Is Pasture Raised Healthy?



Is Pasture Raised Healthy?


It’s a bit of paradox that as more Americans seek out a healthier way of life, our food sources are actually becoming less nutritious. Research has shown that rising carbon dioxide levels and the depletion of nutrients in soil are lowering the vitamin and mineral content of crops and by extension, the animals that graze on them. This affects the nutritional content of meat as well as the fruits and vegetables that we eat, and conventional agricultural practices account for approximately 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. 


An article in Nature magazine sums it up quite bluntly:


Unsustainable food systems reduce people’s access to affordable, healthy diets, increasing their risk of poor health and diet-related diseases. The global community needs to make a hard pivot to ensure food systems are sustainable for human and planetary health.


We have more food choices than ever because of developments in the global supply chain and large scale agriculture, but that doesn’t mean the food produced is necessarily as healthy as we think. A carrot grown in a small cottage garden 80 years ago was higher in vitamins and minerals than what you find in the grocery stores today. Back then, for the most part, food was grown for food, not profit, and nurturing the land was an important part of the agricultural process. We knew back then what we seem to have forgotten today - without healthy soil, there is no healthy food.


There is a small but growing batch of farmers who recognize the slippery slope that we’re on in terms of global food production, and are making it their mission to do things differently. While soil is indeed depleted on a global scale, regenerative agriculture practices exist to rejuvenate this barren soil so that it can continue to sustain us. As consumers, you can make a difference by supporting these ethical agricultural methods and choose to purchase your food from companies and farms who operate with the bigger picture in mind. 


Pasture Raised Meat is Healthier - for You, for the Animals, and for the Soil


At Pasturebird, we follow regenerative agriculture practices in an attempt to leave the land better than we found it. We recognize that the relationship between a farmer and the land is a symbiotic one and that it’s our job to ensure that we’re not just taking from the land, but also giving back. 


While “regenerative agriculture” is becoming a bit of a buzzworthy phrase these days (and we couldn’t be happier about that!) the truth is that the concept is nothing new. As a company practicing regenerative agriculture, we recognize that these methods have been used by Indigenous cultures for hundreds of years. We honor this wisdom of realizing that our land is not passed down from our ancestors, but is borrowed from our children. We have an obligation to leave agriculture better than we found it. 


What Makes Pasture Raised Healthier?


So what exactly makes raising chickens on pasture healthier? Well for starters, when chickens are able to forage on pasture, pecking and scratching for their preferred food sources such as bugs, worms, small animals, and plants, they are provided with robust nutrition that just isn’t possible from a conventional chicken feed diet. We supplement our chickens’ diet with a high-quality, locally sourced non-GMO chicken feed - because like most birds, chickens are seed-eaters and we want to make sure that part of their diet is satisfied - but they have round the clock access to nutrient dense food sources found on pasture as well. Our chickens have access to the outdoors 24/7/365 in our floorless mobile coops that are moved to fresh pasture daily. They are allowed to live as chickens were meant to - with constant access to fresh air, sunlight, and nutritious food that they obtain through pecking, scratching, and foraging or as we like to say, fully expressing their chicken-ness! 


Raising chickens on pasture isn’t just better for them, it’s better for the soil, too. As the land nourishes the chickens, the chickens in turn nourish the land. As our chickens forage on pasture, their droppings are worked into the soil as they peck and scratch, becoming a nutrient rich manure that is composted into the soil and helps to replenish the nutrients lost during the foraging process. Since we move our chickens to fresh pasture daily, and allow the soil to rejuvenate prior to being grazed again, this compost is given time to really cultivate healthy soil and grow a new crop of plants for later foraging. It also allows for greater carbon sequestration in the soil. 


To complete the cycle of healthy animals, healthy land, and healthy food for our consumers, take a peek at the nutritional statistics behind pasture raised chicken, which are a direct result of their pasture raised lifestyle. Since chickens raised on pasture are exposed to such a nutrient rich diet throughout their lifetime, their meat is in turn healthier for our consumers. Studies have shown that our pasture raised chicken is three times as high in omega 3s as conventionally raised chicken, not to mention being twenty one percent lower in saturated fat and having fifty percent more vitamins A and E than conventionally raised chicken. 


So while it’s true that on a large scale, food is becoming both more plentiful and less nutritious, there are ways to ensure that the food you’re feeding your family is as wholesome and nutrient dense as possible. Seek out farmers who raise chickens and livestock on pasture, and when it comes to produce, find farmers who use similar regenerative agricultural practices to grow their crops. It may not be as easy as we think to find robust and healthy food in every neighborhood grocery store, but there are other options. As farmers, we are huge advocates of supporting local farms, and if you’re lucky enough to have an ethical and sustainable farm in your community, count your blessings and make sure to support that farm as best you can. Pasturebird offers pasture raised chickend shipped nationwide, so even consumers who don’t have access to a local sustainable farm can reap the benefits of pasture raised chicken produced with regenerative agricultural practices and know that they are consuming the healthiest chicken possible - for the people, for the planet, and for the poultry.

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