The labels on meat and poultry products can be daunting. There are several options, and you never know which one to trust. We often hear people discuss the free range and organic as preferable. But how do you choose? Between free range vs organic meats, which one is better for you?
Organic meat is better because it has several extensive certifications by the USDA. Organic does not contain any antibiotics or GMO foods. The animals are also free to roam outside and eat organic pasture, unlike free-range animals with no consistency of free-roaming or verification of reliability.
Understanding the difference between free range and organic is essential to get the best quality and healthiest meat for your family. In this article, we get down to the details that distinguish the two and why one is more favored.
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Free Range vs Organic Meat
People often assume that free-range and organic are the same thing. Many people actually refer to it as one term, “free range organic.” But as a matter of fact, free range and organic are two different descriptions, and they are used to distinguish between types of meat, poultry, and eggs in the farming and food industries.
The key differences between free range and organic:
|Legislated term||Elastic term|
|Easy daytime access to the outdoors||Somewhat access to outdoors|
|Inspected, licensed, accredited||No standards of governing bodies|
|GMO-Free diet||Food includes GMO|
|No grain feed||Includes grain feed|
|No antibiotics||Antibiotics given|
|High-quality pasture||Pesticides and artificial fertilizer present|
|Kept in smaller groups||Large groups with less space|
What Makes Meat Organic?
Organic refers to the process and production of specific foods. Reference to organic meat would be the way the animals are kept, looked after, and fed. Different animals require different environments and food. Ultimately, it means those animals are free to roam outside. They don’t get antibiotics, GMOs, or hormones and are verified by the USDA (similar to the Prime, Choice, Select program).
What Makes Meat Free Range?
Free range is a loose term created for marketing unverified farming practices (though they can be excellent). It implies that the animals are given free reign to roam outdoors, but there is no proof it happens consistently or even at all.
Free-range animals are often fed GMO foods, given antibiotics, and have no legislation to keep them accountable for their claims.
Which Is Better: Free Range Or Organic?
Organic meat is always the preferred option when trying to figure out which labels you should go for at the grocery store or whether you should purchase from local organic or free-range farms. In the following points, we compare the differences in detail so you can understand why organic is better for you than free range:
Organic vs. Free Range
Organic is a legislated term that the USDA accredits because of certain legal and moral practices a farmer follows.
Free range is an elastic term with no backup, accountability, or accreditation by government bodies to prove or verify any claims of consistency in the farmers’ practices.
Organic meats come from animals that are free to roam outdoors during daylight with sufficient vertical, horizontal, and diagonal space to move and walk around.
Free range means that the animals are allowed outdoor exposure, but there are hiccups to these claims, such as:
- Animals are kept in bigger groups than recommended, so they have less space.
- There is a door, gate, and hole which farmers show for outdoor accessibility, but there is no telling when, how often, and how long they get to roam outside. There is no one checking if they even get out at all.
- When animals are allowed to “leave” their cages, barns, etc., they prefer not to because they are used to being close to each other.
- Not all the animals will leave through the gates/doors. Those in the middle who want to don’t have the space to pass.
Organic meat comes from animals that eat organically. They have high-quality organic pasture and consume grass and insects that is best for their growth, digestion, and health, and healthier for humans to eventually consume. They are not given GMOs, antibiotics, or synthetic pesticides.
Free-range meat comes from animals fed GMOs and given antibiotics, synthetic pesticides, and artificial fertilizers in their pasture.
Is Free Range Chicken The Same As Organic?
The free range and organic descriptions and practices are the same in the meat and poultry industry. That means the free-range chicken is not the same as organic. Organic will always be above free range regarding which is better for consumers and treatments of the animals.
Organic chicken farmers have all the accreditation for following the legal rules and regulations with yearly checks to ensure consistency. Free-range chicken farms have the same concept as meat farms. It is a flexible term describing practices that can’t be verified, and they are not held accountable by any government bodies.
Are Organic Or Free Range Eggs Better?
Between organic and free-range eggs, organic is the better choice. Since organic chickens are better, their eggs will also be better. Organic chickens are not fed grains or corn or given GMOs, antibiotics, and antibiotics. Their pasture is high quality and natural, and they are given daytime outdoor exposure to roam freely with ample space.
Free-range eggs are from chickens that might or might not get the freedom of outdoor exposure and space. They are grain-fed and corn-fed, and their food contains GMOs. They are also giving antibiotics and hormones and don’t have any organic certifications.
You can distinguish organic eggs from free-range eggs by noticing that organic eggs have an orange yolk, while free-range egg yolks are yellow.
Are Free Range Eggs Healthier?
Free-range eggs are slightly healthier than eggs from caged chickens. But on the full spectrum of egg types, organic is always the healthiest and safest to consume. Practices from organic farms are better for the chickens, eggs, and humans who consume them.
No need to get confused with labels and packaging anymore. Remember that organic meat and poultry are better than free range. And you can find a local organic farmer to get your products and avoid the middlemen and miles of transportation the food goes through.