If you eat chicken, read this

Grow fast, die young, (very young) – The modern broiler (meat) chicken, typically a Ross 308 or Cobb 500 is a very different animal to the one we envisage peaking around the farm yard. Huge investment has been made by the industry to grow the chicken as large as they can as fast as they can. This work continues with ongoing pressure to produce more and more cheap chicken whilst maximising profit, weights increase and days decrease. This presents huge animal and human welfare, environmental issues and global health risks all for a lower quality product.

Let the facts explain:

  • Chicken along with pork is our most intensively farmed meat with over 90% reared in intensive systems
  • Intensively farmed chickens live 0.1% of their natural life
  • Figures from the FSA published Oct 2017 found Campylobacter contamination in 56% of chicken from 3,980 samples – 29.5% @ 10 – 99 cfu/g, 21.6% @ 100 – 1000 cfu/g and 5.9% over 1000 cfu/g. This is a decrease from previous years but highlights the price of force farming animals. *Campylobacter is naturally found in all poultry but not at the dangerous levels seen in industrial farming.
  • Chicken is also our most popular meat making up 50% of meat consumed in the UK
  • More than 975 million broiler (meat) chickens are slaughtered every year in the UK, that is 2.3 million a day
  • From chick to the supermarket shelf in 5 weeks, typically 35-40 days
  • Broiler chickens have been genetically modified to grow 4x faster than a traditional breed
  • A modern chicken processing plant can process 26,000 birds per hr
  • Chicken catching machines can handle up to 26 tonnes of birds per hour (about 8000 birds per hour – at 2.5 kg per bird)
  • A typical chicken shed holds 40,000 birds
  • About 5% die or have to be culled prematurely
  • Intensively farmed chickens live in sheds stocked at 42kg (EU) and 39kg per m2 (UK), that is up to 17-25 chickens per square meter
  • 1/3 of broiler chickens suffer from lameness and can’t walk without pain
  • They are often subjected to 23 hrs of artificial light per day to encourage them to keep eating
  • BPC figures reported 23.72 tonnes of antibiotics were administered in 2016 despite evidence that they could be fuelling drug resistant forms of dangerous food poisoning illnesses in humans, including campylobacter, salmonella and E.coli.
  • Campylobacter is the leading cause of food poisoning in the UK. It makes 280,000 people ill each year. 80% is attributed to raw poultry
  • Breast meat severely affected by WS (*White Striping) has dramatic variations in nutritional values, including a 224% fat content increase and a 9% protein decrease.
  • Chicken lorries heading to the slaughter house, the ones you see on the motorway layed with orange crate carry around 6000 birds.
  • A poussin is an even younger chicken, less than 28 days old
  • Free range and organic chicken is around typically 8-12 weeks
  • Some independent producers offering 100 days / 14 week old chickens
  • The natural life span of chicken is around 5-10 yrs, depending on the breed

*White Striping – growing demand has led to genetic selection to produce fast-growing broilers,inducing the appearance of several spontaneous, idiopathic muscle abnormalities along with an increased susceptibility to stress-induced myopathy. Such muscle abnormalities have several implications for the quality of fresh and processed products. Three commonly reported types of breast muscle myopathies in broilers are deep pectoral myopathy (DPM), white striping (WS), and wooden breast (WB)

 It’s not nice – but THAT is how supermarkets can sell a whole chicken for £2.60 per Kg! Cheap chicken being good value is a myth. It is low quality, unsustainable and high risk. For free range birds in the supermarkets you’ll pay around £4.25 per kg for free range and £6.95 per kg for organic whole birds.

Outside the supermarket you’ll find superior choices that often go over and above minimum standards and are focused on producing a better quality product, such as:

  • Ginger pig 100 day at £10 per kg
  • Fosse meadows 81 days at £6.45 per kg
  • Springfield poultry min 70 day, £6 per kg
  • Suttonhoo poultry min 70 days, £6.50 per kg
  • Search for slow grown or traditionally raised chicken and you’ll find plenty more.

At the butchers, farm shop, markets or independent retailers, always ask how the chicken was produced, don’t assume it is higher welfare.

As with any meat, don’t buy on price alone. Consider what you are getting for your money. Think about the value, the taste, the texture, health considerations, you are not comparing the same product and with chicken the extra money is well worth it. Being and EOr is not simply about replacing your meat with an ethical product, it is also about cutting down our meat consumption, therefore offsetting the cost of superior meat products. Eat less and eat better.

Learn more https://www.ciwf.org.uk/farm-animals/chickens/meat-chickens

Beware of the Red tractor logo! It does not mean higher welfare, it is still intensive indoor rearer broiler chickens.

 

 

Parting thoughts – Buy chicken with caution, there are higher welfare options and the cost different is well worth it. There are also lots of ways to replace chicken in dishes if you choose to cut down or want to give chicken meat up.

P.S. I have not added any pictures of inside broiler houses, processing plants or chicken catching machines in action. If the information about is not enough to make you think, Google it and view images or videos. Instead a picture of baby chicks full of hope and a new day 🙂

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Herefordshire – beautiful open countryside and…..

Check out this interactive map of factory farming per county. We live on the Herefordshire and Worcestershire border, we love this area, the countryside around us is stunning. Rolling green pastures in every direction, yet there are 17 million farm animals being raised indoors, it is very disappointing https://www.ciwf.org.uk/factory-farm-map

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The secret to delicious veg

No more mushy veg! Whoever would have thought it, vegetables don’t like to be cooked in water or steamed for that matter. They lose flavour, colour and goodness. They prefer to be roasted or fried. Don’t panic I don’t mean deep fried or fried in loads of oil. I mean cooked in an oven or a frying pan.

We eat a lot of veg in our house, not because we feel we should but because it is genuinely tasty. I feel like a born again veg lover. You name it cabbage, brussels sprouts, peas, cauliflower, parsnip, beetroot, kale, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, tomato,onion, swiss chard, spinach, carrots, leeks, pepper, mushroom, bok choy, courgette, aubergine.

Slice it in to the size you want, mix it up with a bit of olive oil, apple juice or water and whack it in the oven. Avoid using too much apple juice, a splash is great, but after that use water. Sprinkle with seasoning like Chinese 5 spice or seasons all if you want a richer flavour.

If I am cooking more solid veg like beetroot or carrot with leafy veg I do it in stages, use as many stages as you need to. For example I’d cook brussels and leeks first for 5-6 mins then I’d add kale and swiss chard for another 5-6 mins. (The harder the veg the longer it takes to cook, e.g. beetroot and carrot). Cooking time depending on how fine you cut it up and how well you like it cooked, so it might take some experimenting. I always leave very soft leaf like spinach until the end and just stir it into the mix before serving. The heat from the veg start to wilt it enough for my taste. The great thing is you can eat veg raw so you won’t give anyone food poisoning from under cooked veg so feel free to experiment.

For a small amount of veg or if you prefer, you can achieve the same effect in a frying pan or wok. I get the pan hot, add the veg dry, quick whizz round until they start to turn, then I add apple juice or water, put the lid on and leave until done.

Serve just as it in or add a favourite dressing, balsamic, lemon juice, sweet chill, soy (depending on the flavour combo).

You will give a whole new flavour to your veg. Ordinary broccoli takes on a whole new personality, leeks are so sweet you won’t believe it, Bok Choy becomes the centre of attention and people start to like brussels sprouts.

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A brilliant guide to pork

Next to chicken and fish, pork is the one of our highest factory, intensively farmed meats. This means lots of unethical issues, human health, animal welfare, food poverty, environment. So choosing a higher welfare pork makes a huge difference.  Always buy pork with caution.

This great chart from http://farmsnotfactories.org will help 🙂

 

 

Organic

Free range

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RSPCA Assured

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Tractor

No welfare label

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Shared from http://farmsnotfactories.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/pig-welfare-comparison-chart.pdf

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Super easy – yellow split pea Dal

 

I make a really easy (lazy) version of Dal. It hardly warrants and recipe it is so easy. If you have never made or eaten dal is it well worth trying. It is in my top 5 list of comfort foods. I make it as a side dish with curry, but it can be eaten as a main dish with extras thrown in. It is always good to have some for left overs as it is makes a really quick snack and would keep covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.

I made a big batch so use a whole bag of split peas (500gm) which would serve 4 as a main dish or 10 side portions. Ingredients in bold.

 

  • Follow the instructions on the packet, which is usually to wash the peas well in cold water.
  • Add to the pan and add water. I add enough water to cover the peas plus approx 1 inch
  • Add 1 level tablespoon of stock powder. I use ‘Organic Swiss Vegetable Vegan Bouillon Powder’. You can add more stock to taste later if needed.
  • Stir, cover and bring to the boil
  • Turn down to simmer, keep covered
  • Check after 15 mins and add more water to keep the peas cover as they swell
  • You can’t really go wrong, just make sure you don’t add too much water as they need to absorb it all. Likewise you don’t want them to dry out and stick
  • Total cook time for stage 1 is around 45 mins
  • Stage 2 you need to tend them a bit more, leave covered, check every 10-15 mins and add just enough water to stop it sticking. You are aiming them to all break down and turn into a paste. Achieve this be stirring well every check. This takes around 1 hr maybe longer – you can’t over cook them so don’t worry.
  • Once they have all broken down uncover and stir really well, work them into a paste. You can decide how thick you want it, just keep cooking it with the lift off until it has thickened. Tarka dal is traditionally quite wet but for a side I like it quite thick.
  • Add salt, pepper or more stock to taste. This helps gives it a deeper flavour.

I’ve made it sounds complicated but it really isn’t! Peas, water, stock, heat, stir. 500g pack cost around 60p, they are on offer in Waitrose this week at 44p! And the best bit split yellow peas are really good for you – 1.2% fat, carbohydrates 13% (0.1% sugar), fibre 8.2%, protein 8.9% a really well balanced whole food.

 

If you want to go wild and make more effort to serve as a main dish try this recipe:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/tarkadal_90055

 

 

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