The cramped and dirty conditions of the modern meat and dairy industries are an open secret among most American shoppers, tolerated primarily because they can push out as much meat, milk and eggs as cheaply as possible. What many consumers may not realize, however, is that the products of these often miserable animals are in some cases a pale shadow of the meat and dairy their farming ancestors used to enjoy. Not only are organic products generally tastier, but they may also have measurable nutritional benefits to justify their slightly higher price. These are the four best reasons to head for the natural food store the next time you need to stock up on groceries. 

Enjoying the Flavor of Outdoor-Access Eggs

When you shop for eggs, your best option will typically be organic eggs that come from chickens with access to a pasture. Unlike standard laying hens, which are lucky if they ever see the outdoors, these chickens have the ability to get outside and scratch around for bugs, seeds, grass and other natural foods. A 2007 study conducted by Mother Earth News found that chickens raised on pasture produced significantly healthier eggs, offering less cholesterol and saturated fats in favor of higher concentrations of beneficial nutrients. 

Drinking Richer Milk

Organically raised dairy cows are required to have access to a grazing pasture during the warmer seasons. Besides leading to much happier cows, this may also have an impact on the composition of their milk. For example, grasses contain relatively high levels of antioxidants, which are converted into helpful fatty acids in milk. In fact, researchers have found that organic milk contains as much as 62 percent more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional dairy. 

Tasting the Difference in Grass-Fed Beef

Most of the beef purchased in stores today comes from cows that have spent much of their lives packed into a feedlot being fattened up on cheap corn and soy products. Although this can lead to some impressively cheap steaks, they simply can't compare to the quality of beef derived from strong, healthy and active cows raised and finished on grass. The meat tends to be leaner, while also showing the same elevated omega-3 levels as seen in organic dairy. The overall result is delicious, heart-healthy meat that supplies your body with helpful fats instead of harmful ones, allowing you to eat that second steak or burger guilt-free. 

Doing Your Part to Halt Unsustainable Practices 

Many shoppers first explore organic foods after learning about the deplorable conditions of the modern livestock industry and only learn about the health benefits later on. Avoiding antibiotics, bovine growth hormones, pesticides and unhealthy fats is usually enough to justify any additional cost on its own, but you will also be able to rest easy knowing that you are supporting humane and sustainable agriculture. If you are tired of skating by with the cheapest meat and dairy industrial farmers can squeeze out of their livestock, switch to organic groceries and begin tasting the difference for yourself.