Chicken, turkey and other poultry can be a very nourishing addition to our diet when raised properly, meaning on pasture where they can forage on plants and bugs (chicken are not vegetarian!!) and ideally in a regenerative setting!
Not only is buying pastured chicken (and eggs) better for the animals and the planet, but it’s also much more nutritious and healthier for us. At the end of the day, we are only as healthy as what we eat was.
It also tastes significantly better, especially when you buy a heirloom and slow growth breed that hasn’t been hybridized for maximum output/speed which dilutes flavor. I’ve often heard chicken referred to as a bland food, almost resembling tofu that needs lots of seasoning to be palatable. In my opinion, chicken should have a distinct taste and be delicious with just some salt🧂
A problem with factory farmed chicken is that the birds are fed a diet that they were never intended to be fed: lots of GMO grains, most notably soy and corn. Chickens cannot really process the high amounts of omega 6 in grains and they get unhealthily fat, and their meat contains an abnormal ratio of omega 3:6 fatty acids. Their metabolism cannot convert the fatty acids in grains into stable saturated fat like ruminants can, so they have an unhealthy and dangerous fatty acids profile (both for them and the humans that eat them).
The graphic below does a good job of comparing the change in Omega 6 fatty acids found in chicken meat over the past few decades:
Nutrients in Chicken and Poultry:
Chicken is full of complete protein, which is important since our bodies need all essential amino acids to correctly build our tissues and cells 💪🏻
The skin and bones are full of Collagen and glucosamines which you can reap the benefits of if you cook bone in cuts 🍖
The meat also contains many of the essential b vitamins including B6, B12 and niacin which are all important for mitochondrial health and detoxification!
Chickens fed a species appropriate diet also contain some healthy omega fatty acids but overall, chicken is a lot leaner than beef or bison. When eating chicken, I always add extra butter or add a fatty side like avocado to make sure that my body can absorb and utilize all the nutrients. Especially a chicken or turkey breast is very lean.
I love these two graphics posted by Strong Sistas: they emphasize the importance of pasture raising poultry and feeding them a species appropriate diet
Where to buy: I love to buy a whole chicken and roast it, not only because it’s more economicalf and I can eat leftovers in my big fat salad, but I also find that that’s the way to honor the animal, eat nose to tail and get all the flavor and nutrients from the whole bird including healthy fats, collagen and amino acids!
Finding high quality chicken is pretty difficult since most farmers feed their pasture raised chicken and Turkey a supplemental feed that usually consists of grain, or non-gmo corn/soy if the chicken is organic.
Always look for an organic chicken since that ensures that the chicken was not given antibiotics or gmo feed. That is a non negotiable for me.
You can also look for animal welfare certifications on packaging, and you can feel pretty comfortable buying anything better than step 3, although I try to only buy 4 or better.
At stores like Whole Foods, Marys chicken and Turkey products are usually a good pick (they are step 4) and come in a variety of cuts (breasts, wings, drumsticks, thighs, whole birds, and ground).
Whole Foods also sells chicken sausages from Bilinski which taste yummy and are step 3 as well!
Some grocery stores also sell Force of Nature, which is a brand dedicated to selling only regeneratively raised animal products, and they have some chicken products as well. I’ve seen them at Whole Foods and other grocery stores, or you can shop their website!
Ideally, the chicken is pasture raised and fed a soy and corn free feed. I really like US Wellness Meats, White Oak Pastures or Northstar Bison because all have corn and soy free poultry options .
All have a wide variety of cuts including sausages, ground poultry, organ meats and whole birds.
You can save 10$ at Northstar Bison if you use my referral link.
If you get ButcherBox delivered to your house, they also sell pastured chicken products you can add to your next box 🐔
Although I am a huge advocate for consuming ample animal fat, if you cannot get a high quality source of poultry, I always recommend the leanest cuts to avoid consuming PUFAs or toxins since animals store those in their fat. Also, stay clear of pre roasted grocery store rotisserie chickens, since those are usually cooked in inflammatory seed oils and with hidden nasties in the seasoning!
Recipe Wrap: some of our favorite ways to incorporate pastured chicken into our lives