Whether you’re standing at the meat counter or selecting a carton of eggs, you’re likely to be faced with a plethora of labels. From “cage-free” to “pasture-raised” to “free-range,” making an educated choice about what’s for dinner can be tricky. If you’re a little confused on what’s what, you’re not alone. Here’s a closer look at what “free-range” (and similar terminology) really means and whether this method of farming, which encourages animals to roam the great outdoors, is the best option available.
What Is Free-Range?
Free-range refers to a method of farming where groups of animals are able to freely roam outdoors (either full-time or during certain hours) and encouraged to exhibit their natural behaviors instead of living in confining enclosures. In many cases, free-range means that animals are able to graze and forage for food, and in the case of chickens, it ensures these animals have plenty of room to flap their wings.
Benefits of Free-Range
Not only does the term “free-range” imply that animals are treated in a more humane, ethical manner, but because the animals are allowed to forage for their food (and eat their natural diets), they’re able to satisfy their nutrient needs, which translates into higher quality protein. In fact, studies show that free-range chickens actually lay healthier eggs.
Tips for Shopping Free-Range Products
When you’re shopping free-range products, it’s important to know the lingo—especially when it comes to chicken and eggs. For example, the term “cage-free eggs” means the chickens are not raised in cages but still may be kept in confined conditions with minimal exposure to sunlight. “Certified Organic” typically means the birds have some access to the outdoors (though it’s unclear how much) and are not given antibiotics. “Pasture-raised” chickens roam openly and enjoy an organic diet, producing high-quality meat and eggs.
Top Free-Range Brands
Stock up on these cage-free brands.
Our premium line of pantry staples and household essentials don’t sacrifice quality for a low price point. This includes our exceptional meat and seafood, which offers the most ethical, sustainably sourced animal proteins available.
Gather the family and dig into a tender and juicy chicken dinner. Our free-range chicken box includes tenders, bone-in thighs, breasts, and an 8-piece, cut-up chicken.
If you’re in the market for preservative-free pantry staples, you’ll want to stock up on this brand, which offers grass-fed and free-range jerky along with marinades free of refined sugar, dairy, or soy.
These wholesome grab-and-go chicken sticks are a savory and slightly sweet snack loved by kids and adults alike. Each serving delivers 7g of protein and includes only 2g of sugar.
From soups to broths to non-dairy, plant-based beverages, Pacific Foods believes that food should be clean, simple, and made with only natural organic grains, meats, and veggies. The brand is committed to making product staples that taste good and are good for you and the planet.
Add a dose of rich, savory flavor to just about any dish with this wholesome, free-range broth made from slow-simmered chicken bones, meat, and veggies.
About Free-Range Chicken, Eggs & More
Want more? Dig into the Thrive Market blog!
Learn more about our premium selection of animal proteins. We’ve partnered with the most ethically minded, environmentally conscious farmers in the country to bring you a program that’s a cut above the competition.
Want to do more for the environment while enjoying delicious food in the process? Take a closer look at this flourishing farming movement that supports local growers and provides better-quality crops.
What’s so special about going organic? Join us as we go back in history to look at the origins of organic farming and see how it differs from conventional practices. You might be surprised by what you discover.