Many folks are puzzled when we say we place more emphasis on chicken being raised outdoors than we do on organic certification. But here’s why. Almost all certified organic chicken sold in supermarkets (yes, even “good” organic outlets like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s) is raised indoors in a production very similar to non-organic chicken. While they may be consuming certified organic grain, and be free from antibiotics, etc., that does not change the production environment. The fecal dust is the same, the lack of fresh air and limited sunshine remain, and greens/grass are absent. The reason, I feel, organic producers follow this production model has little to do with what’s best for the chickens, and has a lot to do with labor efficiency and mass production.
The foremost benefit to raising chicken outdoors on pasture involves three areas, which are diet, environment, and lifestyle. All the truly pastured chicken production models I have seen encourage the following; greens/grass and GMO-free grain (diet), fresh air and sunshine (environment), unlimited exercise and minimal stress (lifestyle). Unfortunately, status quo meat production today eshews all of the above in the name of efficiency, increased production, and overall, cheap food (read as nutritionally compromised).
Interestingly, when we visit a doctor and have problems with cholesterol and/or saturated fat (the early stages of heart disease), the doctor will touch on four basic areas. First, he’ll ask about your diet and will advise you to avoid high calorie foods and opt for more fruits and vegetables. Next, he will tell you to get more exercise. The link between cardiovascular health and a sedentary lifestyle is well documented and recognized in healthcare today. Third, he will recommend fresh air and sunshine, which again, contribute to overall wellbeing. Fourth, if he’s interested in more than seeing how often he can swing his door, he will address the stress issue. Stress and high cholesterol go hand in hand, and while most stress is emotional and spiritual, it does affect us physically. This may sound unusual, but we apply the same parameters of health to the food animals we raise for our family-and now our community-because we believe in taking the old adage of “we are what we eat”, a step further to; “we are what our food animals eat.”
While we didn’t dream up the pastured chicken production model on our own, but stand on the shoulders of visionaries like Joel Salatin-and others-who developed the models we now use. Our goal is to provide you with not only the best-tasting chicken available anywhere, but more importantly, chicken that packs the most nutrition per pound and per bite. That’s our goal, and this is The View from the Country.