Chicken is the world’s favorite bird. Popular on tables around the globe – roasted, fried, poached, or barbecued – chicken is a staple of our diets. Here at D’Artagnan we have made a mission of providing you with the very best chicken. Read on for a chicken primer.
A Little Chicken History
The ubiquitous white meat is devoured by each American at the rate of about 80 pounds a year. With a population of 24 billion, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird.
Chickens are the perfect meat: easy to raise in small spaces, and sustain on table scraps, nearly all the parts of the bird can be used for food, and a single chicken can be consumed during one meal (which matters when there’s no refrigerator for leftovers).
That’s why as early as 8000 BC the Indian jungle fowl, Gallus gallus was domesticated in China and India for both meat and eggs. The chicken reached Europe about 3000 BC, but it took until the first millennium BC to hit Western Europe. When the Mediterranean grabbed hold of the chicken in the 1st millennium, it was spread to the rest of Europe in short order.
Chicken in the Yard
It used to be that every farm had a flock of chickens, providing fresh eggs and eventually meat. Even city dwellers would keep a few chickens in a coop, since chickens require little space and, as omnivores, eat insects, grains, and kitchen scraps. So it’s pretty easy to turn stale bread and oatmeal into high-quality protein.
But today, most chicken comes from big factory farms, where chickens are raised intensively in crowded barns, pushed to grow quickly, and processed at a young age to keep chicken meat on every table. Chicken is considered a cheap meat, and it’s raised in a way that keeps the price low, and if we may say so, keeps the flavor bland. This is not the chicken that our grandparents ate.
There’s a Better Way
At D’Artagnan, we like chicken with real chicken flavor. So we work with farmers that raise chicken the right way. This is such a part of our company DNA that we sold organic chicken years before the USDA even allowed the term on the label.
The Original Organic Chicken
Today we are proud to carry the certified organic label on both whole chickens and all the cuts you love. Our organic flock is raised in open-coop, stress-free conditions on small family farms using practices designed to maintain and enhance ecological balance.
The certified organic feeding program does not include herbicides, antibiotics, growth hormones, or additives at any time during the life cycle. Diet consists of whole grains, as well as foraged grasses and insects, and the same well-water consumed by the farm families.
Green Circle™ Chicken
A more recent addition to our flock is the Green Circle chicken. Certified humane, air-chilled and exclusively available at D’Artagnan, every chicken that bears the name is raised free-range on a diet of surplus vegetables. We were inspired by the common sense, waste-nothing philosophy of days past, when chickens lived on vegetable scraps and roamed freely around farmyards and pastureland.
Our Amish and Mennonite farmers understand these methods well and helped us create a unique program that has been recognized by the ASPCA and included in their “Shop With Your Heart” list for meaningful animal welfare standards. There’s even a Heritage Green Circle Chicken which offers the taste of bygone years when a whole variety of chicken breeds were available – and were raised longer for better flavor.
We are very proud of the other hens in the house. Our air-chilled chickens are raised in much the same manner as the organic chickens, on Amish and Mennonite family farms in the Midwest, in open barns with stress-free conditions, sunlight, and lots of room to grow.
They are never given antibiotics or growth hormones. The main difference is in the processing. Air-chilling is a method for cooling chickens after slaughter, which involves “wind” chambers that blast cold air on the chickens, instead of dunking them into cold water tanks. Air-chilled chicken has less retained water as a result, which means deep flavor, tight texture, and skin that crisps nicely in cooking.
Everybody’s Favorite Bird
Every culture has an iconic chicken recipe, from chicken soup to roasted chicken, deep-fried chicken, or chicken cacciatore … poule au pot, chicken pot pie, buffalo wings, chicken tenders, chicken tikka masala … and we have quite a few chicken recipes at dartagnan.com for you to try.
At D’Artagnan we believe that a happy chicken is a tasty chicken. If you’re going to eat 80 pounds of chicken a year, you might as well eat the very best. That’s why we partner with conscientious farmers and do plenty of taste-tests of their products ourselves. The chicken we sell is the chicken we want to feed our families. Explore all the types we offer at dartagnan.com.
Since 1985, D’Artagnan has been at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement, producing superior tasting products by partnering with small ranches and farms. We are committed to free-range, natural production, sustainable and humane farming practices and no use of antibiotics or hormones. That’s why D’Artagnan products have been revered by America’s most renowned chefs for over 30 years. We offer the same high-quality products to home cooks at dartagnan.com, along with recipes and guides to help you live the tasty life.
Are you a business looking to serve or sell D’Artagnan? We invite both chefs and food retailers to reach out and become D’Artagnan customers.