Over the past few years the topic of organic food has reached headlines numerous times. So what is organic and does buying organic meat really make a difference? Numerous studies have been conducted on both sides, so which ones are we to trust? What can we learn from the research? What do consumers say?
Here at About Going Green we are happy to answer these questions for you and help you to better understand why organic meat is healthier.
What is Organic?
When you buy organic food you are buying quality food that is better for your personal health and it is better for the farmers responsible for the production of the produce. It is also better for the animals.
When shopping for organic produce always look for the USDA label. This can be found on a huge range of products; meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables, dry food etc.
By purchasing the food with this label, the organic seal, you can guarantee it is a quality organic produce. These foods have the organic certification with USDA. Companies using the label are responsible for meeting five organic standards.
In relation to the “USDA Organic” or “Certified Organic” seals on food, items must:
- have an ingredient list
- content must be at least 95% “Certified Organic”
According to the USDA “Certified Organic” means free from synthetic additives such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides, dyes and can not be made with the use of industrial solvents, genetic engineering or irradiation.
But what about the other 5%? Don’t worry, these last ingredients must be on their approved list too.
The certification appears to be a thorough process. Once certified, companies will be subject to annual reviews.
In addition, organic meat farmers must raise their animals in more spacious surroundings.
Different countries have a different understanding or certification for ‘organic’ produce. What is written here applies to the certification process of the U.S.A.
Is there Research Available?
Some studies are supportive of organic farming methods and some are against it. The majority of studies I have found, surprisingly, actually support inorganic farming methods. However, don’t let this put doubt into your mind.
I too have found that a lot of the studies supporting inorganic farming methods have been funded by people or companies that would benefit from these findings. Basically; many of them are bias.
What I also found interesting is the greater number of studies comparing the differences between organic and inorganic fruit and vegetables. It was much harder to find studies on the subject of organic and inorganic meats.
A study by Susanne Padel found that most people associate the term organic with fruit and vegetables and at first tend to purchase these particular types of produce. This could be one reason why there is less information readily available on organic meat.
What Can We Learn?
This farming industry tends to confine animals for their entire life, from birth to butcher. These animals produce more stress hormones that can remain in their bodies after butchering and these could cause adverse effects in humans.
Living in these circumstances also promotes the risk of sickness from bacterial infections which could kill the animal and/or spread to the other animals.
To prevent sickness from occurring, these animals are regularly dosed with antibiotics. These antibiotics reside in the animals body for the rest f their lives. When we buy and eat this meat, the antibiotics travel into our bodies.
Antibiotics are an incredible invention. They have saved millions of people from dying from a huge variety of bacterial infections. However, in recent years it has become more and more transparent that the overuse of antibiotics is causing some bacteria to become resistant of them, e.g. staph and salmonella.
We, as a society, tend to over-use antibiotics. We head straight to urgent care at the first sign of a runny nose or sore throat. We pop these pills like kids do candy and this is where the main problem lies. When we combine this while obtaining antibiotics from the meat products that we eat, we create an environment where bacteria can become resistant or even immune to antibiotics.
Some alternative research suggests that antibiotics can completely obliterate the bacteria in your body; the good and the bad. It takes years for these healthy bacteria to reestablish themselves again. Having high levels of unhealthy bacteria encourages our body to eat unhealthy foods which in turn leads to health problems such as wight gain, diabetes, obesity and heart attacks to name a few.
When the animals who have been treated with antibiotics excreet their waste, some antibiotics leave their system and enter our soil as a pollutant. The antibiotics then enter plants through their root systems. They may look healthy on the outside, but the inside tells a different story. Then, if we eat the plant we receive the antibiotics. If another animal eats the plant, they receive the antibiotics. We then eat the animal and receive the antibiotics. These are then excreeted from their bodies into the soil.
There is a cycle where the antibiotics travel from one ecosystem to the next, having impacts on the bacteria it comes into contact with, which in turn has an effect on our ability to fight bacterial infections or maintain a healthy gut for regulating our health.
In addition, these farmers are often allowed to use growth hormones and other chemicals on their herds. These chemicals are passed onto humans during consumption and can have negative impacts on our health such as early puberty.
Organic meat is different and much better. These farming practices promote the daily living life of animals, meaning they are not continually confined.
Animals who are not continually confined, then they have the space they need to move and grow. This space discourages stress and crowding that can promote the spread of bacterial infection and therefore the risk of sickness from bacterial infection is dramatically reduced.
As a result (and under the USDA certification) they are not regularly fed doses of antibiotics. This means the antibiotics do not enter their bodies then they can not enter our bodies when we consume the meat.
The animals do not excreet antibiotics into the soil through their waste. This means that our soil is healthy and the plants that grow in it will not absorb antibiotics from the soil because there are no antibiotics in the soil to absorb.
What Do Consumers Say?
When I have spoken to people about the reasons why they consume inorganic meat, they tend to come out with answers based on these key points – cost and availability.
Inorganic meat is cheaper and there are lots of people out there trying to make ends meet. Take single parents for example. They have one person bringing income into the family household, providing for more than just them self.
Inorganic meat is readily available in almost every store. This makes shopping for this meat easy and convenient. With our busy schedules today, there are few people who can say that they haven’t grabbed something unhealthy on the go for the sake of convenience.
On the contrary, when I have spoken to people about the reasons why they eat organic meat, they tend to come out with answers based on these key points – personal health, animal rights and the environment.
When I ask them about cost they often tell me that they don’t mind paying the difference because they think that the benefits outweigh the difference in price.
In terms of availability, they say that they tend to shop in stores that provide a wider selection of organic produce such and Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Market or they shop online, so availability isn’t really an issue for them.
If you would like to read an in-depth review about online shopping for organic meat, please click on this link.
Is Organic Meat Better?
This comes down to your own personal judgment. There are a variety of reasons why people may choose to go green and eat inorganic meat; it is cheaper, more readily available and lots of research suggests that inorganic meat may be as nutritional as organic meat.
However, here at About Going Green we definitely believe that organic meet is much better! Yes it may be more expensive, but you get what you pay for. Not only can eating organic meat promote your personal health but it can promote the health of our environment. We believe that a healthier environment means a healthier and happier you.
I like to know that when I bite down into a steak, burger or chop that I have promoted healthier farming methods which protect our environment and the animals which live among it. I like knowing that the animal I am eating has been giving more physical space to grow and live a happier life.
If you would like more information on how livestock can effect the environment, please read this article by another fantastic green living write, Dwyan Anthony Alford.
Yes, Organic Meat Is Healthier!
When you buy organic food, you are buying quality. These farming methods promote happier and healthier lives of the animals we eat. This makes me happy. This in turn also has healthier effects on the meat we consume and the surrounding environment. Organic meat is more expensive and less readily available but you get what you pay for and making a few small changes to your shopping habits can enable you to purchase organic meat conveniently.
My family and I love to hunt and fish, and we believe that this is the true definition of organic. Sourcing a lot of our meat this way ensures that we have a better idea of where our meat came from. And, because we have to do more physical work to obtain it… we generally eat less. Evidence suggests that eating less meat (especially red meat) can have great health benefits. More on sourcing your own meat to come in the future.
If you ever have anything to share about this article or about Going Green, I would love to hear from you. Please use the comment section below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
If you enjoyed this post, please follow me on my social media accounts. Links to these can be on my floating menu (right) or at the very top of the page.
All the best,