The other day we bought what we thought was an organic chicken at our local natural food store. We’ve been shopping there for years and there’s never been any problem in taste or quality with their organic supplier. When we got this one home though, we thought it looked a little fatter than usual, and then when we cooked it we noticed that there was much more grease than usual in the pan and very little of the natural bone broth or gelatin that’s so vital to our health.
At this point we dug threw the garbage to find the packaging that the chicken came in and, upon reading it, learned that it was labeled “All Natural” and not “Organic.” When we looked up what that meant we were shocked to learn that “natural” chickens may contain injected water, sodium, and other additives. At www.truthfullabeling.org, an organization of consumers and ckicken producers, they write that pumped up chicken can contain 822% more sodium than natural chicken, and “because the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is failing to enforce its own regulations, companies that pump-up their chicken are now allowed to label their brands as ‘100% All Natural.’ The Truthful Labeling Coalition believes that chicken pumped up with sodium, additives and other ingredients shouldn’t be labeled ‘natural!’”
Even more shocking, we’ve just learned that the US government has just announced that they will allow Chinese meat packing plants to export chickens to the US with no American oversight at the plants. As reported in the New York Times, chicken meat will not be labeled with “China” as the point of origin as processed meats (which could be as simple as cutting a whole chicken into parts) do not require such labeling.
So what can you do about this? John La Puma, M.D., in his groundbreaking book, “Chef MD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine,” notes that the USDA allows meat from animals treated with antibiotics and hormones to be labeled as “natural” and urges readers to buy meat that is “certified organic.” “Most people are shocked to find that the ‘natural’ label is essentially meaningless and has nothing to do with the way that animals are raised. Ot only pertains to the handling of meat after slaughter,” said Gene Baur, president of Farm Sanctuary, the nations leading farm animal shelter and advocacy organization. So the lesson is, if it doesn’t say “Organic” or you don’t know the farm it came from, don’t buy it!
For more information, go to www.truthfullabeling.org
For more on meat labeling, go to www.localfoods.about.com
For organic chicken and turkey, try www.eberlypoultry.com