Is it 'Salad Bar Beef' or Grass-Fed?

Our cows forage daily on fresh pasture and are fed grass hay during the winter months when pasture is unavailable. They are never given supplemental grains, medications such as antibiotics or hormones or by-products. We use a rotational grazing system to minimize the cow’s impact on the land, reduce the parasite load on the animals and maximize the rate of forage available by allowing the grass to rest and regenerate. This marriage of land and livestock management leads to healthier soil, happier cows and nutrient dense beef for our customers.


In conventional agriculture, cows are typically fed a diet of corn and soy and oftentimes have limited or no access to fresh pasture, instead of residing in feedlots, which is an enclosed area or building where livestock spend their entire lifecycle. According to the USDA, “All cattle start out eating grass; three-fourths of them are "finished" (grown to maturity) in feedlots where they are fed specially formulated feed based on corn or other grains.” The USDA, responsible for inspecting beef grown in the United States, also permits the use of antibiotics and growth hormones in cattle raised for consumption. The USDA conducts random sampling of animals at slaughter and claims their sampling has “shown a very low percentage of residue violations.”


The term ‘salad bar beef,’ referring to a sustainable model for grass fed, grass finished beef production was coined by the revolutionary farmer, author, and sustainable agriculture spokesperson, Joel Salatin, a multigenerational Virginian farmer who operates Polyface Farms. He outlines the system used at Polyface in his book, “Salad Bar Beef.”


“In a day when beef is assailed by many environmental organizations and lauded by fast-food chains, a new paradigm to bring reason to this confusion is in order. With farmers leaving the land in droves and plows poised to "reclaim" set-aside acres, it is time to offer an alternative that is both land and farmer friendly.


Beyond that, the salad bar beef production model offers hope to rural communities, to struggling row-crop farmers, and to frustrated beef eaters who do not want to encourage desertification, air and water pollution, environmental degradation and inhumane animal treatment. Because this is a program weighted toward creativity, management, entrepreneurism and observation, it breathes fresh air into farm economics.” - Joel Salatin, “Salad Bar Beef.”


Why not just call it grass-fed? Well, the truth is that with running a farm business, there comes a lot of paperwork and red tape. The reality of owning any business is the necessity of abiding by the government’s rules and regulations when it comes to food safety, processing, labeling, packaging, etc. Grass-fed has become one of those hot button terms used in the food industry to promote a ‘better quality’ product. Sadly, the definition of grass-fed is often unilateral, meaning one thing to one farmer and another to someone else. This has led the US government to regulate the term itself – which is why we stay away from labeling our meat as grass fed.


Ultimately, a label is just that – a term slapped on a package without any substance behind it. At Creswick Farms, we value integrity in farming practices and strive to provide the best quality, holistic lifestyle for our livestock while offering a superior product to our customers.


Call it whatever you like – our beef is raised with love, nutrient-rich and absolutely delicious!


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