Shop Your Values: Meat
The Durham Co-op Market is proud to source meats from Firsthand Foods, an incredible company born right here in Durham and supporting small family farms across the state. By sourcing directly from small-scale farmers that are raising their animals humanely and on pasture, Firsthand Foods has created a network that supports farmers who would otherwise struggle in a global supply chain. They also provide customers with a trusted source for delicious meat that they can feel good about eating. Their team is constantly finding ways to support farmers in increasing sustainability on their farms, and tailoring their product to meet the needs of their customers. Firsthand Foods truly embodies our Co-op values of supporting the local economy and supporting producers that model environmental sustainability. We are so proud to partner with them and bring their product to you!
Terms To Know About Firsthand Food’s Beef, Lamb, and Pork
All of Firsthand Food’s meat producers live and farm in North Carolina. Most of their beef producers are centrally located in the Piedmont region not far from their cooperating processors. One farmer lives just over the border in Virginia. Their pork is sourced from farms in Eastern North Carolina, and their lamb comes from farmers in Central and Western NC.
Firsthand Food’s producers raise their animals exclusively outdoors on pasture in accordance with NC State University’s guidelines for pasture-raised and finished beef production. (https://content.ces.ncsu. edu/nc-state-local-pasture-raised-and-pasture-finished-beef-production-guidelines). At no time do beef cattle live in a feedlot or in feedlot like conditions. All of Firsthand Food’s producers implement intensive rotational grazing as a means to develop high quality forages and protect soil and water quality. This includes seeding with annual and perennial forages to provide nourishment and combat endophytic fescue, a common forage throughout the Piedmont region that can be toxic to beef cattle in the heat of summer.
Firsthand Food’s pork producers raise their animals exclusively outdoors on pasture in accordance with AWA standards. At no time do they live in confinement or in confinement-like conditions. Instead they live in their natural habitat of fields and woodlots, where they root in the soil, create wallows to cool-off and build nests to birth their young. All hogs are provided with shelter for farrowing (giving birth) and for managing temperature extremes and inclement weather.
Firsthand Food’s lamb producers raise their animals exclusively outdoors on pasture in accordance with AWA standards. At no time do they live in confinement or in confinement-like conditions. Instead they live in their natural habitat of fields and wooded areas where they graze, typically in rotation with other ruminant animals such as beef cattle. All sheep are provided with guard dogs to protect them from predation.
No Growth-Promoting Antibiotics
Our producers do not use growth-promoting antibiotics. This prophylactic use of antibiotics is unnecessary when beef cattle are raised in a low-stress environment on pasture and consume a high-fiber diet. If a beef animal gets sick, we encourage a one-time treatment with an antibiotic to prevent suffering and require that all required withdrawal periods are followed prior to slaughter.
Pork and Lamb:
Our producers do not use growth-promoting antibiotics. This prophylactic use of antibiotics is unnecessary when animals are raised outdoors in a low-stress environment and get plenty of exercise. If an animal does get sick, it is segregated and treated with an antibiotic to prevent suffering and ultimately sold into a different market channel.
No Hormonal Implants
Firsthand Food’s producers do not use hormonal implants.
To be halal, meat must come from animals slaughtered in accordance with Islamic ritual tradition. Firsthand Foods’ beef and lamb is halal. Find more info here.
Other Terms To Know
Humane vs. “Certified Humane”
Humane treatment of animals does not have a legal definition. However, the Certified Humane Raised and Handled program’s “Certified Humane” label indicates that the meat comes from animals that were able to engage in natural behavior, given ample space, and provided clean water and a healthy diet free of antibiotics and hormones.
Certified Animal Welfare Approved
This is a certification from A Greener World (AGW), an independent, nonprofit farm certification program. It “guarantees animals are raised outdoors on pasture or range for their entire lives on an independent farm using truly sustainable, high-welfare farming practices. It is the only label in the U.S. to require audited, high-welfare production, transport and slaughter practices.” Find out more here: https://agreenerworld.org/certifications/animal-welfare-approved/
All of Firsthand Food’s pork producers are certified to meet the rigorous standards for farm animal welfare and environmental sustainability established by Animal Welfare Approved. (https://animalwelfareapproved.us/standards/pig-2017/)
Crops and animals raised organically have not been exposed to synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, genetic modification, growth hormones, or antibiotics. All products labeled “Certified Organic” have been certified by the USDA. However, some farmers classify themselves as “uncertified organic,” meaning they follow organic practices but have not gone through the official process to be certified by the USDA.
This term is defined by the USDA only for meat products, which should be only minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients or added colors. As defined, the term is broad enough to cover most meats. The label may be added to products at the meat manufacturer’s discretion—the USDA does not investigate every claim. On produce and packaged food labels, “natural” is a marketing term, suggesting that the product was created without the use of artificial ingredients. Because the term is not regulated or verified by a third-party certifier for non-meat products, however, shoppers should be wary of the claim.
Our Meat Values
We know that making good decisions about what to buy can be complicated. We put a lot of time and thought into every purchasing decision we make, so that you can trust all of choices you have at the DCM. We want you to know that every product on the shelves at the Durham Co-op Market has been hand-selected by our team with our values in mind:
Supporting the Local Economy
Dignity of Workers
If you ever have any questions, concerns, or suggestions about any product you find at our store, we want to hear it! You can always call us at (919) 973-1707 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org