Is It Free-Range or Pasture-Raised?

| 8/30/2014 2:52:00 PM

Tags: free range, chickens, pastured poultry, Pennsylvania, APPPA, Mike Badger,

Free Range Poultry Confined

One of my routine screening questions when a person approaches the APPPA booth at a trade show or calls the office is, “Are you raising poultry on pasture now?” Many times, I get an affirmative response, but the person substitutes free-range for pasture.

What Does ‘Free-Range’ Mean?

I know you may not see the problem. Who can argue with free-range? But I’m not a member of the American Free-range Poultry Association. And there’s good reason for that. The mainstream implementation of free-range is anything but ideal, and it typically violates the visual of a flock of chickens foraging across an open range. It short, it has about as much meaning as the “natural” label.

Yes, I’m talking about free-range CAFO chickens and turkeys, and it’s a real problem that the confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) get away with labeling their products as free-range with nothing more than access to the outside.  There is no mandate to make the birds go outside.

Since becoming APPPA’s mouth piece, I’ve made the pasture-raised difference one of my key educational issues. Like most obfuscated issues in food, this starts with marketing. The marketing problem of pasture-raised versus free-range is a very simple one, and people who produce poultry and people who eat poultry should do well to understand the nuances.

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