When looking to purchase chicken for your next meal, consider a free-range chicken from your local butcher or grocery store. Free-range chicken are allowed to roam freely outdoors rather than being penned up in small cages for the vast majority of their life. This often makes for a better-tasting bird, and consumers can feel less guilt knowing that the chicken was raised in humane conditions. Free-range chickens might be contained to a coop during the night to keep them safe from predators, but during the daytime, they’re allowed access to the outside.
What Does Free-Range Mean?
While not necessarily antibiotic free, many chickens raised in a free-range environment do have lower levels of antibiotics found in their system. Since they are not kept in as close quarters as their commercially-raised counterparts, diseases do not spread amongst them as quickly, making them less likely to need precautionary drugs. Conventional chickens are also given steroids to help them grow bigger and produce more meat, whereas free-range chickens are usually allowed to grow naturally. This advantage is then passed along to you, the consumer.
Although free-range chicken will usually cost a bit more than regular chicken, it can be found at many local grocers and grocery store chains quite easily. Local butchers often carry this high-quality meat as well, although establishing a relationship with a nearby farm would also be a great way to supply your household. Free-range chicken can be around $2-4 more per pound than conventional chicken, but the health benefits to you and your family can be immense.