Whole Story

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What Makes Organic Chicken Organic?

By Frances Flower, August 4, 2011  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Frances Flower

Nowadays many people are concerned about where their food comes from, how it’s been raised and what it’s been fed. But sometimes, walking into the grocery store can feel overwhelming with all the different food labels on display.  If you're tempted to buy organic chicken, but you're not sure what it means, read on! In order to be certified organic, chicken farms must follow a strict set of guidelines and be inspected annually by a third-party certification body to ensure those standards are met.

These standards include:

  • The birds must be raised organically no later than two days after they hatch;
  • They must be fed certified organic feed for their entire lives. Organic feed cannot contain animal by-products, antibiotics or genetically engineered grains and cannot be grown using persistent pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
  • It is prohibited to give drugs, antibiotics and hormones to organic birds (please note: federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising poultry).
  • All birds must have outdoor access.

Plus, organic chicken sold at Whole Foods Market has also been certified to the Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating program! If that’s not enough to tempt you, our organic chicken will be featured from August 12th to the 14th. So, next time you are in your local store, why don’t you try our flavorful organic chicken and tell us what you think!




Susie Bee on Maui says ...
I was so happy when your store opened on Maui so I could have access to quality meats. Love your organic chickens. Recently used one to make a flavorful "sate" roasted chicken: http://eatlittleeatbig.blogspot.com/2011/07/recipe-for-sate-roasted-chicken.html
08/05/2011 12:32:10 PM CDT
Tarah Locke says ...
I hope they're not fed soy. http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert
08/05/2011 12:42:05 PM CDT
Linda Hayes says ...
We recently ate your organic chicken and what an incredible taste! We have been buying your B&E's chicken for years and were satisfied...but it's going to be organic from now on!
08/05/2011 5:16:28 PM CDT
Cathy Lemburg says ...
I have been looking for organic chicken breasts at your stores that are humanely raised, preferably pasture raised (step 4 or 5). I have not seen any organic, pasture raised chicken. (You have step 4 chicken breasts (bone in) at your Plano store, but I do not think it is organic). I am going to the store to check out your organic chicken from August 12th to the l4th. I will be happy if I find organic, step 4 chicken.
08/10/2011 2:27:17 PM CDT
Jay says ...
I went to Wholefoods today. I didn't see any of the steps besides step 1 or 2. I also didn't find the chicken sample. :( I guess I'll have to buy my organic chicken online.
08/13/2011 1:15:44 PM CDT
Patti Jorash says ...
When you say, "All birds must have outdoor access." That could mean anything.
08/14/2011 4:22:06 PM CDT
Kim says ...
Ah, organic chickens are so cute!
08/15/2011 3:42:10 PM CDT
Paleo dude says ...
"Organic feed cannot contain animal by-products, antibiotics or genetically engineered grains" STOP! Why are they eating grains? I want my chickens to be feed what they would eat in the wild, not grains or corn. Chickens are carnivores. It's very disappointing to read that they are being feed grains.
08/16/2011 4:33:44 PM CDT
paig292 says ...
@ Paleo dude I checked with one of our animal welfare experts and here's what they said about chickens and what they eat: "Chickens are descended from jungle fowl, but have been domesticated for many thousands of years, so they aren't wild animals any longer. They are omnivores and eat many different things. If they were able to eat whatever they wanted, they would spend most of their time scratching aside leaves and stuff on the ground looking for bugs, lizards and snakes to eat and along the way would eat some grasses, some seeds (which is what grain is) and other plant foods. They are very opportunistic. All chickens produced commercially, even those raised on pasture, are fed a ration that includes grain." Thanks!
08/18/2011 6:34:26 AM CDT
Neil Wilkinson says ...
The organic & anti-biotic free poultry in the market today is a much cleaner product than what was being raised in years past and growers are responding to industry demands about growing standards. That being said, there is a lot misperception about the demands of raising birds commercially. People want to feel good about the food they eat so they say things like, 'feed them bugs in open pastures without the use of anti-biotics'. These comments are made without a single thought of what that would mean for flock health and bird mortality. Commercially raising poultry and having 6 chickens running around your Grandma's barn are not the same proposition. Raising poultry in large numbers in a humane fashion requires some controls to ensure bird health and food safety that most people don't consider. I love it that people are more aware of what they are eating, ENJOY!
03/20/2012 3:44:40 AM CDT
David Becker says ...
The majority of organic chicken meat available in large stores will not be raised on pasture, because pasture raising is far too costly in terms of labor. The mark up on the product which is required by the store would make the price of the chicken far too high. Giving the chickens "outdoor access" according to the federal organic standards only requires that the building in which the birds are raised must have a small door. Typically the food and water is kept distant from the door for "outdoor access", and the chickens stay near the food/water inside. There is no requirement for the outdoors to have any pasture and usually there is only dirt on these type of farms. On true organic pasture based farms, the birds live in the pasture, not in buildings. They benefit from fresh air and sunshine (vit. D). They eat a natural diet of worms, insects, rodents, and plenty of pasture plants. They also must be fed some type of complete ration as the meat breeds grow very fast, and could not find enough calories just on the pasture alone. And these farms typically sell direct to the public.
06/04/2012 3:59:06 PM CDT
Gloria Provost says ...
I can't have soy because I have a thyroid problem. Some organic chicken are fed soy. I went to Whole Foods and on there package of organic chicken it did not say what the chickens where fed. I asked a sales person that works in meats and he did not know if the chickens where fed soy. Where can I find out if there organic chicken are fed soy?
07/22/2012 7:43:52 PM CDT
nikki.newman says ...
@GLORIA - I can definitely look in to this for you! Can you provide the brand and flavor of chicken that is in question? Thanks!
08/16/2012 4:22:30 PM CDT
Danielle says ...
Please open a store in Southeastern CT. New London county. We have very little to choose from to buy healthy meats and veggies here!!! Thanks and God bless!!!
10/26/2012 12:24:52 PM CDT
Kelly says ...
Since my son is HIGHLY allergic to corn, I am looking for chicken that was not fed corn - organic or GMO. What exactly are your organic chickens fed?
10/28/2012 6:18:09 PM CDT
Megan says ...
@KELLY Unfortunately, we do not sell any chicken that was not fed corn at some point.
11/01/2012 10:02:46 AM CDT
Justin says ...
i am trying to figure out how to make my own organic feed for my chickens to substain them with out having to buy the expensive organic chicken feed. for exaple can they live of fruits, vegatables and worms? can i start a little worm farm to produce worms to throw on their scratching areas?
11/04/2012 4:54:13 PM CST
Marie Miller says ...
Does the Organic chicken taste different???
12/03/2012 6:28:16 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@MARIE - It really comes down to personal taste. Some of our customers say that they can notice a difference in taste. Try it and let us know what you think!
12/04/2012 12:26:55 PM CST
Charlotte savage says ...
I would love to see unfrozen organic chickens more readily available.
02/05/2013 7:55:47 AM CST
Sarah says ...
I am interested in switching to organic chicken, but I want to be sure that the chickens are not eating GMO's or soy.
02/07/2013 5:24:03 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@SARAH - The USDA organic standards prohibit the intentional use of GMOs in organic products. This would include the feed for the chickens. I would suggest checking with your local store to see if they can investigate if the chickens were fed organic soy or not.
02/08/2013 12:03:38 PM CST
Kevin says ...
starting a organic intake only, PLEASE send me your menu Thanks'
02/10/2013 5:36:19 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@KEVIN - I was a little unclear as to what you needed. If you are looking for a list of our organic chicken options, you will need to contact your local store as the options vary between locations. Hope this helps!
02/11/2013 1:28:08 PM CST
Lina says ...
I would willingly pay more money for chicken if I was sure they were actually raised outside for most of their lives. Access to outdoors implies they actually go outside but as DAVID BECKER points out, most of these chickens will stay inside near the food and water and thus, will explore very little of the outside. This is what Jane Goodall describes as "shallow organic" vs. "deep organic." Basically, large industries are taking advantage of the labeling of organic to do the minimum to satisfy these standards. However, those of use concerned with the live these animals' lives, will not be fooled. Whole Foods, you can do better than this. Perhaps by partnering up with local, family owned farmers who are truly committed to "deep organic" practices or by requiring that your stores have more detailed information about the source of the meat you sell.
03/05/2013 3:07:33 PM CST