By Analiese Paik
Almost all the meat you purchase in the grocery store and eat in restaurants and fast food outlets is from factory farms (ditto for school lunch). So is the dairy. Slow down just a minute to ponder the fact that the meat you eat and milk you drink is from animals kept confined, indoors, 24/7 on feedlots instead of being raised on pasture.
Robbed of their natural diet and living environment, these animals are forced to suffer in the most deplorable and inhumane conditions. This ugly truth about factory farming made news again this week in Paul Solotaroff’s stomach churning expose in Rolling Stone. Warning: The article and accompanying Humane Society of the United States videos are not for the faint of heart. But, their shock value just might convert the most indifferent eater to go grass-fed.
5 Reasons to Give Up Factory Meat and Dairy Forever and Go Grass Fed:
- Grass-fed meat and dairy are from animals raised on pasture, so they’re an easy way to avoid inhumane CAFO products that carry an increased risk of food-borne illness.
- A cow’s natural diet is grass. Meat from grass-fed animals has been shown in scientific studies to contain lower amounts of fat and higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), and carotenoids, making it a healthier choice. Organic milk from grass-fed cows contains more omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) according to a just-published Washington State University study. Watch the video below for more information about the study’s results and what they mean for public health.
- CAFO (Contained Animal Feeding Operation) animals are fed corn and soy (most of which is GMO), administered hormones to promote faster growth and antibiotics to keep them from getting sick. Dairy cows are frequently administered synthetic growth hormones (rBST) to boost milk production. Go organic grass-fed to avoid GMOs, hormones and antibiotics.
- Grass-fed meat and milk have a very different flavor than feedlot meat and milk. They are actually flavorful! You’ll eat more mindfully and enjoy your food more because it tastes better.
- Pasture-based farms are typically family-owned operations, which means your dollars support and protect small, sustainable producers.
Where to Buy Grass-Fed Meat and Dairy in Fairfield County, CT
Look for 100% grass-fed meat and dairy or products from farms that feed their livestock silage grown on the farm during the winter months. Of course, organic is always better. If you live outside Fairfield County, visit www.localharvest.org to find a grass-based farm near you.
USDA Organic, grass-fed, whole milk is available from Organic Valley (NY) and Sky Top Farms (NY) at Whole Foods Market.
All Sky Top Farms products are now certified kosher.
Both Organic Valley and Sky Top Farms grass-fed whole milks are creamline, which means they’re un-homogenized and should be shaken well before serving. You will pay more for milk from grass-fed cows, but it’s worth it. Look for grass-fed on the label when you choose milk (preferably organic) and choose un-homogenized over homogenized for the richest flavor. Use Organic Valley’s store locator to find the specific products you want to purchase.
Connecticut dairy farms that we highly recommend include: Arethusa Farm & Dairy in Bantam, which produces milk, eggnog, yogurt, cheese and ice cream. Their products are not widely available at retail, but can usually be found at Sport Hill Farm (closes Dec. 21 for the season), Walter Stewart’s Market in New Canaan and The Double L Market in Westport. Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm in Lyme is a sheep and cow dairy farm that sells raw milk, raw and pasteurized farmstead cheeses, yogurt and gelato. Fortunately, this farm participates in the Westport Farmers’ Market year round (click here for winter market location and hours), and the Greenwich Farmers’ Market year round (click here for winter market location and hours).
If you are unable to make it to a farmers’ market, consider using a farm-to-door delivery service. Shop online and have your custom order of fresh, high-quality, farm-grown food (including meat and dairy) delivered to your door for a nominal charge by Fresh Nation, CT Farm Fresh Express, Mike’s Organic Delivery, and from VT, Graze Delivered.
Ox Hollow Farm of Roxbury, CT is a premium grower of pasture-raised beef along with pastured chicken and pork. Visit the winter Westport farmers’ market at Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens each Saturday to purchase directly from the farmer.
John Morosani of Laurel Ridge Farm in Litchfield is a grower of 100% grass-fed beef who supplies top restaurants including Community Table in New Preston and Toll Gate Inn in Litchfield. He uses no pesticides or herbicides on his farm and no GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism) are grown or fed to the cows. John makes a CSA delivery the first Thursday of each month to Fairfield; please consult this CSA article for a complete description and subscription instructions. If you live outside Fairfield, John will take custom orders for half or whole cows and add a delivery fee. All in, you still wind up saving 30-35% off retail prices. Your order will be completely broken down into retail cuts, but since he gives you meat from the whole animal, be prepared for lesser-known cuts. If you and some friends decide to “cowpool”, contact John Morosani at firstname.lastname@example.org for pricing and delivery fees.
Saugatuck Craft Butchery in Westport is a whole animal butcher (think oxtail, tongue, and offal in addition to all the regular cuts) specializing in fresh (not frozen) beef, pork and lamb from sustainably run family farms in New York and Connecticut. Recently relocated and expanded to include a cafe, Craft is the ultimate nose-to-tail butcher where you’ll find leaf lard, raw dog food, and any cut of meat you want. Please call ahead to place your order if you’re looking for popular cuts like skirt steak, hangar steak and tenderloin.
Most retailers sell grass-fed meat now, but I recommend checking country of origin before buying. Lastly, grass-fed doesn’t mean 100% grass fed; it usually means the animals are finished on grain. If you buy from farmers, you can ask them exactly what they feed their animals.