Q&A: Are Chickens That Ate Soy and Corn Paleo?


Here’s a Q&A that affects every Paleo chicken eater…

Pic from backyardchickens.com


Hi Neely,

My question today is about chicken.  Ever since we started the Paleo diet, we’ve also begun to buy organic chicken with no ant-biotics or hormones added.  They are also free ranging.  We buy them at a store called Trader Joe’s.  I happened to look at the label today and I realized that these chickens, according to the label, are fed a diet consisting of Corn and Soybean meal.

How does this play into the fact that those two foods are prohibited on the Paleo Diet?

Thanks for your response.



Hi Mark,

Good question. Very, very good question. Chickens are tough when it comes to getting them truly pasture-raised. By “truly pasture raised”, I mean that the bird was able to freely roam within reason, eating bugs, grass, vegetable matter, leaves, petals, snakes, mice (that’s what’s in that chicken’s beak in the picture above) and whatever else they could get their claws on. You’d think that an organically raised animal would be given food that it’s designed to eat, but that’s definitely not always the case. It just means that the animal was given organic food to eat. Here’s a post I did on what meat labels really mean.

Having said that, corn and soy can be a healthy part of a chicken’s diet. They really are omnivores, but it seems more natural for them to be eating all those bugs and roughage with the corn and soy being more of a supplement to their diet. And actually, corn and soy ARE often used supplementally on sustainable farms, especially in the winter time.

I’m currently on a waiting list to buy pasture raised chickens in Boulder, and I’ve been on that list for about 2 years. Not many sources of commercial chicken – even in Whole Foods or other health food stores – are truly pasture raised, so many of them are fed almost exclusively corn and soy or both. If they’re organic, then at least that corn and soy wasn’t GMO or full of pesticides. So no, these animals you’re buying from Trader Joe’s are not as Paleo as they possibly could be, but this is where I say pick your battles.

I’d take a look in your area for pastured chickens at www.eatwild.com if you’re committed to eating only pastured animals. You might have better luck than I have!