Umm, just in case it wasn’t obvious, I am pretty in love with food.
I love buying it, eating it, cooking it, thinking about it, dreaming about it. I’m a food centric person. And since living in SF, food meca, I have begun to learn a lot more. I’m still a beginner, and outside of Farm School, I have little formal training.
I do however, want to eat responsibly and healthfully, and I find this difficult at times in a world of marketing, etc.
In case you’re not up to reading the whole article, below are a few key tips.
- The best poultry should say “raised on pasture or pastured”. This means the chickens spend most of their time in a grassy field, eating grass and bugs they find, with usually some supplemental feed for their protein needs.
- Free-range can mean something similar, and it can also mean they are raised in confined indoor spaces, with “access” to the outdoors, which sadly can mean a tiny cat door in one corner of the facility that the birds don’t even know how to use. So education is key, ask questions when you can.
- Organic is great as far as what the birds consume, however, it doesn’t specify how the birds are raised, so an organic bird can be raised in a confined indoor space.
- Antibiotic free is good, because many animals are raised today on a constant feed of antibiotics due to the poor/ cramped living conditions.
- Meaningless claims include: cage free, as poultry for meat isn’t raised in cages, it makes no sense (it is only relevant to eggs), hormone free is true of all US raised chickens (the USDA doesn’t allow any hormones used in raising chickens), vegetarian feed (chickens should have access to bugs and insects in pasture).
- Often companies will use healthful words in the naming of their product that don’t relate to the actual raising of the poultry at all. A company can name themselves Natural Green Pastures, and not use any of that in their production methods.
Of course the reality is, happy chickens, raised sustainably and ethically are expensive, and everyone might not have the means to buy the best chicken out there, however, I feel better knowing I at least know what I’m buying and can begin to unpack the claims made by the poultry industry.