People and businesses change over time. Hopefully these changes are good for the people, their friends and family, their customers, the planet and society.
The founding statement of the store is – “To offer people information and products that help them to reduce their impact on the environment and society”. I believe we have stayed true to my founding statement.
Basically we try to help people lighten their ecological footprint and therefore reduce our collective debt. We do this by offering information (we became an information hub), products that were ‘better’ (had some sort of environmental, health, resource efficient, organic, fair trade, local, etc) and we offered support for people that wanted to make changes – big and small – in their lives.
When Earth’s General Store opened as an organic food store at our Whyte Avenue location in 2010 I made the decision not to have meat in the store. In fact we were Canada’s largest and at times only vegetarian store. When I opened our second location (downtown Edmonton at 10150 – 104th Street) earlier this year we decided to see whether this model would work in the downtown community. It doesn’t.
Our downtown store is struggling. I have heard from many people that they would like to see meat as part of the food we offer and we will now do this.
This is an experiment for the downtown store at the moment and meat will not be offered at the Whyte Avenue store at this time (we may need to do this but we don’t presently have the money for the equipment to have meat at the Whyte store).
Our meat will always be certified organic (see below for more in-depth information about what this means), local, from people that I trust to treat their animals well, smaller operations (not the large sprawling confined animal feeding operations – CAFOs) and of course be of excellent quality.
We will start with a small offering and expand it over time if there is a need. I am told by our supplier that we should only offer fresh meat since that is what the public wants to purchase. So be it.
We look forward to your support in this evolution of the store and I trust that it will be met with the numbers of customers seeking good local organic meat for their household.
Our downtown store will now be able to meet the requirements of most households in the area. We will be a full on grocery store offering more than an organic convenience store. We have milk, eggs, cheese, drinks, pizza, gluten-free products, bulk products, dried fruit, chocolate and candies, condiments, pasta, teas, coffee, fresh produce, snacks, supplements (vitamins) and now… locally raised, processed and certified organic meat J
Our in-store café offers an excellent selection of sandwiches, soups, salads, cookies, juices and other surprises. All using organic ingredients – the only organic café in Edmonton.
What is the difference between Certified Organic Meat and non-organic?
Marketers have used terms such as free-range, free-run, antibiotic free, hormone-free, naturally raised, additive-free, and the big catchall and misleading term… ‘Natural’. Certified Organic is all of these AND the process is third party verified whereas none of the other claims are verified – they are simply marketing terms to make people feel better about their purchases.
Organic certification is quite an involved process and usually takes the producer/grower three years to transition from non-organic to being certified organic. Organic operations have to meet lots of criteria, undergo inspections, and provide documentation to the certifying agency on an ongoing basis. This process is also an extra cost over non-organic operations.
Organic meat comes from animals that avoids many of the practices that most people would not really like to be in their food – synthetic pesticides, added hormones, synthetic fertilizers, GMO/GE food (Genetically Modified Organisms/Genetically Engineered), animal by-products in the animal feed (remember Mad Cow Disease?), and cruelty.
Organic meat also need to be butchered and processed following organic guidelines. For example certain cleaners, practices, and contamination with non-organic products are not allowed.
What will Certified Organic Meat that Earth’s General Store offers really mean to you? Here are some of the key points:
- Adhering to the established guidelines and strict criteria set out by the Canadian and International governing bodies
- Regular inspection by an independent certification agency
- animals treated humanely – adequate space, access to outside
- Documentation – Paperwork with an audit-able trail
- Fed 100% certified organic food – thereby avoiding your meat being contaminated by GMO grains, pesticides, etc
- No use of synthetic/chemical fertilizers, pesticides, biocides, etc.
- No GMOs/GE feed (Genetically Modified Organisms/Genetically Engineered)
- No Growth Hormones that are regularly used in industrial meat production to increase the size/weight of the animals but the resulting meat have hormone residuals in them which are then pasted onto those that eat that meat
- Not feeding animals to animals – remember where Mad Cow Disease came from. This was caused by someone deciding that they could grind up the unused portion of some animals and feed it back to other animals as high protein feed. Not a good idea. Organic standards does not allow animal by-products to be used as feed.
- No antibiotics. There are certain guidelines that need to be followed but my understanding is that it is something like this – if an animal requires the use of antibiotics they are removed from the herd and isolated. They need to get well within a certain time frame and only after a certain time can they go back to the herd. If they do not get well they can not return to the herd and they can’t be sold as organic. In industrial meat operations antibiotics are used on an ongoing basis because the animals are stressed, exposed to more illnesses due to the numbers and confined conditions, and those antibiotics are then passed onto the eaters of that meat. Check out this video on antibiotics use in the animal meat industry. Certified meat = Drug Free Meat 🙂
Organic Meat is not inexpensive. Organic feed is not subsidized like the large scale corn and soya bean operations that supply the CAFOs and the industrial meat industry. Meat is a concentrated food. It takes lots of resources to produce it and should reflect all those costs. The industrial meat system externalizes many of the costs, disrespects the animals, is supported by grain subsidies and government policies, and produces a product that is cheap – cheap in quality and cheap in respect. The price you pay for Certified Organic meat shows a more realistic and truer cost of what it takes to produce the end product.
Cows are grass finished and grass fed (alfalfa or some other type of grass) during the winter months. Grasses is what cows have evolved to eat and this gives the meat a more real taste and provides many nutrients that are missing or reduced in industrial (grain finished) meats. Nutrients levels like Omega-3 fats, vitamin E, and beta-carotene are higher in grass fed animals.
Since Certified Organic meat is more expensive, people tend to eat less of it and will tend to respect the food and the process more. Eating less but better quality meat and meat products is healthier for us. When was the last time you heard of anyone going to the doctor and the doctor recommending the patient to eat more meat. Eat less meat, better quality meat, and eat more plants.
So choose organic meat when possible, eat less of it, support your local economy, support your local producers/farmers, and be respectful.