Why Organic, Non-GMO and Grass-fed? These terms used to be so foreign to me and now they have become second nature when shopping at the grocery store.
You will see me refer to organic, Non-GMO and Grass-fed in all my recipes. I have to admit I am not completely 100% organic, however, I try to be about 90% of the time with a few exceptions here and there. Have you heard of the term, you are what you eat? Are we necessarily cows and chickens then? No. However, the overall goal for my family is to become less exposed to harmful pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, “GMO’s” Genetically Modified Organisms, artificial coloring, and toxins. It also truly tastes better and you can definitely see the difference in the quality of meats, veggies and food in general. I firmly believe that what goes in our soils not only affects the nutrition, but also the flavor of your foods.
Supporting organic keeps less chemicals out of the air overall, which helps eliminate the toxins that families living near by are exposed to as well as the farmworkers. Another goal for our family is to reduce the amount of antibiotics we are being exposed to over a given period of time. When you consume extra added antibiotics (found in many non-organic meats/poultry) this can lead to an increase of exposure to leaky gut syndrome and an overgrowth of candida. This is something I was diagnosed with, and took a long time to discover triggers that were making me ill. Therefore, just sharing the overall possibilities as I never came across articles that explained why and what I was experiencing. Some individuals are just more sensitive than others to overly processed ingredients that seem to be present in almost all of our food today, and everyone has a different reaction over time.
Our family only consumes organic beef and poultry. Why? For us, we firmly believe the way an animal lived their life highly affects the quality of what you consume. What they eat, possible antibiotics/hormones, if they were exposed to sunlight/grass, and how they were humanely treated are all factors you have to consider. According to www.wikipedia.com, the USDA Organic Beef Regulations must meet the following criteria:
- Born and raised on certified organic pasture
- Never receive antibiotics
- Never receive growth-promoting hormones
- Are fed only certified organic grains (corn is a grain) and grasses
- Must have unrestricted outdoor access
Even the term “natural” on packaging assures no absolute guarantee because there’s no third party following up to double check that there are indeed no hormones or antibiotics being used.
Not sure where to start or how to fully understand the standards? Start by reading the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Program
, a non-profit organization to help improve farm animal welfare. You can view which brands and food markets participate in this program for your reference. One nationally well known market such as Whole Foods
participates in this certification program, and this is why Whole Foods is one of our favorite markets.
If it’s not organic, I definitely aim for Non-GMO aka “Non Genetically Modified Organisms”, where the material of the item has been artificially manipulated due to genetic engineering. Currently 30% of our crop land is planted in GMO’s. I really strive to find products that are labeled with the Non-GMO Project Seal. According to www.nongmoproject.org, these are items considered high risk and they must be tested every time prior to usage in the NON-GMO Project certified items:
- Alfalfa (first planting 2011)
- Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)
- Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)
- Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)
- Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres)
Common Ingredients derived from genetically modified risk crops include:
Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Ethanol, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.
These items are regularly monitored:
- Beta vulgaris (e.g., chard, table beets)
- Brassica napa (e.g., rutabaga, Siberian kale)
- Brassica rapa (e.g., bok choy, mizuna, Chinese cabbage, turnip, rapini, tatsoi)
- Cucurbita (acorn squash, delicata squash, patty pan)
To learn more about NON-GMO project Verified standards, you can read more here about the Non-GMO Seal here.
I use Grass-fed beef when preparing all my steaks, beef and roast dishes. Why is it so important? According to www.mayoclinic.org
, Grass-fed beef is typically leaner providing fewer calories and fat. Grass-fed beef is higher in Vitamin E and omega’s because of the diet they consume (plants), versus grain. Vitamin E plays a vital role, you can read the benefits here, and Omega’s have many benefits listed here as well.
do not only apply to beef, but the same standard applies to pig, poultry, etc. When chickens are housed indoors and deprived of greens, their meat and eggs also become artificially low in omegas. This is also why the quality and texture of Grass-fed beef tastes better. Eating Grass-fed may potentially help your cholesterol levels as well hence eating better fats.
Hopefully you have a better understanding as to why I emphasize Organic, Non-GMO and Grass-fed. Again, this is how my family personally chooses to eat and this may or may not work for your particular lifestyle. Providing you the options to choose for yourself, is simply the goal at Real Gluten-Free Meals.
Why Organic, Non-GMO and Grass-fed?