There’s lots of debate about whether certified organic meat is better for you than conventional meat. ‘It’s certainly not cheaper’ is something we hear a lot of from different people.
So, what’s the deal? Is it really worth paying the extra for Certified Organic meat? Why should I bother with Certified Organic meat? What does it matter to me whether the meat I buy is Certified Organic or not?
It matters a lot actually. It matters for our health, the environment and for the animals themselves.
We have had a look at the Australian Certified Organic guidelines and standards for livestock production and this shows why Certified Organic meat is really the only way to buy meat. These are some of the standards that every Certified Organic farmer has to adhere to when producing their meat to ensure they keep their ACO certification:
Where appropriate, livestock are encouraged for use as part of a dynamic organic production system. Livestock may contribute to the organic farming system in the following ways:
- Improving and maintaining the fertility of the soil.
- Controlling weeds through well managed grazing.
- Diversifying the biology and interactions of the farm.
Organic production of livestock ensures adherence to the following principles of livestock welfare:
- Livestock are enabled to perform all natural, social and physical functions relevant to their species and breed.
- Livestock are provided with a quality of life and access to a healthy diet and conditions to ensure quality animal products are produced.
- Livestock are grown, or their byproducts produced in a way that conforms with natural processes of growth and development, rather than being force fed or growth induced by unnatural methods.
- Types of breed are selected which are appropriate for the region and type of production system so as to achieve the principles listed above including maintaining optimal environmental conditions with minimal impact.
- Breeding systems are based on breeds that can reproduce successfully under natural conditions without human involvement or interference.
In order for meat livestock to be sold as certified organic animals or meat products, they must be verified to have been treated in full conformance with these standards throughout their entire lives, which includes having access only to lands managed and certified in conformance with these standards from the point of mating on the organic operation.
The following strict standards are checked randomly and regularly on all Certified Organic farms:
Any livestock found to have been treated with prohibited products or products not listed in these standard will result in all the livestock permanently decertified for meat products.
- Bovine and ovine livestock unable to be traced via electronic or other reliable and independent means of identification may not be included in the organic certification program.
- Other stock such as chickens will be identifiable and traceable to sheds, including numbers and consignments.
- Livestock and land areas that do not have a verified history of conformance with these standards may not be included in the organic certification program.
- Certified livestock shall have constant access to lands managed in conformance with section 4 of this Standard.
So, simply put Certified Organic is not only better for our health (as we are not eating meat from animals that have been pumped full of growth hormones, antibiotics and lots of other nasties not meant for daily human consumption), it is better for the environment as it is sustainably produced on sustainable farms, but it is also better for the animals themselves as they are treated as humanely and naturally as possible and given good lives up until the point they have one bad day.
You can read the full set of ACO Standards here.