When most people think of organic foods, they think of spinach and tomatoes ripening in the sun in their natural fertilizers. While this is an inspiring image for many, there is a key element missing from the picture: meat. Eating organic, though, does not have to mean eating vegetarian. The products on the organic market range from fresh produce to pastas, ice cream, and, yes, meat. The range of meats available has actually increased as the health awareness of people today has jumped.
People today are eating less meat than ever, so when they choose meat, they want assurances that it will be the best tasting and healthiest meat that they can buy. With organic foods, the quality is such that you can taste the difference between a commercial farm and an organic cow. Commercial meat farming has become almost like farming produce in that animals are boxed up in their neat rows and expected to live, grow, and be harvested like a plant. Animals are not plants, though, and a natural lifestyle for the animal leads to better tasting meat for us.
For the past fifty years our farming of both animals and plants has grown more and more dependent on chemicals. Focus has shifted away from quality and into mass quantity production. We are looking at a society of “more, bigger, faster” that is driving our food production in unhealthy directions. Animals are pumped full of antibiotics and synthetic hormones to make them grow bigger and faster, and their meat is processed with chemical additives and preservatives such as phosphates. Generations of Americans have chewed their way through these chemicals, all the while thinking about how good that ham looked on the shelf (it had better look good, seeing as it was chemically colored and “enhanced”!)
It is truly sad how few people have experienced the delights of the taste of meat farmed as nature intended: grass fed and allowed to roam safely and happily. Organically raised animals are fed on organic feed and on grass which is grown without the “aid” of toxic pesticides and harmful fertilizers. Organic animals are not fed animal byproducts like some of the unfortunate animals at “regular” farms. This practice may in fact contribute to diseases like mad cow disease, so buying organic can help to protect you from this hidden killer. The animals at organic farms are treated, as required by organic certifiers, very humanely with large living quarters and access to the outdoors. The animals are healthier than commercially farmed animals because they have the room to move about and are not crowded in with sickly animals.
The use of antibiotics in feed for organically raised animals is strictly forbidden. Commercial farmers use antibiotics to accelerate growth of young animals and help to prevent the diseases common in the overcrowded conditions that the animals are kept in. This practice, so common in commercial agriculture, has been proven to contribute to the growth of bacterial strains that are resistant to antibiotics in humans. This practice, for the convenience of the farmers, has worsened a great danger to all of us. Organic farmers also use natural processing methods, which rule out synthetic chemicals, artificial preservatives and additives like sodium nitrate.
Eating organic meat is not just about the taste (although the great taste makes it highly rewarding), it is also about doing what is right for your body, the animals, and the planet. If everyone knew how great it tastes to do the right thing, commercial animal farms would be wiped out before you could say, “Beef: it’s what’s for dinner”.