You may have seen the recent headlines about the controversy over Costco’s $4.99 chicken. Costco by and large offers consumers high quality products and does great things for its employees and communities but they have slipped up here. Mercy for Animals, an animal rights group fighting to push for the end of factory farming, sent an undercover investigator to work at a farm that produces thousands of chickens for Costco and the living conditions for the chickens were abysmal.
Cramped broiler cage quarters, no natural light, no fresh air, living in their own feces. Disgusting. Mercy for Animals is lobbying for Costco to sign up for “Better Chicken Commitment” to work towards better standards for industrial agriculture. But these standards don’t begin to scratch the surface of the improvements that need to be made.
Costco is not alone. Many big box and supermarket chains source their chickens from factory farms who are raising chickens inhumanely. Why? Because they can raise more chickens, more quickly. and earn more profits in less time. What are the conditions like? The chickens are raised in densely-packed chicken houses with no natural light, no opportunity to move or peck on pasture, and no ability to socialize and see the light of day.
They put on weight faster than their skeletal structures can support, and often are unable to stand on their own two feet and instead have to sit in their own feces and breathe in the toxic ammonia the feces emit. If you’ve lost your appetite, you’ve got the picture. And let’s not forget that an unhealthy chicken yields stressed animals which affects the quality of the chicken you’re eating, and ultimately your health. But there’s some good news.
There’s another way forward without factory farming. And you have the power to help make it happen with your purchase decisions. There are now hundreds of farms in the United States that are raising chickens humanely and healthily - enough to feed the entire country.
These chickens are raised in smaller batches and allowed to grow at a natural pace and live the life they were meant to live - moving around outdoors, every day, on fresh pasture, scratching and pecking on a variety of grasses, bugs, grain and legumes. This diverse diet makes for naturally juicy, succulent meat that is mountains more nutritious than factory chickens. We hope that Costco and other supermarkets work with regenerative farmers to give more people better choices.
Grass Roots raises pastured chickens that are moved every day on the farms. And our co-op of farms takes it one step further by committing to regenerative farming practices which nurture the soil and the land for generations to come. And yes, it’s more expensive than factory-raised, but if we are to build a sustainable, humane future for our diets, the planet and the earth, this is the direction our moral compass needs to take.
And the more you support responsible agriculture, the greater the demand for pastured chickens which would create the need for more farms and farmers in economically depressed rural communities that need jobs, better schools and a better life for their families.
We invite you to shop for chicken responsibly at Grass Roots - or other US farms raising chickens responsibly to put healthy meals on America’s tables. We’re all in this together. Learn more about our pastured, grass-fed meats here.