Why Pasture Raised Chicken? Pasture Makes Perfect!
When the weather warms up, we often head to the grill, which is why we debuted our steak cut blog series on our blog all last month. However, we also tend to create lighter meals through the end of spring and summer, which is why chicken is often found as the main attraction at family dinners, group cookouts, picnics, dinner parties, and special celebrations like weddings and graduation parties all across America. The Boneless Chicken Breast is obviously a go-to choice for many of our customers but, truth be told, since our chickens are pasture raised, there’s no bad choice. In fact, the liver, heart and chicken back can all be prepared in delightful ways and offer nutritional benefits that the breast cannot.
Got your attention? Follow along for this next blog series that will explore all the parts of a chicken and feature recipe ideas, too! But first, a quick lesson in pasture raised chicken.
Pastured poultry is recognized today as a sustainable agriculture technique but for Dutch Meadows, it’s all we’ve ever known. It’s a way of life and the only way we would ever consider raising our poultry, despite ongoing trends or consumer demands. A chicken that is pasture raised has (surprise, surprise) access to a real living pasture, which must feature grass and other naturally occurring plants and wildlife. This interplay of sunlight, plants, soila and animals are the parts of pasture ecology and occur naturally, more or less, without human intervention. When you are raising the animals for food and your livelihood depends on it, there are natural treatments available for the soil and animals to enrich the nutritional value and ward off potential illness and predators. Without getting too deep into technical terms, it’s best to think of this from a human health perspective. Even if you approach your own health in a holistic fashion and choose to avoid all or most modern medicine, you may still decide to increase your vitamin c upon catching a cold and approach your overall diet in a proactive manner, with a big focus on vegetable intake.
Pasture raised is a clear cut definition for all of us here at Dutch Meadows and means the animals are not confined indoors or in crowded feedlot for many months. Sadly, that is not the case for a majority of American chicken products making it to market and current regulations make it difficult for consumers to know what’s a quality product and what’s not. Truth be told, the vast majority of chickens are raised inside with no access to the outdoors and fed a high grain diet but no business will ever put that on their label, and you’re not going to get the farmer on the phone. Well, not unless you buy direct from a farm, like Dutch Meadows.
Consumers should especially be wary of terms like “cage-free” and “free-range” as these terms do not imply that the poultry gets outdoors. They are almost always still confined to the indoors and fed heavy soy and corn diets. As a result, a chicken raised on pasture that eats components from its natural environment is always more nutrient dense compared to non-pastured chicken, specifically in terms of higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins, A and E.
You could really fill a whole book (and many people have) with all the benefits behind pasture raised chicken - from human to environmental health. We don’t like that consumers basically have to do detective work when shopping in a grocery store, and we’re willing to bet you don’t like it either, which is why we welcome you to contact us with any of your questions and concerns or, better yet, choose to buy as close to the farmer as you possibly can.
Check back next week when we dive into our pasture raised chicken series, when we’ll kick off the series with delicious ways to prepare Breasts, Gizzards, Skin, and Ground Chicken.