“Most women get diamonds for their 25th wedding anniversary. I got a chicken named after me,” says Mary Pitman, co-owner of a free-range, certified organic poultry farming business in California’s Central Valley with her husband Rick. She had spent decades trying to eliminate food additives and toxins from her diet because of health problems. And on their anniversary, the Pitmans decided to do the same for their animals and started Mary’s Chickens.
That meant no antibiotics or hormones; no GMOs in the organic feed. “We took out all the poisons— and at first, my husband was scared, like oh my gosh, what if they don’t stay well,” she says. “But it was the healthiest poultry he’d ever raised.” Since then, Mary’s started raising certified organic turkey and duck. The birds, “are in and out all day,” she says, “and have lots of room to roam.” And sustainability is front and center: Mary’s has its own processing plant to cut down on transportation pollution. They also air chill the meat, which means not using chlorine, as with most chickens that are water chilled. “And we save 30,000 gallons of water a day,” says Mary. “I feel very strongly that there's always an alternative way to do things.”