Glossary of Terms
Glossary of Poultry Terms
Glossary of Marketing Terms
Even the most savvy eco-shopper can misunderstand the terms marketers use to sell meat. To help, we've defined the most popular ones.
Pastured & Pasture-Raised vs. 100% Pastured & 100% Pasture-Finished
Grass-Fed vs. 100% Grass-fed/finished
This term is used similarly to Pastured/Pasture-Raised in that all cattle are raised for part of their lives on grass (pasture) before they are sent to feedlots and so can describe themselves as "grass-fed". Folks looking for beef raised the traditional way - grass for their entire lives with no feedlots (and all the health and ecological benefits that come with it) - need to look for "100% Grass-fed." 100% Grass-fed is a term verified by the USDA that ensures that ruminants (cows, sheep) were raised only on pasture.[iii] KOL Foods meets the more stringent standards of the American Grassfed Association - ruminants are only fed grass, live on pasture, and aren't given animal bi-products, arsenic, antibiotics or hormones. Because the 100% grass-fed method depends on the weather and space, the meat tends to be more costly and can be difficult to obtain.
USDA Organic & Industrial Organic
This certification has little to do with the animal's quality of life and mostly to do with their feed. USDA Organic meat is derived from animals that are fed organic vegetarian feed (no animal by-products) and had "access" to pasture or the outdoors. No hormones, antibiotics or cloned animals can be used. However, USDA Organic animals, for the most part, are still fed grain (corn) and raised in confined agricultural farming operations (CAFOs) - aka feedlots.[i]
In order to meet the growing demand for organic, the organic industry has begun in some ways to mirror conventional food production. Synthetic chemicals approved by the organic program are widely used in certified food processing and many organic animals are raised in confinements eerily similar to conventional facilities.[ii]
Coined by Virginia farmer, Joel Salatin and popularized by Michael Pollan in Omnivore's Dilemma, Beyond Organic is a term used by those who do not buy into the Industrial Organic model. Beyond organic and KOL Foods farmers:
- Employ bio-dynamic practices, where the focus is on biodiversity and minimizing dependency on off-farm inputs;
- Use bio-intensive practices, where farmers learn to naturally increase yield on a small acreage;
- Rely less on fossil fuels. Part of the organic philosophy is to leave the land in better shape than it was before. Since pesticides are made from fossil fuels, certified organic already reduces its carbon footprint by not using them. ‘Beyond organic’ farmers tend to have more local suppliers and customers and use less tractor power;
- Raising animals in pastures (many call themselves "Grass-Farmers");
- Treat farm workers fairly. Some ‘beyond organic’ farmers feel that the lack of provision for social justice is another flaw in the USDA standards;
- Encouraging wildlife on the farm, simultaneously restoring natural habitats while growing food.[ii]
Ensures that the animals are not fed animal by-products, however, it doesn't mean that they are pasture raised. Cattle fed corn in CAFOs (aka feed-lots) can still have this label. Unless the label states "100% Vegetarian Fed," it is possible the animal was fed animal protein made from "rendered livestock" (meat, bones, blood, fat, offal), sometimes of the same species. Vegetarian-Fed is not regulated by the USDA.[i]
Without Antibiotics & No Antibiotics Added
Meat or poultry can carry the phrase "no antibiotics added" if the producers demonstrate that they raised the animals without antibiotics. Many producers use antibiotics at sub-therapeutic levels to speed growth and prevent disease. But even if the drugs are used judiciously to treat a disease, the animal can no longer be labeled antibiotic-free (or organic). The label, however, says little about the animals' living conditions or what they were fed.[iii] KOL Foods never adds antibiotics to our meat.
No Added Hormones
Hormones are also used in beef production to increase growth. Look for "hormone-free" to ensure that these exogenous products weren't used.[iii] Hormones are not legal to use in poultry production; arsenic and antibiotics are used to speed growth instead. KOL Foods never adds hormones, arsenic or antibiotics to our meat.
According to the USDA, a product containing no artificial ingredients, colors, and minimal processing can be labeled "natural." Natural doesn't tell the consumer anything about an animal's living conditions, whether antibiotics or hormones were used, or what it ate.[iii]
CAFO & AFO vs No Confinement
On factory animal farms, known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), animals are routinely given a complex mix of feed additives and chemicals in order to cheaply and quickly produce the meat that stocks supermarket shelves. CAFOs promote maximum growth in minimum time and with minimum inputs. They let producers turn greater profits, but in doing so create serious health and environmental concerns. AFOs are small CAFOs and can be even more environmentally detrimental because they slip under the EPA's regulations.
CAFOs and AFOs concentrate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures, fields, or on rangeland. In a CAFO, animals suffer both physically and psychologically. The meat they produce is also unhealthy to eat. KOL Foods never confines our animals to feedlots, CAFOs or AFOs. No Confinement is the opposite of CAFOs and AFOs - animals can move freely in a natural environment.
Free-Range & Free-Roaming
The USDA approves free-range claims for poultry that were given "access" to the "outside" for 51% of its life. However, the USDA does not verify if the poultry ever actually went outside nor does it define what outside is - a tiny concrete pad could meet their definition.[iii] Michael Pollan, in Omnivore's Dilemma, describes a free-range CAFO as thousands of birds packed into windowless, military barrack like buildings with one or two small doors to a 10x10 outdoor pen. Pollan doubted that any of the chickens actually went outside for fear of the unknown (they are chickens after all). KOL Foods poultry is raised outside on pasture for about 70% of its life (as soon as they are old enough they go outside).
Cage-free only means that the poultry were not raised in cages. That said, they often still only have an area no larger than an 8.5x11 sheet of paper to move in and are often subjected to debeaking. KOL Foods poultry is raised outside on pasture for about 70% of its life (as soon as they are old enough they go outside).
i. Flavor Magazine, Feb/Mar 2010, p31
ii. http://www.iowawatch.org/?p= 2116
iii. Flavor Magazine, Feb/Mar 2010, p32