Organic vs. Non-Organic Plants and Meat

Have you ever looked into a cow’s brown eyes and rubbed her forehead? Have you ever felt your heart break as you tell her, “Shhhh girl, it’s going to be okay,” knowing that as soon as she drops dead, she’ll be butchered for your dinner?

You likely haven’t, because chances are you get your cow meat from the grocery store, which allows you, with remorseless, blissful ignorance, to not think about how that meat came to be. Shame on you. And shame on me too.

For decades, our mass-produced meat has been cut from animals who lived miserable lives. From the moment they are born, they are fed food which isn’t actually good for them and is loaded with chemicals to make them grow faster. This treatment of animals clearly isn’t healthy for them. It isn’t even healthy for us.

Listen, I’m a huge bacon fan. I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian. I’m all for a good, healthy, meaty meal. However, most of the time I’ll only eat meat if the animal it came from lived a healthy life and was given the chance to roam (mostly) free or procreate if it so desired. I just hate the idea that my bacon came from a pig who didn’t have a spider to save him. That’s why I approve of organic meat. Because it sounds like an oxymoron, I actually looked up the definition of “organic meat” to make sure I wasn’t crazy: “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising pork and poultry. The animals’ organic feed cannot contain animal by-products, antibiotics or genetically engineered grains and cannot be grown using persistent pesticides or chemical fertilizers.” Basically, meat is organic if the animals’ food wasn’t manipulated and the animals weren’t given any extra hormones to make them grow faster.

Organic produce is another matter. I’ve worked with produce, and let me tell you, the organic produce always goes bad faster. It sometimes would arrive in the boxes already mushy. Do you realize that you could be eating an organic ear of corn and accidentally get a bite of caterpillar? People used to eat only organic produce and died at age 50. Coincidence?

See, genetically modified food is okay if it actually makes us healthy and doesn’t harm people, (in this context animals count). I would love if organic fruits weren’t actually disgusting, but the fact of the matter is that non-organic produce has the same nutrients as their organic cousins, but they stay better longer and don’t have bugs in them. And if anyone gets sick from eating non-organic produce, they can always sue the company that produced the food. Because that’s what everyone else seems to be doing.

The thing is, plants aren’t living creatures with feelings. However, cows, chickens and pigs live and feel and have desires just like you and me. It’s not fair to treat them worse than we’d treat our cats or dogs. Just like the moral pinnacle “Bee Movie” once said, all life has value.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu