We all want what is best for our families. When it comes to food, however, we don’t all have the time, space, money, or energy to grow our own vegetables and raise our own meat. I think this would be the ideal situation, letting you know exactly what goes into your food with minimal processing before serving. But, since that can’t be a reality for the majority of us, it’s nice to know that there are people near-by, members of the Chicken Farmers of Canada , who can. It’s also nice to know that these neighbours care about the welfare and quality of the chickens they raise for market, in a way that I would.
Meet Canada’s Chicken Farmers
Last month I announced my new role as brand ambassador for the Chicken Farmers of Canada, not to mention a delicious recipe for Crispy, Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings. This month, the ambassadors were asked to share about Canada’s 2,700 chicken farmers and what practices they follow to raise safe, healthy, delicious chicken that Canadians can trust.
I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about where the meat you buy in the grocery store comes from, but I hope you have. I know I always look for the “Product of Canada” label – this gives me assurance that the farmers that raised the meat had to follow legislation to ensure that the meat was raised safely and with my, and my family’s, health in mind. I like that.
While browsing the new Chicken Farmers website, I read about real chicken farmers, farming on innovative and sustainable farms across Canada, including the Hamstra family – one of 118 chicken farmers in Manitoba, and only a few minutes from where I live. There are also a lot of facts that should help put your mind at ease when purchasing Canadian chicken.
Here are 9 facts that stood out to me as a consumer:
- Chicken farmers only produce what is needed. They meet with processors, further processors, and members of the restaurant trade every 8 weeks to ensure that they are producing the right amount of chicken to meet demand.
- What chickens are fed has a direct impact on both the flavour and nutrition of the meat, so it’s important that all chickens are fed the right way. The main ingredient of all chicken feed (over 88%) is grains and grain by-products, protein-producing seeds, and meal made from them such as canola or soybean meal. So, in essence, all chicken is “grain fed.” Keep in mind that even if the chicken’s diet contains grains that contain gluten, the gluten will not become part of the chicken’s meat. In much smaller quantities (around 10%), various other protein sources such as meat and bone meal/vegetable fats, are added to improve the nutritional content, taste and texture of the feed. In much, much smaller quantities (1.5%), mineral and vitamin supplements are commonly added to prevent any nutrient deficiencies. For more information, see “What Chickens Eat”.
- Chicken farmers are responsible stewards of the land and are committed to using sustainable, good production practices, trying to leave the smallest imprint on the environment.
- The welfare of the chicks are important to the farmer. The farmers are sure the chicks get fresh water, high-quality feed, and are allowed to roam freely in the barns.
- All of Canada’s chicken farms are are subject to an auditable Animal Care Program, which monitors and enforces the high animal care standards on Canadian chicken farms.
- The government-recognized, mandatory, on-farm food safety program also emphasizes animal health, cleanliness and safety throughout each step of the production cycle.
- You’re responsible for safe food handling practices in your kitchen, but the Chicken Farmers of Canada are the first step in safe food handling. By following the OFFSAP, farmers are ensuring that they are raising the best possible chicken for us.
- Antibiotics can be used help to maintain healthy birds or treat sick ones, thereby ensuring a safe food supply for consumers and to prevent any potential food safety problems. Government-verified withdrawal times and random testing mean that the chicken that you buy in grocery stores or in restaurants does not contain any antibiotic residues. The chicken industry proactively manages antibiotic use in order to provide continued confidence to consumers and government. More information on antibiotics can be found here.
- And most importantly, No chickens are ever given hormones or steroids in Canada – the practice has been illegal since the 1960s.
Looking for some gluten-free chicken recipes?
Disclosure: I am participating in the Chicken Farmers of Canada campaign managed by SJ Consulting. I received compensation in exchange for my participation in this campaign. The opinions on this blog are my own.