stewards of the land they love.  By buying grassfed meat, you help keeping these families on the land, and keeping your dollars in the State.  

Q: What does "dry-ageing" mean, and what does it do for the meat?

A:  Flavor and tenderness of beef is enhanced by dry-aging.  The carcass is kept in a cool room for 2 to 3 weeks at a temperature of 34-36 degrees. There is some loss of carcass weight (6-10%) during the aging process and also a loss of carcass weight (35-40%) from trimming and boning during processing and packaging.  Lamb is usually not dry-aged. 

Q: I don't have freezer space for a whole animal, what can I do?

Freezer space requirement will vary depending on the cuts you order, but as a general rule, one cubic feet of freezer space should hold 25 lb of meat, in some instances more.  Consider splitting a whole, half or quarter with a friend, neighbor or family member if freezer space is limited.  Some producers also sell smaller variety boxes of meat.  Many people form local buying groups to get the best deal.

Q: How much, or little, meat do I have to purchase?

A: Our producers generally sell their meat ranging from a whole, a half (side), or a quarter of an animal.  Some also sell it in variety-packs or individual cuts available at Farmers’ Markets during the summer, or at specific outlets year-round.  All meat will come cut to the specifications of the rancher or customer - steaks, roasts, ribs, brisket, lean ground beef and soup bones etc.  Packages are usually double-wrapped with plastic and freezer paper, or vacuum-sealed, and labeled. The most economical way to purchase your grassfed meat is to buy a whole animal and possibly partnering with another person to split the meat if it is too much for your needs. 

Q: Do I have to drive to the producers to pick up my meat?

A: Most producers will deliver the animal to a local meat processor for you, where you would pick it up when it is ready.  

Q: Animal welfare is important to me, can I be assured these animals are raised humanely?

A: Yes, grassfed animals are raised under humane conditions, in their natural environment.  Most producers welcome visitors.  Contact your local producers with any questions you may have.

Q: I don't live near your producers, can I get my meat shipped to me?

A: Most of our member producers will ship your meat on dry-ice to wherever you live.

Q: When do I have to place my order?

A: You should place your order as soon as possible.  Most ranchers keep an inventory and need you order well in advance, in some instances up to a year.  It takes time and planning to raise grassfed animals to the optimum size and weight, and knowing in advance how many are sold helps the rancher in his planning.  Usually a deposit is required at the time of ordering. 

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