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The High Price of Cheap Chicken

For Related Articles and More Information, Please Visit OCA's CAFO's vs. Free Range Page and our All About Organics Page.

If you want to buy a fresh, whole chicken at the store, it'll run you about $1.54 per pound. But if I buy it from my local farmer, it costs $5 per pound. I live in an expensive part of the country - California - but even the farm I visited last year in rural New Hampshire sold its birds for $4 per pound.

Why the difference?

There are several reasons why chicken from an organic farmer costs double or triple what you'd pay in a store. One is that the farmer might raise a slower-growing breed of chicken, instead of the standard industrial variety that can go from hatching to slaughter in six weeks or less. And then, of course, there are economies of scale. But another reason is the cost of slaughter itself.

My farmer, a man named Curtis, processes his chickens himself. It's a laborious task - not one I'd ever want to participate in. Quite frankly, my desire to eat chicken is just not greater than my unwillingness to pluck and gut a chicken.

And Curtis actually has it easy. He sells you the whole chicken, not a boneless, skinless chicken breast, individually wrapped like you get at the store. Once the whole bird is plucked, his job is pretty much done.   


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