Natural Grocers of Lakewood, Colo., recently refreshed its meat and seafood department selections in all its stores across 19 states. With expanded offerings, including exotic yak, wild boar, ostrich, fresh mahi-mahi and rockfish, the grocer has also introduced a ranking system that provides shoppers with enhanced transparency when purchasing grass-fed meat, pork, poultry, fish and seafood.
“Our standards ensure that all of our meat is naturally and humanely raised and our seafood is sustainably sourced, which we believe is the best for our customers, the animals and our environment,” Natural Grocers co-President Kemper Isely said in a statement. “We also believe our customers appreciate that we make this incredible quality and variety affordable.”
To help its shoppers make sense of the various quality standards for meat and seafood, Natural Grocers has introduced a ranking system for its fresh and frozen meat selections. The new ranking system identifies meat and seafood products as bronze, silver and gold.
Bronze standards include sustainably farmed; humanely raised; no antibiotics, hormones or growth promotants; no animal byproducts; and no cloned or genetically modified animals.
Silver includes all Bronze requirements as well as non-GMO feed; non-GMO alfalfa (ruminants); no synthetic colorants (seafood); free range (poultry); 100% grass-fed and/or certified organic (ruminants, seafood); and sustainably sourced (seafood).
Photograph courtesy of Natural Grocers
Gold, which includes all Bronze and Silver requirements, also ensures the product is certified organic and/or other regenerative farming practices (beef, poultry, pork); 100% U.S. domestic (ruminants, poultry, pork); and wild caught and sustainable-certified (seafood, boar).
For all fresh and frozen meat, Natural Grocers’ standards require humane raising, no hormones, no growth promoting drugs, no use of antibiotics and no land animal byproducts. Non-GMO feed is always preferred. For seafood, the grocer only stocks third-party certified sustainable options, including wild-caught fish, scallops and organically farmed shrimp.
Natural Grocers said it hopes that its new meat and seafood standards allow customers to see how individual products are raised and produced. Customers can look at the “Our Standards” chart on the meat and seafood department doors to see what attributes a meat or seafood product carries.
“The unique thing we’ve done is create real transparency and information about animal product labels so that customers can better understand and, more importantly, trust the food they’re buying and eating is really what it claims to be,”said Natural Grocers EVP Heather Isely. “There are so many loopholes in each animal species industry, and we’ve done our best to bring light to those areas of confusion and provide information that is usable at the point of purchase. Often there is a disconnect on how food gets from the farm to the table and we want to help bridge that information gap.”