Just when it was okay to begin ending of our social distancing and meet up, social and racial unrest erupted. Curfews and military violence take the headlines. For good reason, we’re all a bit more rattled, not only our bodies but now also our souls.
As we sift our way towards some semblance of normal, it’s important to take care of ourselves by eating right. Does that include eating meat?
One of my last articles, “Put the Myths About Veganism on the Chopping Block,” dispelled some of the many fictions that surround veganism. It explained why eating a plant-based diet is better for the planet and quite possibly your health.
Yet, not everyone is willing to give up meat entirely or all at once.
Since these unusual times unraveled, I have taken to a more plant-based approach to eating for several reasons.
I love to experiment! Dark beluga lentils briefly cooked elegantly spiced with olive oil and Graham Masala can pair with anything—avocado, jasmine rice, salads—but I digress.
It’s costing more to eat meat every day!
The cost of meat, eggs, and even potatoes has soared as the coronavirus disrupts processing plants and distribution networks. According to AP News, there was a 2.6% jump in April food prices—the largest monthly increase in 46 years. Prices for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increased the most, rising 4.3%.
It’s the right thing to do for the meatpacking employees who are forced back to work!
I also wrote about the political quagmire conventional meat stews in. Thanks to a Presidential Order, slaughterhouse workers risk a COVID-19 infection as they stand shoulder to shoulder, processing 22 hogs per minute for 8 hours every day. The average worker at a chicken plant processes 21,000 chickens a day or 120 birds per minute.
Now I’m eating less meat and when I do, I always choose Organic. Finally here’s an affirmation!
The Organic Center just released a report on organic meat. It presents scientific literature that shows differences in the way organic meat is produced. The report explains why those differences are critical to the health of the animals, the health and safety of consumers, the health of the soil, and the impacts on climate change.
USDA Organic regulations are very specific about livestock management.
Access to pasture is key. Organic ruminant livestock, such as cattle, sheep, and goats, must be grazed throughout the entire grazing season—at least 120 days per calendar year.
The feeding and grazing of organic animals are carefully stipulated. The diet for organic livestock has to be completely organic. It can’t contain growth hormones, antibiotics, genetically modified feeds or ingredients (GMOs), or slaughter byproducts from mammals or birds.
The animals’ living conditions and health are taken into account. They must have year-round access to the outdoors. Those outdoor environments must have shade, shelter, exercise areas, fresh air, clean water for drinking, and direct sunlight. Continuous total confinement of any animal indoors is strictly prohibited!
Organic meat production is better for the environment! Organic farmers and ranchers must use practices that minimize impacts to the environment surrounding the farm. They often recycle manure into crop and pasture production to help avoid nutrient runoff and increase carbon storage in their fields.
Organic production may also have a lower contribution to climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, one of the leading drivers of climate change within the agricultural sector, are prohibited in organic production.
Managed grazing sequesters carbon and can help fight climate change—and the steaks could never be higher! Organically managed ruminant livestock are pasture-raised during the grazing season. Managed grazing is important for climate change. Well-managed pastures can improve soil quality and store carbon, which would otherwise contribute to climate change as CO2 in our atmosphere.
This is especially true when livestock is incorporated into organic crop rotations as the manure from animals can reduce reliance on synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, which is energy-intensive to produce and releases CO2 into the atmosphere.
When you choose organic meat, it means:
- No antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones, GMOs, or pesticides.
- The health and natural behavior of animals are prioritized.
- All livestock feed must be 100% organically produced.
- Cattle are pasture-raised and grazed throughout the grazing season.
- Organic meat farmers use holistic, preventive healthcare practices
- Organic meat production helps protect the environment
Don’t go bacon my heart!
If you are going to eat meat, always choose organic. The extra cost will be offset by the difference it makes for your health, the health of our communities, and the environment.
Read The Organic Center’s full report on The Benefits of Organic Meat here.