GREEN

The Chickens You Eat Are Probably Pretty Darn Dirty

03/09/2015 03:53 pm ET

You think you're ahead of the curve when it comes to buying meat. You choose the organic, free-range, vegetarian-fed, gluten-free chicken breasts at the meat counter and bring them home for dinner. But what does that even mean?

A new documentary short from PBS Food hopes to shine a light on the hidden underbelly of our meat system, and the factory farms that are feeding the world's growing demand for protein.

The segment is part of the network's exploratory food program, "Original Fare." During the episode, foodie Kelly Cox interviews outspoken farmer Craig Watts, who made headlines late last year after he filmed the conditions inside his chicken barns to show how a Perdue animal lives.

The footage is shocking.

Birds are shown nearly featherless, with red bellies caused by a life lived on top of steaming compost, some unable to stand due to infected legs. Watts says the conditions are strictly mandated by Perdue and he follows them to the letter, but after the company's chairman released a promotional video espousing how humanely their birds are treated, Watts felt something had to be done.

"The only chicken that they're touting in their commercials, [they're] cage-free... humanely-raised, no steroids or hormones, all-natural," he says in the episode. "I actually saw a label the other day that said gluten-free. Any trend that they can capitalize on ... they're jumping on it."

As expected, both Perdue and the National Chicken Council say the condition of the animals falls on the farmer.

Take a look at the full segment above, and let us know which birds you'd rather eat: those raised in Watts' barns or pasture-raised ones like these guys.

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