When Jesse & I began raising poultry, we had a lot of skepticism about whether or not the way that we raised our birds truly made a big difference & whether or not that difference was worth the price. It wasn’t long after finishing our first batch of processing that the reviews started rolling in. It did. What makes Hidden Creek poultry so special? The way that we feed them.
There is no debate that a diet of an animal directly impacts not only the taste, but also the quality of nutrition that the animal provides to us as consumers. When it comes to raising our birds, we believe, that the best place for them to live is outside on bountiful pastures where they have the chance to live as nature intended, not confined in a barn. & yes friends, Repetitive Rita over here, the quality of pasture that these animals are being raised on is probably the most integral part to our business.
While commercial chicken houses are designed to feed the masses of our ever growing population, there are some things that you should be aware of as a consumer. The first being, the chicken that you’re buying at the grocery store….it’s not supposed to look like that. 'That' being the only way that I can even begin to explain what is on our shelves. As Americans, we have been trained to think that boneless chicken breasts should be pale in pigment with white fat & that they are large in size. I know what a chicken looks like at 5-6 weeks old (the age that commercial processors take their birds to slaughter) and I can assure you, that even birds double that age do not have breasts of that size. We are buying DD cup chicken breasts at the grocery store when their natural size is probably more like a B cup. That's not body shaming, that's just reality.
Breast augmentation in humans is one thing, but should be really be doing it to the food that we are putting into our bodies? Better yet, should we being paying for it? Chicken plumping is essentially injecting a chicken broth/saline or water mix into the chicken. Depending on the box store brand that you are buying, that ‘juice’ can be anywhere from 10-30% of the weight of the chicken. In simpler terms, this means that 10-30% of the cost of the chicken is really just the cost of water.
At the time of this post, the national average cost of boneless skinless chicken breast is $3.99...if you can even find them. This means that of that cost, $1.32 is simply paying for ‘broth,’ or as I like to call it, water. You can look at it this way, you are really paying about $5.50 per lb. of chicken. $5.50 per pound for a commercial grown chicken that not only lacks flavor, but is also lacking nutrition.
Large poultry producers have marketed plumping as a way to ‘add flavor’ to the product, when in all reality, its just a way to increase profits and lead the consumer to believe that they are getting more bang for their buck. It’s also pumping us full of sodium, something you would never think that you’re secretly consuming in a chicken breast, without us blinking an eye. One chicken breast along could be 60% of your sodium intake before you even start eating the rest of your meal.
Oh, and have I mentioned that FSIS has flagged needle-injected meat as a high risk carrier of E.coli? To combat this little dilemma, the solution or ‘recommendation’ to these processors is that they apply ‘an allowed antimicrobial agent to the surface of the product prior to processing. That doesn’t sound too ’natural’ to me and it certainly isn’t listed on your labels.
Some may say, ‘well, I only buy organic’ (pinky finger out) & to that I say, jokes on you. The government has qualified water & salt as ‘organic.’ This allows for certified organic chicken to undergo this exact same process. & other than the fact that they’re being fed ‘organic’ feed, they’re raised just the same as all of the rest of the chicken that you’re seeing in the cooler at the supermarket. In a chicken house with 20,000 other cluckers. I have this conversation on a daily basis & I don’t know who needs to hear it, but an organic label on your food at the grocery store has about as much meaning as a nonGMO label on your chocolate chips. Knowing your farmer, knowing how they feed & knowing their management practices is truly the only way to know what you are putting into your body. But that’s a conversation for another time.
An average sized ‘normal’ (whatever that even is these days) is only between 5 & 6 ounces. Anything larger than that has been plumped. Just a fact. It’s no coincidence that’s exactly the size that our own chicken breasts here at Hidden Creek average. No additives, no preservatives, no fancy labels; just chicken.
When it comes to feeding your family, you are faced with a lot of decisions. What's accessible? What can we afford? What values do we have when it comes to nourishing our bodies? What healthy eating habits do we want to instill in our children? The list goes on and on, and as a Mama, I can relate whole heartedly relate. Here are some quick facts & easy things to look for when choosing what makes the most sense for your family:
- Chicken should be a rich fleshy pink in color - not pale in pigment.
- Chicken breasts in the natural state a firm & dense, not stringy in texture.
- Golden in color fat is the direct results of a grass based & high chlorophyll diet.
- Government labels have little meaning & are a marketing tactic. Don't let them sway you one way or another when it comes to nutrional value.
- Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company's products are more environmentally sound.