I was listening to the radio this week (click the link below to have a listen) and one of the topics being discussed was quality of chickens, its impact on our health and, more importantly, whether we actually care enough to pay for more ethically reared chickens. They were talking about broiler hens and free-range hens and comparing the difference between the 2. Further on in the b log I explain the difference between the 2 and between those and organic chickens:
During the radio programme it was highlighted that there has been a big improvement in the basic level of rearing chickens, especially with the growth in the number of people who are actually rearing chickens themselves (take a look at these pictures of chicken coops if you’re thinking of doing the same). Ten years ago there was routine use of antibiotics, growth hormones and other medications, helping to maximise the return on investment for the farmers.
In previous generations, we have always been fed foods that have been grown slowly – as nature intended.
Over the course of the last 50 years we’ve started to grow foods and rear animals in a more artificial way.
We’ve accelerated growing times to maximise rewards. We stopped rotating crops and started to use fertilisers and pesticides and other things to try and replenish the nutrients that used to come into the fields during the fallow years when farmers rotated their crops.
But over time, in my opinion, the baseline quality of our food on the shelves has decreased and this is having a detrimental impact on the vitality and the health of the vast majority of the population.
If you listen to the show you will hear that the use of antibiotics has been cut by 70% and that’s exactly as it should be. Antibiotic resistance is potentially one of the single biggest threats to our survival on this planet, and I don’t think it’s something that should be taken lightly at all. So a reduction in the use of antibiotics is a very, very positive step for everybody involved.
Broiler vs Free-Range vs Organic
Broiler chickens never see the outside or the green grass. Producers are now making moves towards giving them access to daylight. Again, 10 years ago, they very rarely saw daylight. It was all artificially illuminated, but they will never go outside.
During the show they were talking about 45,000 hens in an area half the size of a football pitch. Now, that’s may be a large area when they’re small chicks, but obviously, they grow and they grow big and fat as quickly as possible which doesn’t give them an awful lot of room to move.
You will see labels in the supermarkets about RSPCA-approved birds. In reality, which I’m disappointed about, all this actually means is that their barn will have things they can jump on and can play with. It still doesn’t mean that they ever get cleaned out. They are still living in their own waste. Broiler-raised chickens will never have the barn cleaned. They are cleaned once the chickens are moved out for slaughter. Which, personally, leaves me a little bit uncomfortable.
Free-range change chickens do get to go outside. They get to peck. They get to dig and pick away and find a bit of their own food. Then they come back in to roost for the evening. They get a lot more daylight and they have much more room to move – meaning healthier chickens.
Organically reared chicken are free range and there are much stricter controls in terms of the speed at which they are grown. There’s no routine use of antibiotics, flock sizes are much smaller and the feed is higher quality and more natural.
In essence, the cost involved in growing organic chickens them makes more expensive than a broiler chickens. It is not for me to tell you how much money to spend because that must be an individual decision. But you must, at the very least, think and make a conscious decision about how you want to fuel your body. How much you want to expose yourself to the possible impact of the lowest quality food available.
When I’m working with clients, I am very clear to promote high quality foods, to promote real food.
I’m all about eating real food and chickens would come in to that category.
But I’m also at pains to stress to any client that buying higher quality food should not come before your own financial security.
I am certain that for almost everyone, the overall threat to your wellbeing and your health is much greater if you cannot pay your bills and make ends meet than it is if you have to eat slightly lower quality food.
It’s important to keep in mind that human health is created through the cumulative effect of a number of factors. It is the sum of all parts and no one part in itself will either determine full health or no health. You can put your effort into certain areas to make up for a lack of effort in another area. You can do an awful lot of work in terms of improving your mental wellbeing, your physical activity, if you perhaps can’t afford to eat the highest quality food. You can do many different things, which is why human health has to be an individual solution. One size will never fit all. You must find a solution that works for you.
So, if this is an area where you don’t feel you can make a better choice, which is absolutely okay, you just find another area in which you can make a better choice to make up for it.
Once you’ve made that choice then you take responsibility for the health that comes.
If you choose to drink coffee all day and not put any water into your body, you must take responsibility when:
- you start to get problems with your kidneys,
- you suffer with dehydration
- you suffer with poor skin quality,
- or anything else that is linked to dehydration and poor hydration levels.
The same if you choose to stay up until 1:00, 2:00 in the morning and you’ve got no energy because you’re not sleeping enough. That’s your responsibility.
I fully recommend going and spending half an hour listening to the programme. Follow the link below.
It’s available for about 30 days from 15th January. Educate yourself a little bit and give yourself a chance to have a think about what choices you want to make this year.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog.
Check in again for our next one.