Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Big Chickens: Taste and the Globe

Interesting piece in today's Times on chickens.  Scientists are trying to develop a chicken which tastes better and grows more slowly, and also is more active:
Today’s conventional broiler chickens have been bred over the years to produce the most amount of meat in as short a time as possible, reducing a farmer’s costs and increasing profits. In 1935, the average broiler chicken reached the slaughter-ready weight of 2.86 pounds in 98 days, according to the National Chicken Council. Today’s broilers are an average of 6.18 pounds at the time of slaughter, when they are about 47 days old.
 My uncle was a research scientist at the ARS Beltsville MD center, working on nutrition, which adds to my youthful exposure to chickens on the farm.

The food movement faces a conflict here:  on the one hand this fits the current emphasis on moving from "industrial agriculture" to more focus on taste and nature; on the other hand a slow growth chicken means a bigger impact on the environment because it eats more grain over its lifespan.

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