Last week, we began the Behind The Label Of Your Food series, taking a close look at your food and evaluating the significance or irrelevance of certain product terms. This week, we’re comparing different brands of chicken, and to easily see the different brands in our area, I created this “Chicken Chart” (click to download PDF for easier viewing):
You can click on this link or on the image above to download a PDF for easier viewing and source information.
Of course, I wasn’t surprised to find out that all of the brands claim to be all-natural, as that’s not a difficult standard to attain. I’ll admit that I do get a little frustrated at stores like Sunflower Market that make a huge deal out of their meat being “all-natural”. Since they are a health food store, many people think that their meat is better because it’s “all-natural”, and I think many consumers fall for it.
It was interesting to read each brand’s definition of all-natural. Tyson’s was minimal, stating “no artificial ingredients, minimally processed”; while Foster Farms was more lengthy: “No added hormones or steroids, artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring, chemical preservatives or any other synthetic ingredient.”
Of course, since federal law prohibits the use of growth hormones in poultry, all the brands claim to be hormone-free – but all that really means is that they’re complying with federal law!
Comparing the different brands’ poultry feed was interesting, as well. This is a huge semantics thing, and at first I fell for it when I was researching. Bell & Evans feeds their chickens an “all-vegetable diet”, which sounds immensely healthier than Sanderson Farms’ “corn and soy-based feed”… until you realize that corn and soy are really just vegetables, so they’re probably saying the same thing!
Update: Kathleen pointed out that corn is a grain, not a vegetable, so that affects my above statement. Thanks for the catch, Kathleen!
The big negative that I see is that Tyson injects their chicken with up to 15% natural chicken broth. I’ll stay away from their chicken from a pure cost standpoint – I’m not going to pay for 15% less meat!
The only brands that claim to be raised without antibiotics are Bell & Evans and Whole Foods. (Whole Foods carries Bell & Evans chicken, but I’m not sure if they sell other brands as well. Either way, Whole Foods says their chicken is raised without antibiotics.)
I’m curious about Red Bird Chicken. I’ve never tried it because it’s over 2x the price of other brands, but they claim that the 7-10 hour resting process they give their chickens after butchering keeps them “naturally tender”. Would love to hear your thoughts if you’ve tried it!
Well, there’s the scoop on your chicken. What do you think? Did you learn anything you didn’t know? Any particular reason you are loyal to one brand over other, be it taste, price, growing standards?
Read more posts in the Behind The Label Of Your Food series. Stay tuned for more, another post is coming on Tuesday!