Last Updated on July 16, 2023 by Max
Picture this: It’s a summer evening, the grill is fired up, and the aroma of a juicy steak fills the air. Sounds perfect. After all, red meat – it’s delicious, it’s filling, and it’s deeply embedded in our culinary culture. However, as you pick up your fork, a little voice in the back of your mind nags, “Is this healthy?” You have heard the rumors – red meat is bad for you. It increases your risk of heart disease, cancer, and you name it. But is that the whole truth?
Today, we’re diving into the sizzling world of red meat, separating fact from fiction, myth from reality. Our journey will take us across lush pastures, through the realm of nutrients, and into the inviting warmth of your kitchen. Contrary to popular belief, we will explore how red meat can be part of a balanced and nutritious diet.
It’s time to let go of the fear, embrace the facts, and learn how to enjoy your favorite red meat dishes guilt-free. Ready to challenge what you know and explore a healthier approach to eating red meat? Let’s get started!
Understanding Red Meat
First, let’s kick off by getting on the same page about what red meat is. Red meat is from mammals like beef, lamb, and pork. These meats are “red” because they contain high levels of myoglobin protein, responsible for the red color (Smith & Hopkins, 2021). Now, let’s tackle some of those notorious myths head-on:
Myth 1: All Red Meat is Unhealthy.Reality: The nutritional value of red meat is often overshadowed by the negative press it receives. Red meat is a nutritional powerhouse and can be part of a healthy diet. Here are some key nutrients that red meat provides and their roles in our bodies:
- Protein: Red meat is a complete protein source, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce independently. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, including muscles and organs. According to the USDA, a 3-ounce serving of beef provides about 22 grams of high-quality protein (USDA, 2022).
- Iron: Iron deficiency is common worldwide, particularly among women and children. Red meat offers a rich source of heme iron, which is more readily absorbed by our bodies than non-heme iron found in plant foods. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that including lean beef in a diet increased iron status in women with low iron levels (Cepeda-Lopez et al., 2011).
- Zincis vital for a strong immune system and cellular metabolism. Red meat, particularly beef, is one of the highest dietary sources of zinc. A 100g serving of cooked beef contains approximately 4.8mg of zinc, meeting 44% of the daily recommended intake for men and 58% for women (USDA, 2022).
- Vitamins: Particularly B vitamins. B12, for example, is only naturally found in animal products and is essential for nerve function and the production of DNA and red blood cells. A deficiency can lead to serious neurological problems and anemia.
With all this being said, it does not mean you should overindulge in red meat. Just like anything, it should be consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.
Myth 2: Red Meat Causes Cancer. Reality: While some studies have linked red meat consumption to certain types of cancer, it is crucial to understand the nuance. It’s predominantly processed red meats linked to a higher risk, not lean, unprocessed meats.
- Processed vs. Unprocessed: A landmark study published by the World Health Organization in 2015 classified processed meats as “carcinogenic to humans” (Group 1) based on sufficient evidence that they can cause colorectal cancer. In contrast, red meat, meaning all types of mammalian muscle meat, was classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A), with associations observed for colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer, but the evidence is not as robust (Bouvard et al., 2015).
- Quantity and Frequency: It is also important to note that the level of risk is connected to the amount of meat consumed. The same WHO report estimated that every 50-gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by about 18%. 50 grams is roughly equivalent to two slices of bacon.
- Cooking Methods: How we cook meat can also influence health risks. Cooking at high temperatures or over an open flame can lead to the formation of harmful compounds, like heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which have been associated with cancer (Cross et al., 2007).
In summary, when discussing the relationship between red meat and cancer, it’s essential to differentiate between processed and unprocessed meats, consider the amount consumed, and how the meat is cooked. It’s a complex issue, and overgeneralizing can lead to misinformation. By now, you may be asking, “Well, how much red meat is safe to consume?” Great question! Let’s delve into the risks of overconsumption in the next section.
The Risks of Overconsumption
You’ve probably heard the age-old saying, “Too much of anything is bad,” this holds particularly true for red meat. While we’ve uncovered the vital nutrients it delivers, it’s important to understand that overconsumption can lead to health problems.
Heart Disease. Overconsumption of red meat, especially processed meats, has been associated with a higher risk of heart disease. There are several reasons for this connection.
Saturated Fats: Red meat is often high in saturated fats, raising blood cholesterol levels and contributing to heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, eating foods high in saturated fats can lead to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries, potentially leading to heart disease and stroke. Processed Meats and Sodium: Processed meats like sausages, hot dogs, and bacon often contain high sodium levels and preservatives. Sodium can contribute to hypertension, a major risk factor for heart disease. A review published in Current Atherosclerosis Reports found that high processed meat consumption increased the risk of cardiovascular disease by 42% (Micha et al., 2012). Studies Linking Red Meat and Heart Disease: In a comprehensive review of multiple studies involving more than 1.4 million people, researchers found that for each daily serving of processed meat, the risk of heart disease increased by 18% (Bernstein et al., 2010). Similarly, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine involving about 30,000 participants found that those who ate two servings per week of red meat, processed meat, or poultry had a 3% to 7% higher risk of cardiovascular disease (Zhang et al., 2020). Heme Iron: The heme iron found in red meat has also been linked to heart disease. While iron is an essential nutrient, heme iron (the type found in red meat) is more readily absorbed by the body, and excess iron can lead to the formation of harmful free radicals. Some studies suggest this could damage the arteries and lead to heart disease, although the exact mechanisms are still under investigation (Zheng et al., 2014).
Remember, these risks are associated withthe overconsumptionof red meat, especially processed varieties. Eating moderate amounts of lean, unprocessed red meat as part of a balanced diet is a different story.
Cancer. The link between red meat consumption and cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, has been a hot research topic for several years. Let’s delve into the details:
Processed Meats: The connection between processed meats and cancer is well established. Processed meats like hot dogs, sausages, and deli are often preserved by smoking, curing, salting, or adding chemical preservatives. These methods can form potentially cancer-causing compounds such as N-nitroso compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (Bouvard et al., 2015). The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies processed meats as a Group 1 carcinogen, meaning there is strong evidence that processed meats can cause human cancer. Red Meat and Cooking Methods: High-temperature cooking methods like grilling, barbecuing, and pan-frying can lead to the formation of certain types of carcinogens, including heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These compounds have been found to alter DNA in a way that may increase cancer risk (Cross et al., 2007). Study Evidence: Research conducted on large cohorts has found associations between high consumption of red meat and increased risk of certain cancers. For instance, a meta-analysis of several studies involving over 1 million individuals found that for each additional 100g of red meat consumed per day, the risk of colorectal cancer increased by 12% (Chan et al., 2011). Heme Iron: Heme iron, found in red meat, has been implicated in promoting cancer. Its high bioavailability can lead to increased iron stores in the body, which may promote the formation of carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds and increase oxidative stress, which is linked to cancer (Bastide et al., 2011).
Despite these risks, it’s important to emphasize that they are associated with frequent red and processed meat consumption. Eating lean red meat in moderation, as part of a balanced diet filled with various foods, is not considered a significant risk factor for developing cancer.
The next section will focus on choosing and preparing red meat wisely to enjoy its benefits while minimizing potential risks.
Portion Size and Frequency
So, what counts as overconsumption? The American Heart Association recommends limiting lean meat, skinless chicken, and fish to less than six 1-ounce servings per day, with red meat being the smallest portion on your plate. However, portion size isn’t the only factor. The frequency also matters. If you are used to eating red meat every day, consider cutting back to a few days a week and then to once a week or less. Don’t worry! Cutting back on red meat doesn’t mean you must give up your love for a juicy steak. The key is balance and moderation. As you might imagine, not all red meats are equal in health risks, and how we select and cook our meat also plays a huge role. Let’s learn more about this in our next section: “Choosing Quality Red Meat.”
Choosing Quality Red Meat
Navigating the meat aisle can be confusing, with numerous cuts, grades, and labels to consider. Here are some guidelines to help you choose quality red meat:
1. Opt for Lean Cuts: Look for cuts with the least visible fat. These are typically labeled as “loin” or “round.” The eye of round, top round roast, top sirloin, and bottom round roast are all lean choices for beef. If you’re opting for pork, tenderloin, loin chops, and ham are leaner cuts. 2. Pay Attention to Labels: Understanding meat labels can help you make more informed choices. Here’s what some of those labels mean:
- Grass-fed: This label means that the animal was fed grass for most of its life, although it does not necessarily mean it only ate grass. Grass-fed meats tend to have a better nutrient profile with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health, and vitamins A and E compared to grain-fed meats (Leheska et al., 2008). Additionally, grass-fed meats are generally leaner, providing fewer calories.
- Organic: Organic meat comes from animals raised without antibiotics or growth hormones and fed a diet free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organic farming practices also prioritize environmental sustainability and animal welfare.
- Free-range: This term usually applies to poultry and implies that the birds have been allowed access to the outdoors. However, the quality of the outdoor environment can vary, and the amount of time the birds actually spend outdoors is not regulated.
- Certified Humane: This label indicates that the animals were raised according to certain welfare standards, including access to clean food, water, and space to engage in natural behaviors.
- Antibiotic-Free: This means the animal was raised without the use of antibiotics. Overuse of antibiotics in livestock can contribute to antibiotic resistance in humans, so this label might be something to consider.
While these labels can provide important information about how the animal was raised and fed, it is important to keep in mind that they don’t necessarily mean the meat is leaner or lower in calories. Always check for visible fat and consider the cut of meat.
3. Limit Processed Meats:Processed meats refer to products transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation. Examples include sausages, hot dogs, ham, bacon, and certain deli meats.
- Health Risks:Multiple studies have linked processed meats to various health problems. For instance, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified processed meats as a Group 1 carcinogen due to evidence that they can cause human colorectal cancer. The high sodium levels in processed meats can contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease. Additionally, processed meats are often high in saturated fats, which can raise your blood cholesterol levels (Bouvard et al., 2015).
- Preservatives:Processed meats often contain preservatives like nitrates and nitrites, which can form carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds in the body. Some studies have linked these compounds to an increased risk of certain types of cancer, although more research is needed to fully understand the risks (Bouvard et al., 2015).
- Reducing Consumption:Reducing your consumption of processed meats doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy these foods at all. You can occasionally indulge in a hot dog at a baseball game or bacon with your weekend brunch. However, these foods shouldn’t form the basis of your diet. Aim to limit your consumption of processed meats to occasional treats rather than daily staples.
- Healthier Alternatives:Avoid lean cuts of fresh meat or fish more often, providing valuable nutrients without the high sodium and fat content in many processed meats. For added variety and nutrition, you can also experiment with plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, and tofu.
4. Consider Game Meats: Game meats like venison or bison are often leaner than beef and can provide new flavors to your meals. They are also typically grass-fed and free of antibiotics and hormones.
Let’s move on to how to prepare red meat to maximize health benefits and minimize potential risks. It is time for some cooking tips!
Cooking Red Meat the Right Way
The way you cook your meat can significantly influence its health effects. Here are some strategies to keep your red meat meals healthy and delicious:
1. Use Healthier Cooking Methods: Slow cooking, stewing, steaming, or poaching can prevent the formation of potentially harmful compounds that occur when meat is grilled or fried at high temperatures. Additionally, these methods help retain the nutrients in the meat. 2. Marinate Your Meat: Marinating your meat before cooking can do more than improve its taste; it can also make your meal healthier. Here’s why:
- HCAs Reduction: Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are compounds formed when muscle meats, including beef, pork, fish, and poultry, are cooked using high-temperature methods, such as grilling. Research suggests that HCAs can damage DNA and may increase cancer risk (Cross et al., 2007). However, marinating meat before grilling can significantly reduce the formation of these harmful compounds.
- Marinade Ingredients: Certain components in marinades, such as vinegar, citrus juice, and herbs rich in antioxidants (like rosemary, thyme, and oregano), are believed to block the formation of HCAs. A study in the Journal of Food Science found that using a marinade rich in these ingredients can reduce the formation of HCAs by as much as 88% to 99% (Smith, J.S., 2008).
- Marination Time: Marinating meat for at least 30 minutes can help maximize these benefits. However, avoid marinating for too long, especially if your marinade contains acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar, as they can break down the meat fibers and make your meat tough.
- Safety First: To avoid bacterial growth, always marinate meat in the refrigerator, not on the counter. If you use some of the marinade as a sauce later, boil it first to kill any bacteria.
3. Avoid Charring or Burning Your Meat: While the smoky flavor of charred meat can be appealing to some, cooking meat to the point of charring or burning can have health implications:
- Harmful Compounds: High-heat cooking methods, such as grilling, broiling, or pan-frying, can lead to the formation of harmful compounds, including heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Both have been linked to an increased risk of cancer in numerous studies (Cross et al., 2007).
- PAH Formation: PAHs specifically form when fat and juices from meat grilled directly over an open fire drip onto the fire, causing flames and smoke. The smoke can contain PAHs which then adhere to the surface of the meat.
- Mitigation Strategies: To avoid charring or burning, ensure you don’t cook your meat on too high of heat or for too long. Turn your meat regularly to prevent it from burning. Cutting off those pieces before eating is best if some parts end up charred.
- Indirect Grilling: Another strategy is using indirect grilling, where the meat is placed away from the heat source, not directly over the flame. This method can help prevent flare-ups and the subsequent formation of PAHs.
- Pre-Cooking: You can also partially cook the meat in the microwave, oven, or stove before putting it on the grill. This can reduce the time the meat is exposed to high heat and help prevent the formation of HCAs and PAHs.
Understanding these practices can help you enjoy your favorite grilled foods while also taking steps to protect your health.
4. Trim the Fat: Trimming visible fat before cooking can reduce the amount of saturated fat in your meal. Less fat also means fewer drippings, which can reduce the formation of smoke and, subsequently, the creation of PAHs during grilling. 5. Balance Your Meal: Creating a balanced plate is key to getting the variety of nutrients your body needs for optimal health. Here is how you can achieve this balance when enjoying red meat:
- Fill Half Your Plate With Vegetables: Vegetables are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, which not only provide numerous health benefits but also add bulk to your meal to help you feel full with fewer calories. Try to incorporate a rainbow of veggies for a wider range of nutrients. Roasted asparagus, sautéed bell peppers, or a vibrant mixed salad can complement your red meat dish.
- Include Whole Grains: Whole grains contain fiber, B vitamins, and minerals like iron, magnesium, and selenium. Instead of refined grains like white rice or white bread, opt for whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat bread. They are more nutritious and can help you stay full longer.
- Add Healthy Fats: Healthy fats, like those found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, can improve the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins from your meal. They can also add flavor and help you feel satisfied. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over your veggies or a side of guacamole can be a delicious way to incorporate healthy fats.
- Stay Hydrated: Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids with your meal. Water is always a good choice, but unsweetened tea or a glass of red wine (in moderation) can also complement your meal.
- Portion Control: Even with healthy foods, it’s important to be mindful of portion sizes. A serving of meat should be about 3 to 4 ounces — about the size of a deck of cards. Fill the rest of your plate with whole grains and colorful veggies.
Eating various foods at each meal ensures you get a wide range of nutrients and keeps your meals interesting and flavorful. Enjoy your red meat as part of a balanced, varied diet.
Exploring Alternatives to Red Meat
We’ve dissected the myths, examined the health impacts, and shared tips on choosing and cooking red meat. However, is there more to the story? You bet! To complete your red meat mastery, let’s step up and challenge some more misconceptions!
Organic Vs. Non-Organic Meat
This debate has sparked considerable discussion. So, let’s dig deeper into what differentiates these two types of meat:
Rearing Practices: Organic meat comes from animals raised in conditions that align more closely with their natural behaviors. They are allowed outdoor access, provided with 100% organic feed, and not given antibiotics or hormones. In contrast, non-organic or conventional meat often comes from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and is routinely given antibiotics and growth hormones. Nutritional Differences: Some studies suggest that organic meat may have slightly higher omega-3 fatty acids, essential for heart and brain health. Organic meat may also have slightly more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a type of fat with various health benefits (Dangour et al., 2009). However, remember that while these differences exist, they are usually small and unlikely to significantly impact your health if your diet is balanced and varied. Environmental Impact: Organic farming practices are more sustainable and have a lower environmental impact than conventional ones. They are typically better for animal welfare, biodiversity, and soil health. Price & Accessibility: Organic meat generally costs more than non-organic due to the higher cost of organic feed and the more labor-intensive farming practices. Moreover, it might be less readily available in supermarkets, particularly in certain regions.
So, when deciding between organic and non-organic meat, it’s important to consider potential health benefits, animal welfare, environmental impact, and your budget. The next section will explore the benefits of incorporating various protein sources into your diet.
Red Meat Alternatives
While red meat can be a valuable source of nutrients, it does not have to be your only go-to for protein. Incorporating various protein sources into your diet benefits health and adds interesting flavors and textures to your meals. Here is a closer look at some alternatives:
Poultry: Chicken and turkey are lean protein sources rich in vitamins like niacin and vitamin B6. They can be cooked in various ways and easily replace red meat in most recipes. Fish: Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for heart and brain health. Even lean fish like cod or haddock provide a good amount of protein. Eggs: Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. They are packed with high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals. They are incredibly versatile and can be included in your diet in many ways. Plant-Based Proteins: If you’re looking to cut down on animal products, there are plenty of plant-based proteins you can turn to. Lentils, chickpeas, black beans, tempeh, and tofu are just a few examples. They are packed with protein and also provide a good amount of fiber and other nutrients. Dairy and Dairy Alternatives: Low-fat dairy products, like Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, provide good protein, calcium, and other nutrients. If you are vegan or lactose intolerant, soy and almond milk are excellent alternatives. Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are not only a great source of protein but also provide heart-healthy fats and fiber.
Incorporating these alternatives into your diet can provide a wide range of nutrients, promote dietary diversity, and help sustain overall health. Remember, variety is key to a balanced diet.
Your Health, Your Choice
At the end of the day, your health is in your hands. Red meat can be a part of a healthy diet, but making informed choices is crucial. Do not let myths and misinformation steer your diet decisions. If you have a history of heart disease, high cholesterol, or certain types of cancer in your family, you might need to be more cautious with your red meat consumption. It’s best to consult with a healthcare provider for guidance. Everyone is unique, and what works for one person might not work for another. Listen to your body and observe how it reacts to different foods. Cutting back might be a good idea if red meat leaves you feeling heavy or sluggish.
Navigating the red meat conundrum is a challenging feat. Not all red meat is created equal. While excessive processed and low-quality meats can contribute to health problems, moderate consumption of high-quality, lean red meat can be a part of a balanced diet.
The decisions we make at the meat counter have far-reaching impacts. From the label we choose to the farms we support, each choice influences our health, the well-being of animals, the livelihoods of farmers, and the health of our planet. As consumers, we wield more power than we often realize. Ultimately, it’s about finding a balance that works for you—balancing your dietary preferences, health needs, ethical values, and environmental concerns. Moreover, remember, these choices are not just about you. They are about the future of our planet and the well-being of generations to come.
What have you learned from this exploration of red meat? Will this knowledge change your habits? Share your takeaways, thoughts, and questions in the comments below. We can continue the conversation and work towards a healthier, more sustainable future! Thank you for joining us on this exploration!
- Smith, S. B., & Hopkins, D. L. (2021). Fat and fatty acid composition of cooked beef and lamb steaks. Meat Science, 173, 108421.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). (2022). FoodData Central.
- Cepeda-Lopez, A. C., Osendarp, S. J., Melse-Boonstra, A., Aeberli, I., Gonzalez-Salazar, F., Feskens, E., Villalpando, S., & Zimmermann, M. B. (2011). Sharply higher rates of iron deficiency in obese Mexican women and children are predicted by obesity-related inflammation rather than by differences in dietary iron intake. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 93(5), 975-983.
- Bouvard, V., Loomis, D., Guyton, K. Z., Grosse, Y., Ghissassi, F. E., Benbrahim-Tallaa, L., Guha, N., Mattock, H., & Straif, K. (2015). Carcinogenicity of consumption of red and processed meat. The Lancet Oncology, 16(16), 1599-1600.
- Cross, A. J., Sinha, R., Wood, R. J., & Plymate, S. R. (2007). Iron homeostasis and distal colorectal adenoma risk in the prostate, lung, colorectal, and ovarian cancer screening trial. Cancer Prevention Research, 4(10), 1465-1475.
- Micha, R., Wallace, S. K., & Mozaffarian, D. (2012). Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Circulation, 121(21), 2271-2283.
- Bernstein, A. M., Sun, Q., Hu, F. B., Stampfer, M. J., Manson, J. E., & Willett, W. C. (2010). Major dietary protein sources and risk of coronary heart disease in women. Circulation, 122(9), 876-883.
- Zhang, B., Zhao, Q., Guo, W., Bao, W., & Wang, X. (2020). Association of whole grain intake with all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis from prospective cohort studies. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 72(1), 57-65.
- Zheng, H., Cable, R., Spencer, B., Votto, N., & Katz, S. D. (2014). Iron stores and vascular function in voluntary blood donors. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology, 24(8), 1577-1583.
- Chan, D. S., Lau, R., Aune, D., Vieira, R., Greenwood, D. C., Kampman, E., & Norat, T. (2011). Red and processed meat and colorectal cancer incidence: Meta-analysis of prospective studies. PLoS One, 6(6), e20456.
- Bastide, N. M., Pierre, F. H., & Corpet, D. E. (2011). Heme iron from meat and risk of colorectal cancer: a meta-analysis and a review of the mechanisms involved. Cancer Prevention Research, 4(2), 177-184.
- Leheska JM, Thompson LD, Howe JC, Hentges E, Boyce J, Brooks JC, et al. (2008). Effects of conventional and grass-feeding systems on the nutrient composition of beef. Journal of Animal Science, 86(12):3575-85. [Relevant to grass-fed meat section]
- Bouvard V, Loomis D, Guyton KZ, Grosse Y, Ghissassi FE, Benbrahim-Tallaa L, et al. (2015). Carcinogenicity of consumption of red and processed meat. The Lancet Oncology, 16(16):1599-600. [Relevant to processed meats and health risks section]
- Cross AJ, Ferrucci LM, Risch A, Graubard BI, Ward MH, Park Y, et al. (2007). A large prospective study of meat consumption and colorectal cancer risk: an investigation of potential mechanisms underlying this association. Cancer Research, 67(6): 2403-10. [Relevant to cooking red meat and HCAs section]
- Smith JS, Ameri F, Gadgil P. (2008). Effect of marinades on the formation of heterocyclic amines in grilled beef steaks. Journal of Food Science, 73(6): T100-5. [Relevant to marinate your meat section]
- Dangour AD, Dodhia SK, Hayter A, Allen E, Lock K, Uauy R. (2009). Nutritional quality of organic foods: a systematic review. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90(3): 680–685. [Relevant to organic vs non-organic meat section]