Grass-fed vs. Organic Meat: What’s the Difference?
With countless options to choose from, which do you buy? Dr. Mark Hyman shares some key differences between conventional, organic, and grass-fed meats.
You may notice different labels — and prices — in the meat department of the grocery store. Grass-fed and organic items are frequently praised for being more “healthy,” but what exactly is the difference?
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First, it is important to consider the food and treatment of the cattle that you are eventually consuming. Animals from factory farms are not only living in poor conditions, but are also more prone to diseases spread from feed pumped with antibiotics to aid in increase of fat on the body. In addition, many of these farms contribute to climate change with use of fertilizers and chemicals that pollute both the land and water sources.
“The alternative to factory-farm meat — grass-fed meat — is not just better for the environment and better for the animals, but better for you, too,” Functional Medicine Director Mark Hyman, MD, weighs in.
Grass-fed meat is so nutritionally superior to factory-farmed meat that it is practically a different food.
In a 2015 study conducted by Consumer Reports comparing 300 conventional and grass-fed meat samples, researchers discovered “18% of the conventional beef samples were contaminated with superbugs — the hazardous bacteria that are resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics — compared with just 6% of grass-fed beef samples, and 9% of samples that were organic or raised without antibiotics.”
Look for labels on meats that are certified by the American Grassfed Association (AGA). This ensures:
The second best option to AGA is meat certified organic by the USDA. Though USDA standards are lesser than AGA, they are much higher than those set for conventional meat, with prices comparable to conventional meat. When you see the USDA label, you are promised:
If you are in search for meat that is humanely produced and sustainable, look for these labels on packaging:
This article is adapted from Dr. Hyman’s book “What the Heck Should I Eat?” (© 2018, Hyman Enterprises, LLC)