You may have noticed advertising in the meat aisle for grass-fed beef and cage-free chickens. Whether its popularity is due to Moms shunning pesticides for their children born and unborn or to celebrities flaunting organic diets, there is interest in avoiding some of the effects that mass meat production creates. But because organic meat is not offer a significant improvement in nutrition and the long-term health effects of consuming non-organic meat is not completely clear, is the cry for organic meat justified around the world?
Where Does Your Hamburger Live?
The Access to Pasture Rule gives the following guidelines for USDA certification of organic livestock:
- Access to pasture throughout the grazing season (specific to their geographical climate)
- Diet consisting of at least 30% dry matter intake from pasture grazed during grazing season, totaling at least 120 days.
- No hormones to promote growth
- No antibiotics
- 100% organic feed
You may be surprised to know that none of these guidelines apply to non-organic meat. In fact, non-organic livestock that produce dairy products may be confined to stalls for their entire lives.
- No mammalian or poultry by-products in feed
- - - -
This blog goes on - and starts getting really alarming after that - talking about "factory farms" and other fictitious emotion-laden terms (Yes, I'd love to get one of those machines which just churn out meat on an assembly line - ain't gonna happen.)
The point here is that the only difference between the grass-fed meat we raise and "organic" is that we can take them to a local processor - and to get a beef organically-labelled I have to take it to the nearest "certified organic" processor in another state. And the grass I give them isn't "certified" as organic.
But organic is more a Federal label now than it is really all that better for you.
Look, the "Organic" scene is officially a mess. Sure, there's money in it - but there's more money in simply raising things naturally.
Reason: Less overhead. Means more profits. When you get the government involved, it's almost always a guaranteed disaster with cost overruns and inefficiency paid for with higher taxes. Yes, we are indirectly financing "Organic" producers. Even though they pay for their government-approved certification.
You have to know your farmer, what he raises and how he raises them to know your beef is safe, high-quality, and worth more in health-terms than the "mystery meat" you buy in commodity supermarkets.
For instance, that cute cow from their site? Highland cattle take 3 years to mature. Commodity Angus can be ready in 16 months. Our grass fed beef is ready about 6 months after that - but pays us twice as much as corn-fed commodity beef.
So grass fed beef is better for farmers (and better for the land) than corn fed. But that really gets into another topic for another day.
Suffice to say that all-natural, grass fed beef is more profitable for the farmer and cheaper to buy than high-priced organic.
Know you farmer, know your processor, know your wallet is a little safer (as well as your food.)