- Food and Cooking
Organic and Natural Meat
Why Buy Organic or Natural Meat?
The interest in organically or naturally grown meats and fish is growing. People are looking for alternative to meats grown and processed in large mechanized factory farms. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are found in the animal feed. Also livestock waste and other filth are not treated properly and work their way into the food chain. Pesticides are also applied directly and liberally to the animal in order to kill off pests. Recent recalls of tainted meats infected with e-coli, salmonella and other problems have concerned consumers searching for safer alternatives.
The worry is that the large farming complexes are polluting our environment both land and water with the fertilizer, pesticides and massive fecal wastes. Vegetable crops, aquifers and waterways are found to be contaminated with fecal material and other farm related pollutants.
Smaller family farms are being squeezed out of business, not being able to compete on their own. If they join with one of the larger mega companies they have to follow different rules. The more people get involved and buy safer produced meats and fish the more businesses will take notice.
Terminology for different types of meat is confusing, especially with businesses trying to get the highest price they can by trying to convince you their product is much more natural, organic or sustainable than the other ones on the store shelves. They try to use terminology that means in essence nothing. This lens will try to alleviate some of the confusion.
Organically grown beef have paperwork that is tracked. They cannot be fed confined and they cannot be fed antibiotics or growth hormones.
Organically raised chickens eat organic feed without antibiotics and growth hormones.They cannot be feed animal by-products or fillers.
Organic Pork is also raised without antibiotics and growth hormones.
Organic Fish is a label that U.S. regulations do not cover. There is a battle raging about allowing farmed fish who eat non organic food ( smaller fish) to be called organic. Fish farmed under special guidelines in the UK can be certified organic.
Organically grown meats are given 100% organic feed and have access to the outdoors and pastures to graze or forage. The farms are inspected and certified to make sure USDA regulations are in effect.
Organic Meat on Amazon
According to the USDA these meats should be minimally processed which is a very vague term. They should be free of preservatives, artificial ingredients and added color. But saline solution and some other preservatives are allowed. There is no specifics on how the animal is raised or the type of feed. The package label would have to list why the meat is considered natural and whether it was fed grains or grass or that there were no growth hormones or antibiotics. You could look up the company website to see their philosophy and farming practices for a better understanding.
Grass Fed Animals
Grass fed animals are allowed to graze on pastures which is more natural for them . Of course how much depends on the farm philosophy. Farmers rotate the pastures they graze on to protect the land. Some advertise 100% grass fed with no soy or corn feed and the meat has less saturated fat than grain fed meat. You would have to look at the label and website to see their particular feeding method.
Historically animals used to graze in open pastures but now they are mostly confined for several reasons. It helps prevent contamination from the animal droppings on food crops. The livestock are protected from wildlife that might be carrying diseases. It is safer from predators and thievery and from toxic plants. The snake root plant caused the devastating milk sickness of the 19th century. Birthwort was implicated in horses coming down with kidney failure after grazing on it. People who ate bread and other products accidentally made with birthwort contaminated wheat also came down with kidney disease and a rare cancer of the urinary tract.
Free-Range and Pastured Chicken
Free-Range chicken are supposed to have access to the outdoors. But depending on the farm set up and the amount of chickens, they really may never get outdoors. Other than that they can be raised the same way as totally caged chickens. How humane or not would depend on the individual farm.
Pastured Chickens are kept in bottomless pens which are moved around pastures to get to different grasses. The cages protect the birds from predators while the movement also to get away from their waste and allows for the regrowth of new pastures.
Wild Caught and Farmed Fish
Wild fish are caught from fresh water or salt water, depending on the type of fish. Since it is caught in the wild it cannot be called organic. The concern is mercury and other pollution that is found in the waters.
Farmed fish are raised in aquaculture be it fresh or salt water. The concern is all the artificial antibiotics and growth hormones that are used. Also disease that is bred in such environments that are said to be dangerous to wild fish. Farmed fish can escape and infect wild fish. In the case of Asian carp, they were brought to the U.S. fish farms to help curb algae. They escaped during floods and are now considered a dangerous invasive species even though they are eaten and bred in Asia.
Wild or Farmed Fish
Do you distinguish between wild or farmed fish?
Products labeled as “100 percent organic” must
contain (excluding water and salt) only organically
produced ingredients and processing aids
Links on Sustainably Grown Meats
- Eat Well Guide
Help find local sustainably grown food
- The Organic Pages
provide users with a quick, easy way to find certified organic products, producers, ingredients, supplies and services offered by OTA members, as well as items of interest to the entire organic community.
- Promoting Sustainable Agriculture
Consumers are paying a high cost for substandard, cheap factory food. The following links are working on different areas but all have the same goal - to support sustainable agriculture.
- E. Coli in Drinking Water
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT E. COLI
- Turning Farms into Factories
Industrial animal production, the practice of confining thousands of cows, hogs, chickens, or other animals in tightly packed facilities has become the dominant method of meat production in the United States. This report, which accompanies Food &
- Factory Farm Alarm
Animal factories are laying waste to our environment and to public health.
- River heals as lawsuit against Big Poultry looms
SCRAPER, Okla. - David Overbey is no scientist, but he says a person doesn't have to be to see how much the Illinois River has improved in recent years.
Buying Organic Meat
Do you buy organic meat?
Products labeled "organic" must consist of at least 95
percent organically produced ingredients (excluding
water and salt). Any remaining product ingredients
must consist of nonagricultural substances approved
on the National List.