A family member of mine showed up here last weekend bearing food. I guess they thought we didn't have enough food of our own, hahaha. (If there's one thing we have plenty of here on our farm, it's delicious food!) This individual was being very kind, and brought a pre-cooked deli chicken from a local grocery store.
It's been several months since I've had a store-bought chicken, so I tried a bite. And spit it out (discreetly, reader, very discreetly). Oh my gosh! Now that I've tasted "real" chicken, chicken raised in a healthy manner, with access to the outdoors, given healthy food to eat, and treated well..... trust me when I tell you this, there is HUGE difference in the taste and texture. The chicken brought by my relative tasted like... well, like poop. And the texture was.... mushy. I think I can explain why it was both these things.
Let's talk "Industrial Farmed Food"! Why is food in a grocery store so cheap? Why can they sell chicken for $1 per pound? I'll tell you why. These chickens are raised in huge, huge, huge barns - imagine a long, steel building the size of a football field. And most "chicken farm" have more than one of these buildings. The farmer that raises them doesn't even own the chickens, a company such as Tyson does... and the farmer is simply paid for raising them. In order to make a living at this, because with food prices that low it's next to impossible to earn much of a salary, the chicken farmer must raise thousands upon thousands of these chickens. How to raise that many in the easiest, fastest way possible? Well, the chickens are caged. Tiny cages, that don't allow the chickens enough room to even open up their wings. I've read... and this may gross you out.... but I've read that since the chickens can't move around in these cages, their feet can even grow around and into the bottom of the cage wire. Then, these cages are stacked, one on top of each other, as high as the building. A row for the workers to walk in between, then another large row of cages. Unhappy animals living under very stressful conditions. How can we expect their meat to taste good? In addition, stressful unhealthy conditions like these breed disease and illness. To avoid the illness, the chickens are given constant antibiotics in their feed. From day one until the end, antibiotics are pumped into these animals... your food.
Then, to make it worse. As the animals aren't allowed to move around, they build no muscle, which is one reason why the meat is so mushy. (In addition to that, have you seen the label on industrial poultry? It reads something like "this produce is injected with 15% solution" to make it more tender/tasty. Yuck!) I read over the winter that this "mushy" meat allows it to absorb things easily.... so during butchering at an industrial-processing facility, the mechanical "gutting" tool often accidently cuts the intestines open, which then leaks manure out onto the carcass. So, when the chickens are placed into the ice-water bath at the end of the butchering process, they may have manure on them. This manure builds up in the water, and the "mushy" meat of these chickens absorbs the poop water. One of Joel Salatin's books claims that 10% of the weight of industrial chickens is "fecal soup" - poop water. Yep. This is what I swear to you I could taste in that one small bite of industrial chicken.
Needless to say, I didn't eat any of this chicken. Any takers?
We'll be raising meat chickens for our customers this year. The chickens will be raised with access to the outdoors, never any cages, never stressful, and lead a happy life. Our first batch of chickens should be ready by the first week of July. Wait until you taste the difference!