Here are my tips on buying a great-tasting and ethically raised chicken so that you can nourish your family without the additives or the guilt.
Best chicken option:
Buy from the farmer!
You can ask the farmer whether the chicken is pasture raised, eats organic or conventional grain, has access to sunshine and grass, is free-range and how free that actually is, if they treat their chickens with any antibiotics, and how they were butchered. You can find a local option for the things that matter to you most.
Joel Salatin-like pastured poultry is raised outdoors, eating fresh grass, supplemented with grain, probiotics, kelp, vitamins, and raised in fresh air and sunshine. The green material that pastured poultry eats gives them a high amount of vitamins and minerals, low levels of saturated fats, and free of medications because they are eating how they were intended. This creates birds that are happy, healthy, and nourishing chicken for your table.
Next best chicken option:
When you purchase an organic chicken, there are guidelines that each of those birds must meet.
- The chicks must be raised organically no later than 2 days from hatching.
- The chickens must eat organic feed all of their life. Organic feed contains no antibiotics, GMO grains, animal by-products, or chemicals.
- The chickens receive no drugs, antibiotics, or hormones.
- The chickens must have outdoor access.
Good options to look for.
No antibiotics. This doesn’t mean a chicken is raised organically, but it wasn’t given any medicated feed with antibiotics in it.
Certified humane. This means that the chicken meets the requirements for the Humane Farm Animal Care seal so they have access to clean water, no antibiotics, and not raised in caged confinement.
Air chilled. Air chilled birds aren’t chilled in water and absorbing too much of it. Air chilled birds can be tastier and crispier when prepared.
Don’t fall for these!
100% Natural. This term is not regulated AT ALL. It doesn’t mean a thing!
Free-range. This is also unregulated, so unless you are talking to the farmer and visiting their farm, you won’t really know how free they are. This term just means they have access to the outdoors, but not how much.
Hormone-free. All chickens are hormone-free by Federal regulations, even conventional chickens.
Cage-free. This can still mean a chicken is living in a building, tightly packed with other chickens, and in unsanitary conditions.
I hope that this has given you a little bit of insight on how to purchase a chicken to feed your family putting what is most important to you first. What kind of chicken do you usually purchase? What’s your favorite way to prepare it?