There is a vast difference between hormone and routine antibiotic-free, pasture-reared meat over commercially farmed meat. If you want to understand what all these confusing terms and labels mean, then read on as we discuss the difference between free-range, organic and factory-farmed meat.
Let’s time travel back to the 90s. You walk into the grocery store wanting some meat for your braai, so you grab a nice T-bone steak and some chicken drumsticks. You don’t worry about what the packaging says, where it comes from or what it has in it; you look at the price and then off you go to pay for it and enjoy your food. Nowadays, things look very different. We as consumers are now much more conscious about meat and where it comes from, so let’s unpack the differences between all these labels.
Factory Farmed Meat
Factory farming, or intensive animal farming, is a type of agriculture that is designed to maximise production while minimising costs. In these circumstances, where profit is the number one priority, the comfort of these animals is on the back burner. Think of being in a tiny cage with no windows, doors, or movement. Cows, pigs, chickens and other animals are kept in minute spaces with little to no moving space, often living in their waste. To spare you the gruesome details, the fact that these animals live in such poor conditions that they are fed antibiotics frequently so that they don’t get sick from all the diseases harboured in these unnatural conditions should be enough for your imagination. These animals are also fed animal-by products in their diet, as well as hormones that make them grow faster and bigger so they can be slaughtered sooner.
Free-Range and Organic Meat
Free-range meat allows animals to roam outdoors and graze freely in pastures instead of being confined in cages. Now, this is where things might be a bit tricky. There is a difference between free-range and organic. Organic meat is not always free-range, and vice versa. Organic meat means that your product has never been given any antibiotics or hormones. The best option would be to find pasture-reared beef that is also routine antibiotic-free, and you will find that most reputable local meat suppliers have both of these characteristics hand in hand. A product we can recommend is these beef patties.
Tips for Choosing the Best Meat
Be careful of meat that only says free-range on it because sometimes free-range still means that the animals are fed artificial hormones and antibiotics. Also, you might see some eggs or dairy that say organic; however, they are not free-range. The best way to ensure this is to make sure you buy from trusted suppliers that transparently state their practices and methods, such as Farmer Angus at Spier.
The choice is yours in what industry you would like to put your pocket into, and we believe that the best option is organic free-range meat. Purchasing from smaller farmers boosts the local economy and ensures you support ethical farming practices. Not only is it better for your health, but you are supporting ethical practices built on kindness and best practice.