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Difference Between Commercial and Natural Meat

Updated on July 23, 2011

Whenever you go to the store to buy food for your family, there are many different brands to choose from as you cross off each item on your list. In many cases, name-brand items aren't that different from the cheaper brands but there is one area in the store where the difference in price truly reflects a difference in quality; and that area is the meat department.

Since Americans consume more meat in their diet than most people in other nations around the world, the meat industry is one of the largest and most successful industries in America. And, like many other flourishing production processes, commercial meat manufacturing methods have changed significantly over the years to keep up with growing demand and to help minimize production costs. Unfortunately, many of these changes can have negative health effects on the Americans who buy and consume that meat though. That is why organic, or natural meat, is becoming increasingly popular today.

What is natural meat?

If you have never heard of, or tried, organic meat before, you may not understand why it is so different from the run-of-the-mill meat products that usually line the shelf of your local grocery store. After all, beef is beef no matter what you call it, right? Wrong! There is definitely a difference between natural and commercial meat.

Like organic fruits and vegetables, organic meat has to be raised using high production standards. For example, natural meat only comes from animals that have been raised on high quality feed like grains, hay and grass rather than low-grade or animal by-product substitutes. And, unlike commercial meat, natural meat contains no growth hormones or antibiotics because these substances are never given to organic livestock. The animals who are raised and slaughtered to produce organic meat also enjoy more comfortable lifestyles with plenty of fresh air, space, and sunshine as they grow.

What are the benefits of buying natural meat?

Because of these higher production standards, there are several benefits that humans gain from choosing natural meat over commercial meat for their table. First, since there are no growth hormones or antibiotics accumulated in the very fat and fiber of natural meat like there are in commercial products, consumers won't have to worry about as many health problems like cancer, pre-mature puberty, and antibody-resistant bacteria.

And second, since the cattle or livestock included in the natural meat category have been raised on quality feed, there are also more nutrients, beneficial fatty acids, and robust flavor in natural meat than commercial grade products. As a result, your meals will not only be better for you, but taste better as well.

Another benefit that comes from choosing organic meat products over commercial ones is that organic meat farmers are much more mindful of the environment than commercial producers. This all stems from the fact that organic meat production is the kind of sustainable agriculture that resembles the good, old-fashioned practices of traditional husbandry.

Where can you find natural meat?

If you want to discover the difference between commercial and natural meat yourself, there are several places that you can shop for it. One of the fastest and most convenient ways to buy natural meat is to order the cut of your choice online. Although you do have to pay for and wait for the shipping, online orders can be placed in minutes and they arrive right at your door. As a result, you don't even have to spend a lot of time or gas to go and get it yourself.

Health food stores are another good place to find natural and organic meat. After all, they cater to health-conscious consumers who only want the best food on the market going into their bodies. If you can't afford to wait for a home-delivery, health food stores may be the next best place to shop for organic meat.

Occasionally though, some supermarkets will also carry a limited supply of natural meat products. It probably won't be a huge selection, since there is less demand for higher-priced meat, but most supermarkets are willing to carry some natural meat; especially if you request it.

What are the drawbacks?

Considering all the benefits that come from eating organic meat, it shouldn't be surprising that the only real drawback of buying this amazing product is the price. And unfortunately, no matter where you look for it, natural meat will always be more expensive than commercially raised meat products.

On the other hand, you have to keep in mind that everything inside the food you eat eventually becomes a part of your body and has a huge impact on your health and happiness. So, natural meat may be worth the higher price tag to a lot of people; especially the ones like pregnant women and children, who have to be extra careful about their diet.

A Word of Caution

Whether you buy organic or commercial meat products, consumers still need to be wise about how much beef, pork and poultry they consume. After all, these meat products have a lot more fat and cholesterol in them per ounce than other sources of protein like nuts, beans, and fish and too much of anything, even a product as healthy and delicious as natural meat, can be unhealthy for your body.

Reading Labels

If you are shopping for naturally raised beef, pork, or poultry, you do have to be kind of careful about what the labels mean. In fact, you have know exactly what each label means or you may find yourself buying a product that isn't as pure as you thought.

For example, even though a lot of people use the words "natural" and "organic" interchangeably when they are talking about high-quality meat products, there is a difference between the two of them when it comes to labels. When you read a label, the word "natural" is actually a looser term for healthy meat because natural only guarantees that there were no unhealthy ingredients added during the meat processing procedure. As a result, manufacturers don't have to disclose anything about how the animal was fed or drugged while it was raised if they use the word natural. Consequently, if you want to be sure that the meat you buy is the highest quality, look for very clear statements like "One hundred percent organic," or "no artificial growth hormones." After all, you want the best quality if you are paying a higher price for the product.

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