What Is The Difference Between Organic And Non Organic Meat?
With growing concerns about obesity, cancer, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and other lifestyle-driven diseases, we are all more conscious about the things we eat. We are looking for heathier food options and many of us are generally more aware of the things we eat.
But it’s not only concern for our own well-being that drives us to choose organic. Organic products are friendlier for the environment as by definition organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge.
Fruits and vegetables are common organically grown produce. However, recently, more people have become interested in turning to organic eggs, milk, dairy, and meat.
What Does Organic Food Mean?
For a meat product to be certified as organic, regulations require that animals are raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors (such as the ability to graze on pasture), fed 100% organic feed and forage, and not administered antibiotics or hormones.
For many consumers and farmers alike, organic agriculture means more than avoiding contamination from pesticides and antibiotic bacteria. They want ethical and sustainable ways of producing meat.
Take Grutto, for example, and organic producer that has published a manifesto on their website incorporating ethical and sustainable farming principles. Yes, animals deserve to live a good life and receive proper care. Food waste is also a big issue requiring more attention and action, and we need to fight for and preserve the biodiversity of our ecosystems.
Difference Between Organic and Non-Organic Meat
Here are some key differences between organic and non-organic meat that you need to be aware of:
1. Use of Drugs or Growth Hormones
The first difference between organic and non-organic meat is that organic meat comes from animals that are not treated with drugs, hormones, and antibiotics.
Food contamination with antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a big cause of concern as antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a cause of death for over 55,000 Europeans and Americans every year. According to a study published last year in the Food Science and Nutrition Magazine, multiresistant bacteria was commonly found in beef from northwest Spain.
According to an article published in the Washington Post, organic meat can still be contaminated with pathogens, though contamination is likely to occur with bacteria that can be easily treated with antibiotics.
A common question asked is what happens to animals that are raised on organic farms and that need antibiotic treatment to overcome infection. Some infections can only be treated with antibiotics and these animals do get the proper treatment. They are then removed from the organic livestock and sold to non-organic farm owners.
Regarding the linkage between growth hormones and cancer, the jury is still out. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers that growth hormones used in farming pose no threat to humans, while some link them to breast cancer.
2. Fat and Calorie Content
Organic meat has health benefits as it generally has less saturated fat, has fewer calories and higher levels of the healthy omega-3 acids.
Organic meat contains about 50% more of the beneficial omega-3-fatty acids compared to non-organic. However, don’t get oversold on the omega-3 hype. There are many other foods, such as nuts and fish, that are better options for omega-3 acids than beef, pork, or chicken.
3. Farm Practices
The quality of meat depends on how the animal is treated and cared for on a farm. On an organic farm, cows are fed at least 60% fresh grass and are reared outdoors. This is not only the right way to raise animals but also ensures a higher quality of meat.
Many people find organic meat products have more flavor than non-organic, though according to the Huffington Post, there’s nothing to back up these claims.
Yes, grass-fed beef will generally taste better, but it doesn’t have to be organic. In the end it all comes down to personal taste and preference, though the decision to buy organic is made mostly for other criteria.