Earlier in the month we talked about Meatless Mondays, which is a choice we have made in our household to reduce our impact on the environment. Well, actually it is meatless Wednesday for us, with often a Monday and Friday thrown in for good luck. But a question I have been asked wouldn’t buying organic meat give us the same impact?
Without a doubt, organic produce is the superior choice when compared with other conventional varieties, but are organic meats eco-friendly and as healthy? This information might answer this question for you.
What is great about Organic Meat
Organic meat has lower concentrations of pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides.
Often the animals live more humanely, as part of the organic movement is that they have access to grazing and to a pasture, living free range. The welfare of the animals is very important, so they don’t tend to be continually confined.
Organic practices support the health of the animal by providing a variety of foods free of contaminants
Farming in this way often means great consideration goes into the impact on the environment. Operations tend to be more manual, avoiding the huge need for fossil fuel and water waste is reduced.
Organic farming tends to be done on a smaller scale, avoiding the need to clear huge areas of land.
Hormones or antibiotics are not used. Organic regulations restrict the use of such chemical processing aids.
Things you should know about organic meat
Spanish researchers examined 76 samples of organic and conventional meat (beef, chicken, and lamb) for 33 carcinogenic pollutants that are commonly found in non-organic meat. It may surprise you, but this study found not only did non-organic samples contain pesticides, but so did the organic samples. The difference in levels of pollutants between the organic and conventional samples was very minimal. The reason for this is that environmental contamination by persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is ubiquitous (in the soil and water), and it is therefore unlikely that the practices of organic meat production are able to prevent this contamination. Note: none of these researchers were supported by the large meat industry, which gives more power to this article.
Demand for organic meat is partially driven by consumer perceptions that organic foods are more nutritious than non-organic foods. A review was published in March 2016 showing that the nutrient quality was different between conventional and organic meat, with organic meat having more unsaturated fat, including the anti-inflammatory omega-3s. This review suggested that high grazing/forage-based diets, which tend to be prescribed under organic farming, may be the main reason for differences in fatty acid profiles.
Organic meats typically cost more than their conventional counterparts, but it has to be considered that the higher prices are due, in part, to more-expensive manual farming practices.
Because organic meats aren't treated with any preservatives, they may look less than perfect — not as red and irregular marbling of fat. Nonetheless, organic meats must meet the same quality and safety standards as those of conventional, non-organic meats.
Organic and non-organic meats are both rich in essential nutrients such as protein, iron, B vitamins zinc and phosphorous.
Although the review above indicated that organic meat has more unsaturated fat, both types of meat (organic and conventional) contain varying amounts of saturated and unsaturated fats, depending on the species and style of farming, which leads to differences in fat marbling in the meat.
Weather you buy organic or non-organic meats, lean cuts of meat are higher in protein and lower in fat, but eating too many higher-fat meats can lead to high blood cholesterol.
So if you are a meat lover, it is worth knowing that a significant portion of environmental toxins can be stored in fat tissue of meat. You will probably not be able to avoid fat-soluble toxins regardless of the type of meat you choose, but there are still many benefits to eating organically, like reduced pesticide and chemical consumption, as well as the environmental credentials. It is all about being informed and being a smarter shopper.
Hope this helps you buy earthly passionately,
Attracta & the earthly passion team.
1. Consumption of organic meat does not diminish the carcinogenic potential associated with the intake of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
Hernández ÁR1, Boada LD, Mendoza Z, Ruiz-Suárez N, Valerón PF, Camacho M, Zumbado M, Almeida-González M, Henríquez-Hernández LA, Luzardo OP
Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2015 Apr 19.
2. Composition differences between organic and conventional meat: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis.
Średnicka-Tober D1, Barański M1, Seal C2, Sanderson R3, Benbrook C4, Steinshamn H5, Gromadzka-Ostrowska J6, Rembiałkowska E7, Skwarło-Sońta K8, Eyre M1, Cozzi G9, Krogh Larsen M10, Jordon T1, Niggli U11, Sakowski T12, Calder PC13, Burdge GC13, Sotiraki S14, Stefanakis A14, Yolcu H1, Stergiadis S1, Chatzidimitriou E1, Butler G1, Stewart G1, Leifert C1.
Br J Nutr. 2016 Mar 28;115(6):994-1011. doi: 10.1017/S0007114515005073