Our New Meat and Egg Buying Guides

The Portlandia “Is it local?” sketch poked fun at our growing desire to know all we can about the foods we eat. In an effort to simplify your shopping at the Big Carrot we have created this awesome Meat Buying Guide (pst…  there is one for eggs too).

Although we won’t know if the chicken’s name was Colin, we do know a lot simply by choosing Organic products.  That is the benefit of a regulated, third party verified system. Here are some of the highlights:

By law, organic farmers are required to raise animals without the use of antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones.

Antibiotics are often routinely used in non-organic farming systems as growth promoters and to prevent disease. 80% of antibiotics sold in the US have gone to chicken, pigs, cows and turkeys- regardless of whether the animal was sick. The World Health Organization has called for a reduction in the use of antibiotics in non-organic agriculture because of the serious risk to human health. Organic livestock farmers prevent illness by promoting health for their animals. This means no overcrowding, minimizing stress, and providing a healthful all organic diet.

Organic farmers must provide animals with 100% organic feed

100% organic feed means no genetically modified organisms! Organic farms also don’t use toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers, so soil microbe populations are healthier, creating more nutritious grass for grazing animals. Animals that eat more grass have lower fat levels overall and higher omega-3 levels than animals fed more grain.

Animal welfare is central to good organic practices: that includes space, sunlight and systems that support the animal’s natural behaviour

Organic farmers must provide safe, clean, cage-free living conditions with access to the outdoors and pasture. The standard stipulates stocking densities to ensure overcrowding is never an issue. In fact, organic standards require that cows graze on rich, nutritious grass for a minimum of one third of their lives.

Canada’s Organic Market is booming with annual sales of $3 billion as detailed in a new study by the Canada Organic Trade Association. Currently, organic meat (including poultry) makes up only 1% of that balance. With so many benefits, why are more Canadians not regularly choosing organic meat? It is true, organic meat does cost a little more than its non-organic neighbor. The price of organic food reflects the full costs of producing it and more than any other organic category, the production cost of raising organic livestock is significantly higher than conventional as it includes the higher cost of organic grain for feed and more space for each animal. Choosing organic meat does offer tremendous value for your grocery dollar with clear health benefits for people and farm animals alike. I think Colin would agree!

Maureen Kirkpatrick is our Standards Coordinator

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