Let's face it, buying produce from huge Corporate Farming at your local produce store or market can be very very hard to avoid. The holiday rush of trying to find produce, the daunting task of feeding a larger group of people than normal, and that last minute recipe can derail even the most staunch healthy and organic shopper.
One thing that has become confusing to many is the difference between Orgainic, and All Natural. While Organic can be quite obvious (although some entities are trying to blur that line as well), the term "All Natural" is thrown around quite often. Is "All Natural" even better than whatever they normally have at the grocery store? The below article by Forbes makes a few very valid and simple arguments that show while "Organic" may be best for you, "All Natural" is worlds better than the alternative...
What ‘all natural’ means for your turkey.
Turkey – and all meats – are slightly better defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
According to the USDA, “all natural” meats and poultry can only be called such when:
- No animal by-products were fed to the animals
- No growth promotants were administered to the animals
- No antibiotics are used (except for ionophores used as coccidiostats for parasite control)
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA adds “natural” is defined as “a product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed.”
The pros and cons of paying more for that ‘all natural’ bird
Let’s then break down the USDA rules to understand why it is you would, or would not, buy an “all natural” turkey.
Unbeknownst to most consumers, turkeys and chickens are not vegetarians. They eat bugs and will snack on carcasses when they can. However feeding animals by-products of other animals can transmit dangerous diseases to humans, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) in cows. The “vegetarian fed” rule, while not exactly “natural” for a turkey, is a prudent measure when humans are the end consumer of the product.
The other two guidelines – no growth promotants and no antibiotics – are different versions of the same rule, and are in fact a great reason to pay extra for your “natural” bird.
“Growth promotants” are supplements like hormones and antibiotics which are given to farm animals to make them grow faster. And while it is illegal to give poultry hormones in the United States, antibiotic use to promote animal growth, as well as to prevent disease, is nearly universal in intensive farming and ranching of animals.
Today, 80 percent of antibiotics used in the U.S. are given to animals raised for food, but which animals are given the drugs, how much they are administered and what types of antibiotics are used are not disclosed by farmers. The USDA does demands antibiotic use in to be tapered off at the end of a turkey’s life so no “residue” is left in meat consumers eat, many now associate the rising numbers of “super bacterias” (those resistant to antibiotics) to the massive overuse of these drugs in farming.
Last, the FSIS definition adds that “natural” products do not have artificial ingredients or color and are only minimally processed. A fresh turkey can have up to 3 percent water, but no “fresh turkey” – “natural” or not – is allowed to have any artificial ingredients, unless they are listed on the package. Likewise, a fresh, whole turkey is not “processed” (aside from the slaughtering, plucking, cleaning and packaging, of course).
So is the ‘all natural’ turkey worth it?
Read the whole article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/bethhoffman/2012/11/19/all-natural-turkeys-one-huge-reason-to-buy-them/