I recently went on a mission to learn more about the production methods behind organic chicken compared to free range, because of the common misconception that free range chicken and eggs are the same as organically produced. I believe much of the confusion amongst consumers, around the term “FREE RANGE” stems from labelling that can infer a product is organic, but to be officially certified organic, a product must display the official logo.
My organic chook expedition lead me to Inglewood Farms, in South West Qld and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to discover their impressive operation was not only aimed at supporting the welfare of the chickens and land through organic, sustainable farming methods, but their organic ‘paddock to plate’ approach aims to provide consumers with the healthiest, organic chicken possible. Inglewood Farm's chickens have 42% more sheds space, than their free range cousins, whilst having access to consume their natural diet from bugs and worms. Livestock that consume a diet as close to nature as possible, are far superior for our health than that which is tampered with by humans, through the addition of artificial additives, chemicals, hormones or antibiotics. I also checked out the organic feed used to supplement the chickens diet and I'm happy to report that even this has been nutritionally balanced in order to produce the healthiest, quality chook possible.
To simplify the key differences between free range vs organically reared chickens, I have included the table below to illustrate.
So as you can see although both free range and organically reared chickens see the light of day and feel the dirt under their feet, compared to their caged reared hens, this is where the similarities end.
My big gripe with non-organic chicken, is the fact they are exposed to antibiotics for the purpose of enhancing growth and preventing and treating infection from microbes such as coccidiosis. As humans we have already overdosed on antibiotics which has lead to the serious and growing phenomenon of antibiotic resistance. So we don’t need to add further insult to injury by consuming foods that have been exposed to antibiotics. Chicken is a regular staple for so many, and is one such food I recommend you always buy organic to avoid exposure to antibiotics, as well as other chemical additives contained in the feed non-organic chickens consume.
But aside from increasing the spread and risk of antibiotic resistance, there is also the impact antibiotic exposure has on our guts! For those of you who have purchased a copy of my e-book Eat Yourself Healthy In 28 days, you will have learnt more about the impact our digestive system has on our overall health. Damage caused to our intestinal wall through medications such as antibiotics, has a systemic impact on the function of every cell within our body, primarily because of the pivotal role our intestinal flora (good bacteria ) colonies, play in maintaining our immune, brain and digestive health. My advice when it comes to food, is if you wouldn’t choose to eat or drink chemicals then why eat foods that have been exposed to them? Because as you all know 'you are what you eat', which is the most important reason for choosing chemical free organic chicken.
Ill be trying out the Inglewood farms organic chicken next week so I'll be sure to share the recipe, but in the meantime, here is a link to one of my most popular chicken recipes, perfect for the fresh fig season!