How Organic is Organic Meat?
As Americans become more and more concerned about what they’re eating and how it may be affecting their health, organic foods are seeing a stark rise in demand. But even as people are moving towards healthier diets, there’s plenty of confusion surrounding the “organic” label: after all, what makes food - especially meat - organic? Is it the same as “all-natural” meat? And are the health benefits as real as organic producers tell you?
What is organic?
Many people think that organic products are those that are just free from chemicals when in reality there’s a lot more to it. There’s a criteria that should be met in order for meat to be classified as organic. Firstly, the cattle has to be born and raised on a certified organic farm with plenty of pasture. They should be fed an exclusive diet of certified organic grains and grasses that are free from growth-inducing hormones, antibiotics, animal by-products and GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). Moreover, they should have unrestricted outdoor access - basically, they are to be treated humanely up until the moment of slaughtering.
Natural versus organic
Natural and organic seem synonymous to most, but given that there’s a set criteria for meat to be labelled as organic, all-natural meat doesn’t exactly qualify. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), any meat that is minimally processed and doesn’t have any synthetic additives (such as food colouring, preservatives, artificial flavouring etc), qualifies as natural. As such, meat from cattle that is fed GMO grains and is given antibiotics and “natural” growth hormones can fit that definition.
Organic products on the other hand take into account what is being fed to cattle and whether they are treated well. Think of it this way: organic meat is definitely all-natural, but natural meat products aren’t always organic.
What are the benefits?
For one, organic meat is certainly fresher than non-organic products as its free from preservatives that prolong its storage life. Secondly, organic products are found to have higher levels of certain nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for reducing heart risks and arthritic pain in joints.
Now you might think that because cows on organic farms aren’t given antibiotics, you might potentially be consuming meat from sick animals. However using antibiotics often results in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. And if the cattle is fed animal by-products as is the case in typical feedlots, they might be exposed to even more bacteria strains and risk contracting mad cow disease (BSE). On organic farms, diseases are curbed by providing cattle a healthy diet of organic grain and grass, and plenty of room to exercise.
Organic meat is also eco-friendly. This is because organic farming involves natural practices that pose little harm to the environment. These practices conserve energy and water, and through crop rotation also help improve the fertility of the land, and curb pollution and soil erosion.
Halal and organic
Looking at organic and halal from a philosophical lens, elucidates a close nexus between the two. In essence, halal stipulations take into account how cattle is raised, what it is fed and whether it is a healthy animal at the time of slaughtering. So although the organic label might be missing on some halal products, they can nonetheless qualify as natural and organic meat.
If you’re looking to eat halal and healthy, then get the Haloodie app today! Locate your nearest halal food joints and relish the exotic tastes of fresh and organic cuisines.