Niman Ranch is not Organic?
- MistersSister Mar 7, 2006 10:55 PM
Hi, newbie here. Lurk lots, post..well, now...
I was discussing steaks today at work and someone mentioned that niman ranch is not organic. I checked their website and could not find anything that said they were. I thought they were, though. Anyone else under this (apparently mistaken) impression?
Niman Ranch isn't one ranch but is almost like coop of small farms that focus on raising their livestock in traditional ways without antibiotics and group together to create economies of scale. I'm not sure why you believed they were organic, but since they are a bunch of small farms that operate under a common banner I would imagine it wouldn't be cost effective for each of the farms to go organic. And also, since it is costly to become certified organic most of those producers will use the terms certified organic as much as possible.
Niman Ranch makes "naturally raised" meat more available to the "average" consumer. They don't use hormones or antibiotics, they don't feed meat to their livestock, they use sustainable ranching methods and they carefully monitor their slaughterhouses to assure humane treatment and prevent cross contamination. Full organic certification would require feeding cattle certified organic grain and having them graze upon certified organic fields. Organic certification would raise the price of the meat substantially so that it was no longer affordable to many of their customers. Compare Niman Ranch prices to a fully organic ranch such as Prather Ranch and you will see why Niman Ranch is not certified.
I am not exactly sure what you mean by "high quality/high grade" beef, but does it include the following cuts?
Because if the answer is yes, than actually ranches do feed them and finish them with Grass Only.
If you'll click on the website (i.e.) below for:
69 Cowan Lane
You'll read that they feed and finish with grass only their beef and going back to their home page, 4th paragraph down, their lamb, pork and goat meats also.
Take notice that the prices are much LESS than from Niman Ranch!!
There is an excellent website that is a clearing house of information on Grass Feed meat products called Eat Wild:
i think what virginian meant by high quality/high grade beef is beef that is certified prime by the USDA. Since prime certification is based upon the marbling/fat content of any particular cut (as fat contributes to flavor) and grain fed cattle tend to have more marbled meat, most beef labeled prime is finished with grain. I think it is hard for grass-finished beef to get the USDA prime certification.
As to the merits of the prime certification and the taste/ethical implications of grass-finished vs. grain finished, i'll leave that to others. Just wanted to clarify what i thought virginian meant. But virginian, feel free to chime in if i'm wrong.
No, I am not surprised. Niman Ranch is very clear on what they are and are not. They do finish on grain and to be organic the grain would need to be organic. Organic would likely double the price of their meat.
What they are is family farmed, sustainable, and humane which is a hell of a lot better than almost all other meat providers.
I know many people have posted on this already, but for a 2 cents from the organic industry (I've worked in organic foods since prior to the development of the USDA law)...
Niman legally cannot call their product organic because they haven't undergone the organic certification process. They can call it "natural", "hormone and antiboitic free" "cruelty free" or a host of other things. But to use the word "organic," very specific federal regulations have to be followed. And, yes, the cost of certification drives up the cost of the product. But what you're paying for not only is the production method, but also the knowledge that the facility has been checked by an accredited, independent 3rd party certification agency, and compliance with the laws and humane treatment of animals are verified. With any non-regulated term, it can mean anything, and doesn't have to be verified by anyone.
With that said, I respect what Niman Ranch does, and believe that their honesty in NOT making an organic claim speaks well of them. Especially when so many consumers are confused as to what "organic" really means.
From Niman's FAQ--interesting point about most organic feed being imported and thus less sustainable:
Why doesn't Niman Ranch market certified organic meat?
Niman Ranch strongly supports organic farming principles. Many of our farmers and ranchers have organic farms or organic pastures and use organic feeds. However, for our meat to be certified organic, all the feed that we give our livestock would have to be certified organic. This would raise the cost of production of our meat by as much as 50%, depending on the grain market. There is currently a shortage of organic grain in this country, making feeding only organic feeds particularly difficult. We believe a better use of those limited organic grains would be direct human consumption.
More and more of the organic grains and soy currently available in the U.S. are actually imported from distant lands, mostly Brazil and other Latin American countries. We do not support importing feeds from distant foreign countries, believing instead that any feeds given our animals should, to the greatest extent possible, be grown by our farmers themselves or local farmers. Sometimes this means organic and sometimes it doesn't.