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Karen W. Wyman
COMMENTARY | Findings from a recent study are making a case for organic meat. According to a study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, up to 50 percent of supermarket meat is contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria.
The study’s authors report that bacteria found inside the meat means the problem is the food animals themselves and not contamination from packing or processing. Many of the detected strains were drug resistant, suggesting that “densely stocked industrial farms, where food animals are steadily fed low doses of antibiotics” are heavy contributors to the global problem of antibiotic resistance.
It should come as no surprise that this is yet another area where organic, free range meat is superior to its factory-farmed counterpart. Unlike industrial farms, ranchers who raise organic cattle or poultry for human consumption do not use continuous antibiotics as a preventative measure or to promote weight gain. Instead, antibiotics are a last resort if an animal is sick or injured and holistic methods have failed.
Organic rancher Juanell Nick Hepburn comments, “We do not use therapeutic doses to promote weight gain. Nick Ranch is a certified organic and 100 percent grass fed, grass finished operation, therefore we always use holistic approaches when responding to any sickness, disease or injury. We keep treatment records and (if antibiotics were used) would pull that animal from our meat program.”
Because grass-fed animals are pastured instead of being confined to feed lots, the chances for bacterial contamination are reduced. Using antibiotics only when absolutely necessary helps fight the creation of drug-resistant strains.
Ten years ago, organic grass fed beef was a rarity found only in health food stores. Today, organic and free-range products are easy to find at places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Organic beef is even creeping into mainstream supermarkets.
To make grass fed beef easier to find, boutique operations such as Nick Ranch ship their products overnight. Says Hepburn, “We ship nationwide. Our beef is shipped frozen, with dry ice or gel packs in reusable Styrofoam-lined shipping boxes to assure safe temperatures.”
With increasing supermarket presence and fresh-to-your-door shipping, organic grass fed beef is a product whose time has come.