Most vegetables are above 80% water. The rest are the minerals, vitamins and nutrients which we require to thrive. A simple comparison between lettuce and kale will allow for a demonstration of nutrient bang-for-your-buck. Lettuce is approximately 95%, while kale is approximately 85-90%. That might not seem like a big difference but when you look at the percent remaining (5% vs 10-15%) you can see that kale at a minimum doubles lettuce in non-water contents. If you assume that the non-water content is some darn good stuff, you can see you would get twice the amount of good stuff in a cup of kale vs a cup of lettuce.
Now, lets use that knowledge of water content to look at chicken meat.
The standard Cornish giant is the chicken which accounts for the majority of the chicken consumed in North America. This chicken has been bred to grow fast. Really fast. And to be heavy. And it has been bred to hold more water in its meat. A recent EU report shows that the water content of chicken has continued to climb through the years (European Commission 2012). That water, is heavy, leading to a heavier bird and more profit for the farmer. Some food composition studies have shown that industrialized fast-growing chicken have significantly higher water content than the slower growing chickens in comparison (Fanatico et al 2007, Berri et al 2005).
But adding more water, if we remember our kale vs lettuce battle, dilutes the good stuff. Therefore, for every pound of meat of the industrial chicken you get more water and less nutrient than in the pound of the slower growing chicken meat. That is before you even begin to discuss the composition of the nutrients (more on that to come later).
This is one reason we at Rise Over Run are committed to growing chickens with realistic growth rates which produce nutrient dense meat. People often comment on how they feel they needed to eat less meat after eating a more natural bird, which is not surprising when we think of the water vs nutrient density question.
So, when our chicken costs a bit more per pound than the other chicken, remember on a pound per pound basis (once you remove all the other chickens water), you might be getting more bang-for-your-buck in our meat. Meat that will fill you up, will taste like flavour (in the form of nutrients) instead of water, and will last you for multiple meals.
European Commission, 2012. Study of physiological water content of poultry reared in the EU. Prepared by LGC Limited. https://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/external-studies/water-in-poultry-2012_en
Fanatico AC, Pillai PB, Emmert JL and CM Owens, 2007. Meat Quality of Slow- and Fast-Growing Chicken Genotypes Fed Low- Nutrient or Standard Diets and Raised Indoors or with Outdoor Access. Poultry Science. 86: 2245-2255
Berri C, Bihan-Duval EL, Baeza E, Chartrin P, Picgirard L, Jehl N, Quentin M, Picard M and MJ Duclos, 2005. Further processing characteristics of breast and leg meat from fast-, medium- and slow-growing commercial chickens. Anim. Res. 54:123–134