Free Roaming Chikkinz

In reference: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/031121.html

While “organic” or “free-range” poultry might have a significantly higher “quality of life”, I can say from my anecdotal experience, if you look around through various “free-range” (especially small-farm “free-range”) alternatives, you can get some mighty tasty birds.

I’ve found that free-range eggs are actually more flavourful than the “regular” kind.

I must say that I take exception to Cecil relegating the AHA’s standards to the realm of “faith”. He said himself they were rigourous, and as a humane association, you’d think they would actually put their money where their mouth is regarding their standards. I don’t see how the AHA would have an interest in falsely representing a farm as humane. Sure, the term “free range” as defined by the USDA may be nebulous and noncommittal, but does that necessarily poison the well for the AHA, which obviously has its own standards?

I’ve heard that this is because free-range hens eat bugs and other hideous foods that add flavor to their eggs.

I grew up on a ranch with anywhere between 10-15 chickens, who were allowed to wander around pretty much where ever they pleased (on our property, of course). They produced good eggs. Sometimes in the off-season, when they didn’t lay as many eggs, we had to resort to store bought eggs and there was quite a difference. The yolks were yellow instead of orange and tasted runny and watery.

Now that I live in the city, I still occasionally receive the farm eggs from family members, but I must say that the quality of store-bought eggs has increased quite a bit. The free-range, cage-free, or whatever eggs taste as good as my families eggs, but so do the really cheap eggs I get at Costco. All have fairly orange yolks and the non-watery quality flavor that I’ve come to expect from my eggs.

Not necessarily.

To begin with, Cecil draws a distinction between “free range” (the term used and, presumably, regulated by the USDA) and “free farmed” (the term trademarked by the AHA). I would say that the responsibility for reading and interpreting the term on the label lies with the consumer.

As to the issue of faith, I read that as having faith in the farmer, that he is not fraudulently using the certification granted by the AHA. I suspect that the resources available to the AHA to police all of the certificates they issue would be somewhat meager, and it’s at least plausible that some unscrupulous producers might be tempted to take advantage of that fact.

Yeah, I can see why you wouldn’t want them crossing the road, or anything.

I haven’t noticed much difference in taste, but I have definitely noticed that the shells are a lot harder to crack than your average egg.

Mass-produced eggs have nice yellow yolks because that’s what consumers want, so the egg producer adds naturally derived coloring agents to the chicken feed.

For example…
http://class.fst.ohio-state.edu/fst621/Lectures/color.htm

The comment on shade trees reminded me of a somewhat off topic incident while I was growing up on a small farm just outside Elkhart, Ind. My observation was that most hens went out to the fenced in coop most days in decent weather. Once when I was asked to pick plums from a tree in the yard, I took my cocker spaniel in with me. I glanced down and saw that while the chickens were quite at ease, Blackie was shaking. She was trying to point (that’s what they were bred for) at the whole flock at once. Each time a chicken clucked, she spun around to point at it. I took her out of the coop; I could not have blamed her if she had lost it and attacked one. We usually bought “unsexed” (not sorted) chicks and eliminated the cockerels when they reached edible size, at first on at a time, then the remainder into the deep freeze. The hens eventually met the same fate as they stopped laying (with an occasional bad guess.) They did not seem unhappy about ligfe in the chicken coop to me.

We get our eggs from a farm down the road. The eggs that we get from there are definitely better than those we get at the store. The yolks are very orange, and the entire contents of the egg are firmer, especially the yolks. The taste is very different too, but I don’t know how to describe the difference (meatier??). Recently their chickens have not been producing as much, and also something has been killing and eating their chickens. That means they don’t have many eggs to sell and we sure notice the difference at breakfast time. The chicken’s access to the open may not be the only thing that makes a difference, or it might not be involved at all. The farmer that we get them from said once that feeding the chickens more corn as a percentage of their diet makes the yolks more orange and makes the eggs firmer. These chickens are very much free range, though. I have to dodge them with the car when I go there. One more thing - he has brown, white and even green egg shells. All of them taste the same to me.

I mean the eggs in the shells taste the same, not the shells of course.

The brown shells taste like chocolate, the green ones like limes, and the white ones like chalk, right?

While we’re on the subject…

I know Cecil was makin’ with the funny when he said there’s a moral dilemma in whether to treat them kindly, so killing them is a downer, or treat them mean, so killing is welcome relief, but come on.

That’s a lot of column to use on something that doesn’t even make a point- and if he was trying to make a point, it’s ridiculous. The instinct to live is so strong that even miserable chickens wouldn’t consider death a blessing. Further, everything gets eaten eventually, even if it’s by one-celled organisms.

There’s no moral dilemma at all. Let them live well, kill them, and eat them.

Two silly questions:

  1. What does “in re” mean? Other than “king of the Jews”? Or “residing within rhenium”?
  2. The first time they saw “CAGE FREE”, did anyone else think something along the lines of “Does that mean only the notes B, D, and F were used?”

In re literally means in the thing. In Latin, it is normally followed by a word narrowing down the “thing”. (Republic is from Latin for the public thing.) In legal language, therefore, in re means, in the matter of…, concerning…, etc. There is a perfectly good English word for the purpose, anent, but, for whatever reason, it’s even more obscure than in re is.

Nothing to do with king of the Jews. I suppose you are thinking of I.N.R.I., Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.

As I recall my ol’ granny who lived on a small farm had chickens that ‘free roamed’ about the area near the house. They hung about since my blue haired granny went out there and fed their chow and kept them ‘watered’. On Sunday’s once in a while, or if company was over, she would go out there with a handfull of feed to to entice one of the chickens to go for a “spin”. Taste wise, after being baked, I don’t seem to recall there being a whole lot of difference in them or the “store bought” chickens. I think most of it, taste wise, was due to her expertise with that cast iron stove she roasted them up in. As for the term ‘organic’, I think it is being misused in labeling. After all, what chicken isn’t organic? Perhaps a stone one.

So the sentence can be rendered as “In the thing chickens, a blogger named Joseph Haines has framed the question thusly…” ? Dictionary.com gives this definition of re: “In reference to; in the case of; concerning.” So wouldn’t “in re” be “In in reference to”? Yes, it’s a nitpick, but as the most recently posted column shows, Cecil isn’t above getting involved in nitpicks.

Even the part of my message that you quoted says as much.

No, I don’t see two “ins” in your message.