We have hit the bottom of the barrel with fresh chicken in this country. Since starting up these pages 445 articles ago, I have spoken out frequently for better chicken. This is now a campaign platform for Better Chicken based on half my life spent engaged with speciality chicken. One zenith was being given exclusivity to the Poulet de Gournay, a rare breed table bird from Normandy that’s been saved from the brink and was once known to gourmands as the Bresse Normande.
Another was having some at the AOC Poulet de Bresse comité applaud my work. As good again is talking to three English retailers about the sad state of chicken on sale, including their high priced Free Range birds which are little better than those that are intensively reared. All three showed me the door, but times change and people move on – all have moved on in those three supermarkets, so who knows where next.
Retailers have pushed the price of chicken steadily down for decades to a point where most on sale are one variety of hybrid selected for being ‘fast growing’ – to talk of ‘growing’ a living creature is sickening. That they are for the most part now 30-32 days old from hatching to slaughter loads even more shame on the ‘chicken industry’. Little wonder I tagged these sad offerings as ‘Eggs on Legs’ and the term has stuck.
The British ‘free range’ allows for a bird that spends half its life with access to the outdoors – that means 56 days old when killed. GM soya still makes up the protein ration and that no better than ‘prots to gym monkeys’. Organic chicken bucks the GM but most again are still hybrids.
For these reasons I say boycott supermarket chicken until supermarkets wake up and make changes.
These changes are simple, but they do turn the regime on its head. High input production must be swept aside for low input – and that means the chickens have better lives, develop better muscle tone and their farmers make better returns. Hence Better Chicken.
One who had a career in chicken production once said to me: ‘ if something’s not done soon to improve chicken above it being a lowest common denominator food, it will go the way of smoking cigarettes – something only consumed by those who neither know nor care any better for their well-being.’