... This is one of the larger ironies of growing organic food in an industrial system: It is even more precarious than a conventional industrial system. But the federal rules say an organic chicken should have “access to the outdoors,” and Supermarket Pastoral imagines it, so Petaluma Poultry provides the doors and the yard and everyone keeps their fingers crossed.
It would appear Petaluma’s farm managers have nothing to worry about. Since the food and water and flock remain inside the shed, and since the little doors remain shut until the birds are at least five weeks old and well settled in their habits, the chickens apparently see no reason to venture out into what must seem to them an unfamiliar and terrifying world. Since the birds are slaughtered at seven weeks, free range turns out to be not so much a lifestyle for these chickens as a two-week vacation option.
Source: The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Large Print Press), Pages: 172
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