The market for ‘Natural’ beef is increasing at about 20% per year.
-Although the government spec for it is a bit squishy,
This is largely due to fears about Mad Cow Disease (BSE), or course.
(Rumor also has it our hardscrabble forebears in the 13 colonies took a while to figure out it was not cricket to dump a chamber-pot upstream of the source for drinking water…)
Given the natural+organic total market share is presently 1%, the growth rate is still slow.
And as the market for ‘Natural’ is increasing, the overall beef market is actually Down from 25.1 billion pounds in 1995 to 24.6 billion pounds this year.
Although there are ~almost no laws for what it cannot contain,
The USDA does consider ‘Natural’ beef to be free of artificial ingredients, colors, dyes and preservatives.
It must also be minimally processed.
…Other than that, Bob’s your uncle. And Bob is not the same as Grass-Fed-Organic;
Though some producers have established their own more stringent guidelines,
It is important to do some digging on their methodology to avoid ye olde hood-wink ;)
Obviously, feed content would be a good place to start. -If they butcher it themselves, that’s also a big plus due to the toughness of prions which tend to stick around.
Lucky for you, the USDA Does at least require some kind of process declaration on beef labeled ‘Natural’.
But unlike Japan, the US does NOT test All its beef for BSE and private, non-USDA testing is currently in Outlaw Jesse James territory. Hmm…
Even though the government is sloooow.ly. tightening restrictions on the beef industry, the end product will be a combination of producers’ actions and enforcement.
It seems like a ‘no-brainer’ to buy from a company that voluntarily took on more stringent standards from its inception as opposed to one that was grudgingly forced to comply over time.
It is yet another sad example of capitalism run amok that these regulations & labels are even necessary.
You would think maintaining the Species Boundary and giving livestock only vegetable-based feed would be common sense.
-If you don’t feel like eating the central nervous system of a potentially sick animal, why would you feed it to your prospective T-Bone?
In the end, many of the increases in production for the stuff that is not natural beef seem like false economies if the risk of mad cow goes up.
This ‘Supersizing’ adds weight faster (mostly in terms of water, fat, flavorless protein and worse),
But at what cost to the end user? You can have your $3.00 steak, but one way or another you’re going to pay for it.
-Maybe a few bucks extra for the quality of at-least Natural beef in the short run, to avoid something as bad as mad cow, might be a better deal all around?…