Have you ever come across the term “free range” when shopping for chicken? You might be wondering what the term “free range” means and if free range chicken is really better for your health, well, let us dig deeper into this topic.
What is free range chicken?
Free range is a farming method that allows chickens to roam freely outdoors within an area instead of being confined by a cage indoors for 24 hours a day. Used as an industry standard, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines free range chickens as chickens that come from producers who demonstrate that their chickens have been allowed “access to the outside”.
What are the benefits of free range chicken?
So, what is so special about free range chickens and what makes them better than conventionally raised chickens? We are now going to explore some of the benefits that come from the consumption of free range chicken.
Firstly, free range chickens tend to have higher amounts of nutrients and minerals. Based on a study, it was discovered that compared with meat from conventional chickens, meat from free range chicken is significantly lower in fat and higher in protein, iron and zinc. (PMC, 2014) Protein is an important nutrient to our body as it helps repair and generate our body’s tissues and cells. Iron is a mineral that ensures the growth and development of the body and is an essential element for blood production. Zinc is a mineral that is essential for the normal functioning of the body’s immune system. Hence with an increase in these nutrients and minerals, it would be more beneficial for our health.
Moving on, conventionally reared chickens are typically kept indoors and denied access to the outdoors, this causes them to have weak immune systems so diseases can spread rapidly. To help combat this problem, giving the chickens antibiotics with their meals becomes a common practice. Although antibiotics are given to free range chickens as well, the use of antibiotics is lesser as these chickens are not raised in complete confinement hence they are able to build stronger immune systems and require lesser antibiotics. By consuming less conventionally reared chickens, consumers can avoid the consumption of unnecessary antibiotics and other toxins.
Lastly, though unrelated to our health, studies have shown that chickens given outdoor access have juicer, more tender and better textured meat. It is believed by researchers that the amount of exercise that free range chickens are able to get, affects the development of their muscles. Chickens with more developed muscles tend to have a better flavour and texture.
Where can I buy free range chicken?
Free range chicken may only be available in specialty stores and it can be a tedious process to conveniently shop for it. Sufficient research has to be done to ensure that you are obtaining the best free range chicken, reason being that the definition of free range chicken can be rather broad so some producers may be more concerned with sticking to the letter of the law, not its spirit, and find ways to cut corners while still being able to label their chickens as free range.
All of Kinohimitsu’s Essence of Chicken are made exclusively with 180 days old free range chicken, ensuring that you reap the benefits of consuming free range chicken and its wonderful nutrients conveniently and affordably.