It would be a nice thought that the surge in organic meat sales was the direct result of the tireless efforts by farmers are the USDA (that's the United States Department of Agriculture, if you're drawing a blank) finally getting a pat on the back. After all, a lot of work goes into making alternative food options. However, the true story has less to do with consumer appreciation, or even curiousity.
See, in 2003 the United States and Canada saw their first cases of bovine spongiform en-never mind, just call it Mad Cow Disease. Let's just say the cows weren't the only ones on the verge of a complete freakout. The United States and Western Europe found their organic meat supply running on E. Latin America came running to the rescue, just like Don Juan on a white horse, to save the day by exporting organic meat in record numbers. It took Mad Cow Disease, bird flu, exposure to e-coli, improper food handling and bouts with salmonella to introduce consumers to organic meat.
Women's Health Fitness-What is Organic Meat?
The USDA defines organic food as being "produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality..."
For starters, no food can be labeled organic without visits from government officials to be sure that standards are being met on the farm, just like an annoying big brother, but it's all for a good reason. A USDA label of "Organic" solemnly swears that the meat you are about to plop in a skillet is between 95-99% organic. If a label reads 100% organic, you can beat dollars to doughnuts that that's what you'll get. Falsely labeling a product organic can lead to fines of up to $10,000.
From the womb to the slaughterhouse to the packaging plant, organic meat is under the watchful eye of government regulations. Part of the organic meat process is the farmer's ability to conserve soil and water. Where beef is concerned, in order for the meat to be considered organic, the calf's mother must be fed organically during the last third of her pregnancy. Feeding is just as important once the animal is born.
Animals that will eventually by used for organic meat are fed on farm's crops. Organic calves typically receive organic whole milk. Organic meat contains no growth promoting hormones, in fact organics are free from chemicals of all kinds. Government mandate allows beef herds to have 10% non-organic feed, and pigs and chickens are allowed to have 20% of their overall feed be non-organic. The animals must receive certified organic feed, and just like anything organic, certifying feed as organic can be a pickle.
Organic feed processing plants have to undergo a process similar to that of organic farms, complete with frequent visits from government stilettos and ties. Plants must be throughly inspected in order to produce organic feed. Records must be kept in order as well if the plant wants to produce both organic and non-organic feed. There should be no mixing of the two.
If pest are a probably, the methods used to control them must not interfere with the organic feed. In other words, the government wants the Orkin man and his bug zapper to stay as far away from the organic feed as possible.
Women's Health Fitness-What Organic Meat Isn't
Don't get caught up in the war of words between " certified organic" and "natural," be assured they are not the same thing. As you've learned throughout this conversation, there's a Mafia like process it takes to become a made member of the Organic Family. Natural products operate on a different, more relaxed in fact, set of rules. Whether on not a product is natural speaks solely to whether or not it contains added artifical ingredients.
Natural products aren't under any government sanctions in regards to how animals are raised. They don't have to visit certain kinds of veterinaries and growth hormones are fair game-naturally.