Meat Standards

Welcome to the humane way to omnivore

We believe the wellbeing of our communities and our planet prosper when our food is humanely raised and sustainably farmed. That’s why we partner with local farmers and ranchers who regenerate our grasslands, reverse soil erosion, protect our waterways, and preserve habitats for future generations. When the health of all living things is the foundation for farming practices, we promote economic viability and environmental harmony. We only offer selections produced in ways that nurture the health of animals, our communities, and the planet.

How do we source the highest quality meat and hold it to the most rigorous standards around?

We have a dedicated team of experts who research sustainable, humane and regenerative agricultural practices, visit the farms, and require proof of authenticity. We also partner with farmers and ranchers to create change through holistic methods and work with them to continue to improve their practices. But it doesn’t stop there.

We catch the loopholes on label claims so that you can find the products that meet your expectations

Transparency in the food chain is one of the most important ways we can empower change in the way animals are treated, how the environment is regenerated, human health is fostered, and economic vitality is ensured.

 

 

Our prices make quality affordable; our Standards ensure a healthier tomorrow

We have put together a ranking system for our fresh and frozen meat selections that will help you find the quality you are looking for. Our basic Standard, Bronze, usually matches the highest standard found at other grocery stores and farmers’ markets. From Bronze to Silver to Gold, we work hard to ensure our Meat Standards are the absolute best. Bronze ensures all the products we sell are humanely raised and sustainably farmed and/or sourced. This means antibiotics, hormones, growth promotants, and animal by-products are prohibited and that humane animal care, ample space, and environments that encourage natural behaviors are required. Silver and Gold include all Bronze requirements. Since Bronze covers animal welfare, drugs and antibiotics, and other crucial environmental practices, our Silver and Gold Standards focus on bold regenerative farming practices that safeguard a healthy planet for future generations.

 

 

Meat Standard Charts

PORK STANDARDS1

HUMANELY RAISED   

Bronze 

Bronze+ 

Silver 

Gold 

 

Farming practices that treat animals with care and respect where animal welfare is given top priority 

 

Raised in groups unless medically necessary to separate 

 

No cages 

 

No gestation stalls, tethers or farrowing crates 

 

No over-feeding/breeding that accelerates growth and impairs health 

 

No teeth clipping/grinding, or face branding  
(tail docking only allowed to prevent tail biting) 

 

Electric prods prohibited except when animal or human safety is in jeopardy and is the means of last resort 

 

Humane handling and slaughter requirement 

 

Indoor stalls with deeply bedded pens include room for rooting, nesting and opportunity to express and encourage natural behaviors 

  

 

Year-round outdoor access for exercise weather permitting 

  

  

  

 

DIET 

Bronze 

Bronze+ 

Silver 

Gold 

 

Vegetarian fed

 

No non-agricultural foodstuffs or by-products in feed2

 

No animal by-products 

 

Non-GMO feed 

  

  

 

Certified organic feed3

 

 

 

 

DRUGS/ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP4

Bronze 

Bronze+ 

Silver 

Gold 

 

No antibiotics 

 

No hormones5

 

No ionophores or other drugs that improve feed efficiency

 

No synthetic and/or drug growth promotants

 

No cloned or genetically modified animals 

 

Sustainable farming practices that reduce soil erosion, protect waterways, and preserve local farming communities 

 

Certified organic

  

  

  

 

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN 

Bronze 

Bronze+ 

Silver 

Gold 

 

100% U.S. domestically born, raised, and processed 

  

 

 

Wild Boar Standards6

HUMANELY RAISED AND SUSTAINABLY SOURCED

Gold 

Foraging in the wild year-round 

Non-GMO forage 

Reducing the population protects the land from environmental damage as wild boar is considered an invasive species 

Hunting practices that treat animals with care and respect where animal welfare is given top priority 

Humane handling and slaughter requirement 

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN 

Gold 

100% U.S. domestically sourced and processed 

Y

 

1These standards apply to fresh and frozen products only where meat is the first or only ingredient

2Such as expired candy, stale bakery products, etc.

3Organic is naturally non-GMO

4Drugs used in agriculture not only negatively impact animal health and wellbeing, but they also have a negative impact on the environment

5Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in pork production 

6These standards apply to fresh and frozen products only where meat is the first or only ingredient. Wild boar, due to it being wild is naturally not given antibiotics, growth hormones, ionophores, synthetic growth promotants, or other drugs. Additionally, as boar is a wild species it is non-GMO and not cloned. 

SPECIES: pig (aka swine, boar, wild boar)

POULTRY STANDARDS1

HUMANELY RAISED 

Bronze

Silver

Gold

Farming practices that treat animals with care and respect where animal welfare is given top priority

Y

Y

Y

Enriched environments to express and encourage natural behaviors

Y

Y

Y

Indoor barn or shelter provided for protection from predators and inclement weather with space to move

CHICKEN: .8 sq. ft/6 lbs. of bird

TURKEY: 1 sq. ft/10 lbs. of bird

OSTRICH: 20 sq. ft/1 bird

DUCKS & GEESE: 1 sq. ft/6 lbs. of bird

Y

Y

Y

Raised in groups unless medically necessary to separate

Y

Y

Y

No cages

Y

Y

Y

No over-feeding/breeding that accelerates growth and/or impairs health

CHICKEN: No birds over 7.5 lbs.
TURKEY: No toms over 48 lbs., no hens over 28 lbs.

OSTRICH: No toms over 300 lbs. and no hens over 250 lbs.

DUCKS & GEESE: No birds over 8 lbs.

Y

Y

Y

No physical alterations beyond beak trimming
(must be performed before 10 days of age using infrared technology)

Y

Y

Y

Humane handling and slaughter requirement

Y

Y

Y

Free-range outdoor access year-round, weather permitting, ample space and enriched environments to express and encourage natural behaviors
CHICKEN, TURKEY, DUCKS & GEESE: 20% of allocated indoor space
OSTRICH: 2 acres for every 100 birds

 

Y

Y

Controlled Atmosphere Stunning (CAS)

 

 

Y

DIET

Bronze

Silver

Gold

No land animal by-products2

Y

Y

Y

Non-GMO feed

 

Y

Y

Certified organic feed3

 

 

Y

DRUGS/ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP4

Bronze

Silver

Gold

No pre-hatched antibiotics

Y

Y

Y

No antibiotics

Y

Y

Y

No hormones5

Y

Y

Y

No ionophores or other drugs that improve feed efficiency

Y

Y

Y

No synthetic and/or drug growth promotants

Y

Y

Y

No cloned or genetically modified animals

Y

Y

Y

Certified organic

 

 

Y

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN

Bronze

Silver

Gold

100% U.S. domestically born, raised, and processed

 

 Y

Y


 

1These standards apply to fresh and frozen products only, where meat is the first and/or primary ingredient

2Poultry are never fed land animal by-products but may be fed fish or fish meal

3Organic feed is naturally non-GMO

4Drugs used in agriculture not only negatively impact animal health and wellbeing, but they also have a negative impact on the environment

5Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in poultry production

SPECIES: chicken, turkey, duck, geese, ostrich

RUMINANT STANDARDS1

HUMANELY RAISED 

Bronze

Silver

Gold

Farming practices that treat animals with care and respect where animal welfare is given top priority

Y

Y

Y

Raised in groups unless medically necessary to separate

Y

Y

Y

No over-feeding/breeding that accelerates growth and impairs health

Y

Y

Y

No tail docking, wattling (a form of branding), or face branding

Y

Y

Y

Electric prods prohibited except when animal or human safety is in jeopardy and is the means of last resort

Y

Y

Y

Humane handling and slaughter required

Y

Y

Y

Better genetics (breeds that thrive on grass)

 

 

Y

DIET

Bronze

Silver

Gold

Vegetarian fed

Y

Y

Y

No non-agricultural foodstuffs or by-products in feed, fodder or forage2

Y

Y

Y

No animal by-products

Y

Y

Y

DRUGS/ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP3

Bronze

Silver

Gold

No antibiotics4

Y

Y

Y

No hormones

Y

Y

Y

No ionophores or other drugs that improve feed efficiency

Y

Y

Y

No synthetic and/or drug growth promotants

Y

Y

Y

No cloned or genetically modified animals

Y

Y

Y

Sustainable farming practices that reduce soil erosion, protect waterways and preserve local farming communities

Y

Y

Y

Non-GMO alfalfa

 

Y

Y

100% grass fed5 and/or certified organic6

 

Y

Y

100% grass fed5 using regenerative agricultural practices, such as Holistic Planned Grazing or other managed pasture grazing system

 

 

Y

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN                                                                                             

Bronze

Silver

Gold

100% U.S. domestically born, raised, and processed

 

 

Y

 

1These standards apply to fresh and frozen products only, where meat is the first and/or primary ingredient

2Such as expired candy, plastic pallets, stale bakery products, etc.

3Drugs used in agriculture not only negatively impact animal health and wellbeing, but they also have a negative impact on the environment

4Holistic health care for sick animals is given priority. They may be given antibiotics when necessary to ensure they are cared for. Any animal given antibiotics is removed from production and does not become part of the meat supply.

5Natural Grocers’ 100% grass-fed standard is that the animals must be out on pasture year-round, grazing as weather permits, and never confined in a feedlot. If supplemental feed is used, due to weather conditions, it can only consist of grasses and other forages (no grains).

6Organic is naturally non-GMO.

SPECIES: bison, cow, deer, elk, sheep, yak

 

Animals belong on the land, period

This is the way nature intended. There is an amazing interaction between the land and animals. The land feeds the animals, the animals feed the land, and together they create a synergistic whole that keeps the ecosystem working. This synergism keeps carbon sequestered, rain falling where it should, and stored where it’s supposed to be stored, and the green plants effectively cooling the earth during the heat of summer. 

Things we DON’T allow:

  • Sub-therapeutic antibiotics (non-disease treating), including ionophores or other antibiotics used to boost growth, weight, and/or feed efficiency
  • Therapeutic antibiotics. Holistic health care for sick animals is given priority. However, sick animals may be given therapeutic antibiotics when necessary to ensure that they are cared for. Any animal given antibiotics is removed from production and does not become part of the meat supply.
  • Hormones and other synthetic growth promotants, such as arsenicals or beta-agonists drugs like Ractopamine
  • Animal by-products
  • Cages, tie stalls or social isolation (unless the health of the animal requires it)
  • Gestation or farrowing crates
  • Genetically modified animals
  • Cloned animals
  • Overfeeding to promote accelerated growth

Things we DO require:

  • Sustainable farming practices that reduce soil erosion, protect waterways, and preserve local farming communities
  • Ample space and enriched environments to ensure the health of the animals and allow for natural behaviors, such as rooting, seeking, dust bathing, pecking, perching, preening, nesting, and socializing
  • Lighting in barns that is natural for all housed poultry and pork. This lighting must follow a natural day/night pattern to promote health, reduce stress and ensure natural growth patterns
  • Ventilation in barns that maintains air quality to ensure a healthy and safe environment for the animals and farmers
  • Animal welfare standards are always a REQUIREMENT and farms must have plans and management systems in place to:
    • Provide proper nutrition for the individual species
    • Promote health by providing the space necessary for health and wellbeing
    • Provide animals with adequate indoor shelter during inclement weather
    • Manage sickness, injury, stress, or pain—with an emphasis placed on holistic treatment—including having a plan in place to provide humane euthanasia if it becomes necessary
    • Provide biosecurity
    • Provide humane handling from birth to processing
    • Provide land management for pasture and range areas

Things we prioritize:

  • 100% grass fed: Ruminants (Cows, sheep, yak, deer, elk, bison, etc.) are designed to eat grass and live out on pasture all year long. We’ve developed a Grass-fed Standard that we believe sets the bar as high as possible. Our standard for 100% grass fed means the ruminants spend their entire lives on pasture, only eating grasses and other forages and no GMO alfalfa either—making it the highest quality product around.
  • Non-GMO feed: We prefer and encourage non-GMO feed
  • Free range: Animals thrive when they spend time outside. Most of the chicken and turkey products we sell are free range; however, we do carry some products that are not. All Mary’s Free Range, Organic Prairie, Diestel’s Organic line, Coleman’s Organic line, Applegate’s Organic line, Bonafide Provisions, Shelton’s, Tribali, and True Story are all free range.
  • USDA Certified Organic: We support the National Organic Program (NOP) and any meat products that are certified organic meet our Meat Standards. Organic certified products must adhere to strict guidelines that include: no cloned or GMO animals, only non-GMO organic feed, no animal by-products, outdoor access, and no hormones, growth promotants or antibiotics are allowed. Additionally, feed is grown using organic production methods, which means no synthetic pesticides are allowed, instead, integrative pest management is used, and organic production methods usually improve soil health and increase biodiversity.

 

Meet Your Farmer · Connect · Create a Healthier Future

We live in a disconnected world. We are especially disconnected from the way our food is produced. This has led to inhumane practices and an industrial, mega-corporation agricultural system that is denigrating our lands, undermining our health and treating animals, agricultural laborers, processing-plant workers, and farmers inhumanely; as if they are just cogs in the wheel of their profitability. This has led to a misunderstanding regarding the role of animal agriculture. Animal agricultural practices have the power to help reverse climate change or continue to contribute to the problem. The first step in changing this dynamic is to learn how our food is produced. Get to know the farmers and ranchers who make a difference every day and are creating change through holistic methods. We can create a healthier future by what we choose to put on our plates. Prioritizing our planet is the way we do food.

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