Organic – What does it actually mean?

We have all heard the term “organic” in regards to food, so it’s pretty safe to say that almost everyone reading this has bought something organic. The real question at hand is as follows: What are we actually getting when we buy organic food vs. regular food from the grocery store? I aim to answer that question in this post. My curiosity in regards to what we are eating on a daily basis is at an all time high, so please bear with me. To keep this post simple, I am going to focus on organic steak vs. conventional non-organic steak.

I’ve always been curious about the food that we put into our bodies and where it comes from, but a Netflix series Chef’s Table is what really got my mind focused in this one direction.  What are we really putting into our bodies whenever we sit down to eat?  The mini series centered around what culinary has become today.  Two of the chefs really connected with me.  However, the chef that has inspired me in my new adventure into food is Dan Barber. He discussed the concept of Farm to Table eating, eating what is grown locally and in season. This means eating what can be supplied naturally to you by nature on farm, and not force produced against nature’s course.

So the question at hand is: Is a steak that is designated as organic better for you than a steak that is not?

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Animal Welfare Rating: Whole Foods Market

How can you answer that question? The research I have done thus far tells me there is no way to actually chemically and physically tell if something organic is better for you than those items that are not. According to my research the only way to compare the two is by taste. Sounds pretty simple! Our bodies should be the best tools for us to really measure the quality of the food we are consuming.  Would you say this is true? Maybe? Okay, well I’m really not quite sure.

If we have spent our entire lives eating food that is grown with the addition of hormones through chemicals and kept alive by spraying pesticides on it then that is the taste we will be used to.  Will we actually be able to appreciate the taste of this “better” organic food?  (I have an idea for an experiment I may do to try and test this idea.)

Let’s take a look at Whole Foods Market, since it is probably the largest grocery store chain that is geared towards organic food in the United States.  They do call themselves America’s Healthiest Grocery Store in their commercials; and of course as Volkswagen has showed us we would trust everything that companies tell us.  So let’s take a look at the meat department at Whole Foods and how they rate the meat they have in the display case when you walk up (Displayed as you walk into the store in the image above).

Step 1: No Cages, No Crates, No Crowding

Step 2: Enriched Environment

Step 3: Enhanced Outdoor Environment

Step 4: Pastured Centered

Step 5: Animal Centered, No Physical Alterations

Step 5+: Animal Centered; Entire Life On The Same Farm

October 1, 2009 Photographs from Dairy Farm of Kevin Griswold in Ixonia WI. His farm produces 8000 gallons of milk per day, and her farms 2000 acres, and has a mix of 1,700 cows, dry cows and/calves. They milk about 100 cows per hour and 860 per day. They are feeding 100 calves milk, housed in pens at any one time. Here cows eat feed in their barn after being milked. MICHAEL SEARS/MSEARS@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM

As you can see as the step number goes up, the quality goes up.  Why? Well just consider the life of a cow that is grown in a crowded cage.  The stress on a cow’s body that is not allowed to live naturally is immense and has an affect on the beef that is sold to you. This is the part of the steak that you consume.

Now imagine a herd of cattle freely Cow2roaming vast expanses of open pasture on farms. Cattle that can freely choose what grass it wants to eat and what grass it will pass over.  How do we as human beings think that we know what is best for a cow to eat; such as the grain that is poured into feed troughs in most cattle farms?  How can we think that we can better engineer nature than Mother Nature herself?

Personally, since this is my food blog, a steak from cow that is raied organically I believe has to be better than a steak that is from a cow raised on a conventional farm.  A cow that is raised on a farm where it is contained to a small confined space and fed grain from Lord only knows where just cannot be good for you.  It’s not how Mother nature intended us to eat so it can’t be good for us.

So what does organic actually mean?

Forgetting any sort of dictionary definition it means eating food at its most natural and holistic level.  It means that we consume food how Mother Nature intended us to have it.  It means that we should try our best to now eat how a group of scientists have engineered us to in a lab by produce larger and more “sustainable” crops.  Not that there is anything wrong with science; agricultural breeders and scientists can do great things for our agricultural society.  

As always thank you for taking a few moments from your day to read over my blog. Feedback and comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Have a blessed day,

Ben

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