Free Range Chicken

Free Range Chicken
Welcome to The Best Natural Foods Topics of Interest Section. This page provides an overview of the topic of free range chicken. You can find more detailed information about free range chicken and other important dietary topics in our new book, The Best Natural Foods on the Market Today.

What does free range chicken really mean?

Found on labels and menus, the term “free range” does not paint an accurate and consistent picture. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has defined “free range chicken” loosely as having outdoor access for "an undetermined period each day." Consumers are not told whether the chicken is fed a natural diet or one that includes animal products, waste products and/or antibiotics. “Free range chicken” also does not indicate anything about the quality of the outdoor space or the number of chickens that share that space.  Another misnomer is the use of the term “hormone free” on chicken labels. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of any growth-promoting hormones on chickens decades ago making this label accurate but misleading when used to sell chicken on this claim alone.

What should I look for when buying natural chicken?

As you shift to a healthier, whole foods diet, I advise you to take a closer look at the quality of the animal products in your diet. Are you eating healthy eggs? Have you discovered the benefit of omega 3 eggs? If you consume milk, is it the best quality on the market like Organic Valley organic milk? With chicken, a closer look reveals that the days of free-running chickens pecking at worms and scratching in the compost pile on the farm are a distant reality. Today’s chickens are bred and raised to reach the supermarket as quickly as possible. Instead of farms, the chicken industry uses warehouse-like structures to provide the living environment for as many as 100,000 chickens at a time. These chickens are fed rendered meat scraps, including hog and cattle byproducts, and waste products including their own manure. The end result of these large-scale, “efficient” operations is chicken meat that is relatively inexpensive to the consumer that is, if the consumer is only considering the monetary measure. The cost is enormous when we factor in our health.

Eighty percent of supermarket broiler chickens are infected with the bacteria campylobacter and twenty percent with salmonella. Overcrowding and unsanitary conditions create a more stressful environment and greater disease rates among poultry, necessitating the use of antibiotics. A free range chicken is a chicken that has been fed a healthier diet and has regular access to sunlight and space does not need antibiotics. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that seventy percent of all antibiotics produced in the U.S. are fed to animals, and the majority of these drugs are used to promote growth and prevent disease. A survey of 1,000 Americans found that 48% are unaware that conventional chickens are fed a diet that contains antibiotics to help prevent flock-destroying diseases. Approximately half of the antibiotics used to keep chickens “healthy” are identical to those used to treat humans. The over-use of these antibiotics creates bacteria that are more drug resistant.

Fortunately there are natural chicken producers who are interested in raising healthy chickens. My new book, The Best Natural Foods on the Market Today A Yuppies Guide to Hippie Food, Vol. 1, provides the inside information on these leading companies. This book also provides the latest information about other great products such as almond butter, flax seed oil, and nutritional yeast as well as healthy smoothie recipes. You’ll also get the low-down on how to cook quinoa in quinoa recipes, how to avoid trans fat, and many more ways to improve your health through choosing a whole foods diet.