A New Layer of Confusion

Glen Boudreaux
Jolie Vue Farms
Brenham, Texas

"There you go again", USDA.

You have probably read of the confusion that our government has created in the lexicon of natural, sustainable agriculture, but let's review that US Government double-speak dictionary.

Natural means nothing more than "minimally processed".

Free range means only that the creature has "access to the out of doors".

Organic allows for the use of some 60+ non-organic products.

The USDA is poised to add a new term to its double-speak dictionary: Grass Fed.

What's the problem?

In the real naturally-grown community, grass fed has always referred to beef cattle that was
1) raised on open pasture its entire life,
2) ate exclusively on grass, be it fresh during the growing season or baled during the winter, and
3) free of all drugs, hormones, and steroids.

The USDA has now re-defined "grass fed" to exclude all 3 processes. "USDA Grass Fed" can come from cattle that was confined in a feedlot, drugged and injected, and came from mothers that were grain-fed or were grain-fed themselves, until weaning age.

I am not making this up, folks. Go to the usda.gov website and see for yourselves.

And this definition comes despite majority objection to this process during the discussion period preceding the finalization of the rule.

This is probably not news to you, but you just cannot trust your own government anymore.

What is the counter-balance against this pro-industrial bias of our government? More and more we are seeing the creation of private certification agencies. "Certified Naturally Grown" is one (see www.naturallygrown.com).

With the new USDA Grass Fed announcement, the American Grass Fed Association has announced its plan to set up its own certification process for grass fed beef which will require the 3 standards mentioned above.

What does all of this mean for the consumer? Get educated, know your producer, ignore government "certifications", and look for standards promulgated by private certification agencies. Otherwise, you too may fall victim to government double-speak.

Yours in the local harvest,

Glen Boudreaux
(comments are welcome at boboud@aol.com)