A growing body of scientific research validates what grassfed producers already know—that Authentic Grassfed meat and dairy production is regenerative and provides highly nourishing meat and dairy products. According to research published in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, “with appropriate grazing management, ruminant livestock can increase [carbon] sequestration in the soil to more than offset their GHG emissions.”1 Likewise, researchers have reported in Agricultural Systems that the adoption of improved grazing management facilitates soil [carbon] sequestration,” and that “the finishing phase of the beef production system may serve as an overall GHG sink.”2 If one accounts for this positive relationship between grazing and pasture health, Authentic Grassfed animal agriculture can improve the health of the land and ecosystem.
Organic meat and dairy has many benefits but still allows for confinement during parts of the year and does not guarantee a 100% grass and forage diet. Some Authentic Grassfed producers choose to pursue the USDA Organic certification in addition to their commitment to grassfed. Authentic Grassfed meat and dairy producers adhere to the following principles:
- Require 100% grass or forage based diet for the entire life of an animal
- Do not use partial grassfed claims
- Provide animals with continuous access to pasture or rangeland
- Do not confine animals or finish in feedlots
- Do not use drugs in healthy animals, including antibiotics and hormones, for non-therapeutic purposes
- Ensure the ‘five freedoms’ for basic animal welfare, including freedom 1) from hunger and thirst, 2) from discomfort, 3) from pain, injury or disease, to express normal behavior, and 5) from fear and distress
- Restrict incidental supplementation
- Minimize use of synthetic fertilizers and industrial pesticides
- Provide transparency of animal origin, processing, and final product composition
- Are verified through third-party, on-farm inspections on an annual basis including diﬀerent seasons
The price of meat and dairy products will vary by retailer. Producing Authentic Grassfed meat and dairy requires that farmers and ranchers employ practices that ensure animal welfare, benefit the land, and support transparency. Staying true to these practices may make grassfed products more or less expensive than conventional or Organic products. It is important to note that conventional and Organic supply chains often benefit from economies of scale in processing and distribution that grassfed producers cannot access.
Nearly all cattle, whether destined for conventional or grassfed markets, start their lives on pasture (which also applies to other grazing animals like sheep, bison and more). Authentic Grassfed farmers and ranchers continue to raise their animals on 100% grass and forage diets for the entirety of their lives. Meat and dairy that is labeled as Partially Grassfed may have started on pasture but been finished on grain in feedlots. The Pasture-Raised claim is not regulated by the USDA and does not guarantee 100% grass and forage diets, as animals can be raised outside while still being fed grain.
There are several third-party certifications that align with the Authentic Grassfed Principles. Approved certifiers include:
Authentic Grassfed meat and dairy products are not only high in protein, but they deliver nutrients not found in plants, including vitamin B12, heme iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, vitamin D, and vitamin K2.
Data on the nutritional differences between 100% grassfed and conventional meat and dairy is limited but suggests that production practices may influence nutrient content. Similar to their conventional counterparts, Authentic Grassfed meat and dairy products are not only high in protein, but they deliver nutrients not found in plants, including vitamin B12, heme iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, vitamin D, and vitamin K2.
While Authentic Grassfed beef contains more omega 3 fatty acids and a more favorable omega 6:omega 3 fatty acid ratio compared to grain finished beef, these distinctions are not not substantial enough to impact human health.2 Authentic Grassfed meat and dairy products, similar to other meat and dairy products, are high in protein and deliver nutrients not found in plants, including vitamin B12, heme iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, vitamin D, and vitamin K2.