On her blog http://www.ladolcepita.com, Lauren informs us about what Organic means when it comes to purchasing your chicken. Many people think chicken is chicken, but there is much to know about the Organic. Here is what Lauren teaches us:
Organic means that the bird you are purchasing has been fed an organic diet, which denies the use of antibiotics, hormones, genetic engineering, radiation, synthetic pesticides or fertilizers in the feed. Buying organic only relates to the birdâ€™s diet â€“ it has nothing to do with their environment or handling. Beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are permitted, and there is no third party auditing.
Natural: This means absolutely nothing. It does not make any promises, guarantees, or claims about the animal, its quality, how it was raised, etc.
Cage Free: This means that the bird is uncaged inside barns or warehouses, but likely has no access to the outdoors. Cage Free birds are still usually packed like sardines in their enclosures, so this is still a far cry from humane living conditions. Beak cutting is permitted.
Free Range: Free Range poultry are uncaged inside barns or warehouses and have some degree of outdoor access, but there are no requirements for the amount, duration, or quality of outdoor access. Outdoor access could mean a concrete enclosure â€“ it does not imply grass or a pasture. Beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are permitted, and there is no third party auditing.
Vegetarian Fed: This just means that the feed given to the poultry is free of animal flesh. Chickens are naturally not vegetarian, so this does not really mean much in the way of quality.
So what to buy? Basically itâ€™s fairly difficult to buy a bird that you can guarantee was raised in optimal conditions. At minimum, buy organic free-range. If you have access to a farmerâ€™s market, that is likely where you will find the best quality poultry and meats. Birds raised on small family farms are going to be the most humanely raised and likely the best tasting of the bunch.
Aside from the ethical standpoint of buying high-quality, small-farm raised proteins, there are also huge health and environmental benefits to shopping humanely. Taking a few moments out of your day to do a little research on where your food comes from will reap enormous benefits!