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This Month In Diet
  • Best Low-Carb Vegetables
    Unfortunately, carb-conscious dieters can’t just cut out bread, pasta, and cereal. They’ve got to also watch their vegetable intake. Because believe it or not, vegetables have carbohydrates, and some have more carbs than others. Read >>
  • Skip the Saturated Fat
    Healthy fats provide energy, help your body absorb vitamins and minerals, and are needed for cell growth, muscle movement, blood clotting, and healthy inflammation. But other fats, like saturated fats, should be avoided at all costs. Read >>
  • Spice Things Up with Ginger
    In addition to being delicious, ginger is one of the healthiest spices you can eat. Here’s how it can improve your health. Read >>
  • Grass-Fed, Free-Range, Organic, Cage-Free, or Pasture-Raised
    As you decide which eggs, poultry, and beef to purchase, you may wonder what it means when the packaging says, “grass-fed,” “free-range,” “organic,” “cage-free,” or “pasture-raised.” Wonder no longer. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

Grass-Fed, Free-Range, Organic, Cage-Free, or Pasture-Raised

How do you buy your food?

Choosing which food to buy can be a confusing process, and it seems like it’s becoming more difficult every day. When your grocery store offers multiple types of the same food for different prices and with different health claims, how do you know which is the best option? You want your family to eat healthy but you also want to save money. Maybe you also care about how the animals you eat were treated as they were raised.

As you decide which eggs, poultry, and beef to purchase, you may wonder what it means when the packaging says, “grass-fed,” “free-range,” “organic,” “cage-free,” or “pasture-raised.” Wonder no longer. Keep reading to learn the meaning of these sometimes confusing claims.

Organic

You probably know what organic means. When a food is grown or raised organically, it means no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, growth hormones, or antibiotics were used during the planting and growth process. Organic methods are safer for the environment and are held to high standards regulated by the government.

Produce, grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, beef, and poultry can all be organic. Organic beef or poultry means the animals were not fed GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) corn or soy but were fed organic feed. Organic doesn’t mean the animal was free-roaming outdoors.

Free-Range

Usually used to designate certain types of poultry, when you see the label “free-range,” it means the chickens were able to roam around in natural conditions, or that they had the ability to go outdoors and search for their food for a limited amount of time. For chickens, this label is not regulated, so you can’t know how much time the hens were actually outdoors or how large the outdoor area was.

Free-range eggs come from free-range chickens.

For a farm to advertise their beef as free-range, the cows must spend at least one-third of the year outside. That said, as with poultry, there are no rules about how large the outdoor space must be or what the conditions are like.

Free-range animals may eat an organic diet or they can be fed corn, soy, or wheat.

Grass-Fed

When the majority of a cow’s diet consists of grass, the beef may be labeled “grass-fed.” These cattle are allowed to graze for fresh grass, weeds, or bushes to eat. The better the soil, the healthier the cows. For the last few months of their lives, the cattle may be fed grain or hay to fatten them up. Grass-fed beef is known to taste better and contains more vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids than commercially raised cattle.

Pasture-Raised

Another healthy option to look for is “pasture-raised.” Pasture-raised chickens, turkeys, or cows are similar to grass-fed. They eat grasses from the fields, but their diets are also supplemented with grain, especially during the winter. However, it’s important to note that just because animals are pasture-raised doesn’t mean they were fed organic feed.

Cage-Free

Chickens raised in a cage live in only 67 square inches of space, which is smaller than a sheet of paper. Such chickens have no room to roam, spread their wings, or get natural sunlight. Caged chickens are fed corn, soy, and wheat.

Unfortunately, a “cage-free” animal may not be much better. Cage-free doesn’t mean the chicken was able to roam around and forage freely in the outdoors. It just means the chickens were crowded into a space with no cage. Instead of 67 square inches, they may have as much as 144.

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