Chicken Exposé: A Chicken Is NOT Just a “Chicken”!

By Raluca Schachter

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

When President Herbert Hoover envisioned a “chicken in every pot” it was because chicken was a luxury. Historically, chicken was the food of royalty. Peasants could not afford chickens whenever they wanted one. The common person could only eat chicken once in a while as part of some festive occasion.” ~ Joel Salatin

These days, it’s the other way around…

I simply can’t get enough of Joel Salatin’s last book, ‘Folks, This Ain’t Normal’. It is a wealth of knowledge, all written with a blend of good humor and ol’ time English. It is a book that will open your eyes so wide that it hurts, and at the same time makes you laugh… If you care about natural health, sustainable living and re-establishing our vital connection to our land and Nature, then I highly recommend you read this book.

I will share with you some of his thoughts regarding: CHICKEN! Chicken became so available and cheap… and easy, right? Back in the days beef was cheap. These days beef is more expensive than chicken. What happened? Does this affect our health? Let’s see…

FROM GRASS TO GRAIN

Money. That’s what all this is all about, since “grain is diamonds.” Grass never achieved high status since it was viewed as a simply healing mechanism, a way to ensure fertility of the land. But it is actually much more than that. GRASS is everything! Throughout history, the nomadic and animal-herding cultures were the only ones that highly appreciated GRASS. ” The amount of human labor necessary to till and plant grain for a given amount of nutrition was astronomically higher than that required to move animals around grazing perennials.” Without even knowing, back in the days people enjoyed the best quality of meat they could have!

But with mechanization and petroleum all that blessing changed! Machines and cheap energy created the perfect ground to switch to money making grain fed animals. Now grain could be cheaply fertilized, cheaply harvested, transported and stored. “Since pigs and poultry convert grains to meat more efficiently than herbivores, cattle had a decided disadvantage economically.” And all that led to CHEAP NUTRITION.

So, again, all traditions that were properly there, in place to heal and live in harmony and health with Nature for both humans and animals, were given up in favour of money. Factory meat is all abundant now in US but the quality is deplorable, as bad and sick as you can get! Now, if all the herbivores returned to pastures (by a miracle!) “not only would the meat and milk be of superior quality, but farmers would make more money and soil instead of eroding! And carbon would be sequestered in the soil instead of being pumped into the atmosphere via cultivation and petroleum use.”

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PASTURED CHICKEN AND GRAIN FED, FACTORY RAISED CHICKEN

First, let’s consider “LOOKS“! When I first had a pastured chicken in my hand I was surprised to see how thick and firm its skin was and of a deep yellow color too. Pastured chickens are usually “slimmer”, maybe tinier and harder to the touch. They run around all day on pasture so they have harder, more developed muscles.

Grain fed, factory raised chickens (including organic ones!) have a very thin, white skin, are plumper, softer to the touch and have more meat. Not much running around for these ones..Just a cage, sometimes not even that, but a huge loft where thousands of chickens live with no sunshine and not even a place to sit, so they’d have to sleep standing up in their own manure! I’m not making this up, if you don’t believe it, go visit one of these factory farms! I’ve seen some…

It is not normal for chickens to be confined by the multi-thousands in football field-sized houses breathing fecal particulate so toxic that it rubs lesions into the tender mucous membranes of the respiratory tract and opens the blood’s hemoglobin to direct fecal particulate contamination. This is how salmonella, for example, gets into the bloodstream of animals” And this is how it can get to YOU! This killer bacteria does not live in the guts of pastured animals. The ways they are raised prevent contamination and keeps them healthy…and happy!

UNORTHODOX PRACTICES

Here is what they do with regular chickens..be prepared to “stomach” this!

WATER INSOAKING

Why are the factory raised chickens so plump after all? One reason is the grain feeding, lack of exercise but also…water insoaking! Watch out your wallet here!

The poultry industry and its collusion fraternity at the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) allow water chill tank agitators to insoak several percentages points, by weight, of water into chickens. Lots of water gets sold to unsuspecting Americans this way.”

The spongy tisssue of factory chickens absorb that really quickly. You can test this by cooking a regular chicken (even an organic one) and then a pastured one in a crockpot. You can visibly see how much liquid you’ll have left from the first one compared to the second. Not much saving with grain fed chickens if you consider this aspect, right?

MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN

Mechanically separated meat (MSM) is a paste-like meat product produced by forcing beef, pork, turkey or chicken, under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue. (Wikipedia)

MSM is typically used in cheaper meat products (such as hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and frozen dinners) which need not retain the appearance, shape, or texture of “regular” meat. In order to satisfy consumer preferences, food producers may utilize additives in MSM-derived products in order to alter their color, taste, or texture.

But let’s jump to the NUTRITIONAL PANEL, it really makes my heart grow!

At Joel Salatin’s farm in Virginia, they ran some tests over the years to show the astonishing nutritional difference between their pastured chickens and the regular ones.

They ran a fatty acid profile at the National Institute of Health. It revealed the pastured eggs averaged a score of 252.6 and the factory eggs a score of 87.3.

They ran a test at the Virginia Tech Human Nutrition to compare chicken fat of pastured chickens to the Tyson chicken fat. The pastured ones measured 0.54 percent fat and the Tyson ones 2 percent.

Another test they did was for bacteria levels, at one of the local university. The commercially processed birds measured 3,600 CFU/mL!!! Pastured birds averaged 133 !!!

And to all those that think “a chicken is just a chicken and an egg just an egg”, here are the results of some other tests they performed, to compare the pastured eggs to the conventional ones:

USDA (conventional) POLYFACE FARM (pastured)
Vitamin E 0.97 mg 7.37 mg
Vitamin A 487 IU 763 IU
Beta carotene 10 mcg 76.2 mcg
Folate 47 mcg 10,200 mcg
Omega 3 0.033 g 0.71 g
Cholesterol 423 mg 292 mg
Saturated fat 3.1 g 2.31 g

The big processed industry will shout out loud that there is no significant difference and that “it’s all good” and they “watch over us”. But they have the money and the power to “bark” the loudest, while small local farmers are just committed to sustainable living that they want to share with others. There is much more love there than it is the desire of getting rich overnight. So, food for thought.

WHERE DO I GET MY PASTURED CHICKEN?

I repeatedly advise people to start with Eat Wild and Local Harvest as being the best available sources to look for local sustainable farmers. You can find pastured chickens at Whole Foods but after my research, I wouldn’t call those 100% pastured chickens since they do feed them soy and corn which is SO wrong on so many levels. If you live in the city, join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and that would be your best bet. Getting out of the industrial system is going to be one of the best things you’ll ever do for your health!

Recommended reading by Raluca Schachter:

About the author:

RalucaLong-time contributor Raluca Schachter is a passionate Nutritionist, Metabolic Typing Advisor, and a Weston A. Price Chapter Leader. She believes in the benefits of traditional unaltered food, ancestral wisdom, sustainable farming and simple living.

Raluca was able to naturally reverse chronic health conditions she was struggling with most of her life, and now uses her knowledge to help as many people as possible do the same. Her unique Metabolic Typing® Ecological Lifestyle Programs for Optimal Health offer a very unique and comprehensive approach to health, where individual nutritional and biochemical requirements are firstly met using specific nutrients and foods that each metabolism thrives on. Raluca offers her services for local and distance clientele.

You can connect with Raluca via:

 


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  • Mycroft

    I’ve eaten almost as many chickens as I have apples, there is a huge difference with free range chickens over the factory or industrialized chicken. In my opinion and considerable experience I have never tasted better chicken than Gerber’s.
    The same goes with eggs from free range chickens, the vitamin B content is way higher.
    For me the greatest danger is abnormal weight gain due to the hormones and steroids feed to the factory chickens.

  • erica

    Fascinating article. One thing not mentioned here: the other secret ingredient to factory food for chickens is artificial methoinine (an amino acid). Methionine is one of the building blocks of meat. Artificial methionine is made from petrochemicals. This is why it’s a post-industrial feed and also cheap… But the time of cheap petrochemicals is ending. If you see DL methionine as an ingredient in chicken feed, it’s the artificial sort… And it’s associated with higher triglycerides, fatty liver, and a range of western ailments. I feel this is at least as important a change to document as the switch from grasses to grains… And it all happened without our say-so.

    • Raluca Schachter

      Erica, thanks for your input! You are right, there are other dangerous chemicals and toxins that make their way into chicken’s feed and ultimately their meat.It got to the point where it’s really hard to control, since corporations will always invent and re-invent something “devilish” to feed or inject into animals in the name of profits. That’s why I believe we should all connect with our local farmers, get to know their farm and animals, or at least buy from trusted sources. It’s all about taking this responsibility and finally accept the fact that it’s OUR job to decide what food we put in our mouths.

  • Michelle

    I work extensively in animal agriculture and grew up raising animals on our farm for our own personal consumption. Although I have no qualms with grass-fed vs. grain-fed animals I do want to mention that our agriculture industry is charged with feeding millions of people. The only way, regardless of our fuzzy feelings, that this can be accomplished is by utilizing grain feeding and large farms. There would be no possible way for all the beef cattle in the United States to be finished on pasture. There simply is not enough land to do it!! Furthermore, the feed provided to animals that are not grass-fed is required to meet specific standards. Producers could not use feed stuffs that may harm the end consumer. Feeds are tested to ensure this and large amounts of university research is conducted to make sure that ingredients are healthy for the animal and the consumer. In our economy today, food prices are continually climbing. Beef, poultry and pork producers are loosing money each month due to increased feed ingredient costs due to droughts and competition for ethanol production. Of the $2.50 to $3.00 you may pay in the store for a gallon of milk, the dairy producer receives less than $0.17!! I agree there is a fine line to walk but I also think that we all have a responsibility to ensure that our neighbors can afford to feed their families and returning everything to a grass-fed basis just wont be able to cut it.

    • peter

      Bet if no beef was diverted to fast food emporiums they would be able to grass feed supermarket beef

  • Zach

    No thanks, I’ll just stick with being a vegan. I dont need to live off anything an animal produces, when plants provide me with all I need. All my nutritional needs are met and blood tests are perfect (even the nurse who took my blood commented on how beautiful and clear my blood was compared to 99% of other blood samples) 😀