At Good Earth, our goal is to offer only certified organic products to our communities. We believe that organic certification is the most quantifiable, trackable system to remove the chemicals from our food system, and our environment. Though we are very close, with several departments being 100% organic, and the store being over 95% organic, there are parts of our industry that have not evolved to allow 100% organic in certain departments. In our Meat & Seafood departments, for example, price points and availability of organic products have created historic challenges. Yet, as we’ve seen in all other facets of the natural foods industry, there has been an amazing increase in the availability of organic products in recent years
Though, as we see organic options entering the marketplace, there are several additional factors we must consider.
How are the animals raised/treated? Where are they raised? Though organic, what exactly are the animals fed? With organic certification, we can be confident we are avoiding hormones, antibiotics, and pesticide treated feed, but that is only part of the story.
Beef, specifically, has been a focal point of study in recent years. The phrase “grass-fed” has become part of our modern vernacular but is often used as a blanket statement in advertising. Because something is labeled “grass fed” does not necessarily mean it is exclusively grass fed. “Grass fed/grain finished” is a common practice in cattle ranching. In studies on exclusively grass fed beef, the results on the quality of the beef and its effect on human health are compelling, to say the least.
For example, in a study on CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) levels in beef, Dr. Tilak Dhiman of Utah State University found that CLA levels were nearly 500% higher in grass-fed compared to grain fed beef. Studies suggest CLA can have anti-diabetic, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-atherosclerosis effect in the body. In addition, Dr. Dhiman found tremendous increases in several other key nutritional components:
400% increase in Vit A
300% increase in Vit E
78% increase in Beta carotene
75% increase in Omega 3 EFA
As more and more studies are performed, it is becoming clear that cattle being raised in their natural setting (on pastures, eating exclusively grass) greatly benefits not only human health, but the health of the animals, as well as their quality of life.
Additionally, rather than the negative impact on the environment associated with factory ranching, pasture raised cattle can actually benefit the environment by improving soil quality, which lends itself to carbon sequestration.
Seeing this evolution in food standards and availability in our industry is encouraging, and a fundamental part of our mission as an organization. It is no small victory that Good Earth can partner with ranchers that are local, organic, and raise their livestock in a natural, sustainable setting.