Vote for the Environment- Choose Organic Meat

By: Gen Wright


Your everyday meat choices are important - and not just because they impact your health and well being. Making healthy "green" choices for yourself and your family can also benefit the environment for generations to come. When you support organic agricultural practices by choosing organic meat and other organic foods, here's what you do for the planet:

Reduce unhealthy chemicals and toxins in our environment.

Most crops in the US are grown with the aid of various synthetic chemicals including pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides and fungicides. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides and 30% of insecticides are carcinogenic. Certified organic farmers do no use most conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation. Organic agricultural practices prevent pesticides and other chemicals from getting into the air, earth and water that sustain us. When you choose organic meat from small family farms, you "vote" for a planet free of harmful contaminants.

Build healthy soil.

Well-balanced soil is the foundation of healthy, nutritious food. Conventional farming depletes the soil over time. Organic farmers build healthy soils by nourishing the living component of the soil, the microbial inhabitants that release, transform, and transfer nutrients. Soil organic matter contributes to good soil structure and water-holding capacity. Organic farmers feed soil biota and build soil organic matter with cover crops, compost, and biologically based soil amendments. These methods not only produce healthy plants that are better able to resist disease and insect predation, but also protect biodiversity and promote soil stability and fertility. Choosing organic meat and other agricultural products means you're voting to keep essential nutrients in the soil where they belong.

Protect the water supply.

Conventional agricultural practices contribute to water pollution, which is bad for our health and for the environment. As much as 99% of the pesticides applied to crops enter the environment. Contamination of soil and groundwater is a serious threat to many species of wildlife. By eliminating polluting chemicals and nitrogen leaching, and by building healthier soil, organic practices prevent contamination and protect and conserve water resources. So choosing organic meat means you're voting for cleaner water.

Consume less fossil fuel.

Organic farming seeks to make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls. Organic farmers use green manures and crop covers, rather than synthetic fertilizers made from petroleum. If you want to vote against global warming, air quality deterioration, oil spills, and acid rain, choose organic meat and other organic foods.

Respect and nurture healthy animals and people.

Choosing organic is a great way to take care of the people you care about. You can nourish yourself, your family, and the planet by supporting sustainable farming practices and eating foods that are truly good for you. We think this the best reason to choose organic meat: because you can enjoy a delicious meal and peace of mind.

Organic Meat Versus Natural: What the Labels Mean

Labeling food is like labeling people. Too often, the description is confusing, or doesn't give you a full picture of what's involved. Organic meat, natural meat, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, hormone-free milk…there are alot of variations out there in the marketplace.

So what should the average meat lover do? When it comes to agricultural products such as produce, grains, dairy and meats, most of us don't have the delight of getting to know our local farms and farmers. Here are tips to follow:

1) Buy your meat, dairy and produce from a trusted source.

2) Learn how to "read between the lines" of meat labels.

3) Prioritize with relevance such as taste, convenience, health, food safety, the environment, humane animal treatment, and supporting small family farms.

4) Advocate for accurate labeling by the USDA and the FDA.

Free ranging chickens

Is Organic Distinct from Natural?

The easy answer to the above question is Yes. While some producers of "natural meat" may follow organic farming practices, there is no strict definition of the term. Organic meat, on the other hand, is enforced to adhere to strict standards established by the USDA National Organic Program.

Here's are some examples, useful definitions of Natural, Hormone Free, Organic and Grass Fed:

Natural - "Natural" sounds good, but the truth is that it doesn't mean much on a meat label. The FDA does not confine the use of the word "natural" except for added color, synthetic substances, and flavors. For example: meat labeled natural can be raised on farms that use pesticides on their fields and in their animal feed.

Hormone Free - This claim can be misleading even when it's technically true. All poultry is free of hormones. Hormones haven't been endorsed in poultry or pork in the U.S. since 1959. Look for "no antibiotics" or "free range" or "organic" for more understandable information about how the chicken was raised.

Organic - When you see the USDA "organic" label, you know the food inside has followed strict guidelines. Here's an overview of what it means when meat passes the organic test:

* organic farmers do not use antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones.
* organic meat comes from animals that are given 100 percent organic feed.
* organic animals are given access to the outdoors and/or pastures.
* organic farms do no use most conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation.
* organic farmers emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations.
* organic farms are inspected by a Government-approved certifier to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic meats must be certified, too.

Grass Fed - As of November 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture began regulating a voluntary "U.S. Grass Fed" label for beef and lamb. The regulations require that the animal has access to pasture and isn't fed grain. Grass-fed beef is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than conventional beef, with more vitamins and "good fats" like Omega-3s and CLAs.

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Donna Jefferson has been an advocate living healthy. Organic Meat is her specialty and would like to share facts with the public.

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