Poultry is the term used to describe domesticated birds raised for food. In the United States this means mainly chicken and turkey. Duck, while common in Europe and Asia, appears more often on restaurant menus than in your grocery store. Game hens are another form of poultry that appears from time to time.
Whenever possible, buy free-range, organic poultry. Common chickens are raised with profit, not health, in mind. They must be fed antibiotics to fend off disease. They are given growth hormones, which, coupled with lack of exercise, makes them so fat they cannot move. In addition, the food they are fed is grown with artificial fertilizers and chemical pesticides.
Choosing Your Bird
There are several organic options available in most stores, including organic, free-range, and natural birds.
Free-range chickens have more flavor because they are allowed to exercise a bit more. Natural birds contain nothing synthetic, no preservatives or artificial flavoring or colorings, but standards permit antibiotics and hormone use.
Organic birds are fed grains that have not been exposed to chemicals and pesticides. They may not be treated with antibiotics or drugs, and must be allowed to go outside and exercise.
Kosher chickens are organic and free range, and are processed under strict supervision of a rabbi. They are also soaked in salty brine, which gives them a unique flavor.
When shopping for chickens, frugal cooks know that whole chickens are always less expensive than cut-up parts. But unless you possess good butchering skills, it can be worth paying a little more. Keep in mind that chicken fat occurs in and around the skin, and is easy to remove.
Mollusks are further categorized. Gastropods are one-shelled mollusks, such as abalone and limpets, two animals eaten extensively in seaside nations around the world. In the United States we are more accustomed to bivalves, which are mollusks with two shells and a hinge, like the oyster. Cephalopods, which include squid and octopus, are shellfish too, although they have tentacles instead of shells.