Buyers Confused with Organic & Natural Deli Meat

Summer is in full swing, and with it, picnics and backyard barbecues are heating up – meaning more sandwiches and hot dogs. A new survey released by Applegate Farms, a leading producer of natural and organic meats and cheeses, finds that 45% of moms would buy more organic deli meats for their kids if they better understood the benefits.

"So many people are confused when it comes to what different terms like organic, conventional or natural mean," says Amy Marlow, MPH, RD. The survey found that 36% of moms were not sure, or thought that organic and natural mean the same thing on a deli meat label.

"And as the recession continues, it's tough to make a decision about buying more organic and natural foods, since they are sometimes more expensive. People need to know what they're getting for the money."

In fact, the survey found that 49% of moms don't buy organic deli meat because of price, while 26% said they can't find organic deli products where they live and shop.

Marlow says that eating organic food offers a whole range of benefits, including:

· Organic food is grown and produced without the use of synthetic pesticides, which have been linked to health concerns like cancers and neurobehavioral effects including ADHD and autism. These chemicals are a particular concern for babies, young children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women.(i)

· Organic and all-natural processed foods contain no artificial ingredients including coloring and preservatives, some of which have been linked to behavior problems in children.(ii)

· Organic meats and dairy foods are produced without the use of antibiotics and synthetic hormones. Studies have shown that overuse of antibiotics in farm animals can lead to the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria or superbugs.

· Organic and all natural food production is better for the planet – better for farm workers, better for our waterways, and better for the land.

"The reality is, that all the benefits come at a nominal cost," says Marlow. "For instance, a sandwich made with Applegate Farms Organic Black Forest Ham costs $.14 more (based on 2 oz. serving) than a premium conventional brand."

The comparison is even more drastic – especially when it comes to health and nutrition, when hot dogs go link to link. An Applegate Farms Organic All-Beef Hot Dog has 70 fewer calories, half the fat and 220 fewer milligrams of sodium versus a leading conventional brand.

While Marlow puts organic meats and dairy at the top of her organic grocery list, she offers the following tips to stretching an organic grocery budget:

Know the Lingo: Conventional, organic, 100% organic, natural. What does it all mean? In order for foods to be labeled organic by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), they must be free of synthetic additives, and be produced without the use of synthetic pesticides, growth hormones, and antibiotics. And many consumers might be surprised that meat labeled "natural" can be produced from animals fed a diet of bakery and grocery waste and treated with antibiotics.

The USDA defines natural meat as a product that contains no artificial ingredients or added color and is only minimally processed (a process which does not fundamentally alter the raw product). And just because meat is labeled natural, it's not a guarantee of humane treatment for the animals. There are standards under the National Organic Program for how animals are raised for food. However, meat and poultry labeled as natural can come from animals that were contained in feedlots or gestation stalls. Consumers should look for products that list out important information like "no antibiotics used" or "100% vegetarian, grain diet" on the package.

Put the Strawberries in Your Blackberry: Well, not literally, but use digital technology like smart phones to keep lists like the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 (Environmental Working Group, on hand when you're grocery shopping. These lists specify which fruits and vegetables contain high levels of pesticides – even after washing. Knowing which fruits and vegetables you can buy conventionally, and at less cost, can help you focus your food budget where necessary on organic and natural choices. If you don't have a smart phone, print out a copy of the list and keep it in your purse.

Chill Out: When it comes to organic foods, the freezer can be your friend – both at home and in the grocery store. When organic meat is on sale, buy more than you need and freeze it – even deli meats and hot dogs can be frozen. Studies show that frozen fruits and vegetables have the same nutrients as fresh – and buying organic frozen fruits and veggies like berries and spinach can reduce costs, especially when you're buying them out of season.

It's Not Just for Lunch Anymore: Organic deli meats are a great way to put lean protein on your plate – and it doesn't have to be just for lunch. You can go the sandwich route for a quick dinner, but also consider using organic deli turkey, ham, chicken or roast beef in dinner salads, soups, stews, sauces, and casseroles.

'Tis the Season: Buying fruits and vegetables in season not only ups the taste quotient, but the value. Buying seasonally can also be a great way to get the family involved – check out local farmers markets or take a road trip to a "pick your own" farm or orchard so that your kids can see where food is grown. You can check out to find organic farmer's markets, "pick your own" and community supported agriculture (CSA) clubs.

Go with What You Know: Throwing out food that's untouched and sitting in the fridge is an awful feeling, and it's compounded when you've paid more for it because it's organic. When choosing organic foods, buy the ones you know your family loves – so you know that the food won't be waiting in the fridge on trash day.

About the Survey

The survey was conducted by Impulse Research online with a random sample of 1,052 women, ages 25–45 who purchase deli meat for their children between the ages of 5–12. Research was conducted in June 2010. The overall sampling error rate is +/-3% at the 95% level of confidence. The survey was sponsored by Applegate Farms.

About Applegate Farms

For more than 20 years, Applegate Farms has been producing high-quality natural and organic hot dogs, bacon and deli meats. Natural can mean many things, but when consumers see the word "natural" on the Applegate Farms label, they are guaranteed that the meat inside is:

· Free of antibiotics or hormones

· From animals fed a vegetarian or 100% grass diet and treated with humane animal standards

· Free of chemical nitrites, nitrates or phosphates

· Free of artificial ingredients or preservatives

For more information about organic and natural deli meats, visit

(i) Bouchard MF, Bellinger DC, Wright RO, Weisskopf MG.Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and urinary metabolites of organophosphate pesticides. Pediatrics. 2010 Jun;125(6):e1270-7.

(ii) McCann D, Barrett A, Cooper A, et al. Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 2007 Nov 3;370(9598):1560-7.

SOURCE Applegate Farms

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