Health Benefits of Organic Meat
by Jodi Koberinski (Executive Director, Organic Council of Ontario)
Note: the article below refers to ‘organic’ vs ‘mainstream’.
The top 3 reasons people choose organic are environment, taste, and health.
Organic livestock products are fundamentally different from their ‘mainstream’ counterparts in significant ways. The same care and attention that go into raising your organic vegetables are given to grain and pastures that feed organic chickens, cattle, pigs and other livestock.
Mainstream livestock feed contains GMOs, could contain pesticide and herbicide residue, and can also contain waste from other livestock streams. For example, the ‘litter’ or waste from the chicken barn floor is worked into cattle feed.
We protect more land and water resources when we choose organic livestock products. It takes 2-4 acres per year to feed one dairy cow. Organically raised animals must also have outdoor access, weather permitting, and have access to sunlight and fresh air year round.
Organic producers take extra steps to protect animal health and ultimately consumer health. No antibiotic use is permitted in organic products. Antibiotics are used in mainstream agriculture to lower costs of production and speed growth. The administration of antibiotics for growth is partially responsible for the low meat prices reflected today in North America – but this comes at a cost.
According to the OMAFRA website, ‘non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in agriculture leads to the development of antibiotic resistance…..’ Antibiotic resistance limits treatment options, delays recovery and costs more (World Health Organization, 2003). Choosing organic chicken is a great way to say ‘NO’ to antibiotic overuse.
Scientists report that hormone residues found in meat can disrupt the consumer’s hormone balance, cause developmental problems, interfere with the reproductive system, and even lead to the development of cancer. Children and pregnant women are most susceptible to these negative health effects. Healthy soils, healthy feed, healthy animlas lead to healthful food products. It just makes sense!
This usually convinces people that organic is better. Try some conventionally grown celery or carrots, then eat organic celery or carrots (raw is the best test) and you will notice that the organically grown produce is much tastier than its conventionally grown counterpart. Meats “taste like they used to” is what is most often overheard from people (who remember local, family farm raised meats) trying organic meats for the first time. We cannot see the lack of chemicals and drugs in organic foods, but we CAN taste the difference!
Did you know?
Organic is the only type of agriculture with a set of principles that puts nature first. These principles are enshrined in industry-developed standards approved by consumers and verified annually by third party organizations. As of 2009, Canada’s federal organic standards are now backed by government regulation and oversight.
Genetically modified foods: YES you’re eating them, and NO, they’re not safe!
Did you know…..since 1996 Americans & Canadians have been eating genetically modified (GM) ingredients in most processed foods.
Did you know..…GM plants, such as soy-bean, corn, cottonseed and canola, have had foreign genes forced into their DNA. The inserted genes come from species such as bacteria and viruses, which have never been in the human food supply before.
Did you know..…the American Academy of Environmental Medicine states, “several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. They ask physicians to advise patients to avoid GM food!
Genetic modification is radically different from natural breeding
Genetic engineering transfers genes across natural species barriers. It uses imprecise laboratory techniques that bear no resemblance to natural breeding, and is based on outdated concepts of how genes and cells work. Gene insertion is done either by shooting genes from a “gene gun” into a plate of cells or by using bacteria to invade the cell with foreign DNA. The altered cell is then cloned into the plant.
Widespread, unpredictable changes
The genetic engineering process creates massive collateral damage:
- Mutations are produced in hundreds or thousands of locations throughout the plant’s DNA
- Natural genes can be deleted or permanently turned on or off
- Hundreds of genes may change their behaviour
- Even the inserted gene can be damaged or re-arranged, and may create proteins that can trigger allergies or promote disease.