Did you know that chickens raised on pasture are nutritionally superior to those raised in commercial factory settings? Pastured poultry are chickens (and other birds like ducks and geese) that are raised in bottomless cages on grass where they peck and scratch at the ground and hunt for bugs and seeds along with their grain. Their manure is spread over wide areas of pasture as they are moved. This is better for the birds and the soil.
Sometimes they are mistakenly called free range chickens. Free range chickens are still kept in confinement, they are just allowed to “free range” inside their buildings. From egg to plastic wrapped drumsticks, commercial poultry are housed in closed confinement, their feet always in their own manure and do not get the benefits of fresh air and sunshine on pasture.
So what are the benefits of eating pastured poultry?
• Clean meat. Commercial poultry is washed with heavily chlorinated water and leaves a residue on the meat. This is why Russia and the European Union will not buy poultry products from most U.S. processors.
• The chickens are healthier which translates into healthier meat. As far back as the 1930’s it has been known that confinement and grain only sharply reduces the health of the chicken, resulting in no eggs or dead chicks. When put on pasture to eat bugs and seeds and allowed to roam, in addition to the grain, the chickens had normal eggs and the chicks thrived.
• Balancing the essential fats in your diet is easy with pastured poultry because it has more Omega-3’s than commercial chicken meat.
• Pastured poultry meat has more vitamins E, C and beta-carotene.
• They are hormone, antibiotic and drug free.
• They are arsenic free. Commercial poultry are fed trace amounts of arsenic in their feed. This is a poison that stimulates their appetites. Traces of arsenic can be found in the meat.
• The meat is tastier. Just ask chefs of high end restaurants. They will pay more for pastured chicken and other meats because they enjoy cooking with it and have a high demand for it.
Seek out local producers, farmers and homesteaders who pasture their poultry or let them roam. Educate yourself on where your food comes from and enjoy the nutritional benefits of pastured poultry.
©2009 Shanna Ohmes
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