In trying to be more vigilant of what I eat on a daily basis I’ve started to read many of the ingredient labels or learn how certain foods are produced.
Nobody told me you would need a degree in chemistry just to understand some of the stuff in your foods. Also some of the information on food labels just doesn’t make any sense or are completely misguiding.
For example, there is a lot of discussion as to what is best for you in terms of your choices in meats and poultry.
Some say it’s more humane to pick meats that are free range or farm raised or natural or organic. They say it’s also best to make sure it’s hormone free or raised without antibiotics.
But what does that all really mean?
Let’s took a look at poultry.
According to Chickopedia (No, I didn’t make that up, it is the nickname for the National Chicken Council), there isn’t a true federal government definition of the term “free-range.” So when a company wishes to use that claim for their label they send their request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture which will approve the use on a case by case basis. The USDA will generally grant permission if the chickens have access to the outdoors for at least some part of the day whether the chicken decides to go outside or not.
Me: Here you go little chick, chicks. The door is open and the sun is shining.
Chicken: Look lady it’s the dead of summer and 100 degrees out. My feathered backside is staying right here on this nest and nice little air fan you set up.
And it appears we have a lot of lazy chickens in this country. Either that or they can’t find their way toward the exit door. Chickopedia reports that less than one percent of chicken nationwide are raised as free range chickens.
That’s a lot of chickens just hanging around inside doing far less than me on a daily basis.
Then there’s the issue of the use of antibiotics. If you look at the food labels on many chicken products most if not all say “Raised without Antibiotics.”
Well here’s a news flash for you. According to Chickopedia a package of chicken labeled “Raised without Antibiotics,” indicates that the flock was raised without the use of products classified as antibiotics for animal health maintenance, disease prevention or treatment of disease. Animal health products not classified as antibiotics, some of which control parasites may still be used.
Me to farm neighbor: What the heck is that rash on the back part of your hen?
Farm neighbor: Not sure but I gave her some animal health products. Something called Methamphetamine to “speed,” that healing process along. It’s not an antibiotic so it’s OK.
And the more I researched the more confused I became. Several articles I came across said antibiotics have been used in poultry farming in large quantities for years. Some say since the 1940s.
So I started to dig a little deeper and found that many of those animal health products (code word for non-antibiotic, antibiotics which are given through feed or injected into the eggs) helped in promoting growth. (Think, heck yeah bigger chicken breasts).
Chicken Producer: Woohoo, bigger breasts mean bigger bucks. Put those babies in smaller cages so they can’t walk around and lose weight. Better yet keep them indoors in tight cramped rooms by the thousands!!
I’m sure many of you have seen the commercials from a well-known chicken company saying their chickens have always been antibiotic free. Their claim being No antibiotics ever.
Liar, liar your chickens on fire!
It turns out this particular company started going antibiotic free in 2002 in response to consumer’s wishes. And even then they still used antibiotics (you know those animal health products) for disease prevention and treatment.
In 2007 this company removed all HUMAN antibiotics from its feed. And in 2009 this company began phasing out the COMMON practice of using antibiotics with vaccines in eggs in the hatchery. It wasn’t until just two years ago that this company completely removed all the ROUTINE use of humane antibiotics from its hatchery.
Well what the cluck, cluck? Did chicken producers use antibiotics or not?
So I went back to Chickopedia to find this.
All chicken is “antibiotic-free” in the sense that no antibiotic residues are present in the meat due to the withdrawal periods and other precautions required by the government.
Does that mean they have to place the chicken in detox before they can sell the meat?
Poor chickens those withdrawals must be awful.
Folks I’m just starting to scratch the surface on this stuff. For me the jury is still out as I can understand a farmer wanting to care for their flock and tending to those that may get sick or in need of healing.
But to what extend and for how long?
On the other hand some of this stuff is scary to say the least. I can understand why some folks choose to become vegan. Or why most stay content in NOT knowing anything or than whether their chicken is roasted, Bar-B-Queued or as in my case - fried.