Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How are these animals raised?

A. EcoFriendly’s network of family farmers in Virginia and North Carolina raise cattle, pigs and poultry humanely, responsibly and sustainably. We never use antibiotics or hormones, and we’re committed to a business model that provides our farmers with the financial compensation they need to stay in business raising the healthiest, highest quality livestock possible. Our farmers provide:

• An all-natural diet that includes farm-grown forage and feed
• Access to outdoor pasture and grazing space
• Humane housing and handling at all times

Q. What do you mean by “sustainably grown?”

A. Conventional, industrial-scale agriculture provides “cheap” food but requires large amounts of fossil fuel-derived fertilizers and herbicides, as well as energy-intensive processing, packaging and distribution. The solution involves smaller scale, local food production that relies on farm-grown feed and forage and shrinks the distance food travels from farm to table, which right now is typically 1,500 miles—halfway across the country!

» Key points:
• Local food production reduces the “food miles” products travel and food’s carbon footprint
• Small-scale farming supports sustainability by using less energy and resources

Q. EcoFriendly meats seem to have more fat than what I buy at the supermarket. Is that healthy?

A. The marbling in beef, pork or poultry provides the flavor and eating satisfaction. Simply leave the fat on when you’re grilling, roasting or broiling, then trim off any remaining visible fat before serving.

Remember that the wild game Native Americans lived on for thousands of years produced meat with marbling that was very healthy. Natural meats supply vital protein and essential vitamins and minerals.

» Key points:
1. Marbling provides flavor, texture and eating satisfaction
2. High-quality animal fat is a critical nutrient needed for optimal health
3. Leave fat on for cooking; trim it off for eating

Q. EcoFriendly’s products are Certified Humane? What does that mean?

A. The Certified Humane program established strict standards for famers, producers, processors and foodservice operators, standards developed specifically for each type of animal. Unlike certain other “certifications” you see in the marketplace, Certified Humane sends independent, third-party inspectors out into the field to visit every farm and every processing plant to ensure that they’re in full compliance.

The Certified Humane seal means you can trust that the farm animals involved were humanely raised, properly handled and provided wholesome feed and forage, outdoor access and the ability to perform their natural behaviors. For anyone who cares about the well-being of animals, Certified Humane is the “gold standard” and means that you are taking an important step toward ensuring that farm animals are never mistreated, abused or subject to confined, unhealthy living conditions.

» Key points:
• The Certified Humane seal means you can trust that livestock are treated with respect and care.
• Producers in the Certified Humane program are independently inspected for compliance.

Q. This beef is “dry-aged.” What does that mean?

A. Dry aging is a special process used after butchering beef, in which the meat is hung in a special cooler with strict temperature, humidity and quality control. During the weeks that the beef is aging in this cooler, natural enzymes break down the meat tissue, dramatically increasing tenderness. The beef also loses some moisture, which concentrates the rich, meaty flavor you taste when eating dry-aged beef.

Of course, the weight loss that occurs means that the cost-per-serving of dry-aged beef is higher than conventional beef. But the incredible flavor, exceptional tenderness and unique texture of dry-aged beef cannot be matched by regular beef, no matter how expensive it is. However, dry-aged steaks shrink less during grilling or broiling and they needs to be cooked at a lower heat and for a shorter time.

» Key points:
• Dry-aging beef is a lengthy process that requires great skill and attention to drying conditions.
• Dry-aged beef loses moisture, becoming more flavorful and tender.
• Dry-aged steaks shrink less on the grill because they’re “meatier.”

Q. I see a lot of natural meat for sale online. Are EcoFriendly meats any different?

A. Yes. Unlike virtually all other farm-based producers, we operate our own USDA-inspected, Certified Humane processing plant in Moneta, Va. It takes an enormous amount of skill and experience to run such a plant, plus a major investment in equipment to comply with USDA regulations.

Most natural, grass-fed and free-range meat comes from animals processed at conventional, slaughterhouses that run at high-speeds and often pay little attention to expert butchering. Everything from how animals are transported (shorter distances mean less discomfort), to the way they are cared for when they arrive at a processing plant (proper provision of feed and water reduces harmful stress) to the humane standards and attention to sanitation during butchering affects meat’s flavor, safety and shelf life.

» Key points:
• EcoFriendly meats are higher quality because they’re processed in the company’s own plant
• We has years of experience in harvesting, butchering and packaging meat
• Proper transport, butchering, aging and packaging are all critical to quality control

Q. Why aren’t EcoFriendly’s products organic?

A. Organically foods are certainly healthful. But organic meat just means any feed ingredients fed to livestock must be supplied by an organic grower. Such feedstuffs are expensive and difficult for family farmers to buy. Plus, the benefits of alternative agriculture are less about reducing pesticide use—although that’s important—and more about fostering local food production to reduce distribution distances and thus the energy expenditures that exacerbate global warming.

Ask yourself: Why are organic foods one of the fastest growing food categories at Wal-Mart? As positive as organic farming is for the environment, the truth is that the organic industry doesn’t necessarily support family farms and local foods. Sustainable farming does, and our network of local farmers is committed to raising livestock with far fewer fossil fuel-based inputs and with more farm-based feed and forage.

» Key points:
• Organic is good; EcoFriendly is better.
• Local food production saves energy and reduces food’s carbon footprint.
• Raising livestock on pasture and on-farm forage conserves critical resources and energy.

Q. Why are you selling veal?

A. The veal you buy from EcoFriendly Foods is totally different from the veal sold in many restaurants or supermarkets. Our farmers go to incredible lengths to ensure that we’re selling humanely raised veal. The calves are free to roam around the pasture with the mother cow, which makes their muscles strong and healthy and creates veal that is reddish, like beef—hence the name, “Rose Veal.” Plus, the mother and calf are never separated when brought to our processing plant. We require that they be sold and transported together to minimize the stress and anxiety for both animals.

» Key points:
• Our veal calves roam freely in open pastures with the mother cows
• Our veal is reddish because the animals are healthy and strong
• We make sure all our livestock are handled and transported humanely