At MacDougall Meadows, we specialize in providing our customers with meat from pasture-raised animals. But what exactly does this term mean?
In the supermarket, you will often see references to pasture-raised or grass-fed meat. Pasture-raised refers to where it eats, while grass-fed refers to what it eats. Many animals that are pasture-raised, such as chicken and pork, cannot be referred to as grass-fed because they don’t eat much grass. Their diets are supplemented with grains, or, in the case of chickens, whatever else they forage on the ground, such as insects.
One of the greatest benefits of raising an animal in a pasture is the benefit to its health. Animals that are kept indoors all the time may develop conditions or diseases that don’t occur outdoors. Fresh air, natural food, and clean water are the essential ingredients for a healthy animal. They require less medication, if any, and live a happier life, which we at MacDougall Meadows believe actually makes a difference in the flavor of the meat.
Another benefit is the animal’s state of mind. For example, pigs that are kept in pens all day can exhibit many of the same mental symptoms that humans do when they are confined for long periods of time with no mental stimulation. They develop obsessive behavior patterns that may include self-harm, such as incessant chewing on bars or beating their snouts against a door, resulting in sores and infections. Pigs that have free access to the outdoors, on the other hand, are happy and content. Which kind of pork would you rather eat?
Environmentally, too, pasture-raised meat makes a big difference. We feel very strongly that the future of sustainable food production includes lots of small farms like ours, rather than huge industrial complexes that treat animals as nothing more than a product, and the people who buy their food as nothing more than consumers.
We also believe that our animals deserve to be raised with the utmost respect and compassion. You may ask, why would you feel this way about an animal you’re going to kill and eat? The answer is: we treat them that way BECAUSE we are going to eat them. Nothing is more important to us than the food we put into our bodies. The way we treat our animals is reflected in the way we treat ourselves, including the kind of nutrition we take in. Treating our animals well makes us better people, and it provides better food, which makes us healthier.
So, when we say our animals are pasture-raised, this is not just a marketing term. It expresses our entire philosophy of raising animals for food.
We want to share this philosophy with you, our customers, because we believe it’s very important for the people who buy our meat to have a good understanding of our ethical principles. When you buy meat from MacDougall Meadows, you are participating in and supporting this philosophy. We also know that our philosophy is one of the things that makes our food so good. Buying pasture-raised meat from MacDougall Meadows helps keep you and your family healthy, helps assure that animals are being treated compassionately, and helps mitigate the impact on global warming.