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Where to buy small organic whole chickens

lovebitessf Apr 29, 2008 06:42 PM

Have lots of trouble finding whole organic chicken - 3.5 lbs or smaller.

  1. e
    ExtraCheesePlease May 5, 2008 08:17 AM

    I always get mine from Trader Joe's. They are about $3.99/pound. If I'm making my special chicken veggie soup for a sick friend, I splurge on Whole Foods and I think they are $5.99/pound. I never have trouble finding organic under 3.5 pounds. Anything over I hold pretty suspect, especially if it's true organic.

    1. p
      poulet_roti May 4, 2008 07:03 PM

      No problems, go to Bryan's on California at Laurel Village - they frequently carry Happy Dan's which are "natural" rather than "organic" and frequently have whole chickens weighing in at 2.5 pounds.

      8 Replies
      1. re: poulet_roti
        Atomica May 5, 2008 06:36 AM

        Do you recall how much per pound at Bryan's?

        1. re: Atomica
          poulet_roti May 5, 2008 06:51 AM

          $2.29 or $2.49 per pound I believe

          1. re: poulet_roti
            Atomica May 5, 2008 08:54 AM

            Ethicurean has a brief entry on Happy Dan's (Martinelli is the company). They're apparently "natural," I guess, not organic. Don't know for sure if that's correct. I wish I knew more about that company, and also about Mary's. I mean, are they giant operations like Petaluma Poultry? Even Fulton Valley, for that matter. I wish it were easier to find out more detailed information on these different companies.

            1. re: Atomica
              Xiao Yang May 5, 2008 09:49 AM

              It's definitely "buyer beware" as far as the "natural" label is concerned. USFDA's deginition of "natural" is hollow. It only refers to how meat is processed, not how it's raised and basically means that no artificial ingredients or colorings are added. It does NOT preclude antibiotics, growth hormones, etc.

              I think it behooves producers who use the term"natural" to explain what they mean by it. Coleman Organics, which now owns Petaluma Poultry, and whose products now are prominent at Costco, is fairly forthcoming on their web site, and incidentally illuminate what a farce the minimum FDS requirements for "natural: are.

              (Bottom of this page:)


              1. re: Atomica
                meggie t May 5, 2008 09:50 AM

                Here is a link to Mary's website: http://maryschickens.com/
                The ones I buy at Cal-Mart are free range and raised on a vegetarian diet. They aren't certified organic, to my knowledge.

                1. re: Atomica
                  poulet_roti May 6, 2008 06:31 AM

                  So I have tried several chickens, Rosie's are expensive, organic, rather tasteless in my opinion. I once tried a Mary's from Avedano's and it smelled so bad when taking it from the packaging that it stunk up the entire downstairs of my home. Needless to say, i threw it away. It Avedano's credit, they did return my money as it was most likely not their fault. All together, I think the best value for quality chickens are the Happy Dan's and Fulton Valley farms.

                  1. re: poulet_roti
                    lovebitessf May 6, 2008 11:56 AM

                    I have checked out several of the suggestions since starting this topic. I agree that the Happy Dan's and Fulton Farms are the best value and quality and generally the right size. Have found them readily avalable (under 3.5) at Bi-Rite and Bryan's. Andronico's on Irving has been hit and miss. Though Whole Foods had plenty of organic and natural, they are usaully over 4 pounds. Agreed that Rosie's are not worth it and ususlly too big.

                    1. re: lovebitessf
                      poulet_roti May 8, 2008 07:12 AM

                      Yes, for some reason, Whole Foods chickens always seem to be pushing 5 pounds. I suppose that is okay if looking for that size. Mollie Stones has a chicken that they call a "broiler", I have no idea if it is organic but they are frequently 2 1/4 - 2 3/4 pounds. Bryan's seems to carry three different sizes of chickens, all Happy Dan's so it is generally the ideal place to purchase chickens. Interestingly, I have found that the Delano's Markets which purchased the former Cala Foods sites sells Rocky Jr.'s in a variety of sizes for $1.79/pound - regular price. I prefer the Happy Dan's, but Rocky's are fine for a good price.

          2. i
            instrumental May 2, 2008 02:37 PM

            prather ranch in the FB has small, organic whole chickens. spendy, but i roasted one last week, and it was absurdly good.

            1. a
              adin May 1, 2008 04:16 PM

              question: how are the Soul Farm chickens? I was told they are available out on Cortland Ave at $8.99 per pound with head and feet on? True?

              1 Reply
              1. re: adin
                Atomica May 1, 2008 05:22 PM

                If you're talking about Avedano's, you could call them and report back.

              2. a
                adin May 1, 2008 04:14 PM

                re: Mary's chickens. I have tried them twice at Marina Meats. Price there is $5.99 per lb. Seems rather steep. I am a Hoffmann fan but since we can no longer get them at Ferry Plaza, seems Magnani is the place with a W & Friday delivery. Seems Mary's is not all that much better for so much more money.

                2 Replies
                1. re: adin
                  meggie t May 1, 2008 04:39 PM

                  Wow - I thought CalMart was expensive. They sell whole Mary's chickens for $3.79-$3.99/lb.

                  1. re: meggie t
                    adin May 2, 2008 01:48 PM

                    thanks, Meggie. I will check out Cal Mart. Have stopped shopping there for the most part, but will drop by as that is significantly better than $5.99. Bryan's up the street is much more appealing in the meat/seafood dept.

                2. rworange Apr 30, 2008 11:22 AM

                  Fatted Calf started selling Soul Farm chickens at their Napa store. Don't know the size though. Maybe give them a call and if in SF see if you can arrange to buy one at the Saturday farmers market.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: rworange
                    wally Apr 30, 2008 11:38 AM

                    They will bring one for you, but they are quite expensive. They were also running quite large two weeks ago.

                    1. re: rworange
                      Junie D Apr 30, 2008 12:01 PM

                      On Tuesday the birds they had in Napa were 3 to 3.5 pounds. And $7 per pound.

                    2. m
                      mrs bacon Apr 30, 2008 10:42 AM

                      Fulton Valley "broiler" chickens come very small -- some under 3 lbs. They are reliably available at Golden Gate Meats in the Ferry Building and at Guerra's on Taraval. Fulton Valley has become my chicken of choice ever since Hoffman stopped coming to the FPFM.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mrs bacon
                        DCarbonaro Jun 2, 2008 08:16 AM

                        I agree. The Fulton Valley broilers are delicious and a good size for lots of preparations, and they run under 3 lbs. I get mine at Guerra's. Admittedly, I have not roasted these birds whole, but as fried chicken or pan roasted in pieces I have always been happy.

                      2. rabaja Apr 30, 2008 09:56 AM

                        Try Mary's chickens. They are available at the butcher inside Cal-Mart on California St in SF, and sometimes I see them at Whole Foods.
                        Not sure of their exact weight, but they seem pretty small to me, and they are delicious.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: rabaja
                          meggie t Apr 30, 2008 10:23 AM

                          I second Mary's. I just got one at Cal-Mart on Monday and it was 2.90 pounds. Excellent chicken - we like it far better than Fulton Valley.

                          1. re: meggie t
                            mdg Apr 30, 2008 02:11 PM

                            Yet another vote for Mary's. I had this exact same problem until our local Andronico's started stocking Mary's birds a few weeks ago, and it drove me nuts. Now I'm much happier with our chickens!


                            1. re: mdg
                              wally Apr 30, 2008 02:52 PM

                              which Andronico's?

                              1. re: wally
                                mdg May 1, 2008 09:40 AM

                                The Los Altos store is closest to me, but I would suspect they stock poultry brands across the chain.


                        2. Morton the Mousse Apr 29, 2008 10:15 PM

                          I've bought Hoffman birds that were about that size. No guarantees though, sometime they're under 4, sometime they're closer to 5. You can get them at Magnani and Cafe Rouge in Berkeley, not sure where to buy them in SF. I'd call ahead and check if they have the size your looking for.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Morton the Mousse
                            wally Apr 30, 2008 05:24 AM

                            Yeah, I am a regular at both those places asking for the smallest chickens they have.

                          2. j
                            jsaimd Apr 29, 2008 09:20 PM

                            Have you checked with marin Sun Farms at the FB farmers market (they have a website as well). I know their chickens are seasonal, but they have young chickens...

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: jsaimd
                              wally Apr 29, 2008 09:48 PM

                              Marin Sun rarely has chickens under 3.5 pounds. As one who is continually on a search for small chickens, it is an uphill battle. There is a producer of chickens in the petaluma area that sells "cornish game hens". They are actually small chickens rather than some separate breed but they are about 1.5-2 lbs. They will occasionally show up at whole foods along with the rocky chickens. I have had mixed luck with chickens in Oakland Chinatown.

                              1. re: wally
                                Sharon S Apr 30, 2008 07:35 AM

                                I bought the largest chicken I could from Marin Sun at last Sunday's Marin farmer's market and it was 3 lbs - they only have small ones this time of year. You have to get there arly too because they sell out. It was absoultely fresh and delicious (you just have to deal with the head and the feet).

                                1. re: Sharon S
                                  Fig Newton Apr 30, 2008 11:31 AM

                                  Agreed - I bought a 3.5 pound and was working hard to find that big of one. I suspect that the OP needs this for the Zuni Roast Chicken recipe. I usually have success with MSF or Golden Gate Meat Company.

                                  I am a little loathe to advertise this because they go so quickly, but Prather at the Ferry Building (inside) sells Soul Food Farm Chickens. I can't remember what day they come in, but they sell out quickly. Not totally sure of their size, but it's worth a try. Just call beforehand to see if they have them: 415-391-0420

                            2. OCEllen Apr 29, 2008 08:36 PM

                              Down here in Orange County I have seen / bought them at Whole Foods. Also cornish game 'hens' which are just slightly smaller. But I wonder if you couldn't order them?

                              1. Xiao Yang Apr 29, 2008 08:29 PM

                                Not necessarily organic, but free-range and sustainably raised chickens of a smaller size from Petaluma Poultry can be found in Chinatown markets. PP, if you don't know it, is the producer of the pioneering "Rocky the Range Chicken" and was the first poultry producer in the US to produce organic chickens. Chinese recipes for various "white-cooked" chicken preparations usually specify a 1 Kg chicken (2.2 lbs.)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Xiao Yang
                                  osho Jun 2, 2008 08:09 AM

                                  Xiao, would you mind recommending a market in Chinatown ?


                                2. e
                                  Ericruo Apr 29, 2008 07:48 PM

                                  The Chavez Supermarkets often have the Fulton Valley Organic Chickens. They've been available for $1.40/lb; Costco has a NY brand for $1.99/lb. The Chavez birds are available individually and the Costco ones come two to a pack.

                                  Chavez Markets are in Hayward, Redwood City, Menlo Park, Sunnyvale and San Jose. http://www.chavezsuper.com/locations....

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Ericruo
                                    Windy Apr 30, 2008 06:35 PM

                                    That's a great price. Canyon Market in Glen Park has Fulton Valley chickens raw and cooked for $3 a pound. You can also get parts.

                                    1. re: Ericruo
                                      Atomica May 1, 2008 01:02 PM

                                      The regular price at Chavez Supermarket for Fulton Valley chickens is $1.99/lb. Still a decent price, but I get mine at Bi-Rite, because I live close by, for $2.79/lb. I think all of the chickens hover around 3 to 3.5 lbs and they seem readily available.

                                      The Bi-Rite folks told me that Zuni uses Fulton Valley chickens in their famous roasted chicken preparation.

                                      ETA: Avedano's in Bernal Heights often has Mary's, and I think Bi-Rite does too.

                                      1. re: Atomica
                                        lovebitessf May 1, 2008 02:13 PM

                                        It is in fact the Zuni chicken preparation as outlined in the cookbook that prompted me to start hunting for small/young chickens, the size of the chicken being a key element in the recipe. Now I only use chickens (3.5 lbs or less) regardless of the preparation. I find them to be more tender and flavorful. I now avoid buying parts because most seem to come from larger birds. I buy the smaller ones and cut up myself.

                                        This is what promped me to start this topic. I am now armed with many more places to get the smaller birds. Thanks to all.

                                        1. re: lovebitessf
                                          wally May 1, 2008 04:17 PM

                                          I just checked out the Mary's chicken in two different stores. Lowest weight 3.8. Yes, the smaller birds have more flavor.

                                        2. re: Atomica
                                          Windy May 1, 2008 05:46 PM

                                          The Fulton Valley chickens are also called out on the menu at Delfina. I've been quite happy with the roasted ones at Canyon, perhaps because they don't cost any more than the raw birds.

                                      2. moto Apr 29, 2008 06:50 PM

                                        loveb--the last time I looked at the org. chix at safeway, the smallest were about 3.75-4, and if you make a request to whole fds they might reserve you some. (I'm usually looking for the biggest 'uns, which rarely go above 5).

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: moto
                                          wineaux73 Apr 29, 2008 07:07 PM

                                          You have a challenge ahead of you. My significant other was in the organic poultry business for many years, so I asked him. He said, most organic poultry companies would lose money to produce and attempt to sell such a small bird, so you will have a hard time finding it in Safeway, Whole Foods, etc... He suggested you go to a smaller provider,.a small organic farm...like you would find at a local farmer's market.

                                          Good luck to you!

                                          1. re: wineaux73
                                            moto Apr 29, 2008 07:21 PM

                                            thanks wineaux, you confirmed what I'd assumed about cost-effectiveness and why there wasn't a large range in the sizes of 100's of chickens I've browsed through.

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