The Farmer’s Market is Singapore’s newest online butcher. Founder, Emma Pike shares with us about why it’s important to understand meat sources to ensure you are choosing the right options for you and your family.
If you go to a supermarket to buy fruit and vegetables, it’s easy to see from the labels if they are grown organically or not and what country they are from. Understanding the same issues in relation to meat is not always so straightforward, but it’s so important to know where your meat and seafood was produced and how it was raised.
We are more aware and conscious about what food products we buy and what we are feeding our families, which is extremely important. However, there are so many unknowns about the meat industry that often we as consumers don’t understand or don’t know what questions to ask in order to ensure that we are fully informed about our purchases.
This is our little cheat sheet to give you more knowledge to make the right decisions when buying meat for the family.
Does the product have any antibiotics or hormones in it? From the outside meat is meat and it all looks the same so if you see something for $10 and the same looking item for $5 you will err towards the cheaper item without asking questions. BUT not all meat is the same even though it may look the same even if it is from the same country.
When selecting meat think about how it was made. For example, think of a prime athlete, fit, lean, muscular and healthy – the ideal body for performance of excellence. Now think of an athlete who has been injected with hormones and antibiotics and has eaten a poor quality diet – on the outside they may look the same, but inside it is a different story.
This is the same for meat and seafood. Do you want your family to be eating something that may be full of hormones or antibiotics and has spent its life at an industrial farm OR do you want to have clear information about where that meat is from and how it was raised so that you can be confident that it is clean, lean and full of good protein?
Ask where the meat is from.
How has the animal been fed? This is a big question and depending on your personal taste, you may prefer one or the other. A lot of people are moving towards 100% grass fed animals these days for health reasons but you should know the breakdown of what each means.
- 100% grass fed – means the animal has just eaten grass in a paddock its entire life.
- Grass fed – this is ambiguous as it often means the animal has just eaten grass for a portion of its life for a period of a month or up to two years.
- Grain Finished – normally it should say how long they have finished on grain eg. 110 or 150 days is normal. Feeding animals on grain fattens them up and adds marbling to the meat.
- Grain Fed – means it has only been fed grain its entire life, and I would ask more questions if this is the case. For example, was the cow housed only in a feed-lot for its life or roaming free and eating grain as its main meal? The latter is often the case in dry areas eg. Queensland in Australia and the USA due to the lack of grass for grazing.
Has the item been previously frozen? Why is this important? If you buy meat that has previously been frozen you shouldn’t refreeze it for a few reasons.
- A study indicates that refreezing food adds risks for contamination because freezing the meat ruptures the muscles in such a way that bacteria can travel from the surface to the interior. Each additional thaw allows bacteria to expand in areas normally not affected by bacteria.
- Also the shelf life of meat that has been frozen and then thawed to sell is unknown as you don’t know for how long the item was chilled before it was frozen and how long it has been sitting on a shelf.
- My suggestion if the meat was defrosted is to ensure you eat it within 24 hours of buying it.
If you stick to these four basic questions you can feel confident that you are selecting the right meat for your family, safe in the knowledge that you understand where your meat is from, how it’s been raised and how it has been processed before it arrived in the store.
The Farmer’s Market are offering all School Notices Members $20 OFF their first order on a minimum spend of $150. Get your Member Offer code here