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Why You Should Eat Organic, Free-Range Chicken

So far, I’ve talked about organic beef and organic eggs. Continuing on the protein trend, I’d like to say a bit about organic free-range chicken.

Chicken is one of the most popular foods in America, and it shows no sign of losing its status as one of our favorite “healthy” choices. When you buy supermarket chicken, however, there are a few things you should know.

First of all, it is common practice to dose commercially raised chickens with arsenic. Believe it or not, this poison helps them grow faster because it controls a parasite in their stomachs. The arsenic (labeled as “organic” arsenic which when metabolized becomes inorganic) incorporates into the bird’s tissues, particularly its fat.

The practice of dosing chickens with arsenic not only contaminates the chicken meat and eggs, it also contaminates the environment. The arsenic is excreted into the chicken litter and, through watering processes and rain, the arsenic leaches into the ground, eventually making it all the way down to the water table. End result? Arsenic in our water supply.

Need more reasons to avoid supermarket chicken? Their feed is laced with pesticides, which also ends up in the bird’s tissues. The animals are routinely administered high levels of antibiotics as well. Like all of the other bad stuff, the antibiotics are passed on to you through the chicken meat. And here’s one last reason for you: When compared to organic chicken, commercially raised, supermarket grade chicken is also higher in bacteria that cause foodborne illness.

When you buy chicken, look for free-range or cage-free organic chicken. These birds are raised naturally, without arsenic and antibiotics. Any feed given to the birds is certified organic, which means it’s free of pesticides. Plus, the birds are allowed to roam freely and consume foods they would in the wild. All of this results in a healthier bird, which means a tastier, more nutritious meal for you.

Fortunately, it’s becoming easier to find organic free-range chicken. Even some of the supermarket chains carry it these days. There are always my two favorites: Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Check out their websites for locations near you. Your local health food store might carry organic free-range chicken as well. If you have farms nearby, you could go farm direct. Try searching on Local Harvest for farmers or farmer’s markets where organic free-range chicken may be available.


Mercola, Joseph. “Be Very Careful Eating Chickens You Buy at the Supermarket.”  Web. 16 Jan. 2007.

3 comments… add one
  • Hi Cherie,

    What is the sort of price differential to be expected when paying for organic free range chickens vs. the commercial ones at large grocery stores?

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell
    Finding A Husband Online Over 40

  • ‘Free range’ is also kinder to the chickens. In factory conditions, they are squeezed so tightly into huge warehouses that they have little room to move. Their beaks are removed – without anaesthetic – so they won’t damage each other in the cramped conditions). They are bred to grow quicker and larger, but their skeletons don’t keep up, so they are prone to heart disease and leg problems. Because they’re so squeezed, disease spreads rapidly, thus all the anti-biotics and other nasties they are given. And you don’t want to know what happens in the slaughterhouse – or “processing plants” as they are called. For humane purposes alone, we should all be eating free-range chickens and turkeys.


    • Yep. The treatment of the animals is a topic for an entirely different post. 🙂


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