What makes your products different from other grass-fed meats?
Part of the challenge in producing grass-fed meat is providing year-round consistent quality. Our Pilot Brand lamb and Pasture Perfect beef programs have access to grass-fed animals that are able to graze all year round on high quality pasture. From these, animals that meet our strict standards are selected. These include grading based on the condition of the animal (its conformation and in cattle the marbling of the meat produced) and the breed of the animal (some breeds are known to produce better meat than others). If the meat isnâ€™t up to our quality, it doesnâ€™t get packed. From there we impose our high standards of trim and handling ensuring this quality makes it to your plate.
What types of grasses are the animals raised on?
There is a variety of grasses, predominantly rye grass with clover and other broad leaf grasses in spring and summer. If needed in winter when grass growth is reduced, the animals can be put on leafy feed crops such as chicory or brassicas, or fed hay harvested during the summer.
Does grass-fed meat taste different?
The flavor profile of meat is influenced by what the animal is fed during its lifetime, and especially in the months just prior to processing. Most beef and lamb in the US is finished on grain which has a less substantial flavor than grass-fed beef and lamb. Many connoisseurs consider grass-fed meat to have a richer, â€œtruerâ€ heritage flavor.
What is the eating quality of grass-fed meat? Is it chewy?
The succulence and â€˜biteâ€™ of all meat varies depending on the animals finish (condition at processing). All of our animals are selected for a high level of finish. Tenderness is a fundamental promise in our Pilot Brand lamb program. In beef, tenderness and juiciness can be closely associated with intramuscular fat (marbling). While some grass-fed beef can be very lean, beef with similar finish and marbling will have similar eating characteristics. Beef selected for the Pasture Perfect grass-fed beef program is graded for marbling under an internationally recognized system to marble scores (MBS) of 2-4, which is USDA Choice to Prime equivalent.
Is there saturated fat in grass-fed meat?
Yes, but this can be misleading. The only saturated fat in grass-fed meat is a â€œgoodâ€ fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which can reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes. It is actually the only type of saturated fat that is considered healthy for you. Because standard nutrition labeling regulations do not distinguish between CLA and other saturated fats, CLA is reported under the saturated fats value in the â€œnutrition informationâ€ panel on retail labels.
Are the animals confined? What about during winter?
Our grass-fed animals are never confined. New Zealandâ€™s temperate climate means that it is not necessary to house them during winter. They are provided with natural shade and wind breaks through appropriately planted trees.
What about BSE?
New Zealand is a relatively isolated island nation, with famously strict biosecurity and quarantine regulations. There has never ever been a case of BSE in New Zealand. Likewise, Australia is an island continent and has never had a case of BSE.
Are the animals given growth hormones or fed antibiotics?
No. Animals in the Pilot Brands lamb and Pasture Perfect beef programs have never been treated with growth hormones and are not fed antibiotics.
Is grass-fed meat healthier than grain fed?
Grass-fed meats are higher in vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene and health benefiting fats such as CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), and lower in cholesterol, calories and saturated fats than grain-fed meats. Grass-fed meats have much higher proportions of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids than grain fed meats. A higher ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 essential fatty acids is important in a healthy diet and reduces the risk of many diseases (the FDA recognizes the value of Omega-3 in reducing the risk of heart disease).