Rare Breed Heritage Chicken Tour

Good Shepherd Chicken

Last summer we launched our Rare Breed Heritage Chicken Tour – an effort to revive 24 rare, heritage chicken lines and create an alternative market for non-industrially bred chicken.  We partnered with Frank Reese, the country’s preeminent poultry farmer, to show our customers what real chicken tastes like.

Heritage Foods USA is now offering a rotation of 24 heritage chicken varieties every 3-4 months.  Numerous heritage breeds of chicken are on the brink of extinction and we must create a market for them by eating them. Heritage Foods USA is the only place you can taste these special heritage birds today.

Heritage chickens are breeds that have been around since before the industrial era.  Their genetic lineage has been preserved from genetic modification.  Heritage birds grow at a healthy rate, while industry chickens are genetically manipulated to grow at an unnaturally fast rate that is harmful to the skeletal, cardiovascular, and immune systems of the bird.  Industrial chickens are bred as dead end animals that cannot reproduce or survive on their own.

Mr. Reese explains, “It is not the antibiotics. It is not the hormones. It is not the feed. It is the genetically engineered animal” that makes the difference in the poultry industry.  If we focus on animal welfare while ignoring the genetics of these birds, we are not changing a thing. 

Mr. Reese’s poultry not only look and taste different from commodity poultry; his birds have double the protein and half the fat.  He told us, “The skinnier the bird, the longer the leg, the darker the meat, the higher the nutrition. The bigger and fatter and plumper it is, the more worthless the meat is.”

Conventional Chicken vs Heritage Chicken Nutrition Facts

Conventional Chicken vs Heritage Chicken Nutrition Facts

So far we have offered Colombian Wyandotte and Rhode Island White. Next up is the White Leghorn coming in early spring. After that we have many more varieties including New Hampshire, Silver Penciled Plymouth Rocks, Dark Brahmas, Black Jersey Giants, Golden Penciled Hamburg, and many more!

About Janani Lee

After completing her BA degree in Dance and Religious Studies at Wesleyan University, Janani spent time farming and working in kitchens in California and Hawaii. In May 2013 she graduated from NYU with a masters in Food Studies with a focus on Food Systems. She is interested in urban farming, arts education, and food policy.