Why 'Beyond Organic'?

David Maren, Tendergrass founding farmer, with his farm dog, Max.


Being that our cows are naturally ruminant herbivores, and therefore derive all of their nourishment from forage alone, we refer to our beef as Grass Fed beef. In contrast, we often refer to our omnivorous pastured pigs, pastured chickens, and pastured turkeys as "Beyond Organic." This is due primarily due to the fact that the standards of living conditions that we give our pigs, chickens, and turkeys are above and beyond the living standards of USDA certified organic pork and poultry.

According to USDA Organic regulations, all certified organic animals must have "access"  to direct sunlight, fresh air, and the outdoors. While this may give the average consumer a great deal of comfort and give the idea that these animals spend most of their time roaming on lush pastures, the reality of the matter is quite different. The labor, real estate, and management costs of truly raising animals on pasture is significantly higher than raising animals in enclosed, confined, warehouse-style buildings so the vast majority of certified organic farms raise their animals in what could be considered confinement houses that technically give the animals access to the "direct sunlight, fresh air, and the outdoors" which qualify them to be labeled as "organic." Organic pigs are often raised in large buildings with comparatively small roofless concrete pens outside where pigs can occasionally wander out. Chickens and turkeys are often simply given a dog or cat door at one end of a large poultry building which the birds may not even know how to use. The term "free range" also has similarly deceptive loop holes.

Our animals, on the other hand, are actually raised on pasture (details here). Our grass fed beef, pastured pork, pastured chicken, and pastured turkey all live in real grassy fields where they derive actual nourishment from their green leafy forage. For that reason, instead of paying for costly USDA certified status only to then have to compete in the marketplace with large certified organic meat companies that raise their animals according much lower living standards than our own, we and other like-minded farmers decided to not only avoid the terms "Organic" and "Free Range" but to also coin a new term, Beyond Organic, which describes our uniquely pasture-centric method of production.

Have more questions? Feel free to contact us.