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From Pasture to Plate: The Tale of Two Cows - Factory Farming vs. Sustainable Farming

At Front Row Meats Whole Animal Butcher Shop, we believe in the importance of understanding where our food comes from. This article delves into the life of an average cow that goes through factory farming versus a cow that experiences sustainable farming, specifically grass-finished methods.

Life in Factory Farming

Factory farming, also known as intensive animal farming, is a system of raising livestock using intensive methods, by which poultry, pigs, or cattle are confined indoors under strictly controlled conditions (Fraser, 2008). The life of a cow in a factory farm is often characterized by crowded conditions, limited mobility, and a diet primarily consisting of grain-based feed (Nijdam, Rood, & Westhoek, 2012).

In factory farming, cows are often confined to feedlots, where they have limited space to move and are fed a diet designed to fatten them up quickly. This high-energy diet, often consisting of corn and soy, can lead to health issues such as digestive problems and liver abscesses (Steinfeld et al., 2006). The living conditions in factory farms can also lead to stress and disease, which are often managed through the use of antibiotics (Silbergeld, Graham, & Price, 2008).

Life in Sustainable Farming

In contrast, sustainable farming practices prioritize the welfare of the animal, the health of the land, and the quality of the product. Cows raised in sustainable farming systems often have access to open pastures, are able to engage in natural behaviors, and are fed a diet that aligns with their natural grazing habits, typically grass or other forage (Röös et al., 2013).

In sustainable farming systems, cows are often allowed to graze on pasture, which promotes natural behaviors and allows for a more varied diet. This method of farming is not only better for the welfare of the animals, but it also has benefits for the environment, including improved soil health and biodiversity, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions (Pelletier et al., 2010).

Front Row Meats: A Commitment to Sustainable Farming

At Front Row Meats, we source our meat exclusively from local farmers who practice sustainable farming methods and

humanely handle their animals. We believe in the benefits of sustainably raised, grass-finished beef, both for the welfare of the animals and for the quality of the meat we provide to our customers.


Fraser, D. (2008). Understanding animal welfare. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, 50(S1), S1. Link to Full Text

Nijdam, D., Rood, T., & Westhoek, H. (2012). The price of protein: Review of land use and carbon footprints from life cycle assessments of animal food products and their substitutions. Food Policy, 37(6), 760-770. Link to Full Text

Pelletier, N., Pirog, R., & Rasmussen, R. (2010). Comparative life cycle environmental impacts of three beef production strategies in the Upper Midwestern United States. Agricultural Systems, 103(6), 380-389. Link to Full Text

Röös, E., Sundberg, C., & Hansson, P. A. (2013). Uncertainties in the carbon footprint of food products: a case study on table potatoes. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 18(6), 1436-1447. Link to Full Text

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