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15 Eco-friendly reasons to buy organic meat and dairy

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

The organic meat & dairy advantage

If you've been eating organic meat and dairy to improve the quality and healthfulness of your diet, you can feel even better about your health-conscious decision when you learn how buying organic benefits the environment. Here are 15 eco-friendly reasons to buy organic meat and dairy.

Dairy and Cow on Farm

1. organic Animals are free from drugs and synthetic growth hormones

"Since the animals are not fed powerful and harmful drugs, the consumer in turn does not ingest them," says Morgan Berrington, eco-friendly extern from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, who is working at farm-to-fork restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

2. Organic feed mills are free of chemicals

According to James A. Riddle, endowed chair of agricultural systems at the University of Minnesota, organic feed mills must be inspected and certified to ensure that feed is free of antibiotics, hormones, slaughter by-products and insecticides that may be added to non-organic rations. Mills must also ensure that rodenticides and insecticides used in the facility do not contaminate organic feed.

Cow Eating Grass

3. Animal products certified as organic are not genetically modified

Not only are organically raised animals not genetically modified, they do not eat genetically modified feed.

4. raising animals organically supports sustainable agriculture

"Traditional means of raising cattle use many non-renewable fossil fuels," explains Berrington. "Factory farms can deteriorate the land and cause much waste. The land used for organic cattle does not use pesticides or fertilizers, and the manure from these cattle is used on the farm for other farming techniques."

5. Animals are not forced to be cannibals

Organically raised cows are fed organic feed, not the ground-up remains of other cows. The latter is a practice that may cause the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease). "It is totally unnatural to feed [cows] animal by-products and manure, but that is exactly what high-output industrial factory farms, especially dairy farms, are doing, since these are cheap sources of protein," says Riddle.

6. Organically raised animals create a better quality product

According to Berrington, animals that live more natural lives create a better quality product for consumers. Organic meat and dairy typically tastes better.

7. Sustainable organic farms raise more diverse animals

Nature thrives on diversity. Small sustainable organic farms tend to raise a wider array of animals than factory farms, which rely on just a few species of livestock or poultry. Buying organic meat and dairy helps keep certain species of animals from dying off and preserves diversity.

Mug of Organic Milk8. Organic farms create less waste and pollution

Supporting organic farms is good for the environment because they use less energy, practice good farming practices, don't use pesticides on their acreage, and keep their animals drug, hormone and antibiotic free. Organic farms cause less erosion and don't pollute groundwater.

9. Organically raised animals are treated humanely

"By purchasing organic meat and dairy, you can be sure that you are supporting the proper treatment of animals," says Berrington. Factory farms pack animals in crowded quarters, often forcing them to stand or lie in their own waste. These unhealthful conditions result in greater use of antibiotics and other drugs, Berrington adds.

10. Organic meat and dairy are healthful choices for consumers

Because organic meat and dairy are raised naturally and without the use of drugs or other chemicals, consumers buy and eat a a more healthful product than their conventional shopping counterparts.

11. Buying organic supports small farms

"Many organic farms are small family farms," says Berrington. "These take the time and dedication to treat their animals properly and take extra care to deliver an exceptional product. By purchasing organic dairy and meat, you are supporting these small farms." The best choice is locally sourced organic meat and dairy, a choice that supports your local economy.

12. Your choice to buy organic can influence others

Buying organic meat and dairy is not only beneficial to you and the farmers you support, but is also a choice that can inspire others to do the same. When you tell others that your meat and dairy of choice is organic, you plant a seed of thought that may entice them to bring organic foods into their homes, too.

Woman Milking Cow

13. Organic meat and dairy farmers are held to high standards

To obtain USDA organic certification, meat and dairy farmers must meet rigorous standards, and must undergo detailed audits and inspections of their facilities and farmland. An organic label indicates that the meat and dairy products were produced in the most eco-friendly manner possible.

14. Organically raised meat and dairy can help reduce global warming

Raising animals in a way that's more in line with nature produces less greenhouse gas and can reduce the threat of global warming. The spread of organic farms increases open land area and the number animals that are raised responsibly, which in turn helps cut pollution.

15. Buying organic meat and dairy is a step toward a more healthful future

Supporting sustainable agriculture and consuming organic products not only benefit you and the environment today, but also improve the health of your family and the earth for generations to come.

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