From the Farm to the Plate: A Day in the Life of a Pasture-Raised Chicken

pastured poultry poster 2013 gaPastured Poultry Week kicks off this Monday, and I invite you to come with me as I follow the life of a chicken from the farm to the plate.

Organized by Compassion in World Farming, a global organization working to end factory farming, and Georgians for Pastured Poultry, the event aims to help promote and celebrate humane and sustainable pasture-raised poultry for one week each year.

Local Farmer, Brandon Chonko has invited me to visit his South Georgia farm in Tattnall County–Grassroots Farms, where he raises 1500 chickens, ducks and turkeys and supplies them to more than 15 restaurants in the state and throughout the South. Many of the restaurants he supplies are in the Atlanta area, and some are even on the Georgia Coast, where I’ll be enjoying my pastured poultry dish, at North Beach Bar and Grill on Tybee Island.

Learning about the food we eat, where it comes from and how it’s raised is really fascinating to me. If you’re like me, you may be wondering what exactly a pastured bird is and why there’s a whole week set aside for their awareness. Farmer Brandon explains:

"I love working outdoors with animals. I also love being able to market to such talented chefs." -Brandon Chonko
“I love working outdoors with animals. I also love being able to market to such talented chefs.” -Brandon Chonko [Photo Credit: Andrew Thomas Lee]
“Pasture-raised or pastured birds actually live 24/7 in fresh pasture. They are housed in small batches in portable housing. They get moved frequently to ensure fresh forage. Also, we use a French breed of chicken that are known to be active foragers. They are bred to live outdoors, not in a chicken house. Pastured birds are healthier, need no antibiotics, are active and taste better. They have a long life. They are what chicken dinner Sundays used to consist of prior to the rise of the industrial chicken.”

Learn more about Grassroots Farm’s Humble Roots story.

Pastured Poultry Week is in its second year, and has expanded to include more than 50 Georgia-based chefs and over 25 chefs from New York. If you’d like to experience the taste of a pasture-raised chicken and support Georgia’s farmers while eating cleaner, visit Halyards or Tramici Neighborhood Italian on St. Simons Island. You can also see a complete listing of participating restaurants on the Georgians for Pastured Poultry website.

I’m headed to the farm Sunday, and will venture out to the beach next week to eat that chicken. I’ll keep you posted!

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