Organic, Grass-Fed, and/or Free-Range Meat & Poultry

Why Switch to Grass-Fed Beef?

Nutritional scientists report that by switching to grass-fed beef you will lose weight, have a healthier heart, reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and allergies and improve mental clarity. The reasons involve fundamental nutritional differences. Compared to grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef has higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), more Beta Carotene, more Omega 3 fatty acids, more Vitamins A and E, and lower levels of saturated fats. See here for a great article on the history of fats in the American diet and why grass-fed is better.

What About Organic?

The problem with sorting through the options at your local supermarket is that so many foods can claim to be “all-natural,” “organic,” “free-range” without providing good definitions of what that means. “Certified Organic” means different things in different countries, but generally involves avoidance of synthetic chemical inputs (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, etc) and genetically modified organisms; use of farmland that has been free from chemicals for a number of years (often, three or more); keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail); maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products; undergoing periodic on-site inspections. (From Wikipedia). Sounds complicated? You bet, and expensive too. That’s why many local farms, while following the spirit of organic farming, are often not allowed to call themselves certified as organic. The joy of buying locally, however, means that you get to ask them just how they grow their crops, how they house their chickens, and what they feed their dairy cows. Because what goes into their crops, chickens, and cows is what goes into you–and, lest we forget, into your kids.

Local (DC Metro) Options:

  • Polyface Farms delivers to Arlington, and if a number of people are interested they may add another drop off point in the area.
  • The Organic Butcher
    6712 Old Dominion Drive
    McLean, VA 22101
  • Mount Vernon Farms also has local drop locations.
  • Golden Farm in Middletown, Virginia carries grass-fed beef and lamb, as well as eggs and organic vegetables in the summertime. No growth hormones used. Orders can be placed at 540/868-2765 or 540/868-2389.
  • South Mountain Creamery – delivers milk, eggs, cheese, meat and poultry
  • Chesapeake Bay Foundation: “There are no hormones, antibiotics or pesticides in our beef. Our cows graze healthy pastures eating only grass, the natural feed for ruminants like cows. As a result the meat is lean and clean and good for the environment.” For more information contact Michael Heller or Rob Vaughn at 301.627.4393 or

Online Sources:

  • Here’s a great listing of small, independently owned farms at the EatWild website, “your source for safe, healthy, natural and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork and dairy products.

As always, let me know if you have any suggestions! I’d love to hear about other, healthier, meat options out there.


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