you’re into a healthy lifestyle, you probably already know that in order for meat and poultry to be labeled as certified organic, the animal feed must actually be certified organic.  This means that small farms that don’t feed their animals unnecessary antibiotics or inject their cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone, but cannot afford to feed their animals organic food year-round, therefore do not qualify to label their meat certified organic.  As a cost-conscious consumer, it may seem like a wise decision to purchase non-organic meats as long as the company states on the label that no antibiotics or hormones were used.

But here’s the deal on animal products that are labeled “all natural” and “free range.”  There is no regulation over the use of those terms, which means that any company could theoretically use those terms for marketing purposes.

“All Natural”

What consumers think it means: When somebody says something is all natural, we tend to think this means there’s nothing artificial in the product: no genetically modified organisms, no chemicals, no hormones, no preservatives.  All natural should mean a food has been left the way nature has intended, with no genetic manipulation or man-made ingredients.

What it really means: Since there is no regulation of the term it could really mean anything. But “all natural” typically means that no nitrites, preservatives, or artificial ingredients have been added, and you can check that by reading the ingredients label.   Most companies that label their products as all natural also do not routinely medicate their animals with antibiotics unless the animals are actually sick, and they do not inject their animals with Monsanto’s recombinant bovine growth hormone.  You can verify this by checking the food label for a statement saying “no rBST” and “no antibiotics.”  However, if the company is able to make these claims (no rBST and no antibiotics), but is unable to use the term “organic,” this is because the animals are being fed conventionally grown corn, canola oil, and/or soy instead of organic feed.  Nearly all conventionally grown corn, canola, and soy are genetically modified, “Roundup ready” crops laced with the herbicide glyphosate.

Glypho what?

Glyphosate, otherwise known as Roundup, is an herbicide made by Monsanto which is known to cause birth defects, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, and DNA damage.  Glyphosate also promotes the formation of certain types of fungi that are dangerous to people and can contaminate animal feed. The Fusarium fungus, for example, has been linked to plagues, cancers, infertility, and diseased farm animals.  Glyophosphate is acutely toxic to birds and fish.  When you eat “all natural” animals that were fed non-organic feed containing glyophosphate, you are exposing yourself to glyophosphate and raising your risk of developing health problems that are associated with this deadly herbicide.
But what about the term “free range?”  Isn’t this a step-up from all-natural?  Are free range animals being fed Roundup ready crops?

“Free Range”

What consumers think it means: Free range conveys images of happy animals roaming freely on green pastures, and small family-owned farms that care for their animals’ well-being by feeding them the healthiest foods possible.

What it really means: While it can prove helpful to investigate the reasons why a particular company is using the term free range instead of organic, the term free range usually just means that animals were given a certain amount of space to roam.  In other words, free range means the animals were not raised in a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO).  But if the company is unable to use the term organic, usually this means their free range animals are being fed conventional, Roundup ready corn, canola, and soy.  Some companies may even state on the label that their poultry or pork was fed only grains and/or soy (as opposed to parts of other animals or liquid high fructose corn syrup diets).  But again, if they are not able to use the term organic even though they are not giving routine antibiotics to their animals, this usually means their animals are being fed grains laced with glyphosate.

According to Reuters:
“Environmentalists, consumer groups and plant scientists from several countries are warning that heavy use of the chemical over the years is causing dangerous problems for plants, people and animals alike.”

According to Forbes:
“Monsanto is so despised by environmentalists that Google’s first suggested search term for the St. Louis company is ‘Monsanto evil.’ Readers … voted Monsanto the world’s most evil corporation in a January poll, giving the corporation a whopping 51 percent of the vote.”

Green Left reports:
“GMOs and Roundup, says Robin, are amongst the ‘most dangerous products of modern times’, joining a list that is heavily populated by other Monsanto products such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxin and bovine growth hormones.
In all cases, Monsanto has been fully aware of their harmfulness yet has lied about their dangers with an impunity conferred by the collusion between the company and the public health and environmental authorities of successive U.S. governments.”

According to Dr. Mercola:
Glyphosate is the world’s bestselling weed killer, and it’s found in more than 30 percent of all herbicides. While Roundup Ready crops can withstand the toxin because of GM genetic material from viruses and bacteria, the weed killer is thought to be contributing to Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), a deadly plant disease that causes plants to turn yellow and die.
How can you confidently avoid unnecessarily feeding glyophosate-tainted foods to your child and yourself?  Besides buying certified organic beef, poultry, pork, dairy, and and eggs, here are a few tips:

  • Seek out wild instead of farm-raised seafood
  • Look for grass-fed beef (if grass-fed is not stated on the label, assume corn-fed)
  • Purchase certified organic poultry
  • Make sure pork is certified organic
  • Never consume canola or cottonseed oils (almost always GMO)
  • Avoid corn, soy, and wheat
  • Do not use non-organic sugar from sugar beets (almost always GMO)
  • Avoid conventionally grown zucchini and squash (they contain glyphosate)
  • Do not buy non-organic Hawaiian papaya
  • Never consume high fructose corn syrup or aspartame
  • Purchase local, heirloom vegetables from local farmers
  • Get involved in a local cowshare or lambshare

While we’ve all heard the popular saying of “You are what you eat,” I’d like to take that one step further by saying, “You are what you eat ATE.”  It is more important now that ever to know the source of your food, and take control of your health and the health of future generations by making intelligent buying decisions.  While constantly worrying about contamination and toxins in your food can do more harm than good, being informed about what’s in the food and taking action to protect yourself is always a wise decision.