Why the “Grassfed” Label Is Tricking Us

Don’t get me wrong, I prefer beef and dairy products from grassfed cows, but there’s a difference between 100% grassfed and partially grassfed (or grassfed up until the last ninety days before slaughter, common with meat products available in our area). Cows are designed by evolution to eat grass – it’s the healthiest diet for them! But as a cost saving measure many large-scale farms supplement with corn, or rely solely on corn (if not the whole time then just for the last ninety days), which can make cows sick and unhealthy.

“You are what you eat eats, too.” – Michael Pollan


According to Michael Pollan, “you are what you eat eats, too,” which means the health of the animal directly impacts the nutritional value of its dairy and meat products. What if you lived your whole life eating a perfectly healthy diet (which is exactly what grass is to cows), but then you let all hell break loose for the last few months and chose to subsist on McDonald’s and cigarettes? How healthy would you be then? Things can unfortunately go downhill fast so this is not a detail that should be overlooked.

Grassfed—What To Look For

The general term “grassfed” is not currently regulated so while some products may claim to be from grassfed animals, that doesn’t necessarily mean they ate grass 100% of the time. And knowing the way some companies take advantage of labels these days (natural anyone?) I wouldn’t be surprised if some slapped on a grassfed term when that was only true 10% of the time. The point is – you just don’t know!

So, what is helpful to know is a regulated label we can trust … and it looks like this:

Grassfed PCO certification Logo on 100 Days of Real Food

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This PCO (Pennsylvania Certified Organic) 100% Grassfed certification program is an optional additional certification for companies that are USDA certified organic. So you’ll often see this label printed hand-in-hand with the USDA organic label – which sounds like a great combination to me!

Grassfed Organic Yogurt

So I’m excited to tell you that our longtime sponsor Stonyfield now offers products where you can find both the official 100% grassfed and certified organic labels. Their new yogurt is made with organic 100% grassfed whole milk you can trust. And the fact that it’s made from whole milk and is offered plain (with no added flavor) means it incorporates all the things I ideally look for in yogurt. And you wonder why I haven’t tried making my own yet! There’s honestly no need when there are good-quality options like this available.

Grass fed yogurt on 100 Days of Real Food

Their organic 100% Grassfed promise means their yogurt is made with milk from cows who have eaten all grass, all of the time, even in winter. This milk is being supplied by Maple Hill Creamery, which currently has all farms located in upstate New York.

And clearly people are starting to catch on to the importance of these new offerings because I was told, “Demand for 100% Grassfed Dairy Products is growing six times faster than the rest of the category.” Have you tried grassfed yogurt yet? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Stonyfield. The content provided, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If you have any questions about health or nutrition, we always think it’s best to consult with your doctor or healthcare practitioner.

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23 thoughts on “Why the “Grassfed” Label Is Tricking Us”

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  1. If you are what you eat then you should eat only Humane Certified products. The health of an animal depends not only on what the animal ingests but how it is treated during its life. So it follows that any product of that animal will be healthier for consumption if it comes from an animal that led a natural and comfortable life. Don’t be misled into thinking that grass fed animals are grazed; often they are not and by using the 100% grass fed label the meat and dairy industries mislead the public into thinking that the animal was not abused.
    Better yet, don’t eat animal products at all. They’re bad for you, bad for the environment, and certainly bad for the animals.

  2. Stephanie Chandler

    So glad you pointed this out! I spoke with a local farmer who raises 100% grass fed, 100% organic beef. I thought I had a sensitivity to beef of any kind, and avoided it entirely until she gave me the “talk” about the differences it makes how an animal is raised and cared for in the quality of the finished product as well as our bodies’ reactions to the product. She guaranteed that her beef would be delicious AND settle well for me. She was totally spot on! At first my husband complained about the higher price of this beef. He even brought home some cheap mainstream grocery store beef for dinner one night after about a month of us only consuming the organic grassfed. He commented quickly that it didn’t taste very good. Later that night, both of our stomachs were terrible! He finally believed me that this is totally worth the extra price, not only for the health benefits and taste, but also the principle of supporting our local economy. I’m glad you’re continuing to shed light on so many helpful and important topics. THANK YOU!

  3. “Cows are designed by evolution to eat grass”.
    I want to make this sentence more clear: “the cows are created by God to eat grass”.

    1. Yes! God created cows. God also created evolution. Due to this notion of free will, a human being discovered and published a theory called evolution.

  4. Yes, BUT, you really haven’t live until you’ve had organic, 100% grass-fed, pastured (cows live in and eat pasture) RAW MILK. The standards for the health of the cows, their organic pastures and fields, living conditions and milking stations for milk produced with the intention of being consumed Raw, are FAR higher than standards for milk which is intended to be pasteurized In fact, the pasteurization process allows for huge loads of unacceptable levels of dangerous bacteria (fecal, salmonella, etc) in the milk as it will be killed during the heat processing. And all that dead bacteria stays right there in your pasteurized organic, 100% grass-fed milk, which you consume with each sip.

    The standards for Raw Milk are set so high, you would never see that level of contamination in the first place. If there is ever an elevated level of bacteria (it is rigorously tested and regulated), the milk is not sold until levels meet the high standards once again. Raw milk has all the amazing nutrients and immune system support found in mother’s milk, and is the ultimate real deal.
    You can “LEARN MORE” here:

      1. While Raw may be wonderful, our Pediatric Nephrology practice has several cases each year of patients who end of hospitalized and sometimes on short-term dialysis due to the bacteria from RAW MILK. Sometimes these patients make a good recovery and some are destined for a kidney transplant. Not worth the risk to me.

  5. Also, I used to agree with the convince of buying yogurt, until a friend pointed out how much she saves by making her own. I did the math and averaging one 4 cup tub per week, I’d save $144 a year! Needless to say I am switching to making my own as soon as I finish up my last two tubs of TJ’s.

  6. Hi, Another “industry trick” that is becoming popular is for beef to be from 100% grass fed cows, but those cows are fed GMO alfalfa that is being grown on old GMO corn fields…so still lots of pesticides and herbicides, and obviously not the nutrient dense balanced pasture that what we think of as grass fed cows are eating. The good beef from real grass fed cattle is more nutrient dense because they are eating a great balance of grasses. Anything else isn’t the real thing. Know your farmer, ask questions and know your food.

      1. Depends on the brand. I found out one grass fed butter I was buying from Whole Foods, was actually trucking fresh grass up to WI from way down south in the winter months. I love my Omega-3’s, but am also Eco-conscious. WIth diesel trucks only getting 5 miles per gallon, that was NOT a sustainable option for me. I switched to a made in WI butter that that comes from cows that are pastured when seasonally appropriate.

    1. Yeah I’m in Ohio and our grass-fed local cows eat hay and stuff in the winter. You can actually taste the difference in the milk (not bad or good, just different).