If you are producing grass-fed/pastured meat, eggs or dairy products, we would like to encourage you to participate in our omega-3 fatty acids testing project. We would also welcome samples of venison, bison, elk or wild fish. We have secured a 20 percent discount for the testing from Anresco Laboratories and we’re passing that discount on to you, if you follow the process outlined below.

But first, let us tell you a bit about why we’ve organized this project, and how we plan to use the test results.

A dramatic shift is underway regarding dietary advice about good and bad fats. Re-evaluation of the scientific evidence is showing that 40 years of official advice to avoid fats ― including foods high in cholesterol and many saturated fats ― has been wrong! This is a huge shift and this news will be making headlines over the next few years as we all try to unlearn the traditional advice to “eat low-fat.” What this means for those of you who sell grassfed products is that the public will gradually come to understand that they shouldn’t avoid saturated fats and cholesterol in meat, dairy and eggs. Indeed, evidence indicates that instead of making us healthier, avoiding high-fat foods has caused us to eat too many carbohydrates, and that this increase in consumption of carbohydrates is a significant factor in the current obesity epidemic. The new goal should be “Eat low-carb. Fat is important. Consume moderate calories.”(We’ll be reporting more about this startling news in forthcoming issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.)

And there’s more. Did you know that the human brain is 60 percent fat? As scientists’ understanding of the complex functions of fats has grown, we now have clear evidence that our modern diets have become severely unbalanced in essential omega fatty acids. The primary ways humans can get these special fats is by eating wild fish, game and/or pastured products. The omega-3s are produced by plants, and then are concentrated when fish eat algae and plankton, and when land animals graze on pastures. The problem is, we’re already overharvesting the oceans, and the meat, eggs and dairy from factory farms contain unbalanced amounts of omega fats because animals in the United States are fed mostly grain, instead of their natural diet of grass.

There is abundant evidence in scientific journals that pastured products are usually much richer in omega-3s (and several other important nutrients) than industrial products. The problem is that this incredibly important benefit of pastured products is not yet widely recognized by nutrition experts or by the public. Through our fatty acid testing project, we hope to help make more people aware of the nutritional (and environmental) benefits of the pastured products you produce.

To help us make certain we get our facts and advice correct, we are working with fatty acids expert Dr. Joe Hibbeln, who leads the Section on Nutritional Neuroscience at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Hibbeln has indicated that fatty acid nutrient data on pastured products is badly needed.

Our testing project is not intended to be a formal scientific study, but rather a market-basket survey that will report how the fatty acid profiles of pastured products from all across the country compare to the USDA’s numbers for industrial products. This comparison will give you evidence you can share with your customers. The more of you producers who decide that you can afford to participate, the more powerful the numbers will be.

(Note: If you have already had your products tested, you can submit your results to us, and we’ll include those results in our report.)

Many of you probably know the work of grassfed advocates Joel Salatin and Jo Robinson, both of whom have endorsed this project — see their comments below. Also, you may be interested in the article, The Many Reasons to Eat Grass-Fed Meat published in our April/May 2015 issue. We’ll publish an article specifically about omega fatty acids in our December/January 2016 issue, and later in 2016, we plan to report about the results of the fatty acid testing project.

How much will the test cost?

A fatty-acid profile for each sample will cost about $212. (The lab we’ve chosen normally charges $267 for a fatty-acid profile. However, MOTHER EARTH NEWS is coordinating the project and handling monthly lump sum payments, so the lab is giving us a volume discount, which we can pass on to you.) Producers will be required to ship samples overnight via FedEx or UPS to the lab in San Francisco. Rate quotes from two shipping companies give us an estimate of about $150 to $200 for the required insulated packaging and overnight shipping.

Thus, we estimate the total cost to participate will be $400 to $500 per sample. What you'll get in return is a report you can share with your customers that provides proof of the healthfulness of your products.

To participate in the testing project:

Step 1: Fill out the Feeding Practices questionnaire here and indicate which month you’d like to submit your sample(s).

Step 2: We’ll contact you early in the month you indicate and send you instructions on exactly when and how to ship the sample, and the payment amount you’ll need to send to us. (Meat samples must be shipped frozen, and dairy and eggs must be chilled.)

Step 3: After you receive the instructions, follow them carefully and ship the sample to the lab and the check to us.

Step 4: The lab will send the test results to us, and we will send you a copy.

In our articles we’ll report only overall averages from all samples, and we won’t share the lab test results from individual farms with the public. You may use your results in any way you wish — in marketing materials, on your website and so forth.

We will acknowledge your participation by posting the name, city, state and website (and possibly details such as breed, type of feed, etc.) for each participating farm on If you prefer, you may opt out of this listing. Please feel free to forward the link for this survey to other grass-fed producers you may know and invite them to participate.

If you have questions, please email Robin Mather, project coordinator, at, putting “Feeding Practices questionnaire” in the subject line. You may also call her directly at 785-274-4321 from 8 am to 5 pm Central Standard Time.

Thank you for working with us to compile this important health information! We’re grateful for your participation and looking forward to reporting the results in 2016!


Cheryl Long, Editor-in-Chief

Robin Mather, Senior Associate Editor

1503 SW 42nd St.
Topeka, KS 66609-1265
Joel Salatin, Polyface Farms, author of You Can Farm and Pastured Poultry Profits:

"If you're tired of naysayers scoffing at the pasture-based livestock movement with, 'Where's the scientific evidence of nutritional differences?,' then join other producers to see how we stack up. Taking advantage of this collective, discounted meat, poultry and dairy testing for omega-3s can bolster your marketing advantage and inspire you to stay true to your pasture-based model. If you believe you're producing a healthier product, let the science prove it — and reap the emotional and economic benefits."

Jo Robinson, author of Pasture Perfect and the bestseller Eating on the Wild Side:

"In the late 1990s, I found a few published studies showing that the meat, eggs and dairy products from grass-fed animals were higher in omega-3 fatty acids than the products of animals raised in confinement. I began to share this information with ranchers. My work was hampered by the fact that the studies were small in scale and had received no public attention. Another problem was that ranchers had no way to test their own products, something many of them were eager to do. I heartily endorse this national-scale testing because it will provide producers with results they can share with their customers, attract national attention, and add much needed data about the health benefits of raising animals in a stress-free environment on a more natural diet."