Organic Meat Stephanie O’Keefe

22 09 2008
Out for a stroll

Out for a stroll

When and if you choose to eat animal products you can make a significant difference for your health and the environment by choosing organic.  There seems to be a lot of confusion out there on exactly what organic means.  Organic meat means a few things: Fed only grass or 100% organic feed, never given antibiotics, hormones, or drugs, and must be certified through the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.  Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based on the standards set up by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements established in 1972.  The overarching goal of organic farming is defined as follows: “The role of organic agriculture, whether in farming, processing, distribution, or consumption, is to sustain and enhance the health of ecosystems and organisms from the smallest in the soil to human beings.”  There are natural and free range products as well.  Free range has to do with poultry, roaming freely instead of being contained in any matter allowing them to move their muscles.  The birds are allowed daily access to fresh air and sunshine outside.  All natural is another confusing term.  All meat is natural, but not to be labeled natural, it means it cannot have any artificial flavor, color, or chemical preservatives.  It is also to be minimally processed.
     Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on crop rotation, green manure, compost, biological pest control, mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity, and excluding or strictly limiting the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.  Animals are fed 100 percent feed without ground up animal parts.  The practice of feeding animals ground up remains of their same species appears to cause cows in particular, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease), a horrible disease that destroys the central nervous system and brain, this can be given to humans through the cow infected.  Small farms use manure and industrial farms pollute with it.  On a small farm manure is used to naturally fertilize.  Industrial farms produce so much manure that it is a human health risk.  The overspill of manure can contaminate wells with E. coli and other pathogens.  Small or sustainable farms use their manure productively as organic fertilizer.  The manure is “pure”, coming from animals fed organic diets.  Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are not used on the food or land.  Residues of persistent chemicals such as DDT, PCBs, dioxin, and many pesticides concentrate in animal fat.  Eating organic fat reduces your exposure to these chemicals.  Also the farmers working on these farms are exposed to fewer chemicals.
     How do you know if food is organic?  Look for the word “organic” on product package.  Foods labeled 100 percent organic must contain only organic ingredients.  Products containing at least 70 percent organic content can be labeled “made with organic ingredients.”  Those foods labeled “organic” must have at least 95 percent organic ingredients, by weight or fluid volume, excluding water and salt.  If food is labeled “transitional,” that means the farmer produced it during the three year conversion period from conventional to organic.  Buying organic animal products is better for your health, your local community, and the larger community as a whole.  Support diversity by supporting your local farms; buy their milk, eggs, and meat. 
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