Chicken ?????

Is it me or is chicken losing its flavor? I have been buying these free range chickens from northern California farms where I live . The local small grocery store has been providing them for years
I have been cooking those thighs for years . The meat has become lighter in color and less tasty . More like those chicken boobs . I feel like I’m eating a sweater after perfectly cooked . Are you noticing this ?

I’m sure I will now!


Has it changed its supplier(s)? Or the supplier has changed breeds, or doing something different in the husbandry?

Absolutely. And * *really noticed it when I was out to dinner and got a terrific farm raised chicken and i forget where it was from, but it tasted like chicken. Also, they are so big now and I really prefer them smaller. The breasts are huge and I usually cut them in half.

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Interesting. In the UK, free range chicken are almost invariably smaller than factory raised ones. My understanding is that they are simply different breeds than used by the factory farms - bred for smaller, slow growing birds, so the flavour develops over time. Usually weigh about 1.5kg in my normal supermarket.


Definitely been noticing this trend for years, which is why I have to scale up and get the pasture-raised ones or at the very least organic, small farm ones when I want a roast chicken or any other dish where it’s not covered in a sauce or rub. I will still make stock and a soup base sometimes from “regular” chicken, but anything I actually want to taste chicken-y usually fails to do so with regular supermarket chickens.

I do like the smaller chickens, since I usually cook for myself. I personally have always struggled when just the breast alone is like 1-2lbs.

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I suspect it’s the above reasons too. @emglow101 since you said you’re buying from a small grocery store, you can talk to the owner to ask what happened. Or else, it’s your grocery store not selling what it’s supposed to be.

There seems to be a lot of interpretations on what is really free range. I don’t know your law, but is there legislation on the age of chicken they must reach? Fast growing chicken aren’t the same taste as slower growing ones.

I suppose that this may depend on the jurisdiction you’re in. In the UK, there are legal standards but they can give quite a lot of latitude in the interpretation (particularly about the access to “outside”). Whereas, poultry labelled “organic” will be free range, together with other requirements and the regulations are much tighter.

Here’s a table that you can see the difference types of chicken in France. It’s a country that everything has to be laid down in rules to discourage free interpretation.

Screen Shot 2021-08-09 at 19.49.15

Note that hormone treatment is banned in Europe.


Interesting. I think the regulation in the US is much less specific.

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With US or UK laws, it’s more free and more flexible, which allows more dynamic. Here, the downside is things move slowly here and quite bureaucratic. But also, here people place a lot of importance on food, they request more regulations than less.

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As I said upthread, “organic” regulations are fairly precise (including official certification) but are much less precise for “free range”.

A summary of our free range standards is :-

a free range chicken must be housed in a defined space.
This space means it should be with no more than 13 birds per square metre.
A chicken must also be 56 days old before it is slaughtered. It should also have continuous daytime access to open-air runs for at least half its lifetime.

So what counts? If the door is open and it’s raining so the chicken says to itself in its little chicken brain “I’m not going out there” is that access? Or are there little infrared sensors that count chickens going in and out of the coop? Indeed, are chickens smart enough to stay out of the rain?

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My CSA offers several options. There are some serious egg laws here in California.

Here’s the way I understand it.

Huff Po on eggs

back on the farm . . . chickens ranged free.
to note: they chose their own diet.
to note: diet plays a huge role in color and texture and taste of the meat…
and eggs…

so it is to be totally expected that true free range chickens are a lot more variable that caged chickens who, if hungry, must eat what’s in the trough, or go hungry.


It really depends on where I buy my chicken. The local stuff at the butcher, and chicken (and other meat) from the farmers’ market usually more flavour than most regular, non-fancy grocery store chicken.
I’ve been splurging on local to avoid buying chicken processed by giant companies- silver lining is that it tastes better, too.

I’ll ask my grocer . He buys them from small farms up here in nor cal .

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There are at least four houses near me in Houston where there are chickens. I’ve seen them in light rain and after a heavy rain they come out to eat the goodies that come to the surface. :chicken:

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Recommend that you try a local kosher chicken, too , just to see if you like the taste & texture more.