Antibiotics? Arsenic? Oh My.
Most chicken, and other animals produced for consumption in the United States, spend the majority of their lives in overcrowded feedlots that are the perfect breeding grounds for disease. As a result, they are routinely given antibiotics in their feed, to prevent infection in the midst of unsanitary conditions. What this means in a broad sense, is that animal agriculture uses up to 80% of the antibiotics produced in this country, including very important human medicines like penicillin. Unfortunately, regulation hasn’t yet caught up with this practice, which is seriously contributing to the rise of antibiotic resistance that is considered to be a significant public health problem (some might even say emergency).
In addition to antibiotics, industrially-produced chicken is also fed an arsenic-laced additive to promote growth, which leeches into nearby soil and waterways.Unsustainable production also raises serious concerns about worker health and fair compensation as well as animal welfare and pollution from pollution waste.
If possible, chose sustainably-produced chicken. Look out for these labels, which provide some level of assurance:
At minimum, this:
- USDA Organic
- Certified Humane Raised and Handled
- Animal Welfare Approved
- Food Alliance Certified
To stretch your dollar when buying sustainably:
- Buy a whole bird, roast, stretch over a few meals, and cook broth from it.
- Or, ask the butcher to cut it into pieces and use/freeze as needed
- Shift toward the less expensive cuts like chicken legs and thighs, and save boneless breasts for special occasions.