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Which chicken should you buy at the grocery store?

Updated: Mar 28

Have you ever found yourself scratching your head at all the different labels on chicken packages? Don't sweat it! You're not the only one. It's easy to get confused with so many marketing buzzwords, even for the savviest of consumers. But the good news is that distinguishing between the different types of chicken is not that complex. Once you understand the difference, you can make an educated choice for both you and your family.

Let’s dig in!

Regular chicken

This is the chicken you'll find in most supermarkets and restaurants. Regular chickens are raised indoors in large commercial operations with thousands of birds. They are not housed in cages, but they are kept in an open-concept indoor barn. All chickens raised for meat in Canada are therefore "free run". These birds can be given antibiotics but there are strict time “withdrawal periods” mandated by Canada’s Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) before the chicken can be sent to the processing plant and eventually the grocery story. If you are on a budget and looking for an affordable source of protein, regular chicken may be your best bet.

Free-Range & Pasture Raised Chicken

Free-range chickens are raised in a open concept barn environment that is similar to regular chickens, but they have the additional benefit of outdoor access for at least part of the day. This outdoor environment also provides access to natural food sources, such as grass, bugs, seeds, and worms, which can change the flavor of the chicken. They can be given antibiotics but will have the same guidelines outlined above for the "withdrawal period". They are a more expensive option than regular chicken.

Organic Chicken

Organic chickens are also raised in an open concept barn environment with outdoor access (as above). These chickens are not permitted to have antibiotics. In addition, they are fed organic feed that is free of genetically modified crops, antibiotics, hormones, and synthetic pesticides. They are also the most expensive option.

Now that you know the ins and outs of regular, free-range, and organic chicken, how do you choose the best one for you and your family? Well, it ultimately comes down to personal preferences and values. Each type of chicken has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and it's up to you to decide which one aligns best with your needs and values.

So next time you hit the grocery store, don’t chicken out! Take some time to read the labels and choose the perfect chicken for your next meal.

This post was sponsored by BC Chicken Marketing Board

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