Pasture Raised Chicken is Available in Area Health Food Stores - Right?
Wrong! I too, thought the chicken was pasture raised because they are free-range. But when I saw fresh chicken in the stores in the middle of winter, I wondered how they could raise broilers on pasture in the middle of winter. Broilers are processed at about 8 weeks of age and are not able to handle the cold like a mature laying hen.
In February 2005, I was at a convention in Pennsylvania, and met the owner of Eberly Poultry. I asked him how they are able to raise their free-range chickens in the winter. I was surprised to find that they are raised in conventional chicken houses year round like Perdue or Tyson. The difference is that the chickens have "access to the out of doors". "Access to the outside" fulfills the legal requirement for the use of the term "free-range". Legally, a "free range" chicken does not ever have to go outside, and the outdoor area does not have to have grass. You can visit the Eberly Poultry website at www.eberlypoultry.com and see the picture of how the broiler chickens are raised. It is a picture of the inside of a conventional chicken house.
What about some of the other brands of chickens that are available? You will find they are not raised on pasture either. Don't assume that chickens or eggs in health food stores are raised on pasture or are fed organic feed. It is more labor intensive on pasture and organic feed costs twice as much. Therefore, many suppliers use wording that gives the impression of pasture or organic to increase their sales and selling price.
The inside of a typical "factory farm" confinement chicken house. (Photo courtesy of FactoryFarming.com.)