Hi friends, I'm sorry if this has already been addressed on here but I wanted to bring it up just so others will know. I'm new to primal/paleo eating and I'm paying closer attention to food labels.
A few weeks ago I purchased some organic chicken from the supermarket. Unfortunately pastured chicken isn't readily available where I live so I had to go with the next best choice, or so I thought. These were bone-in, skin-on breasts. I also purchased legs and froze them. I roasted the breasts in the oven and when I cut them, there was about 1/4 cup liquid that poured out from each breast. I had only seasoned them with salt, pepper, and herbs. They were not marinated. In addition to all the water, the meat had a very spongy texture. I thought spongy was a strange way to describe it, but that's exactly what it was. I noticed the label said "may contain up to 5% retained water." So I figured this is where the water was coming from.
The following week, I returned to the supermarket and talked to the manager of the meat department. I asked him what that meant about the retained water, and he said he didn't know. He said he would check with the sales rep of that organic line and get back to me. He assured me that they weren't pre-injected with any kind of saltwater solution, and I agreed with that since I have seen that note on packages as well.
Yesterday I was watching an episode of America's Test Kitchen that I had recorded months ago. The episode was about chicken and there was a taste test segment. I was pleasantly surprised when the host began to explain the retained water disclaimer on labels, then I quickly became disgusted. He said you usually see two labels, one which will say "may contain up to x % of retained water," and "air chilled." There are two different methods of cooling chicken after they have been slaughtered. Air chilling is just putting them into a cooler, where the birds cool down slowly and develop flavor. The second is by dipping the freshly slaughtered chicken into huge containers of chlorinated ice water. The chlorinated water method is what causes the chicken to absorb water, and why that disclaimer is on the label. The host also used the word spongy to describe the water-chilled chicken's texture. I couldn't believe it. I really thought I was nuts.
I was so upset. I went to the supermarket last night and EVERY brand of chicken they sold had a disclaimer about retained water. There were none with an air-chilled label. I was pissed because I was paying extra for organic but I was also paying for retained chlorinated water.
There are a few farms near me which sell pastured chickens for $5 a pound. There is also another supermarket about a half hour away which sells pastured, air chilled chickens for $3 a pound. So I might need to go stock up.
I just wanted to let you know in case you come across chicken with a creepy texture that you can't quite put your finger on. "Organic" doesn't mean squat if it's being dipped in chlorine.
Thanks, AnnieW! Good information.
Ugh, I really am this close to never buying chicken again. It tastes like sawdust anyway.
I have pastured chickens readily available and also air chilled non pastured. Sometimes out of financial concerns, I end up with Foster Farms chicken. To me, it has a flabby texture and I regret eating them every time.
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AnnieW, I understand your anger. It seems that logically, the most fundamental thing we do - that is to nourish ourselves - should be easy. But at every turn, in the name of a penny more per pound profit, we get screwed. Whole Foods is barely better than Walmart. Health food stores see the word "organic," and just do the Happy Hippie Dance of Health, never really understanding what they have on their shelves.
And if the USDA has added chlorine to the list of ingredients allowable to be USDA Certified Organic, well that label is pretty much just useless.
[QUOTE=JoanieL;1253863]Happy Hippie Dance of Health[/QUOTE]
I am totally stealing this phrase. LAWL.
As for chicken, it is the one thing I will spend the money on at the farmer's market. You really can taste the difference between pastured chicken and the junk at the grocery store (organic or otherwise).
Dammit, this explains the difference in taste & textures that I've found. Chicken has been my go-to cheap meat!
Ah chicken! I eat it like a pregnant woman would pickles. Serious obsession. I especially like Shawarma chicken. I have NO IDEA how bad or good it is for me, but I figure if that is one of my only vices, I think I am doing alright! LOL!
[QUOTE=canio6;1253864]I am totally stealing this phrase. LAWL.
As for chicken, it is the one thing I will spend the money on at the farmer's market. You really can taste the difference between pastured chicken and the junk at the grocery store (organic or otherwise).[/QUOTE]
Glad I could bring a smile to your face. Steal away.
I totally agree on the farmers market chicken. It's more than twice as much as grocery store chicken, but only half as much as US Wellness chicken. And the farmers market chickens are so little and cute - which as we all know should be a primary concern for choosing food. :p
I was happy to see this thread....
I am constantly telling my close friends that there is no comparison for pastured chicken. Here is why:
1) Many pastured chickens are not the "golden feather" breed that makes up almost all store-bought chicken. Because of this, their breast meat is smaller, their legs bigger, giving much more dark (fatty) meat. I can hardly eat a commercial chicken breast anymore. Dry, fat-less, chalky texture. F that.
2) A lot more nutrients. A pastured chicken will eat a lot of things that will make their way into the meat that a commercial one won't. I would love to see a micronutrient analysis between a New England raised Blackstone eating forage and a commercial Golden Feather. It would be a blowout.
3) None of that weird shit you described being done to it. Whatever happened to raising it outside, slaughter it, freeze it, give it to me? This processing garbage is a scam to me.