What Are We Really Eating?

What do you think of when you imagine a farm? A white fence extending for miles around a lush green pasture with an enormous red barn plopped right in the middle of it all. Chickens, cows, and pigs are roaming freely without a care in the world. This would be an ideal place to grow livestock, if it were actually real. This is where we all think our fresh produce and meats come from, but it is quite the opposite. In reality, there is no pasture or white fence or big red barn, but there is a small shelter holding about a hundred thousand chickens. Do we really know where are food is coming from or if it is an accurate representation of the food labels placed on it? Big businesses want to keep us in the dark about all these details such as, where our food is coming from, what it is exposed to, and the treatment of the animals we use as a food source.

What does “free range,” “organic,” and “all natural” truly mean? “Organic/free-range chickens, also referred to as “all natural,” are known for containing no artificial ingredients or preservatives and being minimally processed. They also are raised or grown in an environmentally friendly fashion. Producing free-range/organic chicken responds to consumers’ demands for a potentially healthier, more natural, and better-tasting product.Free-range chickens have access to outdoor pens and are allowed to roam and forage freely. There are several different types of free-range systems, such as pastured (floorless pens which are moved daily) and day range (portable housing which is moved less frequently). The USDA allows food products to be labeled ‘certified organic,’ if certain criteria are met, including the following: the land on which the food is produced must be free of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides for three years, the food product is produced according to the certifying organization’s requirements, and the program is inspected annually” (Neufeld).pastedGraphic.png What they do not tell us is that, “birds raised for meat may be sold as “free-range” if they have government certified access to the outdoors. The door may be open for only five minutes and the farm still qualifies as “free-range.” Apart from the “open door,” no other criteria such as environmental quality, number of birds, or space per bird, are included in the term “free-range.” For the most part though, 2,000 to 20,000 chickens are confined to no more than a square foot of living space, which is equivalent to a regular sheet of paper” (“Free Range”). This goes to show we cannot believe everything we are told. The big chicken industries, such as Tyson, think we are too ignorant to know the difference between truly “free range” chickens and non.

Animals are meant to be free not cooped up in a cage all day long, especially chickens. This is not the only form of torture chickens on farms endure. Usually they like to spend most of their time pecking at the ground, which is impossible when their beaks are cut off. “Debeaking is a painful facial mutilation that impairs a hen’s ability to eat normally and preen her feathers” (“Free Range”).

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And if this is not bad enough, male baby chicks are killed at hatcheries because there is no need for them since they cannot lay eggs. Although this seems cruel, the way that the hatcheries kill them is even worse. These adorable new born chicks are placed into trash bags to suffocate and then are electrocuted to be sure all are dead.

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Although the price of “organic” and “free range” chickens are more expensive then those that are not. “Part of the reason for this higher value is because these eggs cost more money to produce; however, they are better, healthier eggs all the way around.  They have a higher nutritional value and the hens themselves are healthier than the caged birds kept under artificial light and fed a steady commercial diet” (The How and Why of Free-Range Chickens). It truly is worth the extra cash, if you know the chickens are coming from a well reputable farm. This way we know what we are eating and it’s nutritious value.

The findings showed that free-range chicken eggs produced the following results:
• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta-carotene (The How and Why of Free-Range Chickens).

We want to make sure what we are eating is all natural and not have to rely on false advertising. We do not want chickens who have been pumped with steroids. We do not want chickens which have been confined to tight quarters. We do not want chickens who have been tortured for their meat. We want big poultry industries to give us high quality and healthy meats. We want change. We want to know what we are really eating!

Works Cited

“”Free-Range” Poultry and Eggs: Not All They’re Cracked Up To Be – United Poultry Concerns.” “Free-Range” Poultry and Eggs: Not All They’re Cracked Up To Be – United Poultry Concerns. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Neufeld, Elizabeth Amegan. Consumer Preferences for Organic/free-range Chicken. N.p.: n.p., 2002. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.

“”The How and Why of Free-Range Chickens” by Regina Anneler.” “The How and Why of Free-Range Chickens” by Regina Anneler. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

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