What do you think of when you see the term “free-range”? Many people think of chickens happily foraging in open fields, eating insects and breathing fresh air. Regrettably, this is not the reality for the free-range chicken and eggs that you’ll find on grocery store shelves. The USDA defines free-range as having “access to the outdoors”. Unfortunately, industrial-scale producers satisfy this requirement by simply building small concrete porches on the end of large production houses. Most of the chickens never even find the door to the outdoor access area, and the ones who do are not met with fields of grass. Instead they find a manure-covered concrete pad. This satisfies the USDA’s definition of “free-range”.
So how do you find chicken that really is raised outdoors and spends its life foraging fresh grass? The answer is to look for pasture-raised chicken from a local farmer. Pasture-raised chicken is all about motion. Moving the chickens to fresh grass every day prevents manure from building up and ensures that each and every chicken eats a varied diet of naturally available grass and bugs. The chickens lead a better more natural life, and this difference shines through in the taste and nutrition of the meat!