Thursday, September 13, 2012

Free Range Chicken vs. Natural Chicken: Is the Difference Worth It?

Chicken is big part of my diet.  To put it simply, about 60 percent of the meat that I eat is poultry while the remaining 40 percent is split between salmon (about 30) and other meat (the other 10 percent).  That being said, I want to buy the freshest, purest chicken possible ... which is next to impossible ... or is it?

Normally, when I go to purchase chicken at the grocery store, I look for labels that say "natural", "no antibiotics", "no added hormones", and other indicators of minimally-altered poultry.  In particular, I usually pick up the following brand and label at my local market:

Natural chicken. No antibiotics, no added hormones, 100% vegetarian diet, raised cage free.

Now, last week, the store apparently introduced a new labeling for "free range, USDA Organic" chicken.  I immediately substituted that poultry in place of the one I usually purchase because the "free range" and "USDA Organic" labeling are the ultimate indicators of the least-tampered-with chicken ... or are they?

Organic, free range chicken.  No antibiotics, no added hormones, organic vegetarian feed, no preservatives.

I will admit that I want to do more research on just what exactly I am putting into my body when I'm buying my usual "natural" chicken versus this "organic" and "free range" chicken versus just "free range" chicken.  In the mean time, I will leave you all with this snippet from Wiki (not exactly the best place to do research, but it will suffice as an intro to the topic of "free range").

"Free range is a term which outside of the United States denotes a method of farming husbandry where the animals are allowed to roam freely instead of being contained in any manner.  In the United States, USDA regulations apply only to poultry and indicate that the animal has been allowed access to the outside. The USDA regulations do not specify the quality or size of the outside range nor the duration of time an animal must have access to the outside." - Wiki

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Monique said...

So, wikipedia was spot one. Free range chickens can roam, and are not raised in chicken cages/houses. These chickens also aren't fed hormones, most of the time either. So they're free-range AND organic.

Natural at the very minimum means no hormones.

One other item to note on labels: Meat-free diet, or vegetarian diet. (As some folks will feed chickens scraps that include any and every part from cows to who knows what). Manufacturers typically add on as much as they can to let consumers know about the meat they're purchasing & eating.


Loo said...

Wow! Thanks for the information, Monique! This is useful.

I almost gagged when I read the part about chickens being fed cow parts. LOL. Yuck.

Thanks again!