Organic Meat & Dairy is Healthier

Permaculture magazine
Friday, 19th February 2016

A study in the British Journal of Nutrition has found that organic dairy and meat is healthier for us than non-organic.

In the debate about whether organic is better for you than conventionally grown dairy and meat, it is often argued that there isn’t the science to back up the claim that organic is more nutritious.

A recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic.

These nutritional benefits also apply to other dairy products such as butter, cream, cheese and yogurt.

The key findings are:

- both organic milk (dairy) and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products

- organic meat had slightly lower concentrations of two saturated fats linked to heart disease

- organic milk and dairy contains 40% more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – (CLA has been linked to a range of health benefits including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and obesity)

- organic milk and dairy contains slightly higher concentrations of iron, Vitamin E and some carotenoids

- organic milk contains less iodine than non-organic milk.

Helen Browning, chief executive of the Soil Association said, "This research confirms what many people have always thought was true -what you feed farm animals and how you treat them affects the quality of the food - whether it’s milk, cheese or a cut of meat. These scientists have shown that all the hard work organic farmers put into caring for their animals pays off in the quality of the food they produce - giving real value for money."

The reason for the difference in omega-3 is because organic animals have a higher grass-based diet, which contains high levels of clover. In organic farming, clover is used as a nitrogen-fixer to help crops and grass grow, instead of using chemical fertilsers. Research has found that clover increases omega-3 concentrations in meat and dairy.

The organic standards state that cows must eat 60% fresh grass or hay/sileage to be recognised as organic.

Richard Smith, senior farms manager from organic meat producers Daylesford Organic, said; “We farm organic red meat on a grass-based, home-grown forage diet which delivers a superb quality. In addition to other benefits of producing food in an organic system, this land-mark paper now also confirms what we've always known; there is also a significant nutritional difference between organic and non-organic.”

Further resources

Read the paper on organic milk production HERE

Read the paper on organic meat production

The 'wild' farm: regenerative agriculture at Village Farm

Watch: Building Soil with Regenerative Agriculture

The Resilient Farm & Homestead

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