Which chicken to buy if you have a choice?

Just a quick post in response to an episode of River Cottage recently repeated on TV.

The protein-to-fat content in three types of chicken was compared.  The three types of chicken were:

  1. the bog-standard cheapo that takes up most of the supermaket shelves,
  2. corn-fed RSPCA-approved that gets a bit of space, and
  3. free-range organic that only gets a sliver of shelf.

I’ve been trying to find confirmation of River Cottage’s findings from other sources on the internet but failed so far.  I couldn’t even find a River Cottage link to pass on.

So, relying on my memory, the amount of protein in the cheap chook was so low as to be a waste of time and effort if your aim is improve the amount of protein in your diet.  The surprise of the day – the corn-fed, RSPCA-approved meat wasn’t much better.  It was the last one, the most expensive one, that provided a decent amount of omega-3 rich protein.  It also had less fat in the fat-to-protein ratio than the other two.

It was noted that the free-range bird required access to different grasses and all the little bugs that live there.  The producer also had to give the bird a longer growing time so the grasses and bugs could become the useful protein.  This, of course, adds to the cost of the final product.

I can’t re-run the experiments myself on the local chooks, but I did notice something today when I selected certified organic thigh meat at the supermarket.  The organic meat was much darker in colour and had less fat.  The darker colour is supposed to be a good indicator.  I particularly noticed the fat content because I’ve been chopping it out of the meat before cooking – even the vein of fat that is hiding inside the thigh.

But I also noticed the price difference.  For $10, I can get 6 pieces of “please believe us – we’re nice to our chickens” or 4 certified organic pieces.

Thankfully, I do have a choice.  Even so, I’m baulking at going totally organic.  I suspect that for now it will be a mix of the two.




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