Many consumers are becoming more concerned about where their grocery-store meat comes from and whether it is raised in healthy, humane conditions. When it comes to chicken, Aldi sells a variety of options, ranging from commercially raised inexpensive broilers and chicken pieces to Aldi’s private label Never Any! poultry that contains no antibiotics. Free range chicken breasts are a recent addition to the shelves in my local stores.
Simply Nature Organic Free Range Chicken Breasts cost $5.79 per lb. at the time of publication. I got a 1.12-lb. package of chicken for $6.48, and it contained two boneless chicken breasts. I buy whole pasture-raised chickens from a local farmer in the Midwest for about $4 a pound, so the Aldi price is higher per pound, although that higher price also includes someone else performing the labor of cutting up the chicken and de-boning the breasts.
The Aldi free range chicken package states the chicken “may contain up to 5% retained water” and says the chicken is hatched, raised, and harvested in the U.S., with no animal by-products and no added salt. The package also states the chicken has no added hormones or steroids, but federal regulations prohibit their use in all poultry, so this chicken is not unique in that respect.
The chicken is certified humane and “meets the Humane Farm Animal Care Program standards, which include nutritious diet without antibiotics, animals raised with shelter, resting areas, sufficient space and the ability to engage in natural behaviors.” The chicken also is verified non GMO.
I noticed the package does not say anything about the chickens being fed an all-vegetarian diet, which is a popular claim on a lot of chicken labels these days, but chickens are not designed to be vegetarians. Chickens are naturally omnivores who eat a mixture of plants, insects, worms, and even snakes or rodents if they can catch them, so I appreciate that this free range chicken does not attempt to make the vegetarian claim.
My chicken package has a farm ID of “CEDA” stamped on it, and when I did a Google search for “farm ID CEDA” I found a PDF page for Cedar Ridge Farm in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, and it states that “Jeffery and Marie Zimmerman have been raising broilers on Cedar Ridge Farm since 1991.” It also states, “Growing organic birds is important to Jeffrey and he likes the freedom SVO allows him. The Zimmerman family work hard on their farm everyday (sic) but like to relax by camping and hunting on their land in the mountains.”
SVO, of which Cedar Ridge Farm is a part, stands for Shenandoah Valley Organic, which appears to be rebranding itself more recently as Farmer Focus. The company is composed of several dozen farms, and the farmers own the chickens and have an investment and some level of control in the process of raising their birds, which is not usually the case for conventional industrial chicken farms. The chickens are raised in reduced-density housing, which is healthier for both the chickens and the farmers who have to enter those barns or chicken houses, and chickens have the opportunity to go outdoors, although I don’t know how much time they spend outside.
The SVO site features brief descriptions and photos from the various farms that make up organization, and I found a page for Cedar Ridge Farm where my chicken breasts came from, with further description of the family and an idyllic farm lifestyle. A Google search for the farm also yielded a 2018 article on Deli Market News about SVO’s revamped packaging, which included a move toward using less plastic, and Jeffrey Zimmerman of Cedar Ridge Farm is quoted.
I couldn’t find a website or social media page for the farm itself to learn more information, so all I really know is what is presented through the SVO site. Still, this is a lot more information than is available with conventionally raised chicken, and I appreciate that the SVO’s website offers a good amount of information about how the company operates, how they treat farmers, and how their chickens are raised. I’ll continue to buy from my local farmer as much as possible, but this is a decent option for store-bought chicken from a source that allows the birds to get outdoors and doesn’t overcrowd them.
Nutritionally, the only ingredient is organic boneless skinless chicken breast, so there are no sodium solutions or broth solutions in this chicken. One breast is considered one serving, and that nets you 140 calories, 3 grams of total fat (4% of your daily value), 0.5 grams of saturated fat (3% DV), 80 mg of cholesterol (27% DV), 50 mg of sodium (2% DV), and 25 grams of protein.
I cut our Aldi free range chicken into pieces and made homemade chicken nuggets. They were a hit, even among some family members who don’t like to eat meat. They baked up tender and moist, and there were no leftovers.
Aldi’s Simply Nature Organic Free Range Chicken Breasts have access to the outdoors and are certified humanely raised. The package has a farm code that allowed me to go online and find out who raised my chicken. If you are having difficulty finding a local farmer, this is not a bad option for store-bought chicken.