As many of us know, organically raised livestock and their products tend to be very expensive. Many claim that it’s healthier for us, the animals and the environment. Here we will find out just how much so. We will be focusing on organic beef against conventional beef. We will be looking at the process of raising and selling beef and the cattle so you know the difference.
Firstly, we should all know the requirements set out by the USDA telling us exactly what you have to do so that your beef qualifies as “organic”:
- Generally, managed organically from the last third of gestation (mammals) or second day of life (poultry).
- Allowed year-round access to the outdoors except under specific conditions (e.g., inclement weather).
- Raised on certified organic land meeting all organic crop production standards.
- Raised per animal health and welfare standards.
- Fed 100 percent certified organic feed, except for trace minerals and vitamins used to meet the animal’s nutritional requirements.
- Managed without antibiotics, added growth hormones, mammalian or avian byproducts, or other prohibited feed ingredients (e.g., urea, manure, or arsenic compounds).
[List quoted from the USDA website]
Already, just by these standards as compared to the feedlots we see a difference. With “conventional” beef we know that the cattle are being treated to a much higher standard. There are also benefits to the environment, too. The USDAs organic growing standards promote soil production, something we are actually losing surprisingly quickly.
Another advantage of organic production in some cases is – because of the strict requirements – animals are dealt with individually. Producers cannot simply give their animals antibiotics or whatnot then ignore them. Because of this, each animal must be taken care of carefully. This alone will ensure that the cow is much more healthy in general.
There is also the fact that non-organically grown crops are GMO and/or have pesticides. These added chemicals are used to kill pests and to make the crops grow faster. These either provide less nutrition than the natural alternative, or – because they are chemicals made to kill living things – are unhealthy for both you and the animals they eat. This lowers the quality of the meat, too.
There are all kinds of links between hormone treated meat and things like cancer, thyroid diseases, obesity, diabetes, and many more troubling problems. One of the standout losses of nutrition seen when it comes to meat is a 47% loss of Omega-3 fatty acids. These acids help us cardiovascular diseases and even slow the decline of our cognitive abilities.
Nutritionally, on average the beef that’s raised organically compared to the standard is not very large, though there are all kinds of other health risks that lie beneath the surface. These, along with the environmental and ethical irresponsibility of conventionally raised animals make it a good consideration to switch over to organic if you haven’t already.