I’m grateful to have our friend David Maren of Tendergrass Farms pen today’s guest post. This is the first post in a three part series on the assertions that retailers make about the way their poultry, pork, and beef is raised. And don’t miss the coupon code that he’s generously provided at the end of the post!
Every year in the United States the average person eats about 66 pounds of poultry, comprised of about 53 pounds of chicken and 13 pounds of turkey.1 Nearly every pound of poultry sold in the US is raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO’s) but the poultry industry is very aware of the growing demand for naturally raised alternatives. Americans spend more than $50 Billion on chicken and turkey annually2 so the financial incentive for them to cater to this shifting demand is gigantic. A few independent farms have opted to actually change the way they raise their birds but improving poultry production practices, especially raising poultry outdoors on pasture, raises the labor costs of production dramatically. For this reason many companies have decided to turn to clever marketing techniques to meet the demand for alternatives instead of actually changing the highly profitable CAFO-style system in which their birds are raised. Today, poultry production claims that boast about the superiority of certain brands’ “organic,” “cage free,” “hormone free,” or “free range” poultry can be seen almost everywhere from poultry labels in grocery stores to restaurant menus and even online meat shops’ product descriptions. Tragically, these poultry production claims are often relatively meaningless. They’re designed to paint a picture of what the customer wants to buy without requiring significant changes in the old CAFO poultry production model.