By Cliff McConville

The difference between organic, pasture-raised beef, dairy, pork, chicken, and eggs compared to food from animals raised in conventional Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) is so great that you’re really talking about completely different products.

When you eat products from CAFO-raised animals, you’re also consuming small amounts of antibiotics and other drugs in each bite. Organic, grass-fed standards, on the other hand, do not permit the use of antibiotics. With antibiotic-resistant disease being a major public health hazard, buying organic meats, dairy, and eggs is an important consideration in more ways than one.


Regularly consuming small doses of antibiotics is a surefire way to destroy your gut health, which in turn will have a detrimental effect on your overall health and immune function. Not only does it make you more susceptible to chronic disease, it also increases your exposure to antibiotic-resistant infections.


Organic grass-fed beef and other meats also tend to be leaner, and have higher levels of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. They also have a healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. Contrary to their crowded, confined, stressed-out factory farmed counterparts, organically-raised cattle, hogs, and chickens roam free on open pasture, which makes a tremendous difference when it comes to their health and well-being.


Organic farms, which tend to be far smaller in scale, also tend to provide far more sanitary conditions overall, since the animals are not kept in overcrowded buildings and manure-filled feedlots day in and day out. As a result, the animals are far less likely to harbor dangerous pathogens, which could contaminate the meat.

Unless labeled as grass-fed or pasture-raised, virtually all the meat you buy in the grocery store is CAFO raised, and tests have revealed that nearly half of the meat sold in US stores is contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, antibiotic-resistant strains. Grass-fed beef is not associated with this high frequency of contamination, and their living conditions have everything to do with this improved safety.


Eggs are another animal product where free-range pasturing makes all the difference in the world, both in terms of creating superior nutrition and reducing the contamination risk. As with other livestock, the salmonella risk associated with raw eggs is primarily heightened when the hens are raised in unsanitary CAFO conditions. In small organic farms where the chickens are raised in clean, spacious coops, have access to sunlight, and forage for their natural food, salmonella contamination is a very rare occurrence.


Cliff McConville is the operator of All Grass Farms, a 150-acre “pasture farm” located on IL Route 31 south of Algonquin in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.  The farm produces 100% Grass Fed Beef, Pastured Berkshire Pork, Free Range Broiler Chickens, Eggs, and Turkeys, as well as organic vegetables.  The farm store is open daily from 10 AM – 6 PM, or visit the farm website at .



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