Where Is That Chicken From?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all Portlandia on you…(well, maybe a little).   If you’re shopping at your local health food store or grocer and making sure you only choose chicken that’s labeled ‘free-range’, you may think you’re making the best choice.

I’m quite sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this simply isn’t the case.  While a ‘free-range’ chicken may be slightly less inhumane than a battery caged- chicken, the term itself has a very loose interpretation.

A chicken may have access to a tiny patch of grass once in a while and still be legally labeled free-range.

The USDA’s website sums it up quite well:

“FREE RANGE or FREE ROAMING: Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.”

Yes, you read that correctly… ‘has access to’.  Doesn’t sound too humane to me.

Your best bet is to find a local source of poultry that can confirm that the animals were pastured. 

Wikipedia explains it:

Pastured poultry is a sustainable agriculture technique that calls for the raising of laying chickens, meat chickens (broilers), and/or turkeys on pasture, as opposed to indoor confinement. Humane treatment, the perceived health benefits of pastured poultry, in addition to superior texture and flavor, are causing an increase in demand for such product.

(Is it any surprise that the USDA site doesn’t even mention pastured? )

With all these confusing and misleading labels, wouldn’t it be nice if you could simply go into a store and buy a chicken and know it came from a local place where it was raised naturally?  (Um… chickens are not supposed to be eating bits of dried corn and soy, by the way.)

Well, that may not be just a dream.

I was recently made aware of www.buyingpoultry.com , which, according to their site:

will take the guesswork out of choosing the most high-welfare and sustainable products. Our free buying guide—available via the web and on your favorite mobile devices—is going to list every poultry producer and poultry certification (organic, free range, cage free, etc.) in America, and will tell you how they treat their animals. With BuyingPoultry.com you will be able to see who’s best and who’s worst in the United States, and who’s best and who’s worst in your local grocery store. We’ll list what each company can do better and make it easy for you to add your voice to the cause. This new website will also provide detailed information about the best plant-based poultry alternatives and where to find them.”

Click here to learn more about their extremely important and urgent cause and learn how you can donate to their kickstarter project.