Grass-fed and Pastured: What’s the difference?

To talk about the healthfulness of ghee, there are two major points of focus that need to be addressed: how the animals are raised and the intrinsic properties of the ghee. For ghee to have the most nutrients and highest possibility of vitamins, the cows absolutely need to be PASTURED, and not simply “Grass-Fed.” The difference between these two terms you may have seen is the difference between how they are actually fed. Grass-fed is one of those terms that simply mean that the cows have access to grass in their diet. It does NOT state that the cows are actually walking around on open land, and consuming their food as they travel. There can still be “Grass-fed” cows in feedlots that have no access to any activity outside of their pen and are fed a diet consisting of grains, corn, soy and others.

Pastured is a term used to describe cows that have access to open pasture and can exercise their cow-ness. They are permitted to walk around certain portions of the farmer’s land and eat the natural foliage and wild grasses that grow naturally on the land. A cow that is pastured will have milk that changes through the year as the food source is directly tied to the seasons on which the food grows and the cow is raised. As the food source changes throughout the year, the milk from the cow will also change. Cows are ruminant animals, meaning they consume grasses and other plant based sources and also have stomachs that aide in the fermentation of those grasses as their major source of energy. As the ration of grass and other foliage on the farm declines from spring to summer and again from fall into winter the amount of those fresh grasses available for food also declines for the cows. This generally translates to milk that has less of the valuable fat used to make cheese, cream, butter, and ghee. For this reason, the ghee we make will change throughout the year from a bright yellow, almost orange, to a more pale yellow when the access to the fresh grass diminishes; this is the true sign of a Pastured product raised on grass!

The healthy nature of the fat in the milk from a cow is not purely limited to the type of food consumed; as with any animal based product the food they eat must be free from contaminants, pesticides, and pollutants. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “You are what your food eats.” Preferably, the land that grows the food for animals should be free from pesticides, other contaminants, and Certified as Organic. Ensuring the organic nature of the food the animal eats will provide the cleanest and most pure food.