Why Buy Organic Chicken?
Recent TV programmes and reports in the UK’s press have been highlighting the ugly fact that many chickens are given drugs to speed up their rate of growth. Antibiotics are most widely used where chickens are kept in horrifically cramped and damp conditions, with no natural ventilation, where diseases spread rapidly.
Of course, organic farmers do a number of things to ensure that chickens are reared as naturally as possible. And companies that process organic chicken into things like organic chicken nuggets must also follow stringent standards.
For starters, antibiotic growth promoters cannot be used. Sick organic birds must be treated with appropriate veterinary medicine, so they can be given antibiotics if they’re very poorly. But they cannot be given drugs on a regular and routine basis, something that almost all non-organic poultry have to endure.
Also, on Soil Association registered farms, the number of chickens housed in a single shed is restricted to 1,000. A non-organic intensive chicken farm may have as many as 40,000 in the same shed.
Organic birds are kept free-range, having continuous daytime access to clean pasture, except in adverse weather. Non-organic birds are almost always cooped up night and day, never setting foot on the ground.
And organic chickens are reared for at least 81 days, allowing chicks to grow at their natural rate. Most non-organic chickens sold in supermarkets have been killed after only 42 days. Not only is this inhumane, but of course, it makes them bland, fatty and tasteless.
In addition, the Soil Association insists on full and clear labeling of processed chicken products. They are able to trace back to the farm all ingredients used in any Soil Association chicken products. Their organic certification standards state that food must undergo as little processing as is practical. Additives that are dangerous to health such as hydrogenated fat are not permitted, so organic processed foods like chicken nuggets are much better for your health than the non-organic equivalent.
Of course, you can feel secure that you aren’t being conned, as organic standards are legally binding. All organic businesses must be licensed by law, and are fully inspected at least once a year. So if you want to see for yourself how organic animals are reared, why not visit one of the Soil Association’s forty open farms.
For details, visit www.soilassociation.org/farmvisits