Thursday, February 07, 2008

Picking Your Chicken

I roasted two chickens the other night (see previous post!). I love roasted chicken because it is more flavorful than chicken breasts and in our home, none of the chicken goes to waste. After we eat the meat, I use the carcass to make chicken stock for a good soup. I normally get our chicken from a nearby store that buys them directly from a local family. If I need to buy a chicken at the regular grocery, I usually get chicken that is labeled free-range and organic. Because labels can be confusing, hopefully some of these definitions will help.

Natural - Should mean that no artifical ingredients such as artificial coloring or flavors were added during processing. However, the term "natural" is not regulated. Natural chickens may have been fed antibiotics.

Organic - Means that animals were raised without antibiotics, were given only organic feed, and were not given any animal by-products. Animals must also have free range to graze (see "free range" below)

Certified Humane - Means the living conditions are above federal standards (which are really pretty low). They can not be fed animal by-products or antibiotics, except when ill.

Free-Range - Implies the ability for the chicken to roam free and eat a varied diet, but the claim does not have to be verified. Also, chickens are just supposed to have "access" to the outdoors. Doesn't necessarily mean they go out. Also, free-range chickens can be fed anything - conventional feed, feed treated with pesticides or chemicals, GMOs, animal by-products, antibiotics, etc.

Kosher - Chickens are raised and slaughtered following Jewish dietary rules which is often more humane. While these chickens are free-range and not given antibiotics or animal by-products, their feed is conventional and may have been treated with pesticides or chemicals.

One thing you don't have to worry about when purchasing a chicken is hormones or steroids. Federal regulations prohibit commercial growers from adding homones or steroids to chicken products.


The Cole Mine said...

Very helpful tips for your fellow chicken eaters...Much appreciated. Could you post your stock recipe one of these days please?

Penny said...

I buy a corn-fed organic range chicken that is available here at a reasonable price. DH doesn't have quite my sensibilities and bought "your average chicken" one week and I must say I did notice the difference in taste!

Mom2Cass said...

Now, if they would just start telling us which meats are from "Cloned" animals.

That scares me to DEATH that there are no regulations.


Geggie said...

And wow, a good organic/local chicken tastes so much darn better!

Jen said...

I wish I could find a local chicken (you know of any?)...thanks for the info. The labels can get confusing.