When it comes to buying and choosing responsibly produced chicken and eggs, there are a number of terms used to describe how well the chicken and eggs were raised. Here in West Michigan, we are very lucky to have local farms who care about the well being of their animals and the transparency of their operations. Doorganics has recently partnered with Pheasant Ridge Farms to supply chicken, and Creswick Farms to supply eggs. Both farms welcome visitors (with notice of course) and inquiries as to how your chicken or eggs reaches your table. In addition to trusting Doorganics to find you the best local farms, it is important to understand many of the buzz words that surround the raising of Chickens for meat.
A Chicken Vocabulary Lesson
Free range – This term can have multiple meanings. In the first scenario the chickens have access simply to “outside”, but the amount of time the animals spend outside is not monitored. In other cases free range is fully implemented and chickens roam freely outside and eat grass, insects, etc. To see which method is implemented, look for pictures of the chicken’s living area on the farm’s website or facebook page.
Pastured – This means that the chickens must have access to pasture, whether it be free roaming, or in moveable pens that protect the chickens from predators.
Non-gmo diet – Chickens should be fed a diet that is free of genetically modified organisms. Typically present in feed grain, the long term effects of GMO have not yet been discovered, however, many studies suggest adverse effects to health and longevity. Pheasant Ridge has an extensive section on their website explaining why they do not use GMO.
Organic – This is a USDA certification that entails organic feed, access to outdoors and are not fed antibiotics. Some smaller farms still raise their animals in these conditions, or even a step above, but choose not to receive the USDA Organic certification due to the time and resources it takes to attain. Some controversy surrounding the certification process is detailed on Pheasant Ridge’s website. The full list of USDA rules to be followed to attain organic certification can be found on their website.
Soy free diet – The chicken should be fed a diet free of soy and soy byproducts. As a common allergen, many people choose to limit the amount of soy in their diet, and it is often a GMO crop.
The bottom line is that to fully ensure your chicken and eggs were raised in a manner that is environmentally, ethically, and socially responsible, it’s important to know your farmers. Here at Doorganics we’re proud to have a relationship with our farms, and to be able to pass this knowledge on to you.