Meaning of "natural" by the USDA

Have you noticed that many items in the grocery store are labeled “natural” these days? 
Today, I want to focus on the most misleading label claim for meat..."Natural".
Let me explain... 
USDA's definition of NATURAL (The USDA is the organization that regulates meat and poultry claims): "A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed” 
To sum, the term “natural” has nothing to do with the way the animal was actually raised. Companies can put pictures of blue sky's and green pastured on the packaging, even if the animal was raised in a confinement barn. The USDA doesn't regulate what pictures are put on packaging, just the text. So companies can put whatever they want, and good marketers know what makes you buy.
For example, a beef steer that was raised in a feedlot, given growth hormones, beta-agonists (growth promoting drugs), antibiotics, fed GMO grains and animal by-products can be considered NATURAL by the USDA - which is why it is often labeled this way in the grocery store. All the animals in the pictures below can technically be labeled "natural"
What this means is most fresh meat in the meat aisle is considered natural, regardless if the package says it or not.
My goal is to help inform you as the consumer, and if you feel the above information is indeed "natural" then great! If not, then that's okay to.
 
And speaking from experience - for those that are truly trying to eat more natural or healthier - the only way to really know what your are getting is to have a direct conversation with the farmer/rancher that raises your food, not the grocery story manager, butcher, or online meat company.. the actual person that raises the animals that will end up on your dinner plate.
 
Have any questions? Reach out to me, I would love to chat!
Catherine
catherine@1915farm.com