Trader Joe’s is not typically where I go to buy meat. Rather, this distant cousin of Aldi’s is one of my favorite stores to score unique products like French onion soup, samosas, pumpkin rolls, and apple cider jam. But Trader Joe’s also has a decent selection of fresh meat, including chicken, beef, and pork. I decided to try some of their ground chicken in a chili recipe.
Trader Joe’s Fresh Lean Ground Chicken cost $3.69 for a 16 oz. package at the time of publication. It’s found in the store’s refrigerated section.
It contains 8% fat and has up to 1% of a solution of vinegar and rosemary extract. The package says it’s made with “all natural chicken” that was minimally processed with no artificial ingredients, and that the chickens were raised with no antibiotics ever, an all-vegetarian diet, and no added hormones.
The fact that the chicken is raised without antibiotics is a good thing. As for some of the other package claims, first, chickens are omnivores that eat both meat and plants, so an all-vegetarian diet is not as healthy or natural for chickens as it may sound. Second, federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in poultry, so the claim that the chickens are raised with no added hormones may be misleading.
The Trader Joe’s chicken package also states in contains 4 4-oz. servings, with one serving containing 170 calories (with 80 calories from fat), 9 grams of total fat (14% of your daily value), 2.5 grams of saturated fat (13% DV), 105 mg of cholesterol (35% DV), 130 mg of sodium (5% DV), 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugars, and 22 grams of protein.
Ingredients are ground chicken, buffered vinegar, and rosemary extract.
The chicken is a product of the U.S.
Since Trader Joe’s is a bit different from traditional grocery stores, I wondered if the meat was more humanely sourced. I started by researching Trader Joe’s website, where the FAQ section acknowledges some (but not all) of their poultry is free of antibiotics, and they state that the “natural” label on their meat products means they are minimally processed. These are all beneficial. However, their site didn’t offer information about where the chicken in their stores is raised or what the conditions are like. So I sent an email to Trader Joe’s asking how the chickens that specifically go into their ground chicken packages are raised. A couple of days later, I got the following response:
“We offer a variety of chicken products in our stores. The conditions in which chickens are raised depends on how it is labeled. Organic Chickens and Free Ranges chickens are raised differently than conventional chickens. Our Fresh Lean Ground Chicken is conventionally raised and the chickens do not have access to the outdoors. However they are cage free, and allowed to roam in their houses. The chickens are generally placed at about 1 square foot per bird in the house. I hope this information helps.”
So, this chicken is conventionally raised inside large barns where they are allowed to walk around, but conditions are fairly snug at one square foot per chicken.
As for how it cooked up and tasted, it browned nicely in my skillet and got added to a slow cooker full of chili, which made a nice dinner on a cold night.
Trader Joe’s Fresh Lean Ground Chicken was raised with no antibiotics and is minimally processed, making it a decent choice when you’re looking for a substitute for ground beef. While Trader Joe’s does sell chicken products labelled organic or free range, the chicken used in this product was raised conventionally in large barns, so if that is a concern for you, there are other options that might be more preferable.