Navigating food labels can be tricky. From the vaguely reassuring to downright confusing, finding trustworthy stamps of approval can be hard. Now, a brand-new grassfed meat certification steers shoppers away from false claims and allows them to rest easy knowing this label is the real deal
The recently introduced Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) Certified Grassfed label is the only grassfed program in North America to guarantee animals are raised outdoors their entire lives; on a 100 percent pasture and forage diet, free of growth hormones and antibiotics, and handled with the greatest compassion from birth. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s grassfed label contains jarring loopholes, where farmers are allowed to inject hormones and antibiotics, and to confine ruminant animals in small spaces outside of the growing season.
The AWA has been auditing, certifying and supporting independent meat and dairy farms since 2006, becoming a trusted label for the highest animal welfare, environmental and sustainability standards.
The demand for humanely raised, grassfed meat has risen rapidly in the last decade—research from the Wallace Center of the Winrock Foundation shows an increase of 25-30 percent every year. Recently, conscientious American consumers have begun questioning where their food comes from and how it is produced. And for good reason; antibiotic-resistant bacteria are on the rise, large-scale factory farms cause environmental pollution and the state of animal welfare is marginal at best in the national food system.
Grassfed animals have beneficial environmental impacts as well; pasture grazing requires far less fossil fuels than a grain feedlot diet and thus reduces carbon emissions, the animals themselves fertilize and harvest the grass, rotating fields and allowing for opportunities of carbon sequestration. Plus the grass’ roots stabilize farmland, preventing erosion and the loss of invaluable topsoil.
The AWA Grassfed accreditation guarantees food production complies with all other AWA specifications and the label can be found on beef cattle, meat and dairy sheep, and meat and dairy bison and goat products. Continual certification requires a $100 annual fee from farmers.