One of the key ingredients in our restaurant which we are very proud to promote is the fact that all our meat is free-range. We hear and see this label very frequently now – it’s become trendy. But what does “free-range” really mean, and is it any better for you? More importantly, does it taste better?!
What is “free-range”?
So let’s get one thing clear from the very start, “free-range” means animals which spend at least part of the day to roam freely outdoors, as opposed to being enclosed 24/7. While, in NZ, we don’t actually have any laws or regulations as to what exactly this means, in such a small country we can very quickly find out if our suppliers are being honest about their claims or not. And we know our suppliers well!
Did you know that in the United States alone 99.9% of chickens, 95% of pigs and 78% of cattle come from non-free-range (ie. housed) animals? Here in New Zealand, we prefer to keep our animals outdoors anyway so it’s not such a big issue but it is worth considering.
Is it better than non-free-range?
While the hippies amongst us are quick to point out that happy animals will produce the best meat and animal products, the hypothesis can be very easily proven by looking at the nutrient content to fatty acid composition. And anyone who has had the opportunity to compare the difference will tell you that grass-fed beef tastes better than corn-fed every time.
The same goes for any animal raised in a natural environment. Pigs and chickens are slightly different as they don’t just eat grass, but you get the idea. Pasture-raised pork and poultry isn’t just more ethical, it’s actually a lot better for you too!
It’s true that not everyone can afford to purchase free-range for their everyday shopping from the supermarket. But when you go out for a meal, it is a treat and you deserve the best. And the best meat you can buy is always free-range.