The chicken at your local grocery store is not like the chicken your grandparents used to eat. 80% of chicken produced in the U.S. comes from four main producers who have engineered ways to cut costs and grow chickens in the fastest way possible. The result of this is a sub-par product often containing harmful ingredients.
Knowing how the food we eat was produced is super important and here are five things to look out for:
1. Fast Growth
Chickens raised for meat have doubled their weight since the 1980s an unnatural result of the fast growth movement which was created to cut corners. Shorter growth times means bigger chickens have less time eating and don’t require living space for as long. Commercial chicken farms raise chickens this way since raising chickens the humane way requires more time, space and food.
88% of all chickens raised for human consumption in the US are given an arsenic-based drug called roxarsone. According to one chicken farmer we spoke to, this arsenic-based drug makes chickens lazy and hungry, which means they are doing less moving around and more sitting and eating. To make matters worse, in a study done on arsenic use and chicken farms, researchers found that 70% of samples from conventional producers had inorganic arsenic levels that exceeded the FDA safety standard.
3. Chicken Feed
Farmers have been known to cut costs by giving their chicken “food-like stuff” as feed. This can be anything from bakery leftovers to other animal parts. Leftover shells of soybeans are one of the more common feeds given to chickens, so if you are trying to stay away from soy or GMOs, read your labels closely and buy from a trusted source.
4. Antibiotic Use and Resistance
Poultry farmers have been abusing antibiotics since the 1950s to the point where it is now expected to give chickens a low dose of antibiotics in their feed. You are what you eat: consuming chickens raised with antibiotics will create a resistance in your own body to antibiotics. By raising chickens humanely in the slow-growth method, farmers must spend more time and money but can avoid mass-treatment of all their chickens.
5. Saline Solutions
If you are buying chicken at the grocery store, check to see if you are paying for water weight. Often, companies will pump a saline solution into chicken as a preservative, to make cuts look better and add to the total weight. When you see those plump, perfectly shiny chicken breasts in the package, check packaging or ask a staff member in the meat section for a percentage of saline solution. You can expect up to 15% saline in grocery store chicken.
Labeling and certification can be confusing. Buy meat from a source you trust. At Rosso & Flynn, we sell chickens that have been raised in the traditional slow-growth method without arsenic, soy, GMOs or saline.