Image above courtesy of Helen Browning's Organic
Organic meat: less, but better
According to Kantar market research, organic key proteins are outperforming the wider market, growing by over 8%, while the non organic alternatives are facing a decline.
This trend was triggered as a result of meat farming being a contributor to climate change. People are trying to reduce their meat consumption while choosing better quality meat when shopping. Organic meat is the perfect answer when we are talking about high quality meat.
Benefits of organic meat for human health and animal welfare
Organic meat is more beneficial for human health than non-organic due to higher standards of organic farming. There are some interesting numbers which came to us from Newcastle University.
Their research, based on world-wide data and 67 studies on meat, has shown that organic and non-organic meat are different nutritionally. For example, organic meat contains about 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced meat, and has fewer potentially harmful saturated fatty acids (myristic acid and palmitic acid).
Some other interesting findings are:
- Under organic standards, cows must eat at least 60% fresh grass, or conserved hay/silage. Livestock must also be reared outdoors for at least part of the year.
- The outdoor grazing/foraging based diets of organic farming were responsible for the more desirable fats found in organic compared to non-organic meat.
While there are some strong points on human health, the findings also feature improved animal welfare at organic meat farms.
Interview with Helen Browning, founder of Helen Browning's Organic
Meat's a hot topic at the moment, not just because it's BBQ season. Most bodies, from the Climate Change Committee to the National Food Strategy, urge reducing meat consumption by 20 to 30% to take the pressure off the environment. That makes much sense, and at the Soil Association we've been calling for 'less but better' for many years. And for us, organic is a big part of the 'better' agenda. ,
For me, one of the main reasons I started to farm organically was because of my interest in and concerns about animal welfare. I want to stop intensive and inhumane 'factory' farming of animals, and organic standards provide the greatest opportunity for farm animals to have a good, free range life, able to fulfill their instincts to root, graze, nest and socialise with each other. Animals kept in this way can also, if managed well, contribute to recovering biodiversity and improve soil health; there's generally about 50% more plant, insect and bird life on organic farms. If, as we are doing at Eastbrook, we then plant more trees and hedges, and ensure that our grasslands are full of diversity, then that figure can increase much further.
Image below: Helen Browning, founder of Helen Browning's Organic