There is a growing interest in pasture raised meats (pork, lamb, poultry and beef). Read on to learn about how this approach to raising animals might benefit your health, the animals' living conditions, and the environment. At the end of the article is a list of local and Northwest farms that are raising pastured animals.
What does pasture-raised mean?
Simply put, it means that the animal spent its life grazing and living in open, green pasture. That might seem straightforward, but many of us don’t really know much about how our meat is raised.
Commercial meat is raised using a confinement model. This packs as many animals as possible into a large space. Imagine the noise and smell of 20,000 chickens in a shed the size of a small football field. Animals in these environments are highly stressed and require large amounts of antibiotics to suppress disease and promote fast growth. They are also fed a non-natural diet that is geared towards quick weight gain versus a healthy and nutritious end product.
Pasture raised meat doesn’t mean the same as organic; local farms are often not certified to use the organic label. Generally speaking pasture raised animals are raised in an organic type environment. They don’t need antibiotics to keep them healthy because they live in a low stress, natural setting. Grazing on pasture in and of itself is about as natural and organic as it comes.
Health benefits of pasture-raised
We’ve all been told to steer clear of red meat (or meat in general) because of its high fat and cholesterol content. Current research is indicating that it may be what the animals eat that makes the meat healthy -- or unhealthy -- for us to eat. Most meat animals are raised on a diet high in corn, blood meal and other products that are totally foreign to these animals. That changes the amount and type of fat that the animal stores. In addition, this type of feeding program robs the meat of other healthy and essential nutrients that should go to the consumer.
Pasture-raised meats allow the animal’s systems to function and process feed as designed. The end result is leaner, tastier, healthier and more nourishing food for you. Pasture raised meat nutritional benefits include:
- Lower in calories
- Lower in fat and most importantly saturated fat
- Healthier balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats
- Higher vitamin E content
- Higher amounts of naturally occurring CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)
And, it’s better for the environment
Another positive consideration is the beneficial impact pasture-raised animals have on the environment. They are not dependent on grains and feed shipped in from hundreds of miles away. This means that they require fewer energy resources to support them. They live in a sustainable environment that helps to prevent soil erosion and promotes bird and wildlife habitat.
With pasture raised meats, everybody wins. Local resources are limited in our area. We’ve listed the closest farms and a few others for you to explore.
Abundantly Green Farm
Lopez Island Farm
Lamb, pork – BI deliveries by pre-order
Lopez Island, WA
Pasture-raised beef, BI deliveries by pre-order
Lostine, OR 97857
Rolling Bay Farm
Lamb in the fall
Bainbridge Island, WA
Skagit River Ranch
Beef, chicken, eggs, pork
Sedro Woolley, WA 98284
Beef, lamb, poultry, goat, pork
Walla Walla, WA – local buying clubs