Organic Chicken FAQ: Is it worth buying?

As the years go by, people are getting more and more health-conscious, and choosing what types of foods to eat is a big part of being healthy. Junk foods, sweets, and foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fats are always in discussion when discussing healthy foods. Although pork is a big part of most people’s diets, health-conscious individuals are staying away from pork and even from commercially-produced chicken. Broilers produced by big corporations also contain a high amount of fats and this is the main reason why people are starting to look toward organic chicken.

What does it mean when chicken is organic?

Organic does not apply only to chickens. To officially be called “organic”, the animal (goat, chicken, cow, pig, other livestock), must be grown without antibiotics and other growth-enhancement chemicals. The same thing can be applied to plants and other grown foods. Organic crops must also not contain fertilizers filled with growth-enhancement chemicals.

Organic chicken means that the chicken must be fed with locally-grown organic feeds like corn, rice, cassava, papaya, fruits, vegetables, and other crops not grown with pesticides and commercial fertilizers. Fishmeal can be a good source of protein for organic chicken.

Free-range chicken in the Philippines. Image credit The Poultry Site

What’s the difference between an organic and inorganic chicken?

The main difference between organic chicken and regular backyard-raised chicken is the fat content of the skin. Organic chicken has between 5 to 13% less total fat depending on the cut, but once the skin is removed, the fat content of the meat is similar between the two types. Both types of chicken are naturally low in sodium as well.

Is it worth buying organic chicken?

Yes depending on your health requirements. One study found that organic chicken contained 38% more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Eating organic chicken may also lower your food-poisoning risk: In a 2010 study, fewer than 6% of organic birds were infected with salmonella, compared with almost 39% of commercial ones.

How do you know if the chicken is organic?

If you are buying from the supermarket, look for the “organic label”.
The farm that produced the chicken meat must be certified organic by the Department of Agriculture. Organic feed cannot contain animal by-products, antibiotics, or genetically engineered grains and cannot be grown using persistent pesticides or chemical fertilizers.

You also have an option to grow and raise your own organic chicken if you are not sure of what you are buying and/or don’t trust the source.

Is organic chicken really organic?

Related to the above question, there is no assurance that organic chickens in teh supermarket are 100% organic. In fact, there is no such thing as 100% organic. All too often, organic chicken is simply factory-farmed chicken that was fed organic feed. Once again, the animal agriculture industry has proved that the only truly humane diet is one free of animal products.

Is all organic chicken antibiotic-free?

In the Philippines, the term “organic” is not really a big deal. The Department of Agriculture is more focused on “free-range chicken” rather than “organic”. Free-range chicken in the Philippines is as good as organic because the birds are not confined, are free to roam, can eat grass and insects, and are fed by a variety of local foods with less commercial feeds. The government has released guidelines on free-range chicken farming here. Sick free-range chickens are mostly given lemongrass, garlic, ginger, galangal, and other medicinal herbs as substitutes for commercial antibiotics.

In the US, the USDA National Organic Program requires that in order to be certified with the organic label, poultry must be raised with no antibiotics, fed 100% organic feed, and given access to outdoor space — although the time outside and physical area requirements are unspecified by law.

Does organic chicken taste different?

The difference in the taste of chickens depends on breed, the food they eat, and how they are raised. If the same breed is raised differently, they may taste differently.

Chickens that are fed commercially and grow faster taste different than those feed with locally-grown foods like fruits and vegetables. Commercially-grown chicken always has softer meat because they only require a shorter time to grow.

There is no big difference especially when you are growing the same breed but the saturated fat under the skin of the chicken fed by a commercial feed might be noticeable. See our article on the best-tasting chicken breeds.

Is organic chicken good for you?

Organic chicken is healthier for most of us. While there is no significant nutritional difference between organic and factory-farmed chicken, non-organic chickens that are frequently given antibiotics can develop antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria—plus they’re more likely to be infected with salmonella. Inorganic chicken also has more fats so if you are on diet, eating extra fat could definitely not help.

What is the healthiest chicken to eat?

If this question refers to the type of chicken, the answer is personally-grown chicken in your backyard. There is no other healthier option than the ones you grow because you exactly know what you are feeding your birds.

If this question is what part of the chicken is the healthiest to eat, then it is the chicken breast.

Darker cuts like the thigh and drumstick contain higher caloric content than lighter cuts like the breast. Keeping the skin or frying chicken will also add saturated fat. If you’re switching out red meat for chicken, you’ll want to stick with chicken breast, as it’s the healthiest cut of the bird.

What is the cleanest chicken to buy?

If you want to keep things simple, buy organic chicken or free-range chicken (if you are in the Philippines). These birds are fed USDA-certified organic feed, so they’re free of any pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, additives, or animal by-products. They also meet the “free-range” criteria—meaning they have access to the outdoors.

Why organic chicken are so expensive?

Organic chickens are more expensive to purchase because they cost more to produce – feed accounts for about 70 percent of the cost to rear organic chicken and these birds are eating for double the amount of time. Plus, the older they get the more they consume. Additionally, organic chickens need larger space where they can roam around and provided a variety of feeds. In the Philippines, free-range organic chicken costs from P250 up to P800 per kilo compared to just P160 for commercially-grown broilers.

Is Costco organic chicken really organic?

Any chicken bearing the USDA Organic label is supposed to be raised in slightly more humane conditions. Costco’s spokesperson said the company adheres to the Department of Agriculture’s standards for organic birds—meaning they live in less crowded conditions than conventionally raised chicken—and its organically raised chickens “have access to the outdoors.” Indeed, the USDA’s standards for organic chickens stipulate that the birds should be provided exposure to sunlight, fresh air, shade, and exercise areas.

Is organic food really better for you?

Is organic food more nutritious than regular food? Organic foods are not healthier, per se, in terms of nutrients. You are still getting the same benefits in conventionally grown foods as you are in organic foods. The major advantage is eating organic foods will make you less likely to get sick than eating non-organic foods.

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