It’s easy to find hormone-free and antibiotic-free meat. Many grocery stores carry it. People often assume this means the meat is also organic. I know I did, until someone explained the difference.
USDA-certified organic meat is raised under certain conditions. Organic requirements go far behind just hormone free and antibiotic free. Animals must live on land not treated with pesticides. This means they don’t graze on grass or eat forage that’s been sprayed with potentially dangerous chemicals.
Is Organic Meat Better for You?
Oftentimes, organic livestock conditions are more humane, compared to how regular animals are raised. Organic livestock must have outdoor access. This means they’re probably healthier, as they’re exposed to sunshine and fresh air.
Here’s another good reason to buy organic. Organic meat must come from animals raised on organic feed. That’s the primary reason the meat I buy has the USDA-certified organic seal, even though it costs more than other meat. Organic beef and poultry comes from animals that don’t consume genetically modified ingredients.
Organic vs Antibiotic Free Meat
Right now, nearly all the corn and soy grown in the United States is genetically modified. It comes from seeds that contain foreign DNA. These seeds yield plants that survive being doused with a powerful herbicide. This herbicide contains glyphosate. This controversial chemical is linked to an increased incidence of lymphoma among farm workers.
The World Health Organization classifies glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen,” according to the Eco Watch, an environmental watchdog group. Also, the Eco Watch website notes, glyphosate has been found in a wide range of the foods we consume, including cookies, crackers and cereals.
Actually, glyphosate is one of the main reasons I buy organic meat, instead of just antibiotic-free meat. Knowing what I know about GMOs, I’ve decided to keep glyphosate out of my kitchen, as much as possible. Toxins tend to accumulate in animal fat. Here’s an earlier post I wrote on why I avoid genetically modified foods, and why I encourage others to do the same.
Where to Buy Antibiotic Free Meats
In the grocery store, it’s easy to find antibiotic-free and hormone-free meat. Sometimes, I buy this type of meat if organic versions are not available where I shop. While I know the agricultural conditions probably were’t optimal, at least the animals were not pumped with antibiotics and hormones.
USDA-certified organic meat also tends to be more expensive than non-organic meat. So antibiotic and hormone-free meat is still a better option than regular meat. If you’re on a really tight budget, antibiotic-free meat generally costs less than USDA-certified organic.
Eating healthy can be expensive, especially if you don’t shop carefully. I learned this the hard way, after spending $400 to $450 a week to feed a family of four. But I was able to reign this in with some shopping tricks. You can read one of my earlier posts on various ways to save money on organic food, something I learned through trial and error.
Is Grass Fed Beef Better than Organic Beef?
There’s another tricky distinction when shopping for meat. It’s also possible to find grass fed beef that’s not certified organic. So it’s important to know what you’re buying. For instance, you can buy a package of grass fed ground beef. It may come from an animal that ate grass or forage sprayed with pesticides. Unless it says so on the label, you may be getting meat that comes from animals that were given hormones or antibiotics.
USDA certified organic beef, on the other hand, isn’t derived from animals given hormones or antibiotics. But the animals may, or may not, be exclusively grass fed. Grass fed beef (both organic and non organic) contains less fat than beef from grain-reared animals. Also, it has more Omega 3 essential fatty acids, compared to regular beef. That’s why I try to buy grass-fed and USDA-certified beef.
Is Grass Fed Beef Healthier than Organic Beef?
Organic certification is expensive. There are numerous regulations. So it may be too difficult for a small, local farm to sell their meat with a USDA-certified organic label. One potential money-saving option would be to get meat raised organically, for the most part, from a local farmer. If I trusted the farmer, and knew the animals weren’t exposed to pesticides, herbicides, hormones or antibiotics, I’d feel very comfortable buying it, even if it didn’t carry an organic sticker.