Is There a Difference Between Natural and Organic Meat?

Although organic meat does come much closer to achieving the high quality standard that we provide at Niman Ranch, there are still several ways that organic meat may differ from the all-natural meat we produce.

Unfortunately, in the minds of many grocery store managers, consumers and federal agencies like the USDA, the words natural and organic meat often seem synonymous and interchangeable. For example, as long as the crops or meat have been minimally processed and produced free of growth hormones, antibiotics, food additives and artificial fertilizers, that product often falls into the natural or organic meat category. However, this definition says nothing about the conditions in which livestock are raised.

At Niman Ranch, we are just as dedicated to providing natural lifestyles for our animals as we are to providing the wholesome feed and environment which promote their growth. We believe that animals that have been given the opportunity to participate in natural life processes are not only happier, but healthier stock, which yield higher quality products for our consumers.

Organic labels, as well as hormone-free labels, can be as misleading. For example, as long as seventy percent of the ingredients meet organic standards, the product as a whole can still be called organic. That means consumers may still be eating thirty percent of harmful substances in their expensive organic meat. To avoid misleading organic labels, look for "100 percent organic" promises or "certified organic" labels which guarantee that ninety-five percent of the ingredients be organic rather than seventy-five percent.

Even a pig raised free of harmful contaminants like growth hormones, antibiotics and unhealthy feed will suffer negative side effects during growth if it does not receive normal amounts of fresh air, exercise, and sunlight on a regular basis. However small it may seem to an observer, this is the difference between many organic meat products and the natural meat that we produce at Niman Ranch farms. Consequently, if you truly care about innate animal needs or the true quality of the meat you consume, you'll appreciate the difference we maintain at Niman Ranch.

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