What does a "Free Range Chicken" really mean?

The term "Free Range" conjures up images of birds roaming freely, but in fact this is often far from reality. The only requirement the USDA has for birds or livestock labeled free-range is that they are not kept in pens. There are no requirements pertaining to the size of the area, the number of birds per square foot, or the type of feed. Meat from these animals often costs considerably more than that of their conventinally raised counterparts. Some would argue that the improvement in nutritional value, flavor, and texture is worth cost. What are your thoughts?

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