My Thoughts On Organic Chicken

I recently tried organic, free range chicken for the first time. Yes, for the first time.

Organic chicken is so expensive. It rarely goes on sale where I live and actually very few stores even sell it.

I know the difference in good quality meat. I know it makes a difference what you feed the animals and how they are raised.

We raise hogs and are very careful what we feed our hogs. We want high quality meat and do the best we can to make sure it is just that.

Growing up my parent’s almost always had a cow that we would butcher for meat. We now buy half a beef every year from a local rancher. I know the difference in local raised, high quality beef versus what I can buy at the store.

But I have always figured chicken was not worth it. Yes, I know why they say organic chicken is better. And yes I know the debate about free range and what is truly better, and I just figured it was not really worth paying over twice the amount to get organic free range chickens.

Plus, we really do not eat very much chicken. After all we have a freezer full of pork, beef, and deer meat.

However, whole foods recently had a one day sale on organic chickens. I had to go to whole foods for a few other things, so I decided to buy a couple of organic free range chickens.

My husband was skeptical. He really did not see how there could be that much difference in the chicken, but he was fine with giving it a try.

Last week, I cooked one of these chickens in the crockpot just like I normally do. I did not do anything different. As my husband was eating his chicken for dinner, he said wow this chicken is really good. It is so moist and tender. He went on to say that it was some of the best chicken he has had.

And we all agreed that it was really good. Even my son, who does not usually like chicken, had thirds on the meat.

So, I now understand why people pay the extra for organic free range chicken. I am not sure I will only buy organic free range chicken because the cost is so high, but I will definitely be watching for it to come on sale and stocking up when they do.

What are your thoughts on the taste of organic free range chicken versus regular chicken? Do you think it is worth it?

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Comments

  1. So worth it! After eating a “real” chicken, it’s tough to go back.

  2. it’s the same as the difference between factory-farmed and free-range eggs, isn’t it? You eat something that’s only ever had corn and pellets of processed ___ (?) and compare it to something that’s eating grass and bugs and buds…

  3. We have switched to only buying, free-range/grass-fed beef and the air-chilled, organic chicken. I am not sure I think it tastes much different, but I think it is worth the price for health reasons. We simply eat much less, higher quality meat now. I do stock up when it’s on sale, but I think once you make the decision to just eat healthier you get over the sticker shock. Watch a few food documentaries about the meat industry and you’ll never want “cheap” meat again :)

  4. Rebecca kipe says:

    I bought some of those same chickens a couple weeks ago! And interestingly enough, 5 minutes ago I put it on the stove to cook so I could make it into chicken salad. Looking forward to seeing how it tastes.

  5. I’ve never had it, but always wondered it would be worth it to try and find it. I’m not even for sure our rural area even sells it. Would it be worth me going to the city (1.5 hrs away) and trying to find it on sale, and stocking up? We eat TONS of chicken.

    • @Phoebe @GettingFreedom, I think it is worth trying. I am not sure it is worth going 1.5 hours away to find a sale on it. I would say if you happen to get a good deal on it, when you are in the city doing other things, then try it.

    • @Phoebe @GettingFreedom, Stocking up is the way to go. It requires a budget adjustment the first time, but in reality you are saving money by changing a mindset: plan to purchase your chicken once a year or when it goes on sale, whatever works.
      As local producers (in Canada), we can only raise our pastured-poultry in the warmer months, so we are limited in how many we can raise and our supply runs out quickly each year. So, keeping the birds in the freezer ensures we have chicken for our family year-round. One year in the freezer is not too long for chicken.

  6. This is a timely post for me, as I’m getting ready to buy my first organic chicken on Monday.
    Up to now I’ve been buying regular boneless chicken breasts at Meijer or Costco, but I’m going to buy a whole organic chicken at Meijer-I’m embarrassed to admit it’s going to be the first whole chicken I’ve ever bought lol! I don’t know if it’s free range or not though (and it’s not local).
    I’m hoping to find a local poultry source but so far I haven’t had luck. Even the meat stores around me, that have local/organic beef, do not carry organic or local chicken :(

  7. The majority of the time we only buy organic chicken. We definitely taste the difference and agree it is more flavorful, moist, and juicy! And, of course, so much better for you.

  8. Tracy Emerson says:

    I agree with everything that Flora said. Once you have it, you eventually get over the sticker shock. I like what Joel Salatin (the Farmer in Food, Inc.) says about the price of food. He says that in the 60′s, on an average, 25% of a family’s budget went towards food. Today it is 3-5%. Our health reflects this. Personally, I’d rather pay a higher price for food and buy my clothes at Target.
    Costco has free range organic chicken breasts for a reasonable price. I know that whole chickens are healthier, but my kids are all about homemade chicken nuggets!

    • @Tracy Emerson,
      You’re lucky that your Costco carries them! I’ve asked mine, and the meat manager said the higher ups at the store decided $5.99lb for chicken would scare customers away. But, it’s still cheaper than the $8lb stuff at Meijer! I put in a request for them to start carrying it, but I’m not holding my breath

  9. It is tastier, it is healthier but it’s soooo expensive!!!

    • @Dorothy,
      It’s much cheaper to buy organic chicken in whole form, instead of by the piece. I haven’t bought it before because the $8lb for boneless chicken breasts at Meijer scared me-but then I realized they sell whole organic chickens for $3.49lb! I can get a big bird for under $16 and it will make three meals, plus I can use the carcass to make organic broth :) That actually makes it’s a pretty good buy!

  10. We tried a free-range organic whole chicken a month or so back and then, the next weekend, a ‘regular’ chicken. Cooked them the same way and…wow, definite difference. The free-range one had a better taste and was much more juicy than the regular one. I’ve not had much luck finding free-range chicken in anything but as a whole bird. So I’ll continue to buy the boneless, skinless chicken breasts for most of my regular meals (we eat a LOT of chicken) but when we are doing a whole bird, free-range it is!

  11. I was skeptical too… very much so. But then some friends from our church bought us groceries when I was pregnant with morning sickness, and one of the items was organic, free range chicken. After I prepared it and we ate it that night, I kept thinking to myself “why does this chicken taste so good?! I didn’t hardly do anything to it.” Then after trying regular chicken and then organic again, it is so obvious that the organic FR chicken is superior. Plus later I watch “Food Inc” and what they show about how conventional chickens are raised is disturbing. So I buy it now, because I live in a place where organic, free range meats are widely available, probably moreso than most places in the US. It’s worth it to me when the cost goes towards making a home cooked meal that my family really WANTS to eat.

  12. Tricia, above, took the words right out of my mouth. We’re lucky that the local grocer here only stocks ethically raised and slaughtered meats…it’s expensive but that means we eat less, budget for it better, and I’m not staring at the .89/lb sale price for “regular” chicken next to what I’m paying and it helps me stay resolved!
    They recently started stocking whole farm-raised organic chickens and they are amazing…I’m not great in the kitchen but these made it taste like I am! It reminds me of when I went to visit a Kosher friend from college and after telling me about it, she asked her mom to make me fried chicken. It was wonderful and they explained it was because of the meat and the rules for what qualifies meat to be Kosher. I believe it, this stuff was great!

  13. Ever since watching the documentary Food Inc, I can’t stand the thought of buying regular chicken. So I pay around $12 for a whole organic free-range chicken at a local farmer’s market. We eat less meat, but at least I know it is better for our family. My husband grumbles at the price though.

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but my local store carries organic, but it is not free-range. That is something you need to watch for. You can still get organic chickens that are raised on factory farms. Actually you have to watch about the wording “free-range” too. That just means that the chickens have access to the outside, it doesn’t mean that they actually spend most of their time outside. In reality they may just have a small enclosed runway that is outside. To really ensure the best quality poultry you need to look for “pastured” on the package or get to know your farmer and ask them how the chickens are raised.

  14. Totally agree! There is no comparison between factory chicken and organic pasture-raised chicken!
    So, what keeps you from raising your own yummy chickens since you already grow the hogs? Chickens are so-o-o-o easy, so worth the effort! Check out our opp @ http://www.KlasseWoodsNaturalFarm.com or email for more info.

    Love your blog!
    Darlene

  15. Kelly Irene says:

    This is a “must be organic” item in our house. We buy ours from a local farmer at $3.50/pound. While it still costs more than “conventional” chickens, it’s cheaper than WF and we get the added bonus of supporting a local business :)

  16. We eat only organic and free range meat products in this house. I’m very fortunate to live about an hour from a HUGE Amish community, and about a year ago I stumbled upon a store that stocks every kind of meat under the sun, all of which are fed a natural diet and are raised humanely. The prices are quite comparable to commercial stores; I can get a whole chicken for around $6.00 and beef is about $2.49-$2.99 a pound. Yes, it is a bit more, but it’s not as overpriced as similar products in an organic market. We began purchasing eggs there about eight months ago at $1.89/dozen, and two of my three children who refused to eat other eggs can’t get enough of these eggs…there really is a huge difference!
    Just this week we purchased grass fed cow milk- AMAZING! It tastes fresh and creamy…even the skim variety. My husband raised his eyebrow at the price, but I’ll just work it into the budget and leave him at home when I need to purchase milk in future! : – )

  17. I need to go out and get some organic free range chickens, since today is the last day of the sale at our local store. The are totally worth it. We’ll be smoking them tomorrow, YUM!

  18. We had some extra money in the grocery budget a few weeks ago and I purchased some thighs and a whole chicken. It was our first time choosing free-range and I have to say, the chicken was truly more juicy. I totally agree with you Lynn, it’s costly, but when it’s on sale, I’m going to stock up. It was really good and I felt so much better about eating it.

  19. I totally agree. The first time I roasted a whole organic chicken everyone at the table noticed how mild and juicy the meat was. The bird was plump and had lots of meat. When I told the family it was organic, free range they laughed. I’m always slipping in more organic food into their diets.

  20. Why is everyone going to the grocery store? Look for a local farmer – http://www.localharvest.org. More often than not, there is someone within driving distance that is raising organic chickens.
    And it is always better to buy whole chickens. It is outrageous to buy organic chicken breasts. You just have to adjust your recipes and look for more ideas. We always make sticky chicken in the Crock Pot and then I have some meat leftover for several other recipes and I always make stock with the bones. I haven’t bought chicken stock from the store in over 2 years.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    Just found your great site today, via Moneysavingmom and it is lovely!! One thing about chickens…it is important where you get them, just as other meats…and for that matter, most everything these days, being we are fed so many chemicals, etc in prepared foods.

    My brother-in-law used to work for some Chicken and Turkey processing plants. He asked us one day if we knew what happened to the leftover oreos, and other such cookies that did not sell. Of couse, we had no idea. They are taken by the train car load to these factories, unloaded via an opening in the bottom of the train car that does into some kind of hatch that feeds it down into where they make the poultry food…that begs another question eh? WHAT ELSE do they put into the poultry feed, besides the cookies? You might say…so what, what does it hurt for our chickens to eat leftover cookies? Well, for one thing there is an epidemic of weight problems and diabetes in this country (my hubby and I are in that catagory in recent years)…and if you are what you eat, I would think the chickens are as well…and if eating gobs of sugar…how can we possibly NOT get that into us as well? So you might think about that when eating poultry. We have to drive over an hour away to get to Whole Foods, but are able to do so because of having to go there for other reasons…so we always go to that store as well as Trader Joe’s…who by the way, have even better choices of meat at time…kosher and organic…that is the very best of the best…you will not taste better Turkey anywhere!!

    Another thought…instead of eating our poultry all sugared up…I would far rather spend my small sugar allowance on a great dessert, like cheesecake, etc? Wouldn’t you??

  22. Just stumbled on this via a google search about “does organic chicken taste better than factory chicken?”

    Thanks for the ‘food for thought’ and encouragement! I was trying to justify the $15-$18 whole chickens from my local farmers. Taste, along with health, will do it.

  23. Ok, I’ll be the dissenting voice. I spent boo coo bucks and bought organic, free-range, heritage chickens from a local farm that were butchered the day I picked them up. They were the worst chickens I’ve ever eaten. They were tough and dry no matter how I cooked them. Here’s my 2-cents on why: Americans like mostly white-meat chickens, so they are bred to be top heavy. Most chickens, organic or not, can’t stand up by the time they’re fully grown because their breasts are too big for their legs to support. Heritage chickens, on the other hand, run around until you catch them to slaughter them. They have strong bones–my husband couldn’t even split the breast bone with a cleaver–and are muscular and sinewy. This adds to the price of the chicken and detracts from the taste. So organic, maybe, but heritage, never again!

    • I don’t know what ‘heritage’ chickens are, but if they’re tough, it could be the breed of chicken or that they are simply older and should be treated as stewing hens. You want younger chickens for tenderness so ask how old they are. Should be around 6 months. Definitely less than a year!

  24. Hello. I had never had organic chicken my entire life, and when recently speaking with a nurse, he spoke about how delicious it was. Well, I tried it, and was surprised at how delicious it was. I broiled chicken thighs, and legs, and the pieces were so juicy, tender and delicious, reminding me of the chicken my mom used to prepare for us as kids more than 50 years ago. I will only buy organic chicken from now on, and will venture on to try other organic meats.

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