Does Pasture Raised Really Mean What You Think?
We hate to sound like a broken record, but you can’t always trust food labels these days. The sheer availability of food due to the global supply chain and grocery stores on every corner in most cities means that there is A LOT of competition, and many companies spend money on clever marketing teams to make them sound better than their competitors. Sometimes the labels are true - but if you’ve ever heard the term greenwashing, you know that there are certain companies that use unscrupulous claims to appeal to the green consumer, and those claims don’t always add up.
So, when it comes to pasture raised - does pasture raised really mean what you think? The short answer is yes - but it depends on who you buy from.
Let’s examine what pasture raised actually means.
Truly pasture raised chickens spend actual time outdoors, with a minimum of 108 square feet of outdoor space per chicken. In contrast, free range, cage free, and even “organic” birds have no space requirements, and technically just need to have access to the outdoors - there’s no system of checks and balances to make sure they actually spend any quality time outside. Sadly, though these labels often increase the price you pay for chicken or eggs, they don’t do much to change the life of the chickens.
To help you visualize, 108 square feet is about the size of a small room. For a human that may not seem like a lot of space, but for a chicken it’s pretty palatial! 108 square feet is the standard for chicken to be labeled pasture raised, but at Pasturebird, we take it a step further. Our chickens live outdoors 24/7/365 in a floorless mobile coop that allows them constant access to fresh air, sunshine, and a pasture raised diet while keeping them protected from predators and bad weather. Plus, they are rotated daily to graze on only the freshest pasture around. Happy poultry, happy planet, happy people!
Living outside, pasture raised chickens get to peck, scratch, forage, and behave as chickens were meant to do. They obtain a nutrient dense diet full of bugs, worms, plants, and seeds, which not only results in healthier chickens but also results in more nutritious meat for our consumers. In fact, pasture raised chicken has been shown to have 50% more vitamins A and E than conventionally raised chicken, as well as being lower in saturated fat and 3 times higher in omega 3s. Raising chickens on pasture makes for healthier chickens, healthier consumers, and a healthier earth.
What makes Pasturebird different?
You might be asking yourself - if companies can’t be trusted to mean what they say, how do we know we can trust Pasturebird? Well, we invite you to come see for yourself. We believe that one of the most important tenets of our business is our focus on transparency. We practice what we preach, and we are an open book when it comes to our farming practices. Not only do we provide constant access and updates via social media, but we have regularly scheduled farm tours and events where we invite our customers and community to visit the farm and learn more about how Pasturebird operates. We were consumers before we were farmers and we understand and identify with the need to feel comfortable with the business you support. This seems even more important now when there is so much dishonesty in the marketplace.
Aside from our focus on transparency, we have partnered with a third party verification company, Land to Market, which offers an outcome based regenerative certification. Land to Market holds companies accountable to the claims they make about regenerating the Earth through their agriculture or production practices. Services like these make it easier for consumers to know who they can trust. While it’s still important for consumers to educate themselves, we recognize that there’s a limit to the research the average consumer can do, and we’re happy that companies like Land to Market exist to take the brunt of the research off of the consumer’s plate but still give people a way to ensure they’re supporting the right companies.
When you’re trying to determine which companies and products can be trusted, it’s important to educate yourself and do your research. The “right” companies will make this research easy by offering transparency about their business practices and readily-available information about their products. One of the reasons we post so frequently is to give our customers an opportunity to learn more about the products we offer and the reasons behind why we do what we do. The more people that learn about regenerative agriculture and why we should support it, the more support ethical companies like ours receive. It’s so important in this age of instant gratification to make sure that the right companies are being supported. We’re farmers first - at the end of the day our commitment to the land and the animals is what drives us - but it would be naive of us to think that we could continue to offer the quality of products that we do if we weren’t also competent business owners.
So, does pasture raised really mean what you think? As fellow consumers, we can definitely understand if you’re hesitant to trust labels these days. But if you’ve done your research and you’re buying from Pasturebird (or another transparent or third-party verified farm), you can rest assured that you’re getting the great quality that you would expect from a farm that puts animal welfare and regenerative agriculture at the forefront of everything we do. Don’t take our word for it though, come tour our farm! You can access our virtual tour anytime, and our next in-person farm tour will be April 14 at 11am at our new farm in Georgia! Come see for yourself what Pasturebird is all about and why ours is one label you can definitely trust.