Why I'm not labeling my beef as "natural" anymore
March 22, 2017
I spent 11 years as a vendor at several farmers’ markets, selling cuts of beef from cattle I raised.
Recently, I ran out of business cards and when re-ordering from my local print shop I decided to remove the word “natural”. My beef still qualifies as “natural”, but I’ll no longer use the term. You see, the word had led to some confusion. Customers at the farmers’ markets would often ask about it, which would sometimes lead to great conversations
about food labels, but when there wasn’t an opportunity to have that conversation I felt that I might be contributing to non-farm consumers’ confusion.
All those adjectives and labels can be overwhelming; natural, organic, local, sustainable, kosher, gluten-free, whole-grain, ancient
grain, premium, prime, choice, select, free-range, pastured-raised, cage-free, GMO, non-GMO, heritage, humane, clean, and on and on. Some of them have specific, meaningful legal definitions and others are simply vague marketing terms and are unnecessarily perplexing, irrelevant and often lead to baseless fear of food.
I personally know lots of farmers and ranchers across the country, the majority of them in rural areas without access to direct marketing opportunities
(like farmers’ markets that I can take advantage of living close to major population centers) thus their products end up in grocery stores. I can attest
to their hard work, pride and commitment to providing safe, nutritious food because it’s just like mine. I feed my family food from the grocery store, much of it without any descriptive adjectives, confident in its quality.
Michele and her husband, Gary are full-time farmers raising corn, soybeans, alfalfa, wheat and cattle in northern Illinois. Their son has started his own dairy cattle herd recently and they have shifted how they do things on their farm in order to support him and be good stewards of the land.
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