Sunday, July 01, 2012

Comparing Chickens North of the Border and Chickens in Mexico

When I was five years old we move onto acreage, not quite a farm, but our neighborhood was zoned farmland, Neighbors owned cows, horses, pigs, chickens and domestic rabbits. My father purchased chicks, or hatched them.  I have vague recollections of our chicken house and no memory of adult chickens. I think something happened in the process of growing baby chicks and my dad quickly gave up the enterprise.

Our neighbors, the Johnson family, were more successful with farm animals. They raised pigs and chickens and when they were mature the animals were slaughtered. I remember the squealing pigs and watched as chickens run around the Johnson backyard without their heads, until they dropped dead.

Mexican Chickens are free range
Mr. Johnson kept hens for eggs and one mean rooster. On a visit to the Johnson yard I stood talking to Mr. Johnson when the rooster attacked. I was told he was aiming for my eyes. Luckily, Mr. Johnson was holding a shovel. He gave the rooster one good belt belted with the shovel and soon the rooster was placed in a pot, making a very nice Sunday dinner. As for me, for many years thereafter I had a fear of chickens, especially roosters.

It is not surprising that I still do not like live chickens, or any large bird for that matter.  Nevertheless, I'm appalled at the way multi-nationals involved in the food industry treat them. After all, they are living creatures and not a commodity.

It used to take three months to raise a chicken, now it takes 49 days. Their bones and internal organs cannot keep up with this rapid growth. Most never see the light of day. Since people prefer white meat to dark they have been bred to have huge breasts and their legs cannot support them. Since the meat packers demand uniformity, all chickens are bred to be almost exactly the same size.

The chickens sold in Canada look very different than the chickens sold in the markets here in Mexico.

Mexican chickens are skinny, yellow and vary in size. Yes, there are flies swarming around the dead chickens. You buy them fresh and the vendor chops your pieces as you wait. All the vendor sells is chicken. I buy my chicken from a lady down the street who operates her little shop at the front of her house.

Canadian chickens are white and plump, sometimes frozen, sometimes fresh. You can buy them whole or cut into pieces and packaged. I've only bought Canadian chickens in the super market.

More information on what multi-nationals are doing to our food, watch this documentary video Food Inc

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