What is organic meat? The question is seemingly
simple, but don’t be fooled – marketers have woven a confusing web to exploit
health-conscious consumers. Let’s start off by discussing what organic meat is
not. For a minute, let’s set aside the
problems that have resulted from non-organic growing methods… you know… small
problems like Mad Cow Disease, antibiotic resistance in humans, and cancer
caused by the use of herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, and other-“icides”.
Organic meat is meat from animals
not been fed bubble gum.
Nope… that ain’t a typo… bubble gum. A study that dates back to 1996 explored
the desirability of feeding stale chewing gum to cattle. The gum was
still in its aluminum foil wrappers! Wonder of wonders, the experts concluded
that a bubblegum diet resulted in a net benefit - at least for the producers.
We quote: "Results of both experiments suggest that [gum and packaging
material] may be fed to safely replace up to 30% of corn-alfalfa hay diets for
growing steers with advantages in improving dry matter intake and
digestibility." In other words, feed a steer a diet that is 30 percent
bubblegum and aluminum foil wrappers, and it will be a more efficient eater.
With a nod to public safety, the researchers did check to see how much aluminum
was deposited in the various organs of the cattle. Not to worry. The aluminum
content was "within normal expected ranges." Of course, there was no mention of
the nutritional content of the resulting meat.
Now, we at The Healthy Butcher are not accusing any specific
conventional animal grower of feeding bubble gum to their cattle… we aim to
avoid lawsuits; especially from companies whose names rhyme with bonsanto
- but obviously, some farm or farms somewhere have benefited from that chewy
piece of research. "Feed animals anything you want," say the experts, "and it
makes no difference to their meat, milk, or eggs." Because of this mindset,
non-organic animals are being fed just about anything that enhances the bottom
line, including chicken feathers, sawdust, chicken manure, stale pizza dough,
potato chips, and candy bars.
So, with bubble gum in
mind, let's deal with the question "what is certified organic meat?"
essence, the certified organic meat that The Healthy Butcher sells means:
No use of chemical
pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers in the growing of the
No use of genetically
No use of growth hormones;
No use of drugs (such as
No use of animal
by-products for feed;
Treating animals humanely
(i.e. they have outside access at all times);
Inspections by an
independent certification body occur on a regular basis;
All records are kept for at
least 5 years;
Strict Canadian and
International standards are met.
Notice the use of the word “certified” when we refer to
organic meat. Don’t be fooled by witty entrepreneurs and marketers that claim
their meat is “natural” or “naturally raised”, “grain fed”, or even “organic”.
Unless the meat has been certified by an independent agency that has the
authority to certify pursuant to the Standard for Organic Agriculture
(CAN/CGSB-32.310) ratified by the Standards Council of Canada, ask your specific
retailer questions to determine the true meaning of their branding.
Animals have been “grain fed” since the beginning of farming, but what kind of grain is being fed? And what the heck
does “natural” mean – that the animal was breathing at some point?
This is not to say that all products labelled "Naturally Raised", "Natural",
etc. don't have any validity associated. What we're saying is don't be
afraid to ASK QUESTIONS. At The Healthy Butcher, we aim to carry all
certified organic products; and if you ask where your Rib Eye or Chicken Breast
is coming from, we will pinpoint the exact farm it was raised and can show you
the invoices to prove it. If we cannot obtain certified organic meat, than
we will do the research for you and ensure that your products are coming from
sustainable farms that are as close to certified organic as we can find.
To ensure your food is produced the way nature intended.
Visit The Healthy Butcher’s website at
for more information on the meaning of “organic” and for many green acres of
information on nutrition, cooking and recipes.
Have you ever heard of The Meatrix?? If you haven’t,
you just gotta check out this witty little film that gives a glimpse of what
conventional farming is all about:
Robinson, Jo. "You Are What Your Animals Eat." http://eatwild.com/articles/youare.html
Wolf, B. W., L. L. Berger, et al. (1996). "Effects of feeding a return chewing
gum/packaging material mixture on performance and carcass characteristics of
feedlot cattle." J Anim Sci 74(11): 2559-65.