For many of you it’s probably not surprising to hear that chicken is the most widely consumed meat around the world. Chicken meat today is increasingly cheap and considered a daily staple in a meat-eaters diet. In Australia, a country where workers are paid a living wage, and facilities and processes to maintain the productions of chickens are expensive, and retailers, supermarkets middle-men taking a cut, it makes you wonder, how is chicken meat so cheap?
The biology of a chicken and processes of chicken farming have changed almost an unrecognisably since the 1920’s. Today’s meat chickens (broilers) are grown on scale, often in large sheds for their entire lives, rarely exercising and mostly spending their days eating. These ‘super chickens’ have been bred to ensure the optimal genetic elements of their DNA are passed on to future generations of chickens to ensure optimal output for growing meat. Desirable characteristics of these birds is that they grow quickly and efficiently, and parts of their bodies are genetically augmented according to customer demand, including large breast, smaller legs and soft bones that cannot support the weight of the chicken roaming around (and thus burning off calories that can be sold by the kilo). Modern day broiler’s genetic makeup is not suited to them living outdoors, and many don’t ever see outside their sheds.
Ultimately, the cheapness of meat is associated with us, as consumers distancing ourselves from the chicken as once being a live animal. When we forget that the meat on our plate was once a creature, we are about to psychologically disassociate ourselves from the conditions under which they are raised.
Our friends at Pasture Raised On Open Fields have written a more thorough and insightful breakdown of this issue and we encourage you to read their full article here