Gluten, Omega-3, and Omega-6 Explained

 In FAQ, Nutrition & Health

I realize that I’m stepping into some controversial waters here, so if you’re ready to jump in with me… keep reading!

We are often asked about our chicken and pig feed — which is a GREAT question. We always encourage families to ask questions about their food! It is critical to ask pointed questions to ensure that the food you are feeding your family is coming from a trustworthy source. There are lots of livestock feed issues and today I’m going to focus on gluten, omega-3, and omega-6. If your question is not answered, feel free to comment below.

Q: What is gluten?

A: Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten is found in the grain itself and is not in meat.


Q: What are Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids?

A: Quickly explained, these essential fatty acids are absorbed through food and should be eaten in a 1:1 balance. Omega-3 is anti-inflammatory and is found in grassfed or pasture-raised meat, fish, and other foods like avocados, etc. Omega-6 is inflammatory and is found in conventionally raised meats, vegetable oils, soy, etc. The bottom line: we need both, however instead of consuming them at the balanced ratio of 1:1, we Americans consume far more Omega-6s (the inflammatory one), in fact we consume 14 to 25 times more Omega-6 than Omega-3. Wow!


Q: What should I know about conventional meat?

A: Conventional meat is from stressed animals. Stress in animals is chiefly caused by unnatural living conditions and an unbalanced diet. This stress causes inflammation in the animal. Inflammation in conventionally raised animals is transferred to your body in the form of high levels of omega-6 fatty acids (remember, we already get way more Omega-6s than we should). This should be a big concern when buying meat. When you buy meat from animals who are not stressed, that meat will nourish your body with a proper balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

Conventional Chicken Farm (above) vs. Rockside Ranch Pasture-raised Layers (below)

Saturday social. #pasturedeggs #rocksideeggs

A photo posted by Rockside Ranch (@rocksideranch.craig) on


Conventional Hog Farm (above) vs. Rockside Ranch Pasture-raised Pigs (below)

Pigs take their work very seriously. #Rocksidepork #pasturedpigs

A photo posted by Rockside Ranch (@rocksideranch.craig) on

Q: Is your meat gluten-free? 

A: Yes. All meat is inherently gluten-free. Even if an animal is fed gluten, the meat won’t contain gluten. No matter what an animal eats, the meat itself will be gluten-free.


Q: Do your pasture-raised chickens and pigs eat grain?

A: Yes, our pasture-raised chickens and pigs DO eat organic, soy-free grain in addition to forage and organic sprouted grain to complete a healthy and nutritious diet. In the picture below, you’ll see our pasture-raised chickens on a section of pasture where the forage grass is very thin. The sprouted grain (called fodder) ensures that they receive fresh greens everyday.

Feeding fodder.

A photo posted by Rockside Ranch (@rocksideranch.craig) on

Q: Why do chickens and pigs eat grain?

A: Chickens and pigs are omnivores (not ruminant herbivores like cows) so they would not survive if they only ate grass. In the wild, pigs and birds survive on a balanced diet of insects, seeds, grasses, etc. We mimic that environment by raising them outdoors with free access to forage. We then supplement their forage diet with an organic, soy-free grain ration and organic sprouted grain.


Q: How is your chicken and pork different than conventional meat?

A: It is incredibly different but to stay on topic, I will highlight the differences as it relates to fatty acids. Our animals live a low-stress life to minimize inflammation and keep their omega-3 and omega-6 levels in balance. We mimic their natural living conditions and feed a balanced and 100% organic diet of forage, soy-free grain, and sprouted grain to promote maximum health benefits to the animal which is passed on to you when you eat our meat.

After reading this, do you have additional questions or suggestions for future posts? Please share in the comments below. Thank you so much!

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Showing 4 comments
  • Susan

    Fantastic post and explanations, Craig! Those conventional photos are both horrific and amazing! Your heritage breed animals are beautiful and indeed look VERY happy, and it comes through in their incredible taste. Thank you for sharing this information, I learned some things!

    • Craig Thompson

      Thanks Susan! I’m so glad 🙂 We can’t wait to have you visit the farm someday!

  • Serena Travis

    Great explanations! I would only add that as a person who needs to avoid gluten, the only meat that I ruthlessly inspect is meat that has been through a process such as sausage or jerky. Such processed meats often include wheat or soy of some sort, so I’m always on the lookout for the gluten-free brands. Thank you, Rockside Ranch, for producing beautiful, clean Scott Valley products!

    • Craig Thompson

      Very true Serena! All of our sausages are gluten free. Thanks! 🙂

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