Chicken is one of the most consumed meats in the United States. In 2016 alone, the per capita consumption of poultry was estimated to be 91.6 pounds.1
It’s clear that while many people enjoy chicken in their diet, the vast majority are unaware that roughly 90 percent of all chicken meat and eggs sold in the United States come from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
Chickens raised in CAFOs are continuously injected with low dosages of antibiotics. Over time, this leads to antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses, particularly outbreaks of salmonella.
In light of this revelation, what can you do? Your best alternative is to consume organic, pasture-raised chicken.
This type of practice allows poultry to freely roam around the farm so they can forage food on their own. Plus, this method foregoes the use of antibiotics and other chemicals, making the final product safer to eat. Overall, it’s the best choice you can make for your health.
The Benefits of Eating Organic Pasture-Raised Chicken
Doing away with CAFO chicken is one of the best decisions you can do for your health. Pasture-raised chicken is a more superior option because of the following benefits:2
Contains more vitamin A: Pasture-raised chicken contains 50 percent more vitamin A compared to conventionally raised chicken. This nutrient plays an important role in supporting good vision, cell division and growth, a strong immune system and skin health.3
Rich in omega-3 fats: In a 2008 study published in the journal Poultry Science, Portuguese researchers discovered that pasture-raised chicken has significantly higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids than chickens that do not have access to fresh forage.4
Environmentally friendly: CAFOs are known for the large amounts of toxic byproducts they generate, which are dumped into the local ecosystem. One company, Tyson Foods Inc., released 104.4 million pounds of pollutants into waterways between 2010 and 2014.5 By supporting pasture-raised poultry, you can help reduce pollution that is currently devastating the environment.
Has a lower risk of foodborne illnesses: CAFO chickens have a gained a negative reputation because they’re associated with foodborne illnesses caused by unsanitary farming conditions. Choosing pasture-raised chicken can help reduce your chances of developing such illnesses because they are cleaner and healthier.
Produce high-quality eggs: Eggs from pastured chicken typically contains three times more vitamin E, two times more omega-3, seven times more beta-carotene and one-third less cholesterol than eggs harvested from conventionally raised chicken.
Where to Buy Pasture-Raised Chicken
One of the easiest ways to be sure you’re eating pasture-raised chicken is to simply raise some of your own in your backyard. However, not everyone has the time and patience to push through with this approach. Plus, many areas have zoning regulations that must be met. If this seems too much for you, then buying from farmers is your next best option.
If you’re buying pasture-raised chicken, you can ensure the quality by meeting with a local farmer that allows their poultry to freely roam to look for their own food, which includes seeds, insects, worms and plants. You may also visit your local farmer’s market to look for pasture-raised chicken and eggs. The following sites can provide you with resources on where to look for high-quality poultry and other produce:
Weston Price Foundation has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed, raw dairy products like milk and butter.
Local Harvest — This website will help you find farmers' markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass fed meats and many other goodies.
Farmers' Markets — A national listing of farmers' markets.
Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals — The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) — CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
FoodRoutes — The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs and markets near you.
The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products and other commodities based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices, separating CAFO "organic" production from authentic organic practices.