Am SO confused about how to choose good quality chicken! Read this to learn HOW ...

Photo Credit: Canadian Small Flockers

For most of us, chicken is a huge part of our dietary intake. But have you ever wondered how the chicken that you eat is raised? Is it living up to the promise of promoting the much-needed health benefits that it should? Knowing how the chicken on your plate is raised is an important aspect to educating oneself about making better food choices. One of the most controversial subjects is whether to eat chicken that is organically raised or factory farmed. For many people, the distinction between non-organic and organic meat is a tricky question. Here is an insight into the different kinds of chicken that are currently available in the market. There are three different categories of chicken to consider:

1. Commercially produced factory chicken

2. Pastured chicken

3. Organic Chicken

Commercially produced factory chicken – Also known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a farm in which animals are raised in confinement. The chickens in these factory farms are typically fed genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybeans, which is not a part of their natural diet that mainly comprises of seeds, green plants, insects, and worms. The major downside of CAFO farms is that they produce highly unhealthy meat that is injected with hormones and antibiotics that are not human-friendly at all. CAFO farms are also a disaster for the environment as they produce animal waste that heavily contaminates the environment. Factory farming is popular because it has become a very profitable business in today’s world at the expense of animal welfare. The tragical conditions under which the chickens are raised is a huge concern in CAFO farming method. Not only are the birds kept in unhygienic conditions but also overfed and forced to grow at a much faster rate to be slaughtered.

Pastured chicken - Pastured poultry or “Grass-Fed” is a sustainable, eco-friendly and humane way of raising chickens. This type of farming is opposed to the idea of indoor confinement and instead lets the chickens thrive naturally by exposing them to sunlight and open land and dirt. The chickens grow eating luscious grass, bugs, earthworms etc. as nature intended them to be. Since this farming technique does not allow injecting hormones or antibiotics into the chickens, the meat tends to be on the high-quality side with the most nutritional health benefits to it. Additionally, the eggs that come from pasture-raised chickens also have higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin A, Vitamin E which greatly benefits humans.

Organic Chicken- Organic chickens are raised using certified organic chicken feed that is free of animal by-products, antibiotics or genetically engineered grains. However, not all organic chickens are free-range. The terms “Cage Free” may sound similar but it is a deceptive term. Most people think Cage Free is a method where the hens would be roaming free on an open land. Unfortunately, that is not true. Cage free chickens are kept in warehouses or barns with little or no access to outdoors. Nutritionally, organic cage-free eggs and chicken are not much superior to the CAFO eggs except for the fact that they are free of antibiotics and exposure to pesticides.

We all know that the benefits of organic food consumption will not go unnoticed. When you’re eating meat why not consider eating organic meat that is ethically raised and comprised of minimum cholesterol levels and higher amounts of good fats. Not only do you get the most of its nutritional value but also will be feeding your family the meat that is free of harmful antibiotics and hormones.

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