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Get Real: September is All About Poultry

**This post is part of the Get Real series. Please remember that this is meant as a learning community. We know that many of you are passionate about what you do and we want you to express that, just please do so in a way that will be an encouragement and aid to others making a transition. We want this to be a “safe space” for participants to learn. For that reason, we reserve the right to delete any comments that are not handled in this manner.

This month is all about poultry.  How to shop for poultry at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, and what it might be like to raise your own chickens.  Today, let’s talk a little about what to look for as you purchase chicken to feed your family.

So raise your hand if you’ve been confused by all the different kinds of chicken available to you at the grocery store.  Do I buy the “natural” chicken, or the organic chicken?  Does it need to be free range?  And is it better if it’s grain fed or vegetarian fed?  What about sustainably harvested?  So many choices, so much to baffle us!  All of these options are so important to consider, and to understand.

Organic vs. “Natural” vs. Conventional

“Organic” refers to both the way the animal was raised, and also to the way the animal was processed as it made its way to your supermarket or farmer’s market.  If a chicken is labeled “USDA Organic” then it was raised and grown on feed without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers; it was not bioengineered, and there were no petroleum products or sewage sludge used.  Organic chicken-raising is definitely more gentle on the environment than conventional agriculture.  Organically-raised chickens are given sufficient space for exercise, grooming; and they have access to the outdoors, and fresh air.  And most importantly, the chicken was not given antibiotics or growth hormones.

“Natural” chicken refers to the processing of the animal after it has been slaughtered, but NOT the methods in which it was raised.  The natural chicken could have been fed anything.  The natural chicken could have been given antibiotics and hormones throughout it’s life.  Natural chicken must be free of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, and must be “minimally processed”.

Conventional chicken is routinely given antibiotics.  Because the chickens are packed so tightly into the facilities where they are raised, disease can spread quite quickly.  Conventional farming prevents this by giving their chickens large doses of antibiotics.  According to this article , “the chicken industry uses selective breeding for fast-growing animals, as well as growth-producing antibiotics to produce birds that grow several times faster than birds in a natural state.”

Some other terminology you may see on your labels:

“No drugs or growth hormones used”
“free range”
“sustainably harvested”
“100% natural”
“grain fed”
“vegetarian fed”

These terms are NOT regulated or inspected by anyone in order for your chicken to get a label that makes that claim.  There is no guarantee that what your label says is actually what you are getting, so be aware!

What are your questions about poultry purchasing?  Do you have a local farmer’s market where you can purchase directly from a farmer?  Where do you buy your chicken?

September Week 1 Action Item:

Each week we will try to give you some simple action steps to put this journey into practice. It is important that you start this journey by understanding yourself, your goals and perhaps your obstacles.
  1. Talk to the butcher at your grocery store, or talk to a local farmer.  Ask questions about your chicken–find out what kind of feed the chicken was given; and ask about the chicken’s living conditions; and ask what kinds of drugs were given to the chicken.  See if you can get the answers you want to hear!

September Get Real:

Please take a moment to thank our guest authors by clicking over to their sites and/or liking them on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Sponsor:  Once A Month Mom

Guest Author: Gudrun of Kitchen Gadget Girl 


One Response to “Get Real: September is All About Poultry”

  1. Rachel says:

    Just because a chicken is labeled “Organic” does NOT mean “Organically-raised chickens are given sufficient space for exercise, grooming; and they have access to the outdoors, and fresh air.” This is a completely false statement. The organic designation has nothing to do with outdoor access.

    Secondly ABSOLUTELY NO chicken is given growth hormones. It is illegal to do so and has been since the 1960′s. If you look at a package of “Hormone Free” chicken you will see an asterisks by that claim and somewhere on the package in very small print will be a clarification that all poultry is hormone free by FDA regulations.

    Finally, I have no idea what you are referring to in regards to sewage sludge.

    My husband has a PhD in Poultry Nutrition and does nothing but work with poultry producers to properly feed chickens.

    I think it is important for people to know where their food is coming from. However, there is also alot of misinformation our there about our food sources.

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