Natural is a tough term to reliably and consistently define these days. The term is not regulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a way that is meaningful to consumers. “All Natural” on a label simply means “Minimally Processed.” This says nothing about the use of hormones, animal based feeds or antibiotics. “Naturally Raised” is thus becoming prevalent in the industry to cover that gap, but there is no fixed definition for this term either. Every producer and processor can define “natural” as they please- as long as that definition is registered with the USDA and made available to the consumer. So, for example, sometimes naturally raised means no antibiotics ever, and sometimes it means no prophylactic antibiotics administered, and sometimes it says nothing about antibiotics at all.
It is also important to note that the USDA only covers labeling claims, so pretty much any claim made in marketing materials or on a website is not verified by the agency.
Because of all of this ambiguity, we think it’s worth the effort it takes to buy your meat from a traceable, trusted source — whether that source is Dickson’s Farmstand or the farmer himself.