6 benefits of eating organic chicken
Organic chicken might sound like an enticing health-fad, but there may be some truth to its health benefits. When you go to the grocery stores’ poultry section, you have many choices. There are free-range, cage-free, air-chilled, natural, and organic types of chicken. Without fully knowing what these labels mean, they can get pretty confusing.
You might also notice that the price range for each type varies. The main reason for this is the quality of the chicken entirely depends on how they raise while still in poultry farms. To know more about organic type chicken, read on.
What is organic chicken?
To officially be “organic,” the animal must be fed organic food during its lifespan. This means they should be grown with no pesticides, take no antibiotics, and be free to roam around outdoors instead of cages. There are also specific guidelines of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and the National Organic Program that regulates and labels food as certified organic food.
If there is an organic label on the food, it is grown and of the process as different from conventional agricultural products. Organic-type chickens are bred with a diet of balance and clean housing to ensure the meat’s quality and increase animal welfare against diseases. They must also be raise by humans and be in a stress-free environment.
Organic chicken vs. regular chicken
While the benefits of eating organic chicken could be worth it, the reality is that its price point is usually the deal-breaker for most. It could cost almost twice as regular chickens at the grocery or wet market. You can sometimes easily see the difference between the two because of their sizes. They are often smaller and paler because they are not of color or season for preservation.
The price range of whole, generic store-brand chicken typically starts at around $1.50 per pound. When you buy organic chicken, it goes from $2.69 to $4.99 a pound, depending on the store or farm. It is not unusual to pay $10 and up for it at upscale butcher shops. Chicken packages also vary in labels and packaging materials used.
Is organic chicken healthier?
Some people believe that eating organic chicken is the healthier option because growth hormones are not of use on animals. This may be true to some extent, but note that the USDA bans the use of growth hormones in all meats — chicken, pork, and beef included. However, to be of consideration organic, the chicken must comply with several USDA guidelines.
These include no antibiotic use or any drugs and should be hormone-free as mentioned above; the animals get free access to pasture, meaning they can roam the farming grounds freely and have access to the outdoors; be fed organic feed only including organic grain, provides, and supplements; and finally, organic birds must pass the third-party inspection mandated by the USDA as part of their USDA Certified Organic Program.
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Benefits of eating organic chicken
The most apparent benefit of organic chicken is that it is possibly cleaner and safer than generic chicken because farmers raise the poultry. Choosing meat, chicken or otherwise, that does not contain antibiotics or non-organic feed may help ensure that the meat is a disease and parasite-free, safe to consume.
However, there is one other lesser-known benefit to eating it. Poultry farms that choose to raise their animals more naturally may be more environmentally-friendly than industrial poultry businesses. Licensed small chicken farms in the countryside also produce much less organic waste on average.
You might opt to eat it simply because the bird was of treatment humanely during its life. Some also prefer the taste of organic chicken and say they can tell the difference between naturally-bred poultry versus “artificial” ones. If you are looking to buy it, check your local farmers’ market and online certified organic food stores.
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When weighing your options between organic and conventional, regular chicken, take into account their main differences. If the price point isn’t a problem for you, try out the organic chicken and see if it suits your taste. However, take note that the label “organic” doesn’t automatically mean better or healthier. If USDA Certified Organic, the poultry farm passed the chicken’s guidelines to be considered organic.
Keep in mind that eating the meat has an environmental impact, whether organic, regular, cage-free, or free-range chicken. That is not to say you should eliminate chicken from your diet. Being conscious of each of us’s carbon footprint in the environment is the first step to recognizing that the food chain is intrinsical of link. Either way, give it a go if for nothing more than trying out other options in the market.