Grass fed is not the same as certified organic!
When it comes to whey protein, consumers choose products with the label grass fed, organic, fair trade and free range knowing that they are better for you. With all the various health label claims popping up in today's market, It has become increasingly difficult to know what each label means. Essentially the question that is often overlooked is 'what you are paying for?' It is important to note that grass fed is not the same as organic and vice versa. In fact, it is possible to be certified organic and grass fed. Below, we have listed the pros and cons for both grass fed and organic products.
"The whole grass fed thing is becoming much more of a buzz word ... ten years ago it was all about grain fed." Sam Canning, specialty butcher.
Grass fed beef was put onto the map with the paleo movement. It is considered a much healthier option compared to grain fed cattle. There are studies that have found grass fed beef has a healthier fatty acid composition, compared to grain fed product. The Cattle Council of Australia has a certification process, through its Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System. While there is a certification board to grass fed cattle, many work to their own standards. This leads to inconsistency as to what entails the cattle to be grass fed. To be eligible to use the 'Certified Pasturefed' label, cattle must have had open access to graze pasture their entire life, have not been confined for the purposes of intensive feeding for production, be fully traceable for their entire life via the National Livestock Identification System and be guaranteed to eat well, based on Meat Standards Australia. However, producers are still allowed to use growth hormones, antibiotics and spray poisons on the grass that the cattle gaze on. They can choose to have hormone and antibiotic free labels, but it isn't a requirement.
Grassfed cattle is also often grain finished. This means that the last 90 days of the life of the cattle, they are fed grain to help marble the meat. Whilst there is some form of regulation available, the grass fed claim is still in dire need of better regulation. It needs to crack down on people claiming grass fed and create a national standardisation.
As one of the fastest growing markets in Australia, certified organic food is worth an estimated $1.76 billion a year. More than a million people choose to buy organic food each year. If it's certified organic, it ensures it's free of; synthetic pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. The standards also outline animal welfare requirements, annual audits and random audits throughout the year. The random audits ensure that organic procedure is kept as standard to the practice. Certified organic procedures are expensive! It involves huge amounts of record keeping as well as proving that your land has not been exposed to artificial chemicals for at least three years.
However, certified organic does not naturally mean grass fed. It is a requirement that the Cattle are given time to graze on the land but can often be fed organic certified grains and is often done when grass stock is limited. We have previously shown that certified organic milk has shown to be more rich in nutrients than conventional milk and the same applies to its beef. Conventional meat is more likely to be contaminated with anti-biotic resistant bacteria.
So grass fed or certified organic?
At the end of the day, the best option is both. From there, you have to decide whether you prefer to have a product that is free from antibiotics, hormones and synthetic pesticides or whether you prefer a product that was fed a predominately grass based diet but was still susceptible to artificial intervention, poisons and hormones.
Divinita uses only certified organic whey protein from the European Alps. Our cows are predominately fed grass and are farmed in a certified organic matter. This level of quality and authenticity allows us to be sure that we provide the best quality protein available.