Take a walk down any “natural” or “organic” food aisle at your local grocery store, and you’ll see tons of “organic” foods choices: from produce, to cereals, to chips, to yogurts and even crackers. These choices can be both overwhelming and expensive, as organic foods generally cost more. We don’t eat everything organic but there are certain things that are definitely worth making the cross over for. One of the things we don’t mind spending that extra bit of money on is organic meat! There is a great difference in the practices of organic and non-organic farmers which leads to a difference in the quality and nutrition between organic and non-organic meat. This post will explain why it may be worth it to spend a little more to invest in your body.
The above photo shows the difference between an organic chicken (on the right) and a non-organic chicken on the left.
Animals that are raised organic are not fed animal by-products and are not given growth hormones or antibiotics. Instead they are fed natural ingredients like grass.
Non-organic animals are given/fed animal by-products, growth hormones and antibiotics– each of which can causes serious problems if consumed. In some cases, even sewage is allowed to be fed to non-organic livestock – ew! Remember that saying you are what you eat? Keep that in mind when selecting your meat (and everything you eat for that matter J) If you are eating a cut of beef and that cow was given these types of things, then you are consuming them as well.
It is often cheaper for farmers to feed their non-organic livestock animal by-products. After an animal has been slaughtered, all the inedible parts (feet, brains, lungs, etc…) are kept and reprocessed into food for non-organic livestock. This helps fatten up the animals and get them to slaughter quicker. Cannibalism much??! This method has contributed to outbreaks of Mad Cow disease (BSE) and obviously isn’t great for the animals.
To help animals grow quicker and be ready for slaughter sooner, farmers give their livestock growth hormones such as steroids. As you know, steroids are bad…so if the animal you are eating was given steroids, you are now consuming them as well. This creates negative health effects on humans. Growth hormones have been linked to the development of cancer and reproductive problems.
Non-organically raised animals are given high levels of antibiotics as a preventative measure to ensure the animals stay healthy up until slaughter. The problem is, these antibiotics stay in the meat meaning we consume them as well. When we consume these antibiotics regularly, our bodies get used to them. So, when we get sick, antibiotics can become ineffective because our bodies have adapted to them already.
The following table shows what’s permitted to be fed to non-organic livestock in the United States.
What’s in American meat?
|Dairy cows||antibiotics, pig & chicken byproducts, hormones (for growth), pesticides, sewage sludge|
|Beef cows||antibiotics, pig & chicken byproducts, steroids, hormones, pesticides, sewage sludge|
|Pigs||antibiotics, animal byproducts, pesticides, sewage sludge, arsenic-based drugs (growth hormones are prohibited)|
|Broiler chickens||antibiotics, animal byproducts, pesticides, sewage sludge, arsenic-based drugs (growth hormones are prohibited)|
|Egg laying hens||antibiotics, animal byproducts, pesticides, sewage sludge, arsenic-based drugs|
Source: Meat, dairy, and eggs buying guide
We not only recommend making the cross over to organic meat because of what the animals are fed but also because of how they are treated. Organic raised livestock are treated in a more human way. They are given more room to roam and graze, meaning they get exercise which contributes to healthier animals. Think about it, if they are able to roam, then they will be leaner. And if you want to be lean, you should be eating lean meat, right?! Factory farms that raise non organic livestock treat the animals in the opposite way. Their main goal is to produce as much meat as possible with minimal cost. As a result, the animals are subject to inhuman conditions. They are not given the opportunity to move around and often don’t even see the light of day. In fact in non-organic factory chicken farms the chickens are often jammed into a large pen with no room for movement and no natural light is let in. Often times they are not even able to physically move because they are so fat that their legs can no longer support their body weight.
* It is important to note that some organic farms may only do the minimal to meet the requirements of becoming organic, but they are still better than the alternative.
Eating organic can definitely be expensive. But if you are willing to spend a little extra money every week on an organic item, we highly recommend that that item be meat. Organic meat is void of many toxins which can lead to health problems, so we feel that it is worth paying a bit more to really make an investment in your own health!
S & L