Why should I buy organic free range chicken?
First, let’s describe what “free range” chicken means.
For a package of chicken to be labeled “free range” the birds must be cage free and have outdoor access for at least part of the day. All certified “organic” chicken is “free range” but not all “free range” chicken is “organic”. The free range label applies to less than 1% of all chickens raised in the United States. The label does not guarantee that the chickens actually went outside or how much time they spent outside. Frankly, most often the chickens choose to stay inside the safety of their chicken house (barn) and near the freely offered food and water.
Now, what does “organic” chicken mean?
Only farmers who go through the lengthy and expensive process of obtaining USDA organic certification and subsequent annual renewals may label their meat “organic”. This process includes submitting records regarding the land the animals are born and raised on and the processes/policies of the farmer. These records must be reviewed and verified by the USDA to ensure they meet stringent standards and the farmer must allow random inspections of their farm and records.
Certified organic chicken receives only certified organic feed their entire lives. Their diet is strictly vegetarian and free of GMOs (genetically modified organisms or genetically engineered ingredients). Some people are opposed to the birds receiving “vegetarian” feed as chickens are not vegetarians. This is missing the point of that claim. Because the chickens are fed a vegetarian diet it means that they are not fed ground up bits of other animals or animal by-products (a common occurrence in factory farmed animals). It does not mean that the chickens are not allowed to scratch, peck and forage for insects, grasses or other foods they naturally consume.
They are never treated with antibiotics or given added hormones or steroids. In fact, it is illegal in the United States to treat any chickens, organic or not, with added or artificial hormones. If an animal becomes ill, the farmer will obtain treatment for the animal and not allow it to suffer. However, any chickens that must be treated with antibiotics cannot be sold as organic.
Organic chicken has been shown to harbor less harmful bacteria. Additionally, compared to conventionally raised factory farmed chickens, organic chickens were also less likely to contain antibiotic resistant bacterias.
The land they are raised on is certified organic. This means that the chickens are born and raised on land that is proven to be free of synthetic chemicals (herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers), irradiation, and sewage sludge for at least 3 years.
Organic practices promote sustainability so are better for the Earth, too. Although there is no one way to define “sustainable”, organic practices encourage farmers to treat the land and the animals (in this case, chickens) well in order to promote ecologically and economically sustainable growth. Organic practices work to harmonize food production with the natural environment by excluding synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides and substituting more natural and less harmful alternatives.
So, why should you buy organic free range chicken?
For all of the reasons above! Organic free range chickens are raised better which means they are best for you and better for the environment. By choosing organic, you are avoiding antibiotics, GMOs, chemicals (herbicides, fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides) and you are supporting sustainable agriculture practices. If that isn’t enough to convince you – it also tastes better! Well raised animals have less stress which tends to provide a more delicious and tender product. Shop online now for organic chicken and all your grass fed and well raised meats – and we’ll deliver to your door!