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Jun 10, 2007 09:55 AM

Organic or not organic meats - which one?

I've been reading about organic meats, and how they are better than what you get at your local butcher. I just figured as long as they were fresh, the meats sold at any butcher should be approved and healthy to eat. I'm wanting to make my own sausages and am looking at new lamb recipes. Is there really a huge difference?

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  1. It really depends on what you mean by "better" and what is involved in the meat being produced organically. I don't think organic beef is necessarily grass-fed, and not all grass-fed beef is necessarily organic, but grass-fed beef does taste distinctly differently from corn-fed (or corn-finished) and it's supposedly healthier (different types of fat). Meat production is a really complicated subject you should really look into if you're interested.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      To complicate things, there is beef available from cattle that are not given growth hormones or antibiotics yet is not advertised as "organic."

    2. Some people (myself included) believe organic meats are better - because the pesticides and growth hormones and antibiotics given to conventionally raised animals are not present in the meat. Many people (the US Gov't included) think conventional agricultural practices are fine for beef and other foods. You need to read and do research on your own to see what your decision is.

      Grass fed beef, a lot of which is organic, though not all, is quite a bit different since the lack of grain in the diet makes a more flavorful (and more chewy) meat. Some grass fed cattle are grain finished, others are not. The more grain the more tender the beef will be.

      It's worth trying some different types to see what the differences are.

      1. In answer to your question: Yes, there is a huge difference! Whether or not you like one more than the other in terms of flavor may be another matter.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Steve

          In my opinion there is no comparing the two. Organic meat is superior hands down, in every way.

          -Organic meats come from animals not given growth hormones, antibiotics, and other medications
          -They are often raised outdoors, or with access to outdoors, not in crowded filthy conditions. Think of what stress can do to a body. Animals raised in filthy indoor overcrowded conditions live lives of 24 hour stress and the body becomes toxic.
          -Organic meats are also often pasture fed or pasture finished which means they eat grass only, not feed. This is what cows and other livestock are biologically designed to eat thus their bodies function as intended and the meat is pure and healthy. Corn fed beef get fatter quicker and the fat marbles the meat but the meat's composition changes and that fat is not as healthy for you as natural pasture-fed animal fat.
          -Organic meats contain higher amounts of amino acids and beneficial fats than non-organic meats
          -Organic meats noticeably taste better once you only eat organic meats. The difference in taste maight not be noticeable the first time you have it, but once you eat organic only, standard meat tastes dirty and bland. AND once your body is used to consuming hormone and toxin free meat, the standard stuff will often make you ill after consumption.


          1. re: OrganicLife

            Oops...forgot to mention that you also have a MUCH MUCH lower risk of contamination because the animals are monitored so closely. Wasn't it Walmart that just had to recall all of its commercail beef due to contamination? YUCK. You'd very rarely see that happen with organic meat because the practices of raising the animals are so different.

            1. re: OrganicLife

              A major reason for less contamination from grass/pasture/range fed cattle is because the rumen remain failrly free of some of the worst disease bearing micro-organisms. Grain consumption changes the conditions in the rumen, providing a perfect habitat for the harmful micro-organisms.

            2. re: OrganicLife

              A key thing in what you write is "often raised..." As other have noted in this thread, there are a lot of things that go into raising animals for food. If you are concerned about husbandry practices (ie, whether the animals were raised in and treated/killed in a human manner) you should investigate the particular sources of meat rather than relying on general categories like "organic." Organic doesn't mean, by definition, "free-range" or "grass-fed" or many other things that might be good to have in an animal raised for food.

              The specific answer to the OP's question "is there a huge difference?" is, "maybe." I've eaten many organic meats, many conventionally raised meats and many meats that wouldn't qualify as "organic" but were from animals who were raised humanely, not treated with unnecessary medications of any kind and treated with respect. Of the three, the latter has always, to me, tasted the best. The same is true of eggs. I don't put a lot of stock in the organic label, rather, I try to learn about the sources of things as best I can and make my purchases based on what makes the most sense to me.

          2. I have had organic chicken and beef, and honestly cannot tell the difference taste-wise. Grass-fed, however, definitely has a distinctively different flavor. I, personally, am fine with the FDA standards concerning meat and do not choose to spend the extra money on 'organic' meats, especially if you have a good butcher you like.

            3 Replies
            1. re: mojoeater

              FDA as far as food quality has been totally stripped and influenced by big government/business. Pharmaceutical companies lobby for approval of pesticides and growth hormones. I would not put my trust in them. I've found that Costco meats are OK in flavor, but supermarket meats in general have long-term health concerns I believe.

              1. re: ccbweb

                I'm with mojoeater and ccbweb.

                I essentially don't buy organic, but do take precautions with my produce. Fortunately, assessed pesticide residues here are low; and, in any case, pesticides used are water soluble--meaning a soak and you're good to go. As to meat, I'm fortunate to live where all the beef is fully range fed (plus hay and silage in the dry season). To me, range fed beef tastes far better than feed-lot beef. And one could produce an organic feedlot corn-fed steer.

                1. re: ccbweb

                  The only way around it is to buy from a known local source if possible for meats and vegies/fruits and of course you still are not guaranteed safety, but chances are better. Meds I resarch as much as possible for where it came from and what it is. The days of govt. watching out for our best interests are pretty much gone, sadly.