We Love Barbecue – And So Should You

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Photo credit: D&S McSpadden / Foter / CC BY

Just because there’s still snow on the ground doesn’t mean we can’t look ahead to summertime. We’ve been daydreaming about backyard barbecues, which led to us digging up some simple and delicious barbecue recipes for you:

Sweet Barbecued Pork Chops from Taste of Home

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Serves 8

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons canola oil
8 3/4-inch thick, 8oz boneless pork loin chops
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup each: ketchup, barbecue sauce, French salad dressing, honey

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. In batches, brown pork chops 2-3 minutes on each side. Return all to pan.
  2. In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients; pour over chops. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 4-5 minutes or until a thermometer reads 145°. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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Easy BBQ Short Ribs from Food Network

Prep Time: 10 minutes to prep, 2 hours to cook
Serves 6

Ingredients:
4 pounds boneless beef short ribs, cut into 3-inch long pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried ground thyme
2/3 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Arrange the short ribs in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and season with salt and pepper, to taste. In a small bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients and stir to incorporate. Pour the sauce over ribs and toss well, coating all the pieces. Cover with aluminum foil and roast until cooked through and tender, about 3 hours. Remove the foil during the last 30 minutes of cooking to brown the top. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Beef from Chow

Prep Time: 30 minutes to prep, 10 hours to cook
Serves 6

Ingredients:

Sauce:
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 chipotles in adobo sauce, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Brisket:
1 5-pound beef brisket
1/4 cup paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

Directions:

  1. Place all of the barbecue sauce ingredients in a 3-quart or larger slow cooker and stir to combine.
  2. Place all of the measured brisket ingredients except the brisket in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Place the brisket on a cutting board and cut it in half widthwise. Evenly coat it with the spice rub and place the 2 brisket pieces in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until fork-tender, about 10 hours.
  4. Transfer the brisket to a clean cutting board. Pour the barbecue sauce from the slow cooker into a medium heatproof bowl and set it aside.
  5. Remove the excess fat from the brisket and discard it. Slice the meat against the grain into 1/4-inch-thick pieces and return it to the slow cooker. (Alternatively, you can shred the meat with 2 forks.)
  6. Use a spoon to skim and discard the fat from the surface of the barbecue sauce. Return the sauce to the slow cooker and stir gently to combine it with the meat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

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Knowledge is Power: Beef Cut Basics

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Not all carnivores know much about the meat they eat, especially where certain cuts come from on the animal. That knowledge does more than just help you know what’s best to order at a restaurant—it can help you save money, and also help you be more confident when cooking steak at home (there’s nothing worse than buying a great cut of meat and accidentally over-marinating or overcooking it).

Cuts from areas near joints—the chuck, shank, brisket and round cuts—are generally tougher cuts because these muscles are used most. That isn’t to say they’re not the best cuts to buy, though. In fact, we’d argue that they’re best, as they’re usually the cheaper cuts to buy, and can be made tender and savory by braising or crock-pot cooking. For example, brisket is a tough cut of meat, but it’s also one of the most flavorful cuts, and slow cooking it results in meat so tender that it literally falls right off the bone.

Rib cuts are almost always the juiciest, most tender and flavorful cuts, which can also means they can be more expensive than other cuts. The Delmonico steak is considered to be one of the most tender beef steaks available and is especially good when grilled or sautéed; and prime rib is the most tender and popular cut for roasting.

Skirt (or ‘short plate’) and flank steaks are leaner and slightly tougher than rib cuts, though they’re also very flavorful. They’re popular for grilling and sautéing, especially for those who love fajitas. If you cook with these, it is recommended that they be well marinated before grilling.

Cuts from the loin are typically most coveted (and expensive) for the winning combination of leanness and tenderness. However, they are rarely the most flavorful. The tri-tip and strip steaks can be quite flavorful, but for those of you who’ve enjoyed a quality filet mignon or tenderloin steak, you’ll know that the soft, buttery texture, not the flavor, is its hallmark. One of the greatest benefits to loin cuts is that they require less effort to get a great result; it’s usually recommended that you do not marinate a loin cut, and that they never be cooked beyond medium rare.

Greensbury Market offers 100% organic, grass-fed cuts of beef, and because cows raised on an organic, grass-fed diet are free to roam and graze as they please, no two steaks are alike. This means your Greensbury steaks will require a little more love to get just right—but don’t let that intimidate you!

The most important thing to know is that grass-fed steaks generally cook about 30 percent faster than other steaks, and the recommended internal temperatures for cooking are a bit lower because the meat continues to cook after you’ve removed it from the heat source. So if you’re aiming for maximum tenderness and flavor, make sure to keep a reliable meat thermometer handy.

Grass-fed beef has so many greater benefits than corn or grain-fed beef. It’s well worth the effort!

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Home-Smoked Meats for Beginners

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Remember summer? Feels like a long time ago, but now that it’s almost springtime, we can start looking forward to summer cookouts. For a new twist on an old tradition, why not try smoking meats rather than grilling at your Memorial Day get together? Almost any meat can be smoked, including salmon, chicken and hamburgers.

Greensbury Meats

You don’t need to buy or build a smoker—though we’d certainly support that!—you can also turn your outdoor grill into a DIY smoker. Here’s how:

The key to perfectly smoked meat is time. Ok time, and also wood chips. To turn your grill into a smoker, you’ll need to get some hardwood chips, such as mesquite or applewood, oak or hickory. Pro smokers will debate about the ideal pairings of certain woods for certain meats, but for a first time smoker, a dry hardwood is all you need to get started.

The ultimate goal is to maintain a low temperature and a lot of smoke over a long period of time, so you’ll need a lot of fuel and a lot of time. It’s better to use a charcoal grill to ensure you get the smokey flavor you’re seeking, though gas grills can be used for smoking too.

For a charcoal grill, place the charcoal to one side of the grill, and a foil tin of water on the opposite side to help maintain a low temperature as well as help the meat retain moisture over the long cooking time. Light the coals and give the water time to heat up before placing the wood chips on top of the burning coals. To prevent drying out or overcooking the meat, place it on the grill over the water pan, not over the burning coals.

For a gas grill, you’ll want to soak the wood chips for at least an hour, drain them, and then either place them in a grill box on the cooking grate, or make your own grill box with a foil pan covered with perforated aluminum foil and place that directly onto the bars over an unlit burner in a corner of the grill. Light the grill on high and once you see smoke, add your meat and turn down the heat.

Some tips for smoking:

  • Use a cooking thermometer to ensure you’re not overcooking your meat.
  • The less you open the grill, the better. Use a recipe the first few times, and try to adhere to the recommended cooking time so that you’re not nervously checking the temperature every half hour. A general rule is one hour of smoking required for every 1.5 pounds of meat, but this depends on the temperature.
  • If you’re a fan of the seared, lightly charred outer layer on your steaks, you can finish them over an already hot grill once they’ve reached around 100 degrees inside – refer to your steak recipe for specific cooking temperatures. The general rule is 125 degrees interior temperature for a rare steak and 155 for well done, depending on the thickness of your steak.
  • Try using a rub before smoking your meats!

Consider ordering Greensbury’s organic grass-fed beef brisket, or maybe a rack of organic baby back ribs, and start practicing your smoking skills in time for summer. Happy smoking!

Cooking Low and Slow: Crock-Pot Tips for Meat Lovers

Photo credit: geishabot on Flickr

It seems winter isn’t giving up any time soon, so while you’re still hibernating indoors, why not try to enjoy yourself with some new crock-pot recipes? Crock-pots aren’t just for soups and stews—they’re great for meat!

There are several practical benefits to crock-pot cooking. They save time: the ease of being able to toss your ingredients in the pot in the morning and come home to a delicious meal that’s ready to eat might be the best argument for crock-pot cooking there is. A lot of recipes allow you to literally just toss ingredients in and turn the thing on, which is a big bonus for meat-lovers who are prone to feeling intimidated by complicated recipes, or who just don’t have the time or energy to cook a feast over the stove after work.

They also save money: the contained system of the crock-pot retains all of the moisture, and over several hours of cooking the meat becomes very tender. This means you can buy cheaper, tougher cuts of meat without sacrificing taste or tenderness, and you can use less meat because the slow simmering helps to extract the meat’s flavor and any other veggies in the pot will soak that up. This is also great if you’re trying to eat less fat; no oil is required for cooking, and you don’t need to buy fattier cuts of meat to ensure a flavorful meal.

So which meats are best for crock-pot cooking? We recommend beef brisket, which some say has the richest natural flavor of any cut of meat. Brisket comes from the front breastbone area of the animal, the area with a lot of tough muscle and connective tissue, which softens beautifully when cooked slowly over time. Most cuts of brisket have a thick layer of fat, which can be left on for a very decadent meal, or removed for a healthier, leaner meal.

Greensbury Beef Brisket

The rich flavor of the meat means that you can cook it with very little added and end up with a truly delicious meal. We personally like to keep it simple with beef broth, minced garlic, sliced onions and whole red potatoes, which soak up the broth for a nice added touch, though some recipes recommend caramelizing the onions first, and others recommend adding red wine and Worcestershire sauce for added flavor and tenderness. Or you can just add BBQ sauce!

But brisket isn’t the only meat worth getting out the crock-pot for. Another great slow cooked recipe in our book is three bean beef chili with our secret ingredients… which are just Tabasco sauce and bay leaves (we’ll let you borrow that one). It’s a great meal to make for having leftovers to eat all week, or even better for a Game Day party.

But the crock-pot isn’t limited to hearty beef meals. There are hundreds of great recipes for pork and lamb shoulder, venison, mussels, fish and chicken that require far less kitchen savvy than you’d think. Don’t let winter cabin fever get you down—consider ordering your favorite cut of meat from Greensbury Market and get creative with your cooking today!

Farm-Raised Versus Wild-Caught Seafood

Pacific Halibut Filet

Since beef, pork and chicken tend to dominate the American diet, you may be more familiar with terms like “grass-fed” and “cage free” than with the terms used to indicate how your seafood was sourced. Seafood is either farm-raised, meaning raised much like commercial animal farms in an enclosed operation, or wild-caught in open water. But how do these processes differ, and is one process better than the other?

Wild-caught seafood involves several different fishing methods, including trawling—towing a large net behind a boat—and fishing lines. While there are great health benefits to consuming seafood sourced from its natural environment, most fishing methods pose a great risk with regard to bycatch, or the unintended capture of other species such as dolphins and sea turtles. The trawling method involves towing a net behind a boat, sometimes along the ocean floor, which not only results in bycatch, but also damages ocean floors and reefs. Fishing lines can also become tangled in the surrounding environment or around other ocean animals.

Wild fishing is also heavily dependent on fishery management to ensure that the populations of fish and shellfish aren’t being fished faster than they can regenerate. Unfortunately, nearly 85 percent of all worldwide fishing stocks are being fished at or beyond their limit, and farm-raised seafood can help to take the pressure off of wild populations.

However, because farm-raised seafood is raised similarly to commercial animal operations, there are similar health risks resulting from unnatural living conditions. Farm-raised fish are kept in cages or tanks enclosed in natural open water environments, and, similar to industrially-farmed animals, the stressful and crowded living conditions often require the use of antibiotics to prevent illness. Some farms also use pesticides and growth hormones in their operations. Those potentially harmful pollutants, and sometimes the farm-raised fish themselves can escape into the natural environment beyond the farm, posing a risk to surrounding environments and wild fish populations.

Considering these facts, even despite the risks that trawling and fishing lines present to the environment, many argue that wild-caught seafood is healthier than farm-raised seafood for much the same reasons that free-range, grass-fed animals are healthier to eat than those raised in industrial operations. Wild-caught fish contain more natural vitamins and nutrients. They are less fatty, contain less sodium, and are not subjected to growth hormones and antibiotics. However, depending on the species, wild-caught seafood can have significantly higher mercury levels, whereas mercury is not an issue in farm-raised fish.

But regardless of whether your seafood was farm-raised or wild-caught, the most important question is whether the process was sustainable. Greensbury Market ensures that all its products are approved by the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch, which defines sustainable seafood as “seafood from sources, whether fished or farmed, that can maintain or increase production without jeopardizing the structure and function of affected ecosystems.”

Why Is Grass-Fed Meat Better for the Environment?

Organic grass-fed flank steakThere are many reasons why grass-fed meat is the better choice—it’s a healthier and more humane way to raise animals, it’s healthier for you and your family, and buying grass-fed meats supports small farms and small business owners. But have you considered the many benefits of buying grass-fed meats for the environment?

When you consider the long list of seemingly unavoidable environmental impacts of raising animals for food—land and water usage, transportation, greenhouse gas emissions, feed production, air and water pollution—it seems that one easily controllable factor is time. The amount of time it takes to raise an animal until it’s ready to be slaughtered determines how resource-intensive raising that animal will be. In this regard, there is a possible benefit to industrially-raised, grain-fed animals, which is that they live shorter lives in more confined spaces and thus must have a smaller environmental impact. But is this really the case?

First, a diet of grasses is much less fossil fuel-intensive than a diet of corn. Large industrial farming operations that raise corn-fed animals rely on a tremendous amount of corn for feed, and the farms that grow that corn in turn rely on a tremendous amount of pesticides and fertilizers during crop production and transportation of the crop to farms. According David Pimentel, an ecology professor at Cornell University, the fertilizer used to grow enough corn to feed just one feedlot cow requires about 284 gallons of oil during its short life. That fertilizer is also full of chemicals, which can contaminate local water supplies and permanently damage soil. The intensive, year-after-year depletion of soil nutrients to grow the corn then leads to damaged, unhealthy soil that requires more and more chemical fertilizer to produce the same amount of crops each year.

But farms that raise grass-fed animals do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and do not require machinery for harvesting since the animals do the fertilizing and harvesting themselves. In industrial operations, the fertilizer produced by the animals is much more concentrated and poses a higher risk to contaminating local water and air quality, whereas grass-fed herds spread fertilizer equally and naturally, contributing to soil and ecosystem health.

The perennial grasses grown for grazing also protect the soil, as grasses have long root systems that reduce erosion, filter run-off and restore and recycle nutrients into the soil. Perennial grasses are also one of the most efficient ways of trapping harmful greenhouse gases, which some have argued can help to offset the fossil fuel usage of the farm.

Greensbury Market is committed to sustainability as evidenced by the carefully-chosen, small family farms that supply our meats. Healthy animals and a healthy environment go hand in hand, and Greensbury’s purveyors know that better than anyone.

Are Organic Foods Healthier?

IMG_0581_mediumPeople often ask us whether our organic meats are healthier and more nutritious than other kinds of meats. We believe the answer is definite YES. But it’s not an easy question to answer. This is true for a few reasons.

First of all, “healthy” is a broad term that encompasses many aspects of living. Also, until recently, little research had been done on the health benefits and nutritional content of organic versus nonorganic foods.  And proving the link between improved health and switching to organic meats and other foods is a complex task.

Nonetheless, the evidence is mounting that organic foods are the healthier choice. Below are some examples of recent research exploring the health benefits of organic foods.

  • A study in the medical journal Pediatrics reported that children who have higher levels of organophosphate pesticides in their urine had higher rates of attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder (ADHD). For one of the pesticides, those children who had high levels of it had almost twice the rate of ADHD as those without any of that pesticide in their urine.
  • The Miami Herald reported that Researchers at Washington State University tested both organic and conventional strawberries grown in 13 side-by-side California fields. They found that organic strawberries had significantly higher antioxidant activity and concentrations of ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds. This study supports other research showing that organic foods may have higher nutritional value than conventional food, because in the absence of pesticides and fertilizers, plants boost their production of the phytochemicals (vitamins and antioxidants) that strengthen their resistance to bugs and weeds.
  • Even low-level pesticide exposure can be significantly more toxic for fetuses and children (due to their less-developed immune systems) and for pregnant women (it puts added strain on their already taxed organs), according to a report by the National Academy of Sciences.
  • A recent Dutch study suggests that children are one third less likely to suffer from allergies before age two if they’re raised on organic dairy products. In the study, children and breastfeeding moms ate organic milk, cheese and yogurt. The study author said the connection between choosing organic dairy and less incidence of excema was clear. The risk for other allergies and asthma also decreased. Researchers believe the reason may be the higher concentrations of conjugated linoleic acids that are found in organic milk. Studies have shown that organic milk has 71 percent more omega-3 fatty acids, too, another important nutrient for growth and development.

Eating organic meats and other foods reduces your exposure to pesticides and added hormones, which studies such as those cited above suggest is good for your health. Human health is tied to the health of the environment, too, so in a broader sense you’re protecting your health by supporting sustainable organic farming methods. And if you choose grass-fed organic meats, you get the following health benefits:

  • Grass-fed meats have more “good” (unsaturated) fats and fewer “bad” (saturated) fats, and fewer calories
  • Grass-fed meats have four times more omega-3s than meat from grain-fed animals.
  • Grass-fed meats are also one of the richest sources of conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs), which may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer.

Homemade Organic Beef Meatballs Recipe

IMG_0990Who doesn’t love spaghetti and meatballs? But have you made them at home? I always thought making meatballs (and tasty ones at that) was always a lot more effort that it’s actually worth. Boy, was I wrong. A dear friend of mine gave me her grandmother’s (who is Italian, by the way) meatball recipe. It is so easy and it comes out amazing – moist and flavorful.

The recipe calls for frying the meatballs, which is great. But I’m trying to eat lighter and healthier, so I cook mine in the oven instead, and then finish it on the stove with sauce (or gravy). If you want an even lighter version, substitute the organic ground beef with organic chicken instead. I take Greensbury’s organic chicken breasts and just put them through the food processor until I get ground chicken. Add a little olive oil for the needed fat to keep it moist.

If you have any tips on how you spruce up your recipe, please leave a comment!

Organic Beef Meatballs Recipe

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of organic ground beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan or percorino cheese, grated
  • handful of parsley and basil, chopped finely
  • 1 cup of bread, cut or torn into pieces
  • 3/4 cup of milk or water
  • salt/pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (if you’re going to cook them in the oven).
  2. Soak the bread in the bowl of milk/water.
  3. Combine the organic ground beef (or any combination of it) with the garlic, egg, cheese, parsley and basil. If you’re substituting ground chicken, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. I tend to put more garlic than this recipe calls for but I love the flavor of garlic. And feel free to add different types of meat: organic ground veal, organic ground pork, etc. You should have a pound of meat.
  4. Mix the bread into the ground beef mixture.
  5. Add as much milk as you need so you can actually form a decent ball. (I typically use most of the milk)
  6. If you’re frying your meatballs, make sure you have enough oil in the pan. And get the oil + pan hot before you start cooking them so you get a really nice crust. If you’re cooking them in the oven, it depends on the size of your meatballs. But typically I put them in there for about 15 minutes.
  7. If you have a pot of sauce or gravy cooking, this is perfect time to drop those meatballs in there. It keeps the meatballs moist and flavors your sauce.
  8. Serve with your favorite pasta: spaghetti, if you’re going classic.

How to Choose the Healthiest Beef

1_stew_mediumSubmitted by: Bold Apps

By Peter K. MS, PT

What’s the difference between conventional and grass-fed beef? And what about organic, pastured, or grass-finished? Where do cows being fed genetically modified corn and soy fit in? And how do these types affect taste, the environment, and ultimately, us when we eat them?

Even as a nutritionist I was confused. To be honest, raised as a city boy, I never thought much about how a cow lived or what it ate before it arrived as a medium-rare ribeye steak on my dinner plate, one of my favorite meals. I assumed there was someone in charge feeding it well and doing the right thing environmentally. I had other things to worry about; I didn’t think I had to worry about this, or so I thought.

That is until I began to see articles and various documentaries about conventional cows being fed genetically modified corn and soy to fatten them up quickly and cheaply, living on CAFOs, which are essentially huge feeding lots where cows eat, drink, defecate, and die, shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other cows, without a blade of grass in sight, making them sick, and requiring antibiotics to keep them alive long enough for slaughter.

It seems obvious we wouldn’t want to eat the meat of an animal raised in such an unnatural environment; when we eat conventional beef, we get sick. But that’s just what many of us are doing when we don’t eat the beef from cows that have grazed on grass – aka, grass-fed.

So that brings us back to names. Grass-fed, grass-finished, and pastured beef can and should mean the same thing; cows raised on pastures and eating grass, the way they’re supposed to live and eat. The word organic alone can just mean the cows are eating organic corn and soy, not grass. To assure you are getting the best beef possible, choose organic grass-fed beef.

Studies show that the beef from organic grass-fed cows is healthier, having more heart healthy omega 3’s, and less total fat and calories. It’s also one of the best sources of protein on the planet, essential for building bones, muscles and essential to every cell in the body.

Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef

Higher omega 3 fatty acids
Less fat & calories
Reduces high blood pressure
Reduces cancer risk
Reduces heart disease risk
Better for the environment – sustainable
And, anyone who’s tried it will tell you, it just tastes better. Whether it’s a grilled flank steak, freshly ground burger, or pot roast, when you eat grass-fed beef, your getting the best taste and nutrition.

These cows are typically raised on smaller, local farms, and require more labor and resources with smaller yields. That’s why it costs slightly more. But it’s worth the cost because the farmers are stewards of the earth and uphold high animal welfare standards; raising healthy, delicious beef, in an environmentally responsible way.

When you buy organic grass-fed beef, you are getting the best product, and supporting smaller farmers, and the environment, at the same time.

Peter K. MS, PT is an international health coach, nutritionist, physical therapist, speaker, author, and college lecturer. He’s the author of Shop, Cook, Eat, and 2 other books as well as the creator of 5 Minutes to Fitness+, and has appeared on FOX, ABC, Fitness Magazine, QVC, TLC, MSNBC, and Blogtalkradio. peterk@peterkfitness.com, www.peterkfitness.com

Sources

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/expert-answers/grass-fed-beef/FAQ-20058059

The Omnivores Dilemma, Michael Pollan

http://www.webmd.com/men/features/benefits-protein

5 Reasons to Buy Organic Chicken

chicken When it’s not cooked well, chicken can be a terrible disappointment. Need we mention the famous “rubber chicken” you sometimes get at buffets on in airplane meals?

But with just a little care and attention, chicken can be an amazingly easy, versatile ingredient in any kind of meal. Chicken sausage, marinated and grilled chicken breast, stir-fried chicken with spicy Asian sauce, breaded Italian chicken cutlets…the possibilities are as varied as they are delicious.

Better yet, chicken is naturally low in fat and calories, so it naturally fits today’s more health-conscious lifestyles. Toss that grilled chicken breast on a bed of leafy greens, and you can sit down to enjoy a meal without worrying about your waistline.

If you eat chicken often – and many Americans do – choosing organic chicken can help you feel even better about your healthy diet. Plus, it can give you peace of mind to know that the animals and the earth benefit from organic farming practices.

Here are five good reasons to buy organic chicken:

1. Tried and true. For the majority of human history, organic chicken was all you could get! It was just plain old chicken, naturally free range – and free of things like synthetic hormones. High-tech industrial farming changed all that. Now, more and more research suggests that we’re better off following the traditions that were handed down through generations of small family farms. Check out the recent report by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) regarding the impact of industrial farming practices on public health.

2. 2. Rigorous standards. Organic farms are inspected by a government-approved certifier to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic meats must be certified, too. If you buy chicken with an organic label, you can be assured that qualified inspectors are keeping a close eye on how that chicken was raised and processed.

3. No hormones, antibiotics or GMOs. Organic chickens are never given antibiotics or synthetic hormones. Their feed is organic and vegetarian. Organic farmers cannot raise genetically modified crops or livestock or use production aids that are genetically modified.

4. More humane farming practices. Animals on certified organic farms are raised with special attention to their health and wellbeing. They have access to fresh air, sunshine, and the outdoors. Organically raised animals grow at their own natural pace, with no artificial hormones. By following free-ranging or free-grazing practices, organic farms not only treat animals more humanely, but also improve the animals’ health and reduce stress.

5. Better for the environment. Certified organic farmers do no use most conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation. Organic agricultural practices prevent pesticides and other chemicals from getting into the air, earth and water that sustain us. They also replenish and build healthy soil. Organic farmers emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations.