Of chicken and herbs

Farmers look to herbs like oregano for antibiotic substitute

As major grocery outlets like Costco, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s complain they can’t find enough antibiotic-free meat, farmers have begun looking into a way to fight bacterial disease in their animals without pharmaceutical drugs.

For example, Pennsylvania-based chicken farmer Scott Sechler of Bell & Evans swears by a diet laced with oregano oil and cinnamon, which he claims has worked well as a substitute for antibiotics, according to The New York Times. Some experts have maintained consumption of meat for animals treated with antibiotics will lead to the rise of “superbugs”—bacteria resistant to one or more antibiotics.

Antibiotic-free meat represents just a fraction of the overall meat industry—organic meat, poultry and fish sales totaled $538 million in 2011, while sales of all types of beef that year totaled $79 billion.