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Blog | June 2, 2016

Big Chicken: What You Can Do

The unfair treatment of the farmers who raise 97% of chicken in the United States is enough to make you lose your appetite. The last thing you want is for your money to support the corporate contract poultry system that produces most of the chicken, eggs, turkey and other poultry products on our plates.

So what can you do about it? Turns out, quite a bit!

You make a choice three times a day what sort of meal you will eat. Consumers can, and do, make a difference. Public pressure is going to change this system. Farmers and the government aren’t going to be able to make the changes on their own. The only way is for the public to apply the pressure.

Craig Watts, North Carolina farmer

Find the “Good Eggs”

  • Buy your poultry and eggs direct from a family farmer. Visit your local farm stand or farmers market or join a CSA! If your farmer is growing poultry or eggs for the local market, they’re not growing under contract for an integrator like Perdue or Tyson. Visit our Find Good Food page for resources to find family farmers in your area.
  • Decode all the food labels out there on poultry products, so you know which ones you can trust.
  • Visit your local butcher. Your local butcher shop may source their meat locally. Stop in, get to know them and ask about the farmers that provide their meat.
  • Taste the difference. “It tastes like chicken!” People say that about meat from all kinds of animals, but do you know what real chicken tastes like? If it’s been a while since you’ve experienced the full flavor of pastured chicken or eggs, from animals allowed to exercise their natural behaviors that are raised and sold by a local farmer, you’re in for a real treat. A member of our HOMEGROWN.org community conducted a taste test to find out how different chickens fared in a head-to-head comparison. Find your favorite recipe for roasted, baked, seared, fried, barbecued or grilled chicken, get out the kitchen utensils and get cooking!

Dig Deeper

  • The contract poultry system is the most industrialized and corporate-dominated industry out there. It’s also very complicated. Visit farmaid.org/poultry for stories and articles that help you deepen your understanding of how this system works – from chick to chicken nugget!
  • Our Farmer Heroes like Craig Watts, Paula Boles, the Crutchfields and Mike Weaver have displayed great bravery in speaking out about their experiences in the system, and great ingenuity in finding alternatives to the industrial system.

Speak up!

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