View Full Version : Pastured Chicken = Expensive!

Matthew Ricker
09-11-2007, 12:42 AM
Does anyone have any links to pastured (i.e. *NOT* grain or corn fed) chicken?

I have done some basic Google searches for 'free range chicken' and 'pastured organic chicken' and I came up with a lot of nonsense about free range being BS and the government's lax standards, blah blah.

I also found some (expensive!) poultry farms, ranging from ~$2.00/lb at the cheapest, to over $6.00/lb and upward; specifically talking drums/thighs/wings. I will buy/eat breasts, but only when there are no more thighs/etc in the freezer ;)

I was thinking $2 a pound was expensive, so I kept looking, and the more I looked, the higher the prices climbed! The $2/lb was the first hit I checked out, found at http://www.freerangechicken.com/article75005.htm

I can buy a large package of Foster Farms/Tyson/insert name brand franken-chicken here, for ~$3 each. Sorry to say I dont pay attention to the net weight, but it's like ~16 pieces per package, so a couple pounds.

Case in point, its several times more expensive online than in the store. I'm not sure I can afford to eat pastured chicken exclusively, even at $2/lb, much less any more than that. We eat chicken several times a week, so I'd really like to switch to exclusively free-range chicken, if I can afford it.

Whew. Any ideas/comments?

- Matt

Scott Kustes
09-11-2007, 05:24 AM
I get mine from the local farmer's market at $4-5/lb. It ain't cheap, but it tastes so much better than the antibiotic/hormone-free stuff I was buying on sale for $.99/lb. You could maybe contact a local farmer and see if you can get a big bulk discount. It won't be as cheap as Tyson, but recognize that Tyson is feeding chickens corn and cheap grain that is subsidized by the govt. One way or another, you're paying the price for that cheap chicken.

Mike ODonnell
09-11-2007, 07:53 AM
Here's the question though, for chicken is it really worth the money to be spending an extra $2/lb on organic or free range? Chicken for the most part (or the way I eat it) is very low fat. Usually the concerns with chemicals and Omega 6 grains is the storage in the meat which is usually the fatty part. So if you are eating fat free chicken, you are really not getting any of the bad stuff anyways in large amounts. I would say the money is better spent on Omega eggs and Grass fed beef....but honestly it just may not be worth it in my book for chicken. I could be wrong....but just thinking out loud.

Scott Kustes
09-11-2007, 09:54 AM
I don't eat boneless skinless chicken however. I eat the skin, which is the source of most of the fat and the vast majority of the vitamins. Do I feel any different eating pastured instead of conventional? No. But there are other aspects to it as well. I'm not supporting the farming complexes that care little about the animals and even less about the eaters. I'm buying my food locally and supporting my local area. If it costs me an extra $25 a month, that's fine. I'm frugal throughout my life so I can spend when it comes to food.

You are probably completely right for those eating boneless skinless breasts. They are largely fat-free and the extra omega-6 is probably compensated for by another tsp of fish oil. I, however, like my chicken to taste like something, hence why I choose dark meat (fattier) with skin (and the skin is every kid's favorite part!).

Matthew Ricker
09-11-2007, 10:58 AM
Thanks for your comments so far.

I agree that a side benefit of pastured chicken is not supporting malpractice in farming, but I see this as a fringe benefit. My prime concern/issue is my own health and the health of my family; and that is all it took for me to 'convert'.

Believe me, I'm sold on grass fed beef/meat, and field-fed pastured poultry. I'm not attempting to debate the utility or healthiness/worthwhileness of it. For me, its a very simple issue: can I afford it? Simple formula: If yes, then buy; if no, keep looking/trying new things.

If I sound defensive, I'm really not. I just don't want anyone to think I'm trying to rationalize buying crappy food, because I'm not.

Scott, do you think the difference in cost is really a paltry $25/mo.? If that is it, I can swing that with little/no problems. I was thinking at $2/lb it would run into a lot of money very quickly. Another thing I was thinking is that right now I eat red meat very frequently (grain-fed, store bought) which is way more than $2/lb. I could switch to eating much more pastured poultry than grain-fed beef, and actually save a small amount of money. That money could be spend eating more grass-fed beef.

I agree with you, Scott, about the chicken breasts. I'll eat them, but not preferentially. You can't beat a well prepared (however you like it) thigh, wing, and drum combo.

I have considered looking locally, but in spite of having many small farms in the area, most are not represented at the local farmer's marKET (singular, this is a small town) and either don't believe in local or online advertising, or I'm missing something.

Scott Kustes
09-11-2007, 11:10 AM
Eat Wild (www.eatwild.com) - Find local producers

Given that when the chicken was cheap, I was eating a lot more of it, switching to pastured poultry is probably a $25-30 increase. I also eat a lot of grassfed ground beef which I get from Tallgrass Beef (though I'm in the market for a half or split-half from a local farmer). And instead of 4lbs of chicken a week, I now eat only 2-3 and shifted some of my protein intake to canned wild salmon and sardines. Doesn't hurt me to get some more fish in my diet anyway. All in all, my food expenditures for me and my wife are around $60 a week shopping at the farmer's market.

I'm with you on the health aspects. I was and am first and foremost concerned about my own health. If my choice was a local producer of grain-fed beef or having it flown in from Slanker's or Tallgrass, I'll have it flown in, carbon footprint be damned. But if I can find a local producer with a similar price (and there are plenty of them when shipping is taken into account), I feel that I should go that way.

Reconciling with MOD's post above, chicken is the very last thing I would be concerned with switching to pastured in the diet. It's more important that beef, pork, and fish be grass-fed/wild and if eating conventional chicken, either go for the skinless breasts or take a bit of extra fish oil.

Mike ODonnell
09-11-2007, 11:42 AM
chicken is the very last thing I would be concerned with switching to pastured in the diet. It's more important that beef, pork, and fish be grass-fed/wild and if eating conventional chicken, either go for the skinless breasts or take a bit of extra fish oil.

Yeah....pork, meat, whole eggs and turkey will be your highest sources of pro-inflammatory AA....so work on the bigger ones first.....chicken is hardly a threat comparitively speaking, just depends on how much you eat of them all.

Matthew Ricker
09-11-2007, 03:14 PM
Thanks for that link to eatwild. I had seen it in the past, but completely forgot about it. I rifled through all the links there pertaining to Montana, and found lots of grass fed beef, lamb, pork, and eggs, but alas, still no poultry. I think I will check out some of these 'local' farms. (Local, in Montana, pretty much means within 200 miles)

I guess I can probably deal with ~$2/lb if I can't find it locally, and just order it online. My freezer is full of grass fed ground beef, so I won't need any of that for awhile.

So now I'm assuming there is a big difference between 'omega-3 enhanced' eggs, and pastured (chicken) eggs? Are omega-3 enhanced pastured chicken eggs available as well?

- Matt

Mark Gebhard
09-11-2007, 03:56 PM
"Omega-3 enhanced" just means they throw in some flax seed amongst the grains they feed the hens, while "pastured" hens usually get some grains and then they're out there eating pasture grasses, bugs and whatnot which naturally give them more omega-3s. Omega-3 enhanced are definitely better than regular eggs, but it's hard to say if they're worse than pastured. Generally, pastured is probably better but I'm not sure there are regulations on the "pastured" label that determine what percent of the diet comes from grains. I think the best way to figure out egg quality is to compare them on taste and yolk color. The darker/oranger the yolk the better. I always eat my eats sunny-side-up and love the raw yolk so I've gotten to the point where I can really taste the difference between good pastured eggs and crappy grain-fed ones.

I don't think I've ever seen omega-3 enhanced and pastured eggs, though, but they might be out there.

Mike ODonnell
09-11-2007, 04:02 PM
side thought....what about "kosher" meats? Not jewish so not my expertise...but I believe kosker chicken/beef is free from most hormones and other chemicals? Wouldn't that make it pretty close to organic in most cases? Doesn't address the omega 6 issue, but at least a better option. No idea on how it prices out.

Omega 3s are just a better choice like Mark said about having a better 3-6 ratio for EFAs. The flax isn't going to amount to much but at least it's not omega 6 grain based so it's better esp if you eat the yolk.

Scott Kustes
09-11-2007, 05:04 PM
so it's better esp if you eat the yolk.
Which you jolly well oughta be eating!

Tony Ferous
09-11-2007, 06:19 PM
Yeah....pork, meat, whole eggs and turkey will be your highest sources of pro-inflammatory AA....so work on the bigger ones first.....chicken is hardly a threat comparitively speaking, just depends on how much you eat of them all.

The above is true Mike, but chicken thighs, even skinless, were surprisingly high in omega 6 fats compared to lamb, beef and even pork when i compared them on nutritiondata.com.
Chicken breast was far lower in O-6s though, thats probably why the thighs taste better!

Robb Wolf
09-14-2007, 07:17 AM
Something to keep in mind with most of the pastured/grassfed meat products is that they TEND to not receive the subsidies that typical of conventional farming. It does not take the sting off the price but the reality is that stuff is about the same as conventional grown food once subsidies are factored in.

I'll see if I can dig up some resources on this.

Matthew Ricker
09-14-2007, 02:13 PM
Great. If you want to include subsidies, that increases the effective cost, not reduces it. (improper english? oh well.)

Since subsidies draw their funding from federal taxes, that means I get to buy more expensive food while still paying taxes to subsidize crap for others to eat.

While I've always thought the argument of not supporting taxes that you don't directly benefit from is base and flawed, I find myself agreeing with said people more and more often lately; especially in situations like this, where one could argue that such tax-funded subsidies really don't benefit anyone at all, since they support the poisoning of the population.

Robb, why on earth wouldn't grass fed farmers receive subsidies? That is about the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard, assuming you are correct. (Not ridiculous as in unbelievable, ridiculous as in the dumbest policy possible.)

Garrett Smith
09-14-2007, 04:52 PM
It's capitalism and profit motive at their best.

Beef is sold by the pound. Feeding grains makes heavier cows. Heavier cows make for crap food.

Feeding people crap food makes sicker people. Sicker people make everyone in our allopathic medical system (except the patient) more money. Doctors, Pharma, medical equipment, supplements, etc. This includes all the businesses that are connected in some way to people's health (it's hard to find ones that aren't).

Capitalism requires growth. At this point in our history, growth in many sectors relies on sicker people who consume more medical "stuff" and then don't ever get well. This approach will not work forever, obviously. The system will have to, IMO, completely collapse before change will come about in it.

Cynical, yes. Realistic, probably.

Mike ODonnell
09-15-2007, 06:33 AM
crap food makes sicker people.

Thanks Dr G....I needed a new title for my ebook and that works great!!!

Garrett Smith
09-15-2007, 12:51 PM
Glad I could help, MOD.

Now, if only I had a dollar for every time someone said, "But I do eat healthy..."