The Value of Buying Grass Fed, Organic, and Hormone Free Animal Foods
by Maria Tabone
Pesticides, hormones and antibiotics are being administered to animals each day to make them grow faster, to produce faster, for faster profits. Bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is a hormone that cows are injected with to speed up growth and milk production. Bovine growth hormone increases the production of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF). IGF is the real cause for concern since whatever the cows ingest is passed on to whoever is eating a product from those cows. High levels of IGF in the blood have been connected to increased risk of cancers in humans, especially prostate and breast cancer. There is also a growing concern that all the hormones in milk and meat are causing children to experience earlier puberty.
Grass-fed animals are free of hormones, pesticides and antibiotics and GMO’s. These animals roam free, eat a vegetarian diet of grass that contain nutrients and vitamins such as vitamins E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C.
Grass-fed beef is high in the healthy omega 3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid and lower in omega 6 fatty acids than grain fed. Grass-fed beef is an excellent source of protein and contains vital nutrients such as B12 (which is important for heart health), zinc, and magnesium. These animals are nutrient rich as a result of being able to roam and graze on grass. Better yet, organic and grass-fed environments are much more sustainable and kinder to the environment as they require much less fossil fuel than a feedlot diet of dried corn and soy.
Yes, it is more expensive, but the ultimate cost to our planet is much greater if companies insist on spraying deadly, harmful pesticides into the food we eat which affects our overall health. The population is being poisoned with chemicals that are injected into the animals which end up in the food we eat. A healthier alternative is the common sense solution of buying beef that is grass-fed, chicken and turkey that are organic and local when possible. Most importantly, the animals are treated humanely and with dignity.
It can be confusing to decipher between all the terminologies when shopping for meat and poultry. Here are a few to look for.
Grass-fed – This is a term coined by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture). It basically means that the animal (beef, sheep, bison, or goat) has only been allowed to graze and feed on grass. It does not mean organic or that the animal is antibiotic and hormone free. You won’t see chicken and pork labeled strictly grass-fed because they need to eat more than grass. Their feed can range from grains to vegetables. Grass can also be included in their diet.
Organic – The term Organic is also certified by the USDA. It means that the animal is free of any antibiotics or hormones and that the animal feed does not contain any chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides and GMO’s. The feed must also be vegetarian. Organic does not mean grass-fed.
Hormone Free – This term is clear and means what it says. No hormones are administered to the animal. However, the USDA states that by law pigs and chickens cannot be given hormones so all chicken and pork should be free of hormones.
Free-Range – This means that the animals can roam the ground free eating grass and plant food.
Cage-Free -These animals are allowed to roam free as opposed to being confined in cages, however, that does not mean they are free from cruel treatment.
In both free-range and cage-free situations, animals may still be confined to a small area even though they are not in a cage and they may only be able to roam for a few minutes. There aren’t any strict guidelines on the terms. However, it is much better for the animals to be able to roam cage free.
Eat healthy and smart!