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The Organic and Free-Range Myth

Organic Animal Products

We’ve all seen the grocery store packages of meat, eggs, and dairy products decorated with reassuring phrases such as “natural” and “free-range” and pictures of happy animals running around quaint country barns. But people who buy organic or free-range animal products because they think that the animals are treated well are sadly mistaken.

Many organic and free-range farms cram thousands of animals together in sheds or mud-filled lots to increase profits, just as factory farms do, and the animals often suffer through the same mutilations—such as debeaking, dehorning, and castration without painkillers—that occur on factory farms.

Organically raised chickens on some farms suffer from higher mortality rates than drugged chickens because extremely crowded, filthy housing conditions, coupled with a lack of antibiotics, can lead to even more parasites than are already found in drugged chickens.

Many “organically raised” cows are sent to factory-farm feedlots to be fattened prior to slaughter, where they are caked with feces and mud. Cows who are fattened on feedlots can still be labeled organic as long as they’re given organic feed.

Cows on organic dairy farms may be kept in sheds or filthy enclosures, where they spend their lives mired in their own waste, enduring the strain of forced yearly pregnancies and having their calves taken away from them. If their udders become infected from frequent milkings, which often happens, many farmers deny them medicine, because if they medicate the animals, they won’t be able to sell the milk as organic.

Cattle have their horns cut off and their testicles cut out of their scrotums, and many are branded with sizzling-hot irons, resulting in third-degree burns. Pigs on organic farms often have their tails chopped off and their ears notched, and some have rings forced into their sensitive noses in order to permanently prevent them from rooting in the grass and dirt, which is one of a pig’s favorite pastimes. Chickens on organic egg farms usually have part of their sensitive beaks cut off, causing acute pain and often death. None of these animals are given any painkillers.

At the end of their sad lives, the animals who don’t die on the farm are shipped on trucks through all weather extremes, usually without food, water or rest, to the same slaughterhouses used by factory farms. There, they are hung upside-down and their throats are cut, often while they are still conscious and struggling to escape. Some are still conscious when they are forced into the scalding-hot water of the defeathering tanks or when their bodies are hacked apart.

A Healthier Alternative?

The only advantage that organic products have is that they do not contain antibiotics, hormones, or an arsenic-based additive (as many non-organic chicken products do). Although flesh from these animals might be somewhat safer than that from drugged animals, the healthiest choice is to avoid all meat, eggs, and dairy foods. Organic, “natural,” “humane,” and free-range flesh, milk, and eggs are still laden with artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol, just as all animal products are.

Major studies linking the consumption of animal products to heart disease, cancer, and other leading killers suggest that it’s these components of animal foods—animal fat, animal protein, and a lack of fiber—that lead to a higher risk of developing many diseases.

Organic and free-range animals are killed in the same filthy slaughterhouses as animals from factory farms, so their flesh is subject to the same potential for bacterial contamination from unsanitary conditions.

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