How truly pasture-raised chicken benefits you
June 8, 2023
What's the secret to the best chicken that you've ever tasted?
It's quite simple, really: to raise AND process that chicken on the farm.
If this sounds like an oversimplification, let me assure you that the transportation our food routinely undergoes DOES have a significant impact on taste and quality.
Consider, for example, the fruit you see at the supermarket that's been shipped from South America. Does it taste just as flavorful and fresh as local fruit from a u-pick farm? Does it keep in your refrigerator for as long as an item from your local farm's CSA?
Of course not. Although our transportation system has many benefits, like making food available year-round and allowing previously exotic foods to become more accessible, we also usually experience a decline in quality and freshness.
This isn't just a matter of taste -- or how long it keeps in the fridge, however. A lower-quality product also means a product that offers less to you as a consumer. This is true from a nutritional standpoint, and also an experiential one.
Our customers routinely tell me that our chicken is the best they've ever tasted. They want to know the secret -- and I tell them that it's because we kill the chickens by hand, on our own farm.
To consider why this matters, think about what it would take to transport a chicken to a processing facility. In North Carolina, where there is no USDA processing facility, this would mean transporting the birds out of state.
So imagine the journey: the poultry are crammed together in a crate, for a few hours or perhaps longer. Because they're crammed together, they become hot and dehydrated. And, as they get on the road, they're bombarded by sights and sounds that are loud and overwhelming -- creating stress overall, and tension in their muscles.
Then, when they reach the facility, they enter into an even more stressful environment. Chickens are routinely electrified first as part of their harvesting -- or even gassed. Once they've been killed, they're routinely washed in bleach to prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria.
One of the biggest problems with this system? No matter how the chicken has been raised, a high-stress environment at the end of life directly impacts the quality of meat. When animals are stressed (especially for prolonged periods of time), their glycogen is depleted. This alters their pH, resulting in less enzyme activity in the meat, and therefore a less tender product for you.
As farmers committed to the most humane practices -- and for you, as a consumer who wants the best food -- there has to be a better way.
That's why we've invested in creating a simple processing facility on our farm. We kill each chicken by hand, in the most humane manner possible, in the least stressful conditions.
We do this with a small crew of local helpers, who are highly skilled and compassionate. We work together at each step along the way. And they're fairly compensated -- so that money stays within our local economy.
We don't use any harsh chemicals or additives that you're trying to avoid, either. Chickens are lightly sprayed with a simple water/vinegar mixture, and flash frozen to ensure the best quality and longest shelf life.
You're looking for a farm that's committed to raising chickens in the best way possible. Shouldn't this extend into what happens when these animals are harvested, too?