Last week we talked beef, now it's time for us to give the highly underrated chicken some quality attention. According to the Department of Animal Sciences at Purdue University, Americans consume 8 billion chickens a year and 50 billion eggs. That's a lot of poultry! Imagine what a big difference we could make if we started to consciously buy these products? If the money it took to purchase 8 billion chickens and 50 million eggs were going to businesses with ethical and humane practices and organic products we would probably all feel a lot better, and so would the chickens (probably).
I won't bring you down too much in discussing the plight of our feathered friends, but I will say the conditions are pretty similar to those of their bovine buddies. Imagine what it would be like to be raised in a small area with a million of your least hygienic friends just to be chopped up into chicken nuggets. Doesn't sound ideal, does it?
The best part about chicken though is that there are crazy abundant opportunities for us to find more humane and clean options. Even downtown in the city, there are farmers that will deliver a carton of eggs to my door for a measly $5. That's the cost of one Starbucks run, or maybe even less than that if I'm honest. I've said this before, but I'll repeat myself here, "saving money, saving yourself and saving the earth go hand and hand". I know that the eggs at the store are probably less, so you're probably saying "that's not saving money". Look at it this way: when you buy local you are investing in your community. A prospering local community with thriving vendors of all kinds of goods creates a prospering market, where there are ample jobs and thriving commerce, both of which will turn into financial gain for you in the long run. When you pay the big box stores your money usually goes out of the community and is invested in ways you probably would not support. That aside, it's important to support your neighbors, because in doing so you support yourself.
Another great and easy way to get good eggs is to raise chickens yourself! They aren't the cutest of pets, but it's hard to beat free farm fresh eggs on your doorstep. Chickens are also fairly easy keepers; get them a nice little coop to be cleaned occasionally, some food and water and a little room to poke around and they'll be content! Of course, if this idea interests you, be sure to do research into whether your neighborhood allows it and if you can be a proper caretaker!
There are also ample options to purchase organic, antibiotic-free chicken. As always, I'll post a link to some resources below. A good rule to follow, for all foods, is to read the label. Usually, it will say somewhere on the packaging if it is local, organic, or humanely raised. Be sure to clarify that the labels bare certifications, meaning they have gone through a screening process. Look for AWA Approved (Animal Welfare Approved) for humanely raised chicken. When in doubt, it's always safe to quickly google the company just to confirm that the labeling is true, as some companies get away with false labeling or misleading labeling on their packages.
Supporting companies that are making an effort to work humanely and sustainably is an investment in something more than just tomorrow's dinner. Where you put your money is a statement of your values, even when you are buying chicken.