Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Raised to Taste Better

By Elizabeth Leader Smith, May 21, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Elizabeth Leader Smith

PigsOur selection of meat and poultry is renowned for great taste and superior quality, and we believe that has a lot to do with the care that goes into raising the animals and the true partnerships we develop with farmers and ranchers who supply our stores.

Importantly, these partnerships allow us to know how the animals were raised for the meat you’re buying, including what they ate and where they came from.

Plus, these partnerships allow us to offer a wide selection — from grass-fed beef to pasture-raised chicken to organics – and support local farming and ranching, which means more local meat and poultry at your neighborhood Whole Foods Market®.

Transparency, Accountability & Responsibility
Our meat buyers seek out farmers and ranchers who raise animals with care, responsibility and respect in their aim for high quality, great-tasting meat.

Our farmer and rancher partners are dedicated to meeting our strict standards, meaning no animal byproducts in the animal's feed, no added hormones*, no growth-enhancing drugs and no antibiotics, ever.

*Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising pork, poultry, goats, veal and bison.

Plus, all beef, chicken, pork and turkey in our fresh meat cases must come from producers who have achieved certification to Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step™ Animal Welfare Rating. What does this mean for the ranchers and farmers?

  • Third-party audits of each farm every 15 months
  • There are about 100 species-specific standards that must be met just for a Step 1 rating.
  • Beyond Step 1, each successive Step requires more animal-centered practices.
  • The progressive nature of the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating program encourages producers to evolve their practices to attain higher Step ratings.

Take a look at this recent blog post where our global animal welfare coordinator explains how five of Whole Foods Market’s suppliers put the animals first.

Want to meet more of the farmers and ranchers we work with? Dig deeper at wholefoodsmarket.com/animalwelfare.

Great-Tasting Meat

Thanks to dedicated farmers and ranchers, we can offer the tastiest, most responsibly raised selection of meat and poultry around.

Now visit our meat counter and get cooking! Here are a few mouthwateringly delicious recipes for inspiration.

Turkey Sloppy Janes

Grilled Lamb Chops with Cherry Salsa

What’s the best cut you’ve had from our meat counter and how did you prepare it?


Category: Meat, Animal Welfare




James says ...
I love WholeFoods Market and its approach to health and nutrition. Is there a way to get a list of the local farmer in Indiana that Whole Foods buys its meat? Just curious. Thanks
05/21/2013 2:58:15 PM CDT
Natasha Perez says ...
I agree that how the animals are raised contributes to the quality of the meat. Unfortunately the cost to purchase the meat is out of the budget of the average consumer. What can be done to help make Whole Foods products more affordable?
05/21/2013 6:43:19 PM CDT
Amy Porfirio says ...
I only purchase meat from Whole Foods. All my recipes turn out wonderful because of the superior quality. Keep up the good work!!
05/22/2013 3:13:37 PM CDT
Sally Wavrick says ...
I made a turkey burger from Donald Trump's Miro Lago in Miami. With Colonel Grey's chutney, lemon, red & green pepper chopped very find, egg, whole wheat bread crumbs, etc. Very tasty as plain turkey burgers tend to dry out on grill... Also love your grass-fed beef burgers. Much better than regular burger meat....In the olden days when I used to spend summers on the farm in Canada the cattle always were in the pasture eating grass. Now it's a big deal to own beef cattle that are not fattened by corn...
05/22/2013 5:26:00 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@JAMES - Since we are decentralized, unfortunately, I do not have a list of all of our vendors. Your local meat department would be more than happy to provide the farms where they source product from in Indiana.
05/23/2013 2:57:08 PM CDT
Susan Spiegel says ...
I was absolutely sickened by "Raised To Taste Better" and accompanying photo. The pigs look so darn cute, like pets really and the idea of killing them (and eating them) is abhorant. I doubt you'll publish this comment; it won't help sell your cute meat.
05/24/2013 12:21:08 AM CDT
Margie Schwegmann says ...
What is the difference between grass fed and corn fed?
05/30/2013 12:06:34 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@MARGIE - The difference is based on the type of diet that they are fed, grass or corn.
06/03/2013 11:42:57 AM CDT
Suzanne says ...
I see that your animals raised for the food you sell are allowed outside and pasture fed. I am wondering if the food they are given (especially the cattle) is corn or grain (this is not including the pasture grass). Many people feed their animals corn based products right before slaughter in order to bulk them up, causing more fat and marbling of the meat. I don't eat meat, but I am interested in whether your beef (more specifically but all of the animals) is grain and grass fed or corn fed. Thanks!
06/21/2013 8:55:55 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@SUZANNE - I cannot say the exact diet of the beef we sell as our vendors will vary between stores and they will differ in their type of feed. All of the beef labeled as "grass fed" will be grass finished as well and will not be grain or corn finished.
06/21/2013 2:02:59 PM CDT
carolina devia angarita says ...
Raised to TASTE better? what a turn off here. I used to "believe" that wholefoods was different. We should not raise a live creature for us to taste it, or eat it, or wear it. I dislike this store, and will NEVER promote its products. I am done with wholefoods and will make sure my network knows that this is another wildly FOR PROFIT hungry business.
06/27/2013 6:55:00 PM CDT
David Gorsuch says ...
in the raising of the cattle are they fed grains at anytime during the whole raising process? Or is it strictly grass and legumes and the like?
06/30/2013 5:54:28 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@DAVID - If you are looking for grass as the only food for the cattle, you will want to look for beef labeled as grass fed. According to the USDA, any items labeled as "grass-fed" must fall within the proper guidelines that "grass and forage shall be the feed source consumed for the lifetime of the ruminant animal, with the exception of milk consumed prior to weaning." All of our grass-fed beef is grass finished as well.
07/01/2013 3:17:21 PM CDT
K.E. says ...
I've cooked and enjoyed a lot of pork. As a former owner of a small food business and as an independent researcher in the field of farm animal welfare (I recently gave a presentation entitled "Humane Slaughter" at Zingerman's Camp Bacon IV), I've made it a point to obtain the best-tasting, most humanely-raised meat I can find. I've purchased directly from pig farmers and enjoyed the quality. But I have to sing the praises of the last Step-4-rated, bone-in pork butt I purchased at WF-Cranbrook! Dry-rubbed and slow-cooked at 275F for 8 hours, this 9.4-pound beauty of butchery transcended all expectations. Here I am, a week later, eating it cold out of the refrigerator for lunch, and it remains the single best cut of meat I've ever eaten in my life. My wife agrees. What a marvel! The usual unpleasant "taint" that plagues the inner part of a pork roast is absent and the fat retains the consistency of butter, with a delicate, sweet taste. You really CAN taste the difference (to borrow from a local food service icon) and my hat is off to the Step-4-rated pig farmer who raised the animal, to this WF store for carrying it (I pass by the Washtenaw store which is closer to my home just to patronize the Cranbrook meat case), and of course to the fine pig who hopefully lived well to provide us with great food. I look forward to the next phase of the GAP 5-Step program which is slated to include slaughter protocols.
07/09/2013 12:04:29 PM CDT
donna says ...
I can personally vouch for the claims that this type of meat tastes better than the conventional. My son who doesn't eat beef regularly except when it's in chili or spaghetti sauce as ground beef has been raving about how the ground beef I have been buying from WF tastes much more delicious to him. Also I have been buying chuck roast and can personally attest to its superior flavor and tenderness even when cut as steaks and grilled. WF meats are more expensive but buying them when on sale has afforded me the chance to taste a better quality of beef.
08/15/2013 10:47:12 AM CDT
Ginny Trierweiler says ...
I only recently realized there was a humane standards rating system, and I'm glad because I only want to eat meat that is humanely raised. I have been buying humanely raisesd chicken and steaks from Whole Foods and others recently, and sometimes find that the meat does not taste good. Is there something I should understand about this change? Thank you.
08/18/2013 3:52:34 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@GINNY - Sorry that you haven't enjoyed the taste. Definitely let your local store know in the future if you did not like a product so they can make it right for you!
08/19/2013 5:07:29 PM CDT
RCN says ...
Does your process in raising meat and poultry also apply to the vendors you choose to work with? For example if your carrying Applegate and other brands do they have the same standards as described by the Wholefoods mission?
09/06/2013 1:37:16 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@RCN - We cannot speak on behalf of the beliefs of any of our vendors as we look at how the animals are raised. If we sell a particular vendor in our store, they must meet our Animal Welfare Standards or we would not sell their product.
09/06/2013 4:32:00 PM CDT
Carol says ...
I recently heard about the health benefits of making my own beef stock. I was reluctant to do this with the sub-par factory farmed beef because I didn't want my broth to include hormones or antibiotics. That just seemed gross. I had a friend who said "Whole Foods has amazing products as well as great tasting beef". So I took my first trip to your store & OMG... all I can say is, "Wow." Thank you for providing a sustainable, healthy source of products that anyone, even on a budget can consume. Some call the store, "Whole Paycheck" as a joke. I admit, I did too. Until I realized the importance of my health. For me, it's all about priority. I can very well do without the snack, or coffee during the day and I will gladly pay a little more for healthy food these days.
03/07/2014 2:40:43 AM CST
Lynette says ...
I am very careful about where I source my groceries. Usually, I buy whole pieces of turkey and grind my own turkey at home. Wanting to save time, I purchased Nature's Rancher Ground Organic Turkey from WF. What a mistake. It was a disgusting paste; literally pink slime. It was so loose, I couldn't even shape it into meatballs. I had to scoop it into ball-shaped portions. I will NEVER purchase ground turkey, organic or not, again!
08/20/2015 1:43:19 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@LYNETTE - I'm so sorry to hear that. Definitely let the store know so they can help make this right for you.
08/28/2015 3:33:20 PM CDT