Why the Ethical Treatment of Chicken Goes Far Beyond the Farm
Hello, Friends! It’s JoAnna, Moink’s resident Healthy Hen, and I’m back to shed some light on the topic of chicken processing! I know, it may not be the most glamorous subject, but we are what we eat, and every step in our food’s journey from farm to our bellies matters.
By this point, many of us are relatively in-the-know on the best treatment of chickens on the farm. At least, we’ve caught on that words like “hormone-free,” “no antibiotics,” and “non-GMO” are a good thing. Ever since I watched Food, Inc. several years back, I decided it’s worth it to pay a little extra for free-range chicken. It’s important to me that the poultry I feed my family hasn’t been kept in massive, inhumane, confinement buildings and pumped with growth hormones and chemical feed, and then drugged to kingdom come to compensate for unsanitary conditions.
But to be honest, I’ve never given a lot of thought to what happens to chicken once it leaves the farm and goes to the processing facility. That is, until I had this eye-opening interview with Andy Shaw, Director of Operations for Natural State Processing in Clinton, Arkansas. All the poultry from Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative, Moink’s main chicken supplier, is processed in Andy’s facility.
We hope this inside look at how our chicken is processed will arm you with more knowledge and remind you once again how much the quality of our food matters.
Q: What sets your facility apart from a traditional Big Ag processing plant?
A: It all starts with the quality of chickens that are coming into our facility. They are clean, healthy birds from small family farms. They haven’t been exposed to bacteria from dirty, confined living conditions. Instead of assuming the birds are sick and putting them all through reactive, harsh sanitation procedures, we treat them as if they are healthy and use only proactive, non-invasive measures that add extra layers of protection.
Q: What is your facility’s approach to sanitation?
A: We have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to any form of product contamination. Our facility uses a system called Mapping, in which we test our products at every stage of the process. If there was ever a suspicion of bacteria, we would be able to identify exactly the point it was introduced and address it directly. Since we are federally inspected, we must prove that our approach is working with lab testing. This often presents a challenge because our birds are so pristine that we can’t even find any bacteria to demonstrate the effectiveness of our anti-microbial practices!
Q: What quality procedures and practices does your facility have in place when processing Moink chicken?
A: Traditional chicken plants soak their birds in a harsh chlorine solution and do other chemical dips to kill off salmonella, campylobacter and other harmful bacteria. While these chemicals are effective in killing off infection, they also change the flavor, texture and odor of the meat. At our facility, we use an organic hydrogen peroxide and vinegar solution, and our birds are only dipped for 20 seconds. We never use dyes or solutions because we aim to keep the meat as pure and unaltered as possible. We also freeze our products at the height of freshness, so there’s no chance of it sitting out too long, as can happen with many brands of meat.
You’ll notice that our chicken has a fresh smell, a nice pink tone and a really tender texture, and that’s because it hasn’t been bleached, soaked and injected with solutions to make up for its poor quality and bland flavor.
Q: Why does ethical chicken processing matter?
A: Big Food companies take a lot of shortcuts to get meat to the masses as inexpensively as possible. But there’s a high cost to cheap food. Their practices keep the family farmer down, are inhumane to animals and harm the health of consumers. Our team truly understands the value of the meat we are dealing with, and we seek to be good stewards of quality. When animals are given a life worthy of their sacrifice, and then processed with respect and care, everybody wins.
We’re not the only ones who think our chicken is the cat’s pajamas! Moink customer Shara said, “I had the chicken breast tonight for dinner and I have to say I’m thrilled! I don’t know how to really describe it, but it tasted clean and pure.” Another Moinker, Jillian, gave this rave review: “This is seriously the best meat I have ever bought myself. The chicken breast tasted like I roasted the whole chicken myself! I’m sold. I will never buy meat elsewhere.”
Here at Moink, we want to do more than just deliver delicious meat to your doorstep. We want to educate you on what’s really happening with our food system and empower you to stand with us in our mission to change it!
Humanely-raised, ethically-sourced, tender and oh so delicious chicken is just a click (and a cluck) away! Order a Moink Box today.