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Truxton, NY

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BEEF Lingo

Sounds great, but what does it MEAN?

There are so many terms and language when it comes to buying meat.  It all sounds great, but what does it really mean?  Here is a cheat sheet of terms and their meaning.

My personal 'layman's' explanation - not technical.  If you like technical see USDA terms below.


Animals were fed grain at their last stage, the 'finishing' stage.  The animal typically has a predisposed ability to have lots or little marbling in their meat.  Grain finishing an animal that has a high marbling genetic will add more marbling flecks within the meat.  These flecks melt as the meat cooks creating a more tender and juicier cut of meat.


Animals that are grass finished receive stored grass (hay, baleage, haylage) or pasture grass during their last stage, the 'finishing' stage.  This process typically takes more time to get the animal to a finished weight.  The benefits are a leaner and some same "gamier" tasting meat.  Braising and slow cooking this type of meat is recommended to make it more tender.


Animals which have been fed stored grass (hay, baleage, haylage) or pasture grass as the main component in their diet.  


Animals have access to the outdoors and are not kept exclusively in a barn or cage setting.

Definitions taken directly from USDA's website.


A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product. The label must include a statement explaining the meaning of the term natural (such as "no artificial ingredients; minimally processed").

The term "no hormones administered" may be approved for use on the label of beef products if sufficient documentation is provided to the Agency by the producer showing no hormones have been used in raising the animals.

NO ANTIBIOTICS (red meat and poultry):
The terms "no antibiotics added" may be used on labels for meat or poultry products if sufficient documentation is provided by the producer to the Agency demonstrating that the animals were raised without antibiotics.

For information about the National Organic Program and use of the term "organic" on labels, refer to these factsheets from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service: Fact Sheet

The term "certified" implies that the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Agriculture Marketing Service have officially evaluated a meat product for class, grade, or other quality characteristics (e.g., "Certified Angus Beef"). When used under other circumstances, the term must be closely associated with the name of the organization responsible for the "certification" process, e.g., "XYZ Company's Certified Beef."