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CUESA E-Letter: Meat Label Rundown

CUESA E-Letter: Meat Label Rundown

CUESA E-Letter: Meat Label Rundown

CUESA’s Weekly E-letter – January 21, 2011

This Week’s
Shopping List
Enjoy the seasonal variety of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Plant starts
Pink Llady apples
Almond butter
Meyer lemons
Dandelion greens
What’s in Your Bag?
Shopper: Rosalind Brooks

Product: Sun dried tomatoes from Everything Under the Sun

Rosalind — a visitor from Las Vegas — was feeling lucky at the Thursday market.

Winter Slaw

Recipe by Sarah Henkin, CUESA’s Market Chef


1 or 2 red beets, peeled and thinly sliced into match sticks

1 or 2 golden beets, peeled and thinly sliced into match sticks

5 Brussels sprouts, cored and thinly sliced

3 sunchokes, washed well and thinly sliced into match sticks

2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into match sticks

1 small bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced

Handful arugula, washed and dried

2 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

A couple tablespoons “soft” herbs such as dill, parsley, cilantro, or chives

pound salty cheese (feta, parmesan, ricotta salata, etc.)

Olive oil

Curious about public transport and parking options for the market?

Special Events and Announcements
Embarcadero Closed Tomorrow ~ 11:30 – 1:30
If ever there were a week to set your alarm and get to the Saturday market early, this is it. Because of the annual Walk For Life rally, the San Francisco Police Department is closing the Embarcadero to all northbound traffic between Mission Street and Fisherman’s Wharf (i.e. right in front of the Ferry Building) from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. The farmers market will remain open, but the Veggie Valet will be closing at 11:30 and there will be no curbside service after that point.

Urban Chickens Class ~ February 10

Hops to Homebrew ~ February 17

Finding New Farmers Among Our Post 9/11 Military Veterans ~ Monday

Free Screening of Water Documentary ~ Thursday

Growing Food and Wisdom: Joan Gussow and Novella Carpenter in Conversation ~ Thursday

Want to Help Stop Colony Collapse?

The Food Wise Booth is Back ~ Tuesdays
Our Saturday cooking demonstrations resume in February. In the meantime, Tuesday market visitors can stop by the Food Wise Booth. Sarah Henkin, CUESA’s market chef, will give out recipe cards and samples of a simple meal made with market ingredients from 12:30 until she runs out. She’ll also be on hand to offer advice for all your seasonal meal planning.

Getting to Know Your Meat Labels
Today’s feature was written by CUESA education intern Keith Tanner.

What is organic meat? Is it different from “natural” meat? Do “free range” and “grass fed” mean the same thing? Is “pasture raised” an official term? If you find yourself asking these questions, you’re not alone; navigating the world of meat can be a dizzying experience. Below, we’ll explore some of the numerous terms and labels that apply to meat, in the hopes of making your shopping experience a little less complicated.

Clearly Organic

Grass Fed: Two Definitions

Somewhat Free Range

Though it is unregulated at present, most small farmers consider the term “pasture raised” (or “pastured”) the best way to describe animals raised outdoors without confinement. Such farmers (and many eaters) still see “pastured” and “pasture raised” as more authentic terms that have yet to be co-opted by larger, industrial-sized companies.

Faux Naturale

Humane: Too Many Choices

There is plenty of disagreement inside and outside the food industry as to which labels are worth paying attention to. As is often the case, if you’re serious about buying meat that comes from a source you approve of, start by getting to know your local ranchers (many publish in-depth information on their websites and some give tours of their farms). And once you find a producer you really trust, you might not need to read so many labels.

Market Update
This is the most up-to-date information about
which sellers will be attending the market as of today. If there are

Saturday, January 22
Returning: Flatland Flower Farm, Happy Quail Farms

Out: Knoll Farms, Les Elements Patisserie, The Apple Farm

Tuesday, January 25

Returning: Marin Gourmet

Blossom Bluff Orchards

Thursday, January 27
Out: Les Elements Patisserie

Seasonality Synopsis for January
Returning and plentiful this month (weather willing):

Asian greens, fennel, cabbages, nettles, sunchokes, pea sprouts, green garlic, blood oranges, collard greens, cherimoyas, tulips, flowering branches, winter squash, onions, spinach, Meyer lemons, radishes, grapefruit, root vegetables, chicories, cruciferous vegetables, kumquats, lettuces

Winding down/limited supply:

Potatoes, peppers, eggs, Brussels sprouts, avocados, apples and pears (available from cold storage only at this time)

Farmer and Vendor items not to be missed:

Apple butter at Hidden Star Orchards, Fukumoto oranges at Tory Farms, Santa Maria Pinquito beans from Rancho Gordo

Featured Recipes for January

CUESA 2011. Please ask permission before reproducing.

Network for Good
see it online.

Share This:

~ This is the Weekly E-letter of the
for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture ~

¼ pound salty cheese (feta, parmesan, ricotta salata, etc.)

See the complete recipe >


This unique, two-part Urban Kitchen SF class taught by Nicole Kramer, urban homesteader and owner of FARMcurious, will give participants a hands-on and practical introduction to everything they’ll need to know to make the leap into keeping city chickens (includes an optional a field trip to Nicole’s Oakland chicken coop).
Reserve a spot.

Just in time for SF Beer Week and Good Food Month, Urban Kitchen SF is hosting its second Hops to Homebrew workshop with local homebrewer Eric Denman. Nigel Walker of
Eatwell Farm will also talk about his homemade malt, which will be used to brew an in-class batch of beer. The workshop will teach participants both the entry-level approach (extract brewing, partial boil) and the advanced approach (full grain, full boil). Each participant will take home an extract starter kit, complete with all of the ingredients needed to make a batch of delicious brew.
Learn more.

Two million young people — many of them from rural backgrounds — have served in the U.S. military since 9/11. These veterans are facing extremely hard times, with high rates of unemployment. Farming can be their ticket to a bright future, and they could help solve our nation’s severe shortage of new farmers. Join Kitchen Table Talks for a conversation with organic farmer Michael O’Gorman, who leads the
Farmer-Veteran Coalition, and a few participating veterans.
Join Food and Water Watch for a special screening of FLOW: For Love of Water. The film is a comprehensive look at the struggles that communities from Michigan to India are undertaking to protect their most precious resource: water.
Watch the trailer and RSVP.

Hear from Joan Gussow, the author of Growing, Older, and Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City, at the Commonwealth Club. A young farmer and an older one will speak about the joys and frustrations of food production in the wilds of Oakland and in a Hudson River village. From chard and soybeans to chicken and hogs; death lessons, life lessons, and growing lessons.
Last month a leaked EPA memo uncovered proof that the U.S. government approved a pesticide the EPA refers to as “toxic to honeybees.” Beekeepers and scientists around the world are pointing to Bayer’s clothianidin as a leading factor in colony collapse, and four European countries have already banned it. (read more on
Grist). Now
Food Democracy Now is urging people to tell the EPA to
ban the sale and use of clothianidin until proper tests can be conducted.

Perhaps the most clearly defined and well enforced label is “organic.” Not just any meat can be called organic; it must be certified by an independent organization that is accredited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). If a meat is
certified organic, it means both that the animal’s feed was organic —  produced without synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, or GMO seeds — and that the animal was given neither growth hormones nor antibiotics. Recently, the USDA took the
added step of requiring all organic livestock and milking cows to graze on pasture at least four months of the year.

Making matters more confusing, the USDA also has a separate
grass fed rule that applies to ruminants such as cattle, sheep, goats, and bison. These animals must be fed “grass (annual and perennial), forbs (e.g., legumes, Brassica), browse, or cereal grain crops in the vegetative (pre-grain) state.” (Although ruminants are best adapted to a grass-based diet, most animals in today’s food system are fed grains.) The grass fed designation also requires the animals to have “continuous access to pasture during the growing season.” Because the term “growing season” isn’t defined, however, some critics believe this language
still permits certain degrees of confinement. For this reason, the
American Grassfed Association has developed more stringent
standards, which say the animal “must not be confined to a pen, feedlot or other area” during the growing season, prohibit antibiotics and synthetic hormones, and address other elements of animal welfare.

The common term “free range” (or “free roaming”), for most people, implies that the animal was not confined to a feedlot and thus lived its life free to roam, presumably on open pasture. However, the USDA only regulates the term “free range” as it applies to
poultry, not to egg-laying hens or other animals. To earn this designation, chickens and other poultry must be “allowed access to the outside,” though critics have pointed out this definition is too vague to guarantee the animals are in fact roaming freely. “Free range” often simply means a door on one wall of a giant warehouse-sized indoor feeding operation. As applied to other animals, especially grazers like cows, there is no standardized, enforceable definition of “free range” from the USDA.

Perhaps the most confusing meat labeling term regulated by the USDA is “natural,” in part because of the discrepancy between “natural” and “naturally raised.” At the moment these terms mean two very different things and are in fact regulated by two separate agencies within the USDA. “Natural,” as defined by the
Food Safety and Inspection Service, refers only to post-harvest products that contain neither artificial ingredients nor added color; “natural” animal products must also be only minimally processed. “Natural” does not refer to the way the animal was raised, which is where the “naturally raised” label comes in. As defined and regulated by the USDA’s
The USDA has no standardized definition of “humane” (aside from certain vague elements covered under the organic designation). However, many organizations have created their own labels and certification programs for animal welfare.
This recent article from EcoSalon  details some of the more respected labels, including the Animal Welfare Approved and Certified Humane labels (the latter is managed by Humane Farm Animal Care, which also publishes a comprehensive label
comparison chart). These certifications not only evaluate access to pasture and exposure to growth hormones, but also things like sleep periods, litter management, castration, and methods of slaughter.

For more on food terminology visit CUESA’s

no changes to a seller’s status, they will not be listed. You’ll find a
list of which farmers regularly attend each market here. Please understand that there are often last-minute changes — it’s the nature of farming!

Returning: Marin GourmetOut:
Featured Recipes for JanuaryCarrot Soup with Chile-Peanut Pesto from Bibby Gignilliat of Parties That Cook!

Spanish Tortilla with Nettles and Potatoes from Sarah Henkin, CUESA’s market chef

Citrus Salad with Honeycomb Bruschetta from cookbook author Stephanie Rosenbaum

Butternut Squash Custard with Brown Butter and Candy Cap Mushroom Streusel from Luis Villavelazquez of Les Elements Patisserie

Photo of meat counter by
Villain Media, LLC.

© CUESA 2011. Please ask permission before reproducing.

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