Our mission is simple: Do what's good for our animals, good for our planet and good for you.
Founded by lifelong farmer John Wood, U.S. Wellness Meats grew out of John's realization that there was a unique way of raising cattle for a growing niche of U.S. consumers who were beginning to understand the health benefits of CLA and omega-3s from free-range meat.
A fifth-generation farmer, John was used to thinking like his ancestors and his neighbors when it came to raising animals. In a nutshell, this old method meant growing the animal on pasture, feeding them grain in confinement for the final four months, and then selling them off to a big animal processor when it was time for them to be harvested. But with a little experimentation, he discovered the old method might not be the only method. In 1997, 1998 and 1999, John raised animals on a 100% forage diet and had the proof he needed: there was another way to get tender and exquisite-tasting beef, lamb, bison, goat and dairy products.
One of the key secrets of the new model? Keeping the best quality forage in front of animals on a daily basis with a rotation grazing sequence. This traditional method mimics how buffalo grazed in North America for centuries, and it is the critical difference between 21st-century grass-fed and the old 1950's model.
Then in 1993, John and some of his neighboring farmers attended a lecture on holistic land management. Most of them walked away and returned to farming as usual. But John—along with several other men who were there that night—was inspired. He saw a future of healthier land and healthier animals, as well as a way to re-energize a local farming community that had been dying for years.
With these new methods a farmer could cultivate richer soil and biodiversity on their land, bypass the need for expensive irrigation systems with rainwater alone, counter and negate the effects of too much carbon in our atmosphere, raise healthier animals, and create a self-sustaining cattle ranch that wasn't at the whim of industrial agribusiness. But would theory translate into practice? The Wood family, along with the other founding families of U.S. Wellness Meats, decided to give it a shot.
In 1997, they harvested their first animal. Grass-fed from start to finish, it had been raised with all the principles of holistic land management and sustainability. And it was delicious.
Even better, lab tests showed that the meat was high in all kinds of nutrients: omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin E, CLA, and other nutrients that just don't show up in grain-fed, feedlot cattle.
It had to be a fluke — this was contrary to conventional wisdom on what made tender, tasty beef.
But no. They did it again in 1998, with the exact same results. Then again in 1999. It was no accident. Cattle raised on the very same land these families had farmed for years were suddenly tastier and healthier thanks to so-called "newfangled," "hard-to-implement" practices like sustainability and biodiversity.
In 2000, U.S. Wellness Meats as we now know it was born.
Today, the company is a thriving family-owned business still run by its founding families. Their grass-fed beef is recognized for its exceptional taste, quality and health benefits by chefs, health experts, professional athletes, and many others. In addition, U.S. Wellness Meats has joined with like-minded small family farms across the country to expand its offerings to include grass-fed lamb, bison, and goat, as well as grass-fed butter and cheese, free-range poultry, honey, organic nuts, and other wellness products.