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The Benefits of Organic, Free-Range Chicken

by Caitlin Erwin

About Caitlin Erwin

Based in Colorado, Caitlin Fleur Erwin began writing in 2003. She is currently a Demand Studios writer for eHow and LIVESTRONG.COM Lifestyles. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a creative writing emphasis as well as a minor in dance from the University of Colorado.

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Overview

In 1990, the United States Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act, which required the Department of Agriculture to set strict standards for the labeling of agricultural products as organic. The National Organic Program was established soon after and set to work developing national organic standards and an organic certification program. Over the years, organic poultry has grown in production and sales considerably. According to the Oklahoma State University Agricultural Products Center, organic meat and poultry sales jumped from $33 million in 2002 to $121 million two years later in 2004. The organic market continues to steadily rise, with organic chicken as the leader in sales among meat and poultry.

More Protein

The Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University released a study that compared the protein content, among other things, of organic, free-range and conventional broiler chickens. An analysis of the various types of raw chicken breast showed that the organic sample contained only slightly more protein than the free-range chicken. However, the organic chicken sample contained over 1 percent more protein than the chicken that was raised by conventional methods. The cooked chicken breast analysis yielded that the organic sample contained almost a quarter of a percent more protein than the free-range chicken breast, and more than 1.5 percent more protein than the conventional chicken breast. One serving of organic, free-range chicken provides you with more protein than a serving of conventional chicken.

More Good Fat, Less Bad Fat

In the same study, released by Iowa State University, the levels of various fat types were measured and compared between organic, free-range and conventional broiler chickens. The study analyzed samples of raw chicken breast and discovered that the fat content varied greatly among the different samples. The levels of saturated fat, also known as bad fat, were lowest in the organic chicken and similar between the free-range and conventional chicken samples. The levels of polyunsaturated fat, the good fat, were considerably higher in the organic chicken sample than the other two chickens. In addition, both omega-3 and omega-6 levels were higher in the organic sample than the free-range, and higher in the free-range sample than the conventional sample. Organic, free-range chicken provides healthier levels of saturated fat and the most beneficial levels of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

No Risk of Unnecessary Antibiotic Consumption

According to the FDA, there is new evidence that the antibiotics in poultry are causing antibiotic-resistant infections in an increased number of consumers. For example, fluoroquinolone is an antibiotic that is commonly given to chickens and turkeys if a single bird in the flock is diagnosed with E. coli. However, the result is a resistance to a different kind of bacteria called Campylobacter. If the body comes in contact with Campylobacter, there is no antibiotic that is successful in fighting it. Purchasing organic chicken ensures that you and your family are not ingesting unnecessary antibiotics that may lead to antibiotic-resistant infections.

Photo Credits:

  • roasted chicken image by AGphotographer from Fotolia.com

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.