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:
Full-fat, grass-fed, raw/unpasteurized
Organic, local, seasonal
Fats and oils:
Nuts and seeds:
Let me know if you have any additional questions, I'd love to help! Happy shopping :)