Organic farming often refers to the non-use of chemicals and pesticides in plant food production, using natural soil nutrients and mulches. However, a major part of the farming industry is animal farming and the production of meat and meat products, so how do we know if meat is organic? What are the benefits of eating organic meat and why should we indeed choose organic meat as part of our everyday diet?
Firstly, buying organic meat is good for the animals. Organic animal farming places great emphasis on animal welfare and allowing the animal to use their natural instincts. Animals, as part of an organic farming process, will have space outside to roam free and graze, they will be allowed to interact with other animals and they will be given a warm place to sleep at night, healthy natural food and plenty of fresh water.
Organic meat is also good for the consumer. Organic farms prohibit the use of artificial chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers. These are not used on organic pastures, nor are they used on animals. Meaning the animals will go through life without the treatment of synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics or other drugs. Grass-fed animals are naturally leaner, higher in protein and have a healthier Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acid profile.
Another major plus point of organic meat is that it is good for the environment. Organic farms aim to reduce dependence on non-renewable resources. Organic production aims at all times towards sustainability whilst having best management of the environment and wildlife as a priority.
As part of organic animal farming it is important that the animals graze in natural grasses and paddocks and are not subjected to any chemicals or fertilisers that could be bad for their overall well-being, making organic meat farming also good for the soil. Organic farms rely on a modern and scientific understanding of ecology and soil science, while also depending on traditional methods of crop rotations to ensure fertility and weed and pest control. By using these natural methods they are able to achieve a better balance of grasses for their animals.
As a comparison, the animals that non-organic meat is obtained from are regularly exposed to chemicals such as pesticides in the grass, preservatives and chemicals in their feed, and they are commonly fed hormones to speed up their growth. Antibiotics are often used in non-organic animal farming, not only for the treatment of infection in animals, but also because it gives them 5-10% extra growth, and this is a massive concern. The consumption of meat containing antibiotics is believed to cause bacteria that can then become resistant to antibiotics. Most of the meat products commonly found in supermarkets and butchers are non-organic, so make sure you ask the question before you buy. Or simply buy meat from local farmers, growers and farmers markets, where you can be assured you are indeed buying organic produce straight from the source! It doesn’t get any fresher than that!
Finally it has to be said, organic meat tastes good! It is simple! Happier, healthier animals, raised on farms free of harmful elements, eating good food and living naturally, in turn produces a higher quality product. It gives you, the consumer, the satisfaction of knowing that you are eating meat as nature intended you to!