Much of the soy grown today is used for chicken feed for factory farming operations. Chickens who are raised on pasture are healthier and have a better nutritional profile than poultry raised in large scale, overcrowded CAFO’s. We are only as healthy as the animals that we consume so it important to think about the food chain and how it affects our constitution. The following reasons are why it is important to seek out soy free pastured chickens and their eggs whenever possible.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture did a study in 1993 where hens were taken off pasture and fed a diet of soy, corn, wheat or cottonseed meal. When the chickens were not fed their natural diet they didn’t lay as many eggs and the few chicks that developed from the eggs had higher rates of death and illness.
- Soy is one of the most common food allergens and many people who think they are sensitive to eggs are just allergic to the soy that concentrates in the yolks.
- Chickens are omnivores and are actually descendents of Velociraptor, a small meat eating dinosaur. Chickens are designed to eat mice, snakes, bugs, worms, and insects. It is not natural for their diet to be 95% “vegetarian” corn and soy.
- Chickens that eat corn and soy will have an imbalanced omega 3/6 ratio, making these poultry products inflammatory foods for humans. A pastured chicken that is free to roam on grass and eat bugs will have a 3/1 ratio of omega 6/3 which means eating these chickens and their eggs will be restorative for health. The average American is very inflamed with a 20/1 ratio of omega 6/3, which is a good indicator of future health risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
- Commercial chicken feed often uses recycled vegetable oil from restaurant fryers as a filler. Some experts believe that eating factory farmed chicken has similar effects on the body as drinking soybean oil.
- Research indicates that soy isoflavones are transferred into the yolks of chickens which are fed a diet concentrated with soy feed. When humans eat soy fed chickens these estrogen mimicking hormones can accumulate causing various health problems.
- Soy contains isoflavones that accelerate growth in chickens by depressing thyroid function creating unnatural weight gain which increases market value of fowl.
- When chickens are fed soy, high concentrations of estrogen mimicking hormones end up in the yolks causing disruption in human fertility, upsetting the delicate hormonal balance in men and women.
- Most soy in the USA is genetically modified which causes abnormalities in hampster studies after several generations. GMO’s have not been adequately tested on humans and eating soy filled eggs could cause unintended changes in future human DNA.
- Children are especially sensitive to hormones from soy contaminated chicken and can have irregularities in sexual development.
- Pastured chicken that are eating worms and insects have more omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin A, folate and vitamin B-12 than caged, stressed, and overcrowded chickens. Pastured eggs are higher in the anti-oxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which helps in prevention of macular degeneration and colon cancer.
- Eggs from pastured hens have vitamin D levels 3-6 times higher than the eggs from hens raised in confinement. Pastured hens are exposed to direct sunlight, which their bodies convert to vitamin D. When chickens have enough vitamin D they have higher egg production. A high soy diet can even deplete stored of vitamin D in chickens and humans.
- Uncluttered free roaming Pastured chickens are very sustainable and create their own nitrogen rich fertilizer which helps grow more grass and other vegetables.
- Rainforests are being clear cut in South America for the production of soybeans to feed chickens in high volume over-crowded operations.
- Visit the farm if possible
- Get to know the farmer and ask lots of questions
- Make sure chickens have free access to sunshine
- Chickens have ability to forage for bugs in the dirt
- Rotated to new grass periodically
- Supplemented diet with leftover kitchen scraps
- Fed grasses like nettles and other greens
- Humanely treated without beak or toe clipping
- “Certified Humane” label is helpful
- Organic is important but not a sole criteria
- “Animal Welfare Approved” is a good label
- “No Antibiotics” label is important and regulated
- “Cage free” and “free range” are mainly just buzz words and not regulated
- Flax feed used to create”high omega-3″ is not necessary since the EPA and DHA cannot adequately be converted by humans
- Vegetarian Fed (chickens are not vegetarians)
- Organic means they are fed organic corn and soy which is not ideal
- Organic chickens can still be overcrowded and have in-humane conditions
- Pictures of barns and farms on cartons are just marketing propaganda
- No hormones is not helpful since hormones are not allowed to be used on chickens by the USDA
- No antibiotics is a helpful label and is regulated by USDA
- USDA Organic can be used if a product is only 95% organic
- “Pesticide free” really has no regulation
- “Natural” also has no meaning/regulation
Balanced Bites podcast with Karen Pendergrass
Don’t Be Soy Sorry:
If you want to read more about how soy affects us, read this great book: