Hormone free, antibiotic free, free range, grass fed, organic. We see these labels a lot and often times if we don't understand what they mean it can seem pointless to spend the extra money.
I was on a little vacation recently at Millcroft Spa in Caledon when I found a farm shop that sells grass-fed, antibiotic free, and hormone free meats! Of course I had to stop in and see what they had.
First I want to talk about why it was so important to me to choose high quality meats even early on in my health journey, and after my training as a holistic nutritionist, why I see it as a key part in many women's healing.
Many of us struggle with food intolerances, hormonal imbalances, and other gut issues that we find are helped by a gluten free, or entirely grain free, and dairy free diet. Many women find they heal much better on a diet consisting of lean meats, fruit and vegetables. When we are trying to heal, or prevent disease we have to be aware that we are eating what the animals we are consuming eat. If these animals are raised conventionally (not labelled hormone/antibiotic free, organic or grass fed) they are given hormones and antibiotics to grow faster and gain weight, as well as prevent sickness from being raised in a very poor environment.
These excess hormones and antibiotics are then an extra burden on our system, especially our liver, that is left to process them. Antibiotics also disrupt our gut health causing many other issues that we are likely trying to fix or prevent.
Organic farming provides much better living conditions for the animals. A lot of conventional farming advertises "grain fed or corn fed" and to those who are uneducated about farming and animals, this can seem like a good thing. However, cows eat grass, not grains or corn. Most of the corn being used for feed is genetically modified, foreign to our system and an extra burden once again, for our bodies to try and process and eliminate.
The difference between grass fed meat and grain fed cows is drastic when we look at nutrient content of the meat. Grass fed beef contains anywhere from 2-5x more omega 3 (an essential fatty acid needed for hormonal balance and brain health). Grass fed beef also contains considerably more antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Overall it can definitely be an increased cost switching over from buying conventional meat however there are many ways to make it cheaper. When I was first changing over my diet and struggling with affording all the changes and supplements I would go to the grocery store and check dates on the meat then go back a day or two before it was "best before" to get it at a discounted price. Costco also sells organic chicken now for a reasonable price. The farmers market always has great prices because you're avoiding the middle man and buying directly from the farmer. Its easy to find farms and markets in your area! The new place I found is called Heatherlea Farm Shoppe in Caledon and I highly recommend it. I love being able to get any questions answered while supporting local farmers. You can also buy meat in bulk from farmers at a significant discount. During the winter we have purchased an eighth of a grass fed cow which lasted us all winter (Canadian winter so like 8-9 months ;) ) and cost under $300. It is well worth the investment in your health even if you can only afford to buy organic or grass fed on occasion. You will taste the difference and feel good that you are supporting your body's health.