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If I understand correctly, the best chicken to buy is organic, free-range chicken. If we can't find that, what are the next most important things to look for and where can I get them? There is a Mennonite farmer who brings meat to the farmer's market but I have no idea what his chicken is like. I also have a Trader Joe's.

At the main grocery, for more money, I found this:
****** Amish Country poultry
no animal by-products, animal fats or hormones in our feed
all vegetable feed

of course, this doesn't say anything about the living conditions of the animals, which is also important to me. Oh wait, it also says on the back:

******'s poultry is grown on small farms by mennonite and amish families.
 

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I think the best thing to do is visit the farm if possible. If not, then call and ask them questions. I can't afford the organic free range chickens I would love to buy at the market. I have found another farmer that has free range chickens that are not organic and he has eggs that are from the free range chickens. It's a compromise for me. I asked him about his farming practices and if he uses aniti-biotics or hormones. He cracked open an egg for me to look at the yolk, which is a great indication as to whether or not it's a free range egg (nice dark yellow/orange yolk is good). The biggest test is in the taste. A free range chicken has an intense chicken taste. It's also fattier and therefore juicier.

The organic chicken at the market is almost $4/lb. I was paying $35+ for a 9lb chicken. The other farmer charges just over $2/lb. His eggs are also cheaper, $6 for 2 1/2 dozen as opposed to $5/dozen.

I wouldn't nessesarily look for organic because to be a certified organic producer it costs a lot for the farmer. Some farmers practice organic farming without being certified and can charge less for their products. Some farmers practice old fashioned farming and treat their animals with respect with produces a better product. Some farmers sell out to corporations and farm the cheapest they can. I try to stick with the middle 2.

You really want a free range product. It's far superior in taste and nutrition. The balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats are much healthier. Corporate and mass produced animal products are high in omega-6 fats from a poor diet of only grains. The free range animals will be grazing on grasses.
 
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