There are a lot of birds out there on the market. Which one should you pick?
Whole chickens are always less expensive than cut up parts, but if you do not possess good butchering skills, it may be worth paying a little more. The whole chickens sold at most grocery stores are mainly fryer chickens. Roasters, a little bigger and meatier, are also sometimes available, although, in my market, I have to ask for them.
Whenever possible, buy your family free range, organic poultry. Common chickens are raised with profit, not health, in mind. Common chicken producers pack 2 chickens into a 1-foot square pen. These cramped quarters are no-doubt stressful, and that stress makes them weak. Consequently, they must be fed antibiotics to fend off disease. They are also given growth hormones, which, coupled with lack of exercise, makes them so fat they cannot move, and live their lives sitting in their own manure. In addition, the food they are fed is grown with artificial fertilizers and chemical pesticides. Even if you are indifferent to the chicken’s quality of life, you should be concerned about the toxins that you eat yourself.
There are several organic options available in most stores, including organic, free range, and natural birds. Free range chickens have more flavor because they are allowed to exercise a bit more. Natural birds contain nothing synthetic, no preservatives or artificial flavoring or colorings, but standards permit antibiotics and hormone use. Organic birds are fed grains that have not been exposed to chemicals and pesticides. They may not be treated with antibiotics or drugs, and must be allowed to go outside and play.
Kosher chickens are organic and free range, and are processed under strict supervision of a rabbi. They are also soaked in salty brine, which gives them a unique flavor.