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 that have

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?"  

In 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 animals’ feed;
  • No use of genetically modified organisms;
  • No use of growth hormones;
  • No use of drugs (such as antibiotics);
  • 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 http://www.thehealthybutcher.com/organics.html 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: http://www.themeatrix.com.



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.


The Healthy Butcher is located at 565 Queen St. West, in downtown Toronto

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