The chickens pictured above can be defined as “Free Range” as long as they have “access to the outdoors.” This could be a small door at one corner of the barn that is open for a short period of time each day. The chickens that aren’t put directly by that door are out of luck. Not the warm, green, outdoor scene of happy chickens you picture when reading “Free Range” on an egg container. In actuality, Free Range birds tend to be in a dark barn with thousands of other birds.Their feed, which often contains chicken parts, is infused with antibiotics to try to prevent the diseases they will inevitably get living in these conditions. Although it looks like this may be changing, as the government is looking to change this and ban antibiotics.
As genetics research and technology improved, chickens were genetically engineered to grow larger breasts and reach their maximum size in a fraction of the time it would take a typical bird. An incredible achievement for the meat industry, enabling them to make more money per chicken. Unfortunately, the chickens’ legs were were forgotten in this process. Many of these chickens can hardly walk more than a few steps, due to their unnaturally heavy upper bodies supported by their normal legs.
If you buy chicken from the super-market, it is almost certain that they were raised this way, even if the packaging says “All natural, free-range, cage-free birds.” This applies to restaurants as well. Factory farming has become such a profitable business because just about any restaurant or fast food chain that serves meat buys from these factory farmers. Why wouldn’t they? It’s so much cheaper than buying from a local farmer.
Chipotle is one of the few major companies that does not agree with this philosophy. Along with Whole Foods, local farmers, and a handful of others. Here is a video about Chipotle's, "Food with Integrity":
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