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We Know our Sources: Smart Chicken

March 16, 2020

When young Cleveland butcher, Joe Heinen founded Heinen’s Grocery Store in 1929 he was focused on meat. More specifically, he was focused on finding the best sources of meat in order to sell the best to his local customers.

More than 90 years later, Heinen’s continues to find the best and sell the best when it comes to meat, but the variety of quality has surely evolved since Joe Heinen’s time, especially with a growing demand for organic.

Chicken is one of the most commonly used proteins. Whether roasted, baked, broiled or shredded, it is a versatile cooking staple that is used daily! As many of our customers opted for healthier diets, our meat experts knew that it was important to find a quality source for organic chicken that upheld our strict quality, sustainability and ethical standards, and we certainly found that with Smart Chicken.

If you’re looking for organic poultry, you simply cannot go wrong with the delicious tenderness of chicken from our friends at Smart Chicken in Nebraska. Heinen’s and Smart Chicken began their partnership back in 2010 and over time have developed a long term relationship with a foundational focus on quality and customer service. The partnership has clearly made an impact as the product has grown tremendously within Heinen’s stores.

What’s even more impressive than the quality and taste of their product is the humane treatment and innovation of their production.

Smart Chicken saw an interest and demand for organic meat, so they took action, but they did not simply set out to produce organic chicken, they wanted to produce organic chicken in a way that was technologically savvy and humane. In fact, Smart Chicken was the first to be certified organic and humane.

Smart Chicken in Field

Becoming certified organic is a very involved and continuous process that includes designating range areas, planting grass with certified seed that is free of pesticides and herbicides, cleaning and/ or flushing feed, waterlines and bins with approved organic materials and inspecting the farm once before the placement of chicks and once before processing to ensure organic integrity has been maintained. To make things simple, all of the organic chickens at Smart Chicken are free-range and consume non-GMO feed. In fact, all of their grain resources come from the Midwest and they use an aquifer system that allows for an unlimited supply of water.

Smart Chicken always focuses on maintaining their organic certification and they place equal care and consideration into their humane and innovative practices. When the birds arrive at Smart Chicken’s state-of-the-art processing plant, just five miles from the farm where they were raised, they are placed into a Controlled Atmosphere System (CAS System). This system has a high level of CO2, which relaxes the chickens until they are asleep allowing for a painless and stress-free processing experience.

Once the chickens are sacrificed, they need to be chilled. Smart Chicken uses a process known as air chilling. This is a process that they actually brought to the United States from Europe. Rather than immersing the chickens in water, which is industry standard, the chickens are chilled using cold air. The great thing about this method is that the chicken does not absorb chlorinated water or touch another bird during the chilling process, thus eliminating the opportunity for cross-contamination. Smart Chicken is the only producer to be “USDA Process Verified as Pure Air-Chilled, No Added Water.”

USDA Logo

What makes this process even more attractive is that it results in a noticeable difference in the tenderness of the meat.

When it comes to raising and producing organic chicken, Smart Chicken is surely a leader in the industry, and they take their role very seriously. They conduct regular audits to ensure that standards are being upheld and they take pride in their clean and innovative facilities. They’ve even received a Safe Quality Foods Level 3 Certification, which means that they’ve made a commitment to pay special attention to food safety and management.

If you’re on the hunt for organic meat, Smart Chicken is a winner, winner (chicken dinner.)

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