The Pastured Difference
Despite their occasionally humble station in the culinary world, chickens are really extraordinary. From their adaptation to thriving in virtually every climate, to the fact that they only need a small footprint to provide us with meat and eggs, chickens have been a food staple in cultures all around the world for centuries.
One of the most remarkable things about our favorite fowl is that every single one of the more than 12 billion chickens populating the planet are each descended from a single species – the Red Junglefowl of southern Asia. From that humble beginning, there are now hundreds of varieties of chickens inhabiting every continent on Earth.
There very well may be nearly two chickens to every human on the planet, but it’s hard to wager an exact guess on the actual poultry population. The number of chickens running around in backyards and rooftops around the world may actually be much higher. In the last few years, chicken surpassed beef as being the most-eaten meat in the USA. As of 2012, in fact, Americans are eating almost 60 pounds of chicken per person each year.
Despite those large numbers, however, many varieties of chickens are on their way out. What’s to blame? Industrialized food, for starters.
Being the most commonly used meat hybrid in the poultry world, the Cornish Cross is anything but a natural example of real, humane, sustainable meat. The manufacturing boom of the 1940s and scientific advances beginning in the early 1970s led to the genetic meddling which produced the “franken-birds” we see on grocery shelves these days.
Oddly, the best trait of the Cornish Cross from an industrialized standpoint, is also its worst trait in terms of health: its phenomenal rate of growth. These birds have been engineered to grow at such a rate that it is constantly outstripping all its natural body systems – from the skeletal system to the internal organs and nervous system. In fact, so as to put more energy into growing meat, the Cornish Cross doesn’t even waste the energy to grow feathers.
While the rest of the unconventional atrocities of these meat hybrids are no secret, our time is better served in focusing on the meat that’s good for us – the meat we should be eating. Instead of scanning the supermarket shelves for buzzwords like “free-range,” or “grain-free,” there is one method for raising quality meat that far surpasses all the others – pasturing.
The manner in which pastured chickens are organically raised not only provides the best quality meat one could ever find, it’s also a return to a more natural method of farming – the same way our great-grandparents enjoyed their meat. Sustainable, humane, and full of all the goodness nature intended, pastured chickens stand apart.
The chickens here at Rosy Tomorrows are great examples of organically-raised, pastured meat. Heritage breeds like Dominique, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Australorp, and Freedom Ranger are afforded the liberty to roam the generous pastures around the farm. These birds spend their waking hours walking and scouring the grounds for tasty seeds, grains, petals, and insects.
In addition to their foraging, their diets are supplemented with a certified organic and non-GMO feed to ensure these heritage birds stay in tip-top shape. Though they are more expensive to raise and require more time to get to market weight, pastured chickens reward the effort with meat and eggs that not only taste amazing, but are also full of the nutrients missing from other industrialized meat hybrids.
The tradition of returning to pastured, heritage breed animals is vital to the future of food across the world. It has been said that the “chicken of tomorrow should be the chicken of yesterday,” and that statement has never been more true. Because it can’t be industrialized, raising heritage breed chickens puts food production back where it should be – in the hands of local farmers who are passionate about the foods that end up on your plate.
At Rosy Tomorrows Heritage Farm, that passion is what drives us to provide you with access to healthy, good-quality food. As you visit us on the farm this week for Provision Day or meet us out at a local farmers market, we hope you’ll take home a chicken or two – so that you can taste the difference pasturing makes!