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What Should I Buy Organic? The Meaning Behind Food Quality Terms.

Lately I've been hearing a lot of people discuss the whole organic thing and if its just a marketing ploy? What does it even mean?

And how do you decipher between cage-free, grass-fed, pasture-raised, etc.? Why are there so many options?

Well here's a short & sweet breakdown for you, I hope it helps!

When you see pasture-raised:

  • Optimal for: eggs, poultry & pork.

  • This means the animals live in their natural environment free to wander.

  • They eat a bunch of nutritious foods like grass, plants, bugs, etc.

  • They may receive supplemental organic grains during the winter months.

When you see grass-fed:

  • Optimal for: dairy, beef & lamb.

  • Similar to pasture-raised in the sense that the cattle are allowed to forage and graze for their own food.

Now this is where is gets interesting....

When you see organic:

  • Optimal for: produce, fats & oils and nuts & seeds.

  • Wait, what about when you see this on meats, eggs, etc??

  • Getting just organic meat is not bad by any means, it's just not as optimal as getting pasture-raised or grass-fed & organic. Why?

  • It is true that organic means the animals cannot receive hormones or antibiotics and they do have outdoor access BUT this doesn't mean that they actually use it.

  • On top of that, the animals may not be grass-fed. Interesting, right?

When you see cage-free:

  • Good for: eggs & poultry but not optimal. Why?

  • Cage-free means the animals aren't in a cage, but they may be inside barns or warehouses & they generally don't have access to the outdoors.

  • In addition, beak trimming is allowed!

When you see no added hormones:

  • When you see this on poultry or pork specifically:

  • It is actually illegal to use hormones in raising these animals so this is just a marketing ploy!

When you see vegetarian-fed:

  • This means that whatever the animals were eating was free of animal by-products but isn't federally inspected.

  • In addition, if you think about it - chickens aren't vegetarians so this just tells us that they weren't fed their natural diet!

Ok, I hope that wasn't too confusing for you but rather enlightening. All that to say, here is a quick overview for what is optimal for each food group:

Beef and lamb:

  • Grass-fed, pasture-raised, local

Eggs and poultry:

  • Pasture-raised, local


  • Pasture-raised, local


  • Full-fat, grass-fed, raw/unpasteurized


  • Wild


  • Organic, local, seasonal

Fats and oils:

  • organic, cold-pressed

Nuts and seeds:

  • Organic, local

Let me know if you have any additional questions, I'd love to help! Happy shopping :)

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