U.S. regulators are coming to realize the potential dangers of antibiotics in food animals. We’re behind much of the world on this subject, and the tide is starting to turn on the development of antibiotic-free meat products. But we’re not there yet. With a little effort though, it is possible to locate antibiotic-free meat products.
Tips For Finding Antibiotic-Free Meat
Farmer’s markets are best known for locally grown crops, but they can also be a great resource for meat products as well. Local farmers know and understand the needs of their consumers, and many have responded by customizing their practices of growing cattle and birds for just that purpose. This means their not just grass-fed, but many times antibiotic-free and hormone-free. Options for buyers include anything from buying specific cuts of meat to splitting an entire animal after slaughter. A few years ago, several of my relatives split an entire beef cow with us, and it was the best tasting beef we’d ever had. Be warned though — since its lacking all the additives you normally find in supermarket cuts, be prepared for some differences in meat coloration and odor.
2. Buy Direct From Slaughterhouses And Butchers
Many smaller slaughterhouse operations will sell direct to consumers. These are usually smaller operators that are FDA inspected and approved for both large-scale and smaller scale operations. These kinds of places usually also cater to hunters, so they can be a good resource for ferreting out these gems.
3. Stretch Your Boundaries
If you’re up to feeling adventurous, try something new and different. Meat products like rabbit, venison, buffalo, and elk can often be ordered direct from custom locations, and are often raised as antibiotic-free meat products. Sale of meats like rabbit are often made specifically to heart patients, specifically for the health benefits. If you’re feeling extra-adventurous, cozy up to a hunter. They’re usually more than willing to share in the harvest, and you’ll have the added benefit of knowing these animals lived as “free-range” in the truest sense of the phrase.
4. Look For Private-Label Brands That Cater To The Health Conscious
Brand names like Laura’s Lean Beef have built their reputation catering to the health conscious. They contract their products to farmers, and according to their website, tightly control the care of the livestock that makes it to their label.
As U.S. consumers are becoming more aware of the advantages of antibiotic-free meat products, the availability is set to grow. Some restaurant chains have started making the shift, in an effort to protect their brands, and be responsive to consumer demands. But for the regular guy on the street, finding antibiotic-free meats can still present a challenge. But with a little effort, we can make use of healthier, more sustainable products at the dinner table too.