It's that time of year again--summertime, eating outside, and lots of grilling! So pass the processed meat, please. You've probably heard all the urban legends about hotdogs: They contain pig ears, snouts, tails, and every other animal entrail you'd never touch with a 10-foot pole. But they're not all bad! We searched high and low for the best hotdogs out there, made with 100 percent real beef, not "variety meats," as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) likes to call them. And ours are organic or grass-fed, higher in omega-3s and vitamins, and untainted by the genetically modified animal feed, hormones, or antibiotics in unhealthy factory-farmed fare. Grab your tongs and hit the grill with these healthy dogs.
Fat: 8 g (3 g saturated)
Sodium: 330 mg
$5.99/8 hotdogs; applegatefarms.com
Good to know: Not only are these hotdogs the lowest calorie 100 percent grass-fed dogs out there, but they're also the most widely available.
Fat: 11 g (4 g saturated)
Sodium: 360 mg
$47.00/35 hotdogs; organicprairie.com
Good to know: All the meat products sold under the Organic Prairie brand are raised on certified-organic U.S. family farms. Order online in bulk, or look for smaller packages at grocery stores nationwide.
Fat: 13 g (6 g saturated)
Sodium: 430 mg
$8.00/4 franks or $50.50/30; letsbefrankdogs.com
Good to know: These all-beef, grass-fed hotdogs come from a ranch certified by the Food Alliance, a program that certifies farms that treat animals and people humanely, and have eliminated antibiotics, hormones, and genetically modified organisms from animal feed, in addition to working to protect the environment around their ranches.
Nutrition info isn't available because the cost of getting that information was too high for this small, Wyoming-based ranch, says the company's president and founder Rod Morrison. "All of our hotdogs are completely grass-fed, and everything comes from Wyoming," he says. "We're the cowboy state. We know how to do this."
$7.60/4 hotdogs; rockymtncuts.com
Good to know: Per USDA guidelines, hotdogs that list "by-products" or "variety meats" on their ingredients labels need only contain 15 percent muscle meat to be called hotdogs. Don't worry--none of our picks contain "variety meats."
Fat: 9 g (4.5 g saturated)
Sodium: 430 mg
$8.60/6 hotdogs; grasslandbeef.com
Good to know: Canadian researchers have found that daily intake of omega-3s in the amounts that exist in the average serving of grass-fed beef (about 35 mg per 3 oz serving) lowered triglycerides, blood fats that contribute to heart disease, without affecting cholesterol levels.
This small collection of family farmers, which includes the noted sustainable farmer, author and lecturer Joel Salatin, doesn't have nutritional information for their hotdogs.
$8.99/4 hotdogs (5 lb. package); grassfedbeef.org
Good to Know: For the pork purists out there, these "beyond organic" franks come from pigs that live their entire lives on the pastures of small family farms, which is something that even USDA Organic standards don't require. All of the farmers that contribute to this Virginia-based animal agriculture operation recently pledged to feed their pigs, chickens and turkeys GMO-free feed, as well.
Fat: 11 g (4.5 g saturated)
Sodium: 590 mg
$7.99/4 hotdogs; homegrownmeats.com
Good to Know: Not only are these hotdogs certified by the American Grassfed Association (a program that verifies animals eat only grass their entire lives), but they're also Animal Welfare Approved, the strictest certification program for humane animal treatment.
Fat: 13 (6 g saturated)
Sodium: 450 mg
$49.95/18 hotdogs; tallgrassbeef.com
Good to know: Though Tallgrass Beef sells its products in grocery stores across the country, they're a mainstay in the Chicago area, where Tallgrass hotdogs are sold at Wrigley Field.
Fat: 14 g (5 g saturated)
Sodium: 450 mg
$7.50/6 hotdogs; prescottfrost.com
Good to know: This ranch, owned by the great-grandson of poet Robert Frost, is located in the Sandhills of Nebraska, a region often called the Napa Valley of grass-fed beef.