Not all organic chickens and eggs are created equal.
The best organic farmers raise their meat chickens and egg-laying hens on pasture, in compliance with organic rules that require animals to spend time outdoors in the sunshine. Chickens raised outdoors on pasture eat a natural diet of insects and worms, grasses and other greens, sometimes supplemented with organic feed. This diet provides them with a sufficient source of methionine, critical to their health.
But the biggest organic producers don’t follow the rules. They confine their chickens indoors, just like the factory farms do, or provide outdoor access but with no access to pasture—both of which deprive the birds of a natural diet that would include methionine.
The big organic producers who supplement their birds’ diets with synthetic methionine say they need the supplement in order to keep their birds healthy—a justification they wouldn’t need if they raised their birds on pasture, and/or supplemented with organic alternatives.
But the real reason the big organic poultry farms use synthetic methionine is because it acts as a growth-promoter. This allows the farms to squeak by with an “organic” label when in fact their operations, and products, are far more similar to those of the non-organic factory farms.