Organic Animal Products
The pros and cons of organic animal products versus non-organic gets more complicated than organic produce. Organically produced animal products involves the organic diet of the animal, the animal, and of course the products produced from the animal including milk and milk products.
The benefits of consuming organic animal products is not in dispute. But, just like in big AG, animals raised organically can still be mistreated, exist in poor conditions and of course are still slaughtered. As always, it is best to get to know or at least research the producer. Organic animal products include milk, milk products, and meat. Aside from ethical and welfare objections to consuming animals, there are a few down sides to organic meat and dairy.
Iodine for example is significantly lower in organic milk, conventional milk is the single most significant source of iodine. Cattle feed is fortified with iodine when raised conventionally but typically not for organic milk. A significant amount of organic dairy cows diet must come from foraging rather than feed. The iodine levels in organic milk has begun to change as organic feed is also being fortified with iodine. However in the U.S. iodized salt as well as seafood can also provide significant iodine to most diets.
Because organic livestock is not treated with antibiotics, meat is slightly more likely to contain bacterial contamination. On the other hand, livestock treated with antibiotics is more likely to be tainted by antibiotic resistant bacteria. In either case, proper cooking eliminates the potential problem.
Studies have shown that organic meat and dairy contain significantly more, 50 percent more, healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Organic eggs are also higher in omega 3 because they feed free range. These are essential nutrients especially good for fighting heart disease, improve neurological development and function and better immune function. It is agreed that this will not make an enormous difference in your diet, but no single food does. It all adds up.
And like organic produce, organic meat and dairy products can be more expensive. In some areas it may not even be available at the grocer, butcher or restaurants.
For many of us, there are so very many important reasons and advantages to organic meat and dairy. There is a lot of information behind each reason, but a to the point list is pretty impressive:
Organic animal products must be produced without genetic engineering
Organic animal products must be produced without radiation
Organic meats, eggs and dairy products are chemical free
Organic livestock management must conserve natural resources and support biodiversity
Organic livestock must always have access to the outdoors unless weather prohibits
Organic livestock must be allowed enough space to live comfortably
Organic livestock must be raised on certified organic land
Organic livestock must be allowed to graze the organic pasture a minimum of 120 days of the grazing season
Organic cows are able to graze naturally on grasses and organic chickens feed naturally on grubs and bugs, improving the flavor of the meat with a well rounded diet
Organic livestock must be fed with 100% certified organic feed when unable to graze
Organic livestock may be treated with vaccines, de-wormers or pain medications as required to improve their health and comfort if preventive measures are insufficient to keep the animals healthy
Organic livestock must not be treated with hormones or antibiotics
Organic eggs have more vitamin E and vitamin A as well as more healthy omega 3
Organic milk is less likely to be tainted with bacteria
Organic milk is hormone free
Organic dairy and cheese has been found to have a greater diversity of vitamins and minerals
Organic livestock live better, more natural lives
Organic agriculture is better for the planet
Organic agriculture that supports animal products is better for the soil and environment sustainability
Choose to support small local farmers who practice sustainable farming, protect and improve the soil, and provide natural, ethical and comfortable living for livestock. Sustainable farms also typically raise a wide variety of livestock, supporting diversity that helps maintain health and longevity.