Organic is a Lofty Word

May 14, 2009


This is not necessarily the easiest post to write. I am Ms Organic. I pay extra and drive further than my neighbors to purchase my family’s food. And I suppose that I can get narrow- sighted.  I was interested to read the post in Huffinton Post  by Makenna Goodman of Chelsea Green Publishing about organic versus conventional meats. The bottom line question according to Goodman: “This is not a plug for corporate food. Of course you’ll still want all natural, hormone and antibiotic free meat, but…Organic?” 

The article points out that certifying for example a chicken gives it a label but doesn’t mean that said chicken had a good life, or is actually healthier than “conventional” brands. Do YOU really know what’s behind the label? There are many questions to consider in addition to our chicken’s diet; was it flown in from across the country, was it raised in cramped housing, isn’t it better for the environment to buy a local and maybe free-range chicken than an organic one that took more fuel and industry to produce and transport? McKenna’s point is that organic is not always the right choice and she does a good job arguing it..

She writes, “…we focus all the attention on the animal’s diet and miss the bigger picture…the point is that organic feed is only a fraction of what is necessary to produce a truly dynamic bird. Certainly truly organic chickens are not necessarily bad. But neither are they necessarily good….your act of buying organic is part of a political movement; you’re supporting a population of small farmers, the precious few who have decided that animals are more than merely walking meat slabs, and that vegetables should be birthed from sunshine and good soil, not created in a lab.”

She quotes Joel Salatin, farmer and author  of You Can Farm, Pastured Poultry Profits and Everything I want to Do is Illegal. Salatin writes: ” a broiler (meat chicken) can be fed certified organic feed in a confinement house, without fresh and and sunshine….trucked for hours to a processing plant that electrocutes the bird and spills feces all over the carcass during evisceration, and be labeled “certified organic”. ”

Well, isn’t that thought provoking?  Your comments are welcome, as always. But read on-

Makenna farms- she raises chickens that have the run of the barnyard, they eat bugs, greens and some grain, but she says not much, because they eat everything else that’s just growing. Really healthy, robust chickens. Here is the catch- organic chicken feed costs twice that of conventional so Makenna’s birds get a small amount of non-organic feed. SO- if she wanted to market eggs to the local coop, they would not be organic and would cost less than organic. So here are happy and healthy birds that are not considered organic, but birds can be locked up in cages and considered organic because they are fed organic grain. I think I might be okay eating happy and mostly organic eggs over caged eggs.

I am reconsidering things and reading labels even more carefully now. I wonder  much more about the big picture of the eggs and other food I feed my family. Barbara has a box of baby chicks under a heat lamp in her barn. But if I wanted to “grow my own eggs” how do I deal with the cats….


Hat Tip: Bill



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