Organic 101: Animal Products

After yesterdays introduction to organic produce, it seemed fitting to continue the discussion on organics by covering animal products and why eating organic meat, milk, and eggs can be even more important for your health than eating organic produce.

When most people think of organic foods, they think of fruits and veggies, and because of this animal products often take a back seat in the push for organic lifestyles. If you thought that eating toxins and pesticides from non-organic produce was bad, then consider the fact that non-organic animal products contain arsenic, growth hormones, antibiotics, and more. Gross? Yes. Intrigued? Read on.

Here’s the deal: it all comes down to nature, and what is natural. Animals, just like plants, are supposed to grow free of toxins and chemicals in their natural environments, instead of stuffed in wire cages or crammed into darkened stalls. Animals, birds, and fish that are meant for food are raised in unnatural conditions and fed unnatural pesticide-filled foods (except for those that are raised organically or free-range). These non-organic animals are sickly and weak, force fed drugs, and killed before they inevitably die from disease. Instead of the nutrients found in naturally raised and healthy animals, these critters contain tons of pesticides, hormones, and drug-residues that make them even more toxic to the human body than plants farmed with chemicals.

Animals store high concentrations of chemicals (pesticides, drugs, hormone residues, antibiotics) in their fatty tissues, which means that their meats and by-products (milk, etc) contain high levels of these toxic elements. As you might guess, because we eat fat and meat from these animals, we also end up consuming the same high levels of chemicals. A study done in 2006 revealed that more than half of the supermarket non-organic chicken samples that were tested were positive for arsenic, a toxic and deadly poison. How scary is that!? I think it’s terrifying. Most animals are also fed corn diets that are made of genetically modified corn, so we get this in our bodies as well. Banned in Europe, growth hormones for cattle are also prevalent in the US, which cause all kinds of problems in our bodies when consumed. Also banned in the EU, rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) is given to milk cows. This synthetic drug is used to increase milk production but has high levels of another growth factor called IGF-1. IGF-1 has been linked to both breast and prostate cancers in humans.

Along with growth hormones, arsenic, and pesticides, antibiotic use to keep non-organic animals alive long enough to make it to slaughter is simply out of control. Hogs and poultry in the US are given 20 million pounds of antibiotics annually (while humans in contrast consume only about 3 million pounds). It is not terribly surprising then that more and more antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria like MRSA are becoming an issue in this day and age considering the huge amounts of antibiotics we consume just through the animals that we eat.

Being free of toxic chemicals is what makes organic meat, eggs, and dairy products so much better for you. The feed that non-organic cattle, poultry, and hogs are fed is unnatural and totally unhealthy, and these animal products do not contain sufficient nutrients like their organic counterparts. In contrast, organic animals are fed organic grain and grass, and even better are often free-range, meaning that they are not contained in cages or stalls and are allowed to wander pastures eating what they were always meant to in nature. In turn, these animals contain tons of nutrients while skipping out on all of the sickening chemicals. Simply by cutting down your consumption of non-organic animals and products you have the ability to greatly reduce your risk of cancers, bodily inflammation issues, and antibiotic resistance problems just to name a few. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? To help you out with figuring out which meats and dairy products are the most important to avoid, I’ve listed some of the greatest offenders. Just like in yesterday’s post, if you can’t go entirely 100% organic, then at least make sure that these following products are:

Worst Meat
Deli Meat
Fast-Food Hamburgers
Ground Beef
Pork Sausage

Worst Dairy Products
Ice Cream
Evaporated Milk
Processed Cheese
Whole Milk