What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

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What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Whizbang » Fri Apr 18, 2014 1:05 pm UTC

So, I hear the term "Natural" a lot. When someone says, "All natural," I hear "Can be found in some shape or form in nature." This does nothing for me. There's a lot of stuff in nature that'll kill you quick, so that's hardly a ringing endorsement of a food or medicine. Likewise, there is a lot of things made that are somehow not labeled "natural" that are derivative of things found in nature, with maybe a bit of minor twerking. (<-- huh. Word filter turns "tw.eaking" to "twerking")

So, someone says "All natural" and my brain goes, "Total bullshit". It occurs to me that maybe my definition of Natural needs to be updated to the latest version.

Likewise, "Organic" is another nebulous term that translates to "More expensive for no apparent reason" in my brain. Horse shit is organic. Pond scum is organic. Hell, even petroleum is organic (unless the process that turns the dinosaurs into "magic make things go juice" somehow moves it into the "other" category). Are Natural and Organic the same thing, or related yet different?

I mean, I get the whole "Don't put a ton of pesticides on my veggies. I eat that!" thing. I get that reading the ingredients list on most packaged foods requires a degree in chemistry to understand, and that is off-putting. But why is Natural/Organic equated to "Better"?

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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby PAstrychef » Fri Apr 18, 2014 2:16 pm UTC

Food labeling-a marketing morass trying to inform and sway people to purchase a given product.
Some terms have a legal meaning-they can't appear without certain criteria being fulfilled. "Certified organic" is one of these. There are a number of organizations that will guarantee, in effect, that the product in question was grown without the use of certain types of chemicals, or was made from ingredients so produced. Some of the organizations are stricter than others, just like the groups that certify kosher foods.
Organic foods are more expensive overall because it costs more to produce them. There are higher crop losses in the field, smaller yields overall, and they tend to be grown by smaller operations. Also, the market extracts a premium for a perceived increase in value. There is also the perception that organic growers are working to use more sustainable processes, lower fuel usage as much as possible, etc.. These perceptions can be very wrong. For a good overview, read Pollan's A Carnivores Dilemma, which looks at four different ways of procuring dinner.
"Natural" on the other hand, is pretty meaningless on food labels.
Most uses of natural are solely designed to make the buyer think the product is healthier than it is. "100% natural sugar coated cocoa bombs!" are still a crap food.
When cholesterol was the enemy, you would see "cholesterol free" labels on foods that never had any to begin with, like potatoes.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby ahammel » Fri Apr 18, 2014 3:36 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:So, someone says "All natural" and my brain goes, "Total bullshit".
Your brain is entirely correct.

"Organic" is less so, because, as was pointed out above, organic food has to be produced according to certain guidelines. The value of these guidelines in terms of the flavour, environmental impact, and (especially) nutritional value of the product is somewhat up for debate. In particular, the requirement that GMOs may not be used is entirely arbitrary as far as I'm concerned.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Apr 18, 2014 4:06 pm UTC

The organic tag is pretty silly too though, highly political, and in some cases just a scam to get people to pay more for a product.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Sandry » Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:59 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:The organic tag is pretty silly too though, highly political, and in some cases just a scam to get people to pay more for a product.

Theoretically speaking this shouldn't be true, as organic products have to be evaluated by a third party. Practically speaking, though, certainly it may be.

Anyhow, to care about buying organic, you have to buy into the notion that there is a benefit in omitting specific fertilizers and pesticides. If you don't, then OG is not marketed toward you.

(And yes, as mentioned, natural means nothing unless they give you a definition, since there is no standard definition, even if you are the sort of person to care.)
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:34 pm UTC

I would have agreed with anyone who said the "organic" label was bullshit, until I started buying cans of "organic" chick peas and found them to be fluffier, tastier and, yes, more expensive than their non-"organic" counterparts.

Since then I've come round to the idea that if you're buying organic then you're getting a better quality product even though you're paying a premium for it. Fortunately, the fact that you're paying a premium means your fellow buyers are a demanding lot who will complain bitterly if the quality drops. Of course, this might not be universally true. Maybe I've just had a unique experience so far.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Whizbang » Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:46 pm UTC

My understanding of Organic, though, as has been pointed out in this thread, is that in general things that usually allow for a plentiful and and healthy crop (fertilizers, pesticides, gene modification, etc.) are limited, and so the crop isn't as... I don't know the word... Rich? Fruitful? Bountiful? as more mainstream, modern agriculture. The upside is that you're ingesting less questionable materials. The downside is that it doesn't last as long and there isn't as much of it. So the perceived increase in quality comes, not from limiting the additives, but from the fact that it must be consumed fresh, rather than days and days (weeks sometimes) after the harvest for the other stuff. Also Organic veggies tend to be ripened on the vine (or whatever form the plant takes), which has been generally accepted to improve flavor.

Am I just talking out of my ass on this? Does limiting fertilizers, hormones, pesticides, preservatives, etc. actually improve flavor? Or is it, as I said, the freshness and general better handling of the product that is the real reason the food tastes better?

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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:50 pm UTC

I think it probably varies crop to crop. I wouldn't be surprised if fertilizer made some crops much larger and tastier, while had less of an effect on the tastiness of others.

Consumer choice on the matter though is pretty universally seeped in ignorance. This idea of natural when it comes to agriculture is sort of hilarious to start, considering how selectively bred everything already is. 'GMO' is somehow evil, but inducing polyploidy isn't.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Whizbang » Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:24 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Consumer choice on the matter though is pretty universally seeped in ignorance. This idea of natural when it comes to agriculture is sort of hilarious to start, considering how selectively bred everything already is. 'GMO' is somehow evil, but inducing polyploidy isn't.


All right, so lets chew the fat for a bit on the topic of meat. Organic farming in regards to fruits and veggies is aiming for a pre-industrial ideal. But what about meat? Obviously the big-bad here is hormones and living conditions for animals. For me, an animal that is bred and raised specifically to be slaughtered and eaten is already pretty far out on the "cruelty to animals" limb, so arguing for a humane method of breeding, raising, and slaughtering them is like beating a dead horse. That ship has sailed already. You can't put that genie back in the bottle. And other metaphors. The goal should be a healthy, happy consumer. If treating the animal nicely during their short stay here on Earth means that their meat/egg/byproduct tastes better and is healthier to eat, then I'm all for it. Otherwise, just don't terrorize and cause unneeded pain and discomfort. I can already see that many find this stance in poor taste (pun fully intended). To which I say, feel free to continue working toward a better society where farming and agriculture is a totally groovy industry. I won't hold my breath, or my appetite, though.

Anyway, meat. That shit is both tasty and amazing, and disgusting and horrifying, depending on if you've been to a slaughterhouse. But that aside, what does organic meat give me, as a consumer who is concerned with his own health and that of his immediate family and friends? Less hormones and antibiotics, for one(two). What is the analysis on the pros and cons of these things? What else is considered or done differently for Organic meat products? Is an Organic cow slaughtered any differently? Does organic hamburger still contain "pink slime" (which doesn't particularly phase me)? Are some organic meats more organic than others?

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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:42 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:For me, an animal that is bred and raised specifically to be slaughtered and eaten is already pretty far out on the "cruelty to animals" limb
And I think you'd be very very wrong in that assertion. Ranchers can care for a very healthy and happy herd that are being kept for meat purposes.

Whizbang wrote:If treating the animal nicely during their short stay here on Earth means that their meat/egg/byproduct tastes better and is healthier to eat, then I'm all for it.
Yes, this, of course, but also, I'd rather my money go towards the aforementioned ranchers than FactoryFarms R Us. I want to financially support ethical compassionate ranchers.

Whizbang wrote:Anyway, meat. That shit is both tasty and amazing, and disgusting and horrifying, depending on if you've been to a slaughterhouse. But that aside, what does organic meat give me, as a consumer who is concerned with his own health and that of his immediate family and friends? Less hormones and antibiotics, for one(two). What is the analysis on the pros and cons of these things? What else is considered or done differently for Organic meat products? Is an Organic cow slaughtered any differently? Does organic hamburger still contain "pink slime" (which doesn't particularly phase me)? Are some organic meats more organic than others?
Ok, lets back up;
1 ) Local organic meat gives you a few things. First, it's hormone free, which rocks some peoples 'don't put chemicals in mah body' jollies, and second, it's local, which rocks some peoples environmental jollies. These are valid jollies that may need rocking, and there is pretty ample research that has been done into the healthful and environmental impacts of the meat industry.
2 ) Slaughtering is not really the issue; treatment prior to slaughtering is, since most slaughterhouses still have to abide by federal rules pertaining to human sacrificing of animals. AFAIK, organic animals are not slaughtered any differently, save perhaps, being slaughtered in smaller, local slaughterhouses.
3 ) You should do some actual research on 'pink slime'. Most meat doesn't contain it; it was largely a pretty lame anti-meat propaganda ploy.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Whizbang » Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:55 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Whizbang wrote:If treating the animal nicely during their short stay here on Earth means that their meat/egg/byproduct tastes better and is healthier to eat, then I'm all for it.
Yes, this, of course, but also, I'd rather my money go towards the aforementioned ranchers than FactoryFarms R Us. I want to financially support ethical compassionate ranchers.

Ok, I can definitely get behind the idea that there are better(less bad?) ways to breed and raise animals for consumption. I'll even agree it is worthwhile to take the time and effort to support said ranchers rather than FactoryFarm-R-Us. But how do I know, while at the market, which is which? Does the Organic stamp imply this? Is there some other method? Do I need to do my own research on the brands I see at the store? How do I know where the grocer gets the meat that just has a store label?

Izawwlgood wrote:Ok, lets back up;
1 ) Local organic meat gives you a few things. First, it's hormone free, which rocks some peoples 'don't put chemicals in mah body' jollies, and second, it's local, which rocks some peoples environmental jollies. These are valid jollies that may need rocking, and there is pretty ample research that has been done into the healthful and environmental impacts of the meat industry.
2 ) Slaughtering is not really the issue; treatment prior to slaughtering is, since most slaughterhouses still have to abide by federal rules pertaining to human(e) sacrificing of animals. AFAIK, organic animals are not slaughtered any differently, save perhaps, being slaughtered in smaller, local slaughterhouses.
3 ) You should do some actual research on 'pink slime'. Most meat doesn't contain it; it was largely a pretty lame anti-meat propaganda ploy.


I can appreciate this. More so the local thing than the hormone thing. I guess I'd need to read up on the health affects of hormones in meats.

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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:02 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote: But how do I know, while at the market, which is which? Does the Organic stamp imply this? Is there some other method? Do I need to do my own research on the brands I see at the store? How do I know where the grocer gets the meat that just has a store label?
Like anything else, you do your due diligence? Research what brands practice ethical treatment of their animals, see if they're sold at your local grocer, and buy from them.

I will say most of the labels you find on products at the grocery store are complete and utter bullshit. For example, 'cage free' on eggs or chicken is certainly a step up from not cage free, but is by no means indicative of good treatment.

Mind you, if you're feeling overwhelmed, I don't personally hold that you need to be 100% aware of where everything comes from. You are not a compromised moral human being for eating a steak from a cow that was mistreated, a tomato that was grown with fertilizer and pesticide, etc. I think the trick is making the smartest decisions as often as you can, and finding something something that works for you.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Sandry » Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:47 pm UTC

Organic promises a very specific thing that doesn't actually guarantee locality of product or humaneness of raising animals or of slaughter.

It guarantees only that the animals are fed plants that are organic, and that antibiotics are not administered (or I suppose if people wanted to put other things down the gullet of an animal besides food and medicine, it'd also regulate those). It should also guarantee that handling after the animal is raised doesn't contaminate the product with material not deemed to fit the organic standards, so there are likely specifications around what cleaning products can be used in packing areas, etc, but I'm not 100% confident of details here - I do know they apply to produce, but I don't research meat because I don't care about it.

Anyhow, Izawwlgood's point is a good one - labels only hold up to exactly what they're promising and no more, generally speaking. Organic doesn't even mean cage free, and it's possible to raise an organic chicken in a cage. Organic doesn't guarantee humanitarian type standards of any sort - it only pertains to what the animal is ingesting, and what comes into contact with the finished product.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby freezeblade » Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:43 pm UTC

Sandry wrote:Organic doesn't even mean cage free, and it's possible to raise an organic chicken in a cage. Organic doesn't guarantee humanitarian type standards of any sort - it only pertains to what the animal is ingesting, and what comes into contact with the finished product.


Lucky for some states, there are standards for labeling this sort of thing, such as "pasture raised," free-range, or "locally raised," which, if I remember right, have at least some regulation of what they mean. There are also steps in the right direction happening, like Proposition 2 which dramatically increases the minimum size of cages chickens are raised in (about twice the previous minimum)
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Bakemaster » Sat Apr 26, 2014 10:57 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:Organic foods are more expensive overall because it costs more to produce them. There are higher crop losses in the field, smaller yields overall, and they tend to be grown by smaller operations. Also, the market extracts a premium for a perceived increase in value.

There's also a significant cost involved in obtaining the certification, which is one reason a product may meet the requirements but not be certified. The certification process can be troublesome, and enforcement/verification is questionable. There was a big story a few years back about pesticides in organic strawberries; OP can start reading here if interested.
Anyway, meat. That shit is both tasty and amazing, and disgusting and horrifying, depending on if you've been to a slaughterhouse.

Also depends on the slaughterhouse. I have been to a small one located at a ranch in far Northern California that was exceptionally civilized.
Izawwlgood wrote:most slaughterhouses still have to abide by federal rules pertaining to human sacrificing of animals

Come again? "Sacrificing?"
Sandry wrote:Organic doesn't even mean cage free, and it's possible to raise an organic chicken in a cage.

And to raise a "free-range" hen without it ever spending time outdoors. Not sure how universally this is the case, but in many areas they're allowed to keep juvenile hens inside for a certain number of weeks while more vulnerable to weather and predation, after which they open a little door that the hens never choose to pass through because by this time they are only comfortable inside.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Apr 27, 2014 4:29 am UTC

Bakemaster wrote:Come again? "Sacrificing?"
Industry term for 'killing the animal', but I realize now that was syntactically not remotely suggesting what I meant.

By 'industry term' I really mean 'In science, we refer to killing animals as 'sacrificing'.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Bakemaster » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:33 pm UTC

I've never heard it used that way, and I'm an Aggie.

Then again, I didn't really hang out in the ag/bio parts of campus, so I'll take your word for it.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Sungura » Mon Oct 27, 2014 6:06 pm UTC

Ok. 4-H growing up and lots of farm life experience.

Even the "free range" eggs at the grocery store don't hold a candle to a true free range flock that eats bugs and stuff like chickens are supposed to eat. Free range might man they are free to range indoors, or are still fed chicken feed so they don't forage. Etc.

I have never found in any grocery store - organic or not - than comes close to my own raised animals. I'm not really sure it is possible because of time delays and packaging (and why do US eggs get refrigerated? Because we WASH THEM so they look nice - organic or whatever label you want - so the natural goo on the egg that protects them is gone!) an actual farm fresh egg is actually good. I can't stand most grocery store eggs no matter how they were supposidly gotten.

So...in conclusion - there is some slightly better taste with some brands I will note as far as meat and milk and egg and whatnot go. But really, if you care that much and actually want delicious flavor at a fraction of the cost but of course it costs in time - raise your own.

I really see the whole organic movement as a self pat on the back, a feel good scheme that may or may not be "better". If ya want to spend your money that way, go for it. It's not hurting anything and taste is subjective. But there is a lot that happens between the farm and the happily boxed store product everything goes through so it will NEVER compare to actually getting it direct. Farmers markets, local homesteads, etc would be the way to go for most authenticity if you can't raise it yourslef. Of course this means not all foods are available at all times. Because seasons. And this society wants it all now. Where do you think the organic strawberries are coming from in the middle of winter?! It's not local thats for sure...
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Oct 27, 2014 7:12 pm UTC

Sungura wrote:(and why do US eggs get refrigerated? Because we WASH THEM so they look nice - organic or whatever label you want - so the natural goo on the egg that protects them is gone!)
So, it's worth pointing out that the primary reason for this is a trade agreement between America and the UK, which prevents trading and selling of eggs between the two countries.

Sungura wrote:an actual farm fresh egg is actually good. I can't stand most grocery store eggs no matter how they were supposidly gotten.
I've never been able to tell a difference between cage-free eggs I buy in the supermarket and farm fresh eggs I buy from the local farmers market. I'd say the biggest distinction is between the brown and white eggs; which is to say, there's not really much of one.

Sungura wrote: But really, if you care that much and actually want delicious flavor at a fraction of the cost but of course it costs in time - raise your own.
So wait; caring for chickens is easy, but it's entirely space dependent. I have the space for it, but couldn't do it because of my town. I wouldn't call it necessarily a fraction of the cost either; a good chicken hutch is going to cost maybe a thousand bucks, and as a dude who eats a lot of eggs in a given year, it'd take a while before I recouped that cost in laying.

But yeah. I agree that organic is mostly a 'now I feel good about having supposedly done my part'.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby freezeblade » Mon Oct 27, 2014 7:15 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:...a good chicken hutch is going to cost maybe a thousand bucks, and as a dude who eats a lot of eggs in a given year, it'd take a while before I recouped that cost in laying.


thousand bucks? Man. just get some 2x4s of shit lumber (scrap wood from a nearby construction project is usually good), some nails (or screws) and bam it out! it's not too much harder than a dog house, which most people could do pretty easily.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Nath » Mon Oct 27, 2014 7:30 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I've never been able to tell a difference between cage-free eggs I buy in the supermarket and farm fresh eggs I buy from the local farmers market. I'd say the biggest distinction is between the brown and white eggs; which is to say, there's not really much of one.

You aren't the only one:

http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/08/what ... d-lab.html

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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Oct 27, 2014 8:12 pm UTC

freezeblade wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:...a good chicken hutch is going to cost maybe a thousand bucks, and as a dude who eats a lot of eggs in a given year, it'd take a while before I recouped that cost in laying.


thousand bucks? Man. just get some 2x4s of shit lumber (scrap wood from a nearby construction project is usually good), some nails (or screws) and bam it out! it's not too much harder than a dog house, which most people could do pretty easily.
A ) you can't keep chickens in a dog house, especially in places that get below freezing in the winter, and B ) assuming the cheaper end of DIY, you're still looking at a few hundred bucks worth of lumber.

This is assuming you have an enclosed area, since they need to be fenced in. You also have to feed them. I'm not saying it can't be done cheaply, but it's not really one of those 'Man, I spend like a hundred bucks a year on eggs, I should grow my own chickens to mitigate that cost!' things that's as easy as, say, planting a bunch of basil in your kitchen window.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby freezeblade » Mon Oct 27, 2014 8:47 pm UTC

Well, I was over-simplifying, it's not that it's a doghouse, it's that it's not too much harder to build than one. Most of the places I've lived you don't need to worry about it being too cold, and a bit of insulation goes a long way. no more caging is generally needed than a typical house-fence. I've lived in some pretty (ghetto) neighborhoods, and people somehow managed to keep chickens in even the smallest of yard spaces.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Bakemaster » Tue Oct 28, 2014 4:24 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Sungura wrote:(and why do US eggs get refrigerated? Because we WASH THEM so they look nice - organic or whatever label you want - so the natural goo on the egg that protects them is gone!)

So, it's worth pointing out that the primary reason for this is a trade agreement between America and the UK, which prevents trading and selling of eggs between the two countries.

Hubbadoowhaaa? You are straightly tripping, friend awl. Who told you that washing eggs has anything to do with trade agreements?
Izawwlgood wrote:a good chicken hutch is going to cost maybe a thousand bucks

Your tripping has intensified, friend awl. Overstock.com has perfectly serviceable coops for $200-300 shipped. The fancy designer backyard chicken coops sold at the nursery in the ritzy part of town are around $500, sized for 2-4 hens. You wanna drop a grand, you can get an ultimate bungalow.

Chickens are also fine in cold weather. Much harder to keep our girls cool in triple-digit heat; they won't even bat an eye at a frost. People put heat lamps in the coops mainly because they don't lay when they're cold.

Where do you get these ideas, man?
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:36 am UTC

Bakemaster wrote:Hubbadoowhaaa? You are straightly tripping, friend awl. Who told you that washing eggs has anything to do with trade agreements?
I'm unable to find the article now, but a number of articles talk about how Europe and the US handle their egg sanitation practices differently. It's entirely possible I got my wires crossed, but I recall reading something about how the division in practices came about as a means to prevent price gouging by either US or UK farmers. Or something. Farming futures or markets or whatever.

Bakemaster wrote:Your tripping has intensified, friend awl. Overstock.com has perfectly serviceable coops for $200-300 shipped. The fancy designer backyard chicken coops sold at the nursery in the ritzy part of town are around $500, sized for 2-4 hens. You wanna drop a grand, you can get an ultimate bungalow.

Chickens are also fine in cold weather. Much harder to keep our girls cool in triple-digit heat; they won't even bat an eye at a frost. People put heat lamps in the coops mainly because they don't lay when they're cold.

Where do you get these ideas, man?
Brooooodino, I wrote 'maybe a thousand bucks' based on googling 'Chicken Coops for sale' and looking at the average spread that popped up. I'm not standing by that as a hard and fast price point. I'm also in Boston, where the winters are probably colder than where you guys are. I'm sure chickens are pretty cold tolerant, but not Boston winter tolerant.

My fiances cousins keep chickens, and their coops resembles a small shed. It's got a couple of heating lamps, they keep it stocked with oyster shell and meal, in cold snaps also turn on a heating pad. I doubt this thing is very top of the line, and I also doubt they spent less than 500 bucks on it.

So, sure, 'maybe a thousand bucks but probably about fifth or half that'. That's still more than what brohams eat in eggs annually. And I fucking love eggs.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Thesh » Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:04 am UTC

My grandmother raised chickens once; the coyotes were very grateful. She did not attempt to raise chickens again.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Whizbang » Wed Oct 29, 2014 12:00 pm UTC

Here in New Hampshire, my neighbor/cousin-in-law raises chickens, as well as several other members of my extended family. All of them are as IZ describes. They are full-on walled structures with a framed//fenced area. The materials, based on my own experience making a playhouse of about the same size for my son, are most likely $500+.

The monetary cost aside, the man-hours that go into building the coop, feeding and caring for the chickens, cleaning the coop and surrounding area, and so on make raising only a handful of chickens much more cost-intensive than slightly better tasting eggs justify. You raise chickens because you want a hobby that feels like going back to the good ol' days and you enjoy the sense of pride in raising your own food. The price per egg, I am sure, is so high that were the same person to go to the farmers market to buy fresh eggs would be beyond shocked and refuse to pay that much for merely eggs.

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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby mathmannix » Wed Oct 29, 2014 1:38 pm UTC

Sungura wrote:Even the "free range" eggs at the grocery store don't hold a candle to a true free range flock that eats bugs and stuff like chickens are supposed to eat. Free range might man they are free to range indoors, or are still fed chicken feed so they don't forage. Etc.


Personally, I don't want to eat chickens - or eggs from chickens - that ate bugs. It's common knowledge that corn-fed chickens make the best eggs, anyway, just like corn-fed beef.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Oct 29, 2014 1:50 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:Personally, I don't want to eat chickens - or eggs from chickens - that ate bugs. It's common knowledge that corn-fed chickens make the best eggs, anyway, just like corn-fed beef.
Actually, the biggest reason I can think of for owning chickens is for having an easy way to dispose of your compostables in the form of a chihuahua sized creature that eats food waste and shits extrodinarily rich fertilizer.

I've also heard, but haven't corroborated this, that free range chickens are healthier in part because of their more varied diet. I'd wager that animals that dine on their native diets are quite tastier. Ever tried grassfed beef?
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby PictureSarah » Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:42 pm UTC

Yeah, nutritionally-speaking, eggs that you get from your own chickens or free-range chickens (that are ACTUALLY free-range, not just in slightly-larger cages) are going to be superior, because they aren't necessarily being fed corn and soy, and are probably getting more in the way of roughage and bugs. Roughage and bugs = a lot more omega 3 fatty acids instead of the omega 6 that comes from corn and soy. The eggs of our chickens have dark orange yolks and tend to retain their shape and consistency when an egg is broken, as opposed to regular store-bought eggs that are a paler yellow, and spread out much more.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:53 pm UTC

Thaaaaaaaats interesting. Have you noticed a taste difference?
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby PictureSarah » Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:15 pm UTC

You know, I've never really done a comparison, and even when we buy eggs at the store they are free-range eggs from a local farm that are sold at the co-op.

Maybe I should science it.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Bakemaster » Thu Oct 30, 2014 3:50 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I'm also in Boston, where the winters are probably colder than where you guys are. I'm sure chickens are pretty cold tolerant, but not Boston winter tolerant.

Yeah, I know where you are, and I lived there for 25 years so I know exactly how cold it is. Chickens can take Boston winters, and worse, without any heat lamps provided their coop stays dry.

There are large and small henhouses. My coop is on the small side, about 3'x4' freestanding. Fits three hens max (we have two). I know people who have something the size of a shed for only five or so chickens. It's great if you have the space and the money but it's not necessary, especially if you can let them free range.

But Whizbang is right, it's not cost-effective compared to sourcing your eggs elsewhere. We don't do it because the eggs are cheaper or taste better; we do it because it's humane for the birds, we like having them around, and there are associated benefits.

I don't notice any taste difference but the difference in quality is obvious. Even between our two hens, the eggs are different. The bigger hen lays smaller eggs with bigger yolks than the smaller hen who lays bigger eggs with smaller yolks. Color is always a nice rich orange but varies some. Egg grading is actually pretty interesting (says me, anyway) but I only have passing knowledge of the metrics.

I did a material flow analysis of backyard chickens a couple years ago that I could probably dig out if I were so arsed, but my results seemed pretty questionable IMO and the professor ignored my requests for feedback, so. Eh.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Oct 30, 2014 4:01 am UTC

I... Huh? I was the one saying keeping chickens isn't more cost effective than buying eggs elsewhere, that the point of getting a coop and a couple of hens wasn't to save money on your egg purchases.

I also said the cost range varied on coops and curbed my estimate down. Do you have a fence around your property?
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Angua » Thu Oct 30, 2014 7:50 am UTC

I've been told that the reason eggs you buy in the supermarket don't have as yellow yolks is because they're not fertilised.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Nath » Thu Oct 30, 2014 10:21 am UTC

Yolk color is mostly determined by the amount of colorful carotenes and such in the feed. Both store-bought and home-raised eggs come with a variety of yolk colors, depending on what they've been eating. It doesn't really matter, except that most people find darker yolks more visually appealing. I'm guessing most people who just raise a couple of chickens for eggs don't bother with roosters, so they're eating unfertilized eggs at home anyway.

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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Bakemaster » Thu Oct 30, 2014 2:19 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I... Huh? I was the one saying keeping chickens isn't more cost effective than buying eggs elsewhere, that the point of getting a coop and a couple of hens wasn't to save money on your egg purchases.

The one? You both said it.
I also said the cost range varied on coops and curbed my estimate down. Do you have a fence around your property?

Yeah. Though I'm planning to build a run and stop free ranging because A) technically it might be against the (poorly written) City ordinance, and B) poop EVERYWHERE.

Anyway, yes, you and he are both right that it's not cost-effective. But if I say you were right, it looks like we're not arguing. So gauche, seriously.
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Oct 30, 2014 2:20 pm UTC

There never were any chickens were there?
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby Bakemaster » Fri Oct 31, 2014 4:17 am UTC

chicks.jpg
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Re: What is "Natural" - Is "Organic" the same thing?

Postby mosc » Thu Nov 06, 2014 8:43 pm UTC

Organic exists because you have a considerable consumer base with income more than sufficient for their lifestyle who can spend disposable income on food. It's a somewhat arbitrary definition of a standard that doesn't affect much but does differentiate your product from less expensive products. If you want to make tastier than normal apples, it's hard to put up a sign that says "just like that guys but they taste better". Getting an organic stamp is a way to get customers to try your product under the premise that it is different (superior) to your competition. Not that all organic food tastes better. This market niche has extended to the point where people look for it where it makes little sense (organic potatoes for example) and will buy inferior products even if they are more expensive if they contain the label.

Food is organic or not organic. It is tasty or not tasty. It is fresh or not fresh. It is costly or cheap. None of these things are directly related.
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