AUSTIN, TEXAS – Grass-fed-and-finished beef is now being offered in the meat departments at all 284 of Whole Foods Market’s stores in the U.S.

"Raising cattle just on grass is a return to traditional methods the way nature intended," said Theo Weening, global meat coordinator for Whole Foods Market. "By partnering with producers across the country, Whole Foods Market hopes to help bring grass-fed ranching back into the mainstream because of its positive impact on the cattle, the environment and because it supports local communities."

Grass is the most natural diet for beef cattle, as cows are born with the ability to convert grasses, legumes and herbaceous plants into protein, the company said. Meat from animals that spend their lives grazing on grasses has a more favorable ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, it added.

Because grass-fed cattle are typically leaner than cattle that are fed grain, almost all cuts have less fat than grain-feed beef. Grass-fed beef also has a distinct, vibrant flavor, Whole Foods claims.

The company added that as consumer concerns about health, food safety and the environment keep increasing, more beef producers are joining the grass-fed movement and see themselves as stewards working with nature to raise their cattle. Because properly run grass-fed programs require a commitment to sustainable practices, ranchers must carefully manage their natural resources. Most grass-fed ranchers are independent, selling beef from their own property, or belong to a small, locally-focused producer group.

Whole Foods Market partners with grass-fed producers throughout the country including family ranches in California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nebraska, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

Grass-fed beef, like all other meat sold at Whole Foods Market, must meet the company's strict quality standards, which require animals to be raised on a vegetarian diet without being administered antibiotics or added growth hormones. All producers must also meet specific and rigorous animal-welfare standards that apply to all stages of an animal's life and environment.