Faith-based shopping takes another blow: Mary's Chickens ain't what they tell you they are {Western States]

Mary, mother of God!


The definition of free range is meaningless to begin with. There is a little door from the chicken shed that leads to a little patch of outdoor land, and the chickens, having lived their entire life inside the shed, just don’t venture outside.

Of course, Mary’s and Whole Foods still have some questions they need to answer.

Huh, I never noticed the little ribbon stating “free range” on the label, but as you said, it’s a meaningless term.

Mary’s chickens are much cheaper than what you can get at Marin sun farms, etc. and the lack of added water and preservatives has been the reason I’d get them.

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The slower growth definitely adds to the value (and the cost). When we were in Shanghai last Spring Ju Ju was happy to pay American-level prices for “old” chickens, and considered it a bargain. I hadn’t tasted birds like that since my grandmother’s chicken ‘n’ dumplings, made from retired “coop-raised” laying hens. They were Rhode Island reds as well.

An interesting sidelight to Bay Area chicken-raising history is that holocaust survivor Charles Baum, founder of the predecessor to Petaluma Poultry, began as a supplier of chickens to San Francisco Chinatown merchants. To this day, most Chinatown fowl merchants look to Petaluma Poultry, except for specialty breeds like huang mao and “loong kong” chickens.

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What do you mean by faith-based? Does Mary’s have a connection to religion, or do you just mean you can’t believe everything people say?

I simply meant that if you take a manufacturer’s claims on good faith you can get burned.


When you said old, you meant slow growth, right?

"Old"is what she called them. I think it’s a combination of both; using heirloom breeds and allowing them to reach full maturity. They are most suitable for stewing and soups (Shanghainese mothers will bring out the soup pot at the first sign of a sniffle).

I don’t have a lot of respect for Direct Action Everywhere. They’re the same folks that used extortion tactics with The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley, forcing them to put up a sign in their window that says killing animals is wrong.

Protesting is “extortion”?

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And the city of Berkeley let this extortion happened?

From what I read, the protests were legal if obnoxious. It was the shop-owners that caved.

Yes, obnoxious.

I stopped buying Mary’s chicken years ago. My experience with it has been that the packaging suggests high quality but what you get is bland and flavorless.

3 posts were split to a new topic: What is the most flavorful chicken in the Bay Area?

New to this discussion, so forgive me if I missed something, but Mary’s produces both organic and nonorganic chickens, which I have always found not only confusing but also ethically questionable.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2