organic meat

Most talk of organics revolves around crops and the foods that are made from them, but organic meat, eggs and dairy also fall important to consider. Understanding how these animal-based products are certified as organic is a little more complicated.

First of all, all animals must be fed only certified organic feed or be pastured on fields that have also been through the same inspection process to be certified organic. That means the farmer has to prove (with paperwork) that the fields have not been treated with prohibited chemicals for at least 3 years.

To have animal products be eligible for certification, there are further steps beyond just what they eat. Farmers can’t use any growth hormones or antibiotics on their animals either. This includes animals raised for eggs or milk, as well those raised for their meat.

Antibiotics are relatively fine in reasonable doses but they have long been overused in conventional farming because the crowded and dirty conditions lead to sick animals. So they are constantly fed antibiotics to keep them as healthy as possible, and these chemicals can be found in the resulting food products. Same goes for the unnatural hormones used to grow animals as fast as possible.

So when any animals are sick on an organic farm, the farmer may not use antibiotics and then sell the animal as organic. Other treatments may be used or the meat may be sold without the label. For this reason, most farmers strive to keep their animals’ living conditions as safe and clean as possible.

The organic labeling for meat, eggs and milk is the same as for other crops so it is managed by the United States Department of Agriculture. It’s taken quite seriously and you can trust that animal products with the label are going to be free of unwanted chemicals or toxins.

The statute also includes a provision that organic animals must have access to the outdoors which means the animals are kept in better conditions than some of the large indoor-only feedlot operations. But other than that, the organic industry is not intended to protect against inhumane conditions only the use of chemicals.

Any meat, milk or eggs that are labeled as being “natural” or “grass-fed” are not regulated and the terms can be used without any particular proof to back them up.

Is organic meat better than non-organic?

In theory, organic meat should be better than non-organic meat. However, it is difficult to prove which type of meat is better. Animals raised to be organic meat do not eat any foods that have been treated with synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, sewage sludge or radiation. Their foods are more pure because they cannot contain any preservatives, additives or GMO’s.

Organic meat tends to be more lean with a better fatty acid ratios and less total fat.