The majority of meat sold in grocery stores are full of antibiotics and growth hormones. Reading the labels on meats it’s confusing and frustrating. Understanding organic meat labels is even more confusing.
Eating healthy is becoming more popular. Brand names are using different marketing tactics to get you to buy their products. You may think you’re buying the best items but it’s all a ploy. Labels are confusing so educate yourself on how to read labels on different meats.
The majority of beef sold in grocery stores is grain fed. Farmers use a diet of corn and other grains to fatten the animals quickly to keep production cost down.
However, cows are not designed to eat grains and they become sick. To keep the cows from getting sick, farmers pumped them full of antibiotics. Changes in regulations about antibiotic use in cattle are currently underway.
Growth hormones are only added to cows and sheep. Chicken and pork are free of growth hormones. Farmers pump hormones into their livestock to increase their weight for profit.
“Grass fed” cows eat grass and hay and not grains. They don’t receive any antibiotic’s or growth hormones. In addition, the cows roam free to graze like in their natural environment.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) allows “grass-fed” on labels when the cows feed on grains. It leaves the consumer confused about what they should be buying.
Cows are natural grazers, meaning they eat grass and not grains. Farmers send the cattle off to be “finished” to a feeding lot to fatten up before slaughtered. The grain is not organic which includes corn and soy. Plus the grains are more than likely genetically modified (GMO).
When you eat the meat the grains, antibiotics, and growth hormones pass onto you. This includes both conventional and organic types of meat.
To find true “grass-fed” meats look for labels with the American Grassfed Association or Food Alliance Grassfed logo. These are animals raised only on grass. In addition, they’re never confined and never received antibiotics or hormones. It also means they were born and raised in the U.S.
Poultry and Pork
Unlike cows, chickens and pigs are omnivores, in other words, meat eaters. They not only eat bugs but they also eat grains. Chickens and pigs get their nutrients from scavenging their environment to what’s available.
Farmers keep the animals in tiny cramped conditions unable to freely move around. It’s unsanitary with no room to roam plus it’s very stressful for the animals. John Hopkins University found active ingredients of antidepressants in the chicken’s system. Stress can slow their growth.
Understanding the labels on chicken and eggs is especially confusing. Naturally raised, free range or cage free isn’t government regulated. So it really means nothing, it’s a marking ploy to get you to buy it.
The definition of cage-free only means the bird can stand up and move around. It doesn’t mean it ever spent time outdoors. Although it is better than spending its life in a metal cage where it can’t move.
Watch for an asterisk after “antibiotic free” or “hormone free.” It may mean only during the past few months. Also, avoid any chicken that has been “water-chilled.” The water usually contains chemicals to keep out bacteria.
With all the different labels it makes it tough to know exactly which one to buy. Again you will have to look for a third party certification. Look for the American Humane Certified, Animal Welfare Approved, or Certified Humane logo.
Looks Can Be Deceiving
Ever notice how the meat always looks bright red like it was just butchered that day? Well, it wasn’t, in order to get you to buy it the meat has to look fresh including meats that have been sitting for a few days.
As meat begins to age it begins to oxidize from the exposure to air. It begins to turn an unappetizing brown or gray. Carbon monoxide keeps the meat looking red for a longer period of time.
Carbon monoxide is orderless and colorless. It’s emitted from car exhausts, lawn mowers, and chimneys. Small exposures, like in food, can cause brain fog, headaches, and fatigue. Canada, Japan, and other European countries have banned the use of carbon monoxide in food.
The only way to tell if meat is bad is by the smell or if it is slimy. If it is take it back or throw it away. It’s better to lose money than to get sick.
How to Read Labels on Meats
Purchase certified organic meats that specifically states “raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones.” If you can’t find theses meats, at least by organic. Certified organic farmers have stricter guidelines than conventional farmers.
Look for third party logos from companies you can trust. And avoid meat that has been “enhanced.” The USDA allows companies to inject a liquid solution to enhance the meat. Which may include coloring’s, flavorings, phosphates, and sodium.
For chicken and eggs look for the organic, pasture raised label.
Where to Find Healthy Meats
The best way to make sure you’re getting good quality meats is to shop at a natural food store. Local butcher shops are another good option and don’t forget to check out your local farmer.
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