It’s close to thanksgiving and turkey sales are soaring. You probably already know that buying organic meats are better for your health. But, you may not be completely sold on spending the extra cash. I hope to change that.
But first, a little set up:
About 60 years ago, you didn’t need to read any labels to know that your food was organically grown or local because that’s all there was available!
Things have changed so much since then.
On top of hidden sugars, synthetic chemicals in packaged goods, you’ve got to wonder if your veggies are GMO, organic or local and when it comes to meat there’s even more to consider. Not only do you need to decide how much, if any, animal products you should be consuming for health, but there’s also the consideration of the quality of life those animals have experienced on top of the environmental impact associated with livestock farming.
And then, there is the extra cost associated with buying better quality food.
Like I said, this is a big, big issue that I won’t attempt to delve into here.
With thanksgiving coming up, I simply wanted to tell you why spending more money on a pasture-raised turkey is totally worth it. (P.S.: in Canada, Thanksgiving is the ONLY time you will get a truly pastured bird because during the winter months, it’s too cold: the ground is hard and the grass is dead!)
If you follow me on social media or see my recipes on my site, you’ll know that I follow a primarily plant-based diet. But, I’m also a big believer in moderation and being realistic in my approach to food and health, so I don’t advocate a strict avoidance of animal products. Eggs are a regular part of life for me and I will enjoy some good quality chicken or turkey on special occasions (like, said, Thanksgiving).
I often hear the complaint that buying organic and free-range meat is just too expensive and some don’t actually think it’s even worth it. What the giblets?!
In fact, when it comes down to a discussion of which organic products you should be investing in for your health – meats (and other animal products like eggs and dairy) should the first thing you’re considering.
That’s right. The first.
Simply put: toxins store and concentrate in fat. Animals and animal products have fat. Animals that have been raised on pesticide-laced and GMO grains, fed routine sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics and growth hormones are not only storing and concentrating all those toxins in their fat, but are also creating their own toxins (endotoxins) from eating a diet they’re not meant to eat.
So, when you eat conventionally raised meat, you are eating a concentrated dose of toxins. Sorry, I know it’s depressing.
I won’t even get into the cruelty that is factory farming. That’s even more depressing and isn’t the purpose of this blog. Maybe another time.
There is actually a lot of difference between turkey labeled organic, free-range and pastured. If you want to be sure the birds are raised grazing in open fields, eating all those little bugs, worms and greens to their heart’s content, you’re going to want to look for the term “pastured”.
As soon as you do that, you’ll see these birds are more expensive than what you’re used to. A lot more expensive. But I believe pastured turkeys and chickens are completely worth the money and here’s why:
- It is much more difficult and labour intensive for farmers to raise meat organically and naturally: it requires more space for grazing, more time to let them grow without artificial means, and organic feed costs more. We should support their good, hard work instead of supporting factory farming.
- Organic and pastured poultry taste so much better. Honestly, you will be amazed at the difference in flavour and texture. Outstanding.
- They have longer, happier lives because grazed and foraged for their own feed and have grown at nature’s pace as they are meant to instead of being raised with growth hormones or antibiotics to fatten them at an unnaturally fast pace.
- They aren’t full of the toxins that conventionally farmed birds are because of the lack of hormones and routine antibiotics they’re fed and because they are fed organic feed.
- Pastured poultry is higher in beneficial nutrients like Omega 3s, vitamin E and iron and lower in fat.
- The higher price tag might mean that you will cut back on your overall consumption of meat and animal products in favour of eating more fruits and veggies, which will make you and the planet happier and healthier.
Even with the labels organic, free-range and pastured, there’s still a lot of misinformation and unfortunately sometimes misleading claims. Now, you could visit the farm itself to ensure they are upholding true small farm, organic, pasture practices, but I realize this is just not a realistic option for most of you. So, second to that, many small farms have websites, blogs and twitter accounts that you can check out to see what they’re all about. I’d also suggest talking to a local butcher you trust or checking into organic delivery if it’s available in your area: they often source from small, local farms.
If you can’t find truly pastured birds, certified organic will ensure that they have been raised without any of the nasty chemicals, GMO grains, growth hormones or antibiotics as well as raised in a way that is more harmonious with nature.
Places to look for good quality meats as well as trusted information about sourcing include:
- Local butcher that focuses on sustainable, organic and local products.
- Farmers’ Markets
- Farm Share Programs
- Organic Delivery Services
You are your own best advocate. That means you need to ask questions. But, hey, asking questions means you’ll make new friends.
In my neck of the woods, I trust the good folks at Real Food Toronto. In fact, they have taken the time to put together a really great resource for understanding all those labels in the marketplace called: The Ultimate Guide To Canadian Meat Labels, which I highly encourage you to read!
I’d love to hear from you. Where do you source your poultry? Do you know your farmer? Or are you friendly with your local butcher? Please let me know in the comments below or on Twitter.
— Kim D’Eon (@kimdeoncom) October 6, 2015