The price of poultry
Chicken is no longer the expensive luxury it was and as poultry prices have dropped, the welfare of the animals themselves has declined.
In the 1950’s chicken was such a treat that most British people ate less than a kilo of it in a year. Now they each eat on average 23kg of chicken a year.
To satisfy the demand, 860 million birds are reared in the UK each year. That’s almost half the meat they eat. Chicken has never been cheaper.Most food has increased by 50% -200% in the past 20 years, while chicken has increased by just 15%, making it cheaper than ever in real terms.
Cheap chickens are ammunition in the supermarket price wars.Chicken is no longer considered a luxury. To keep consumers supplied with bargain birds, more than 93% are produced on factory farms.
Here, up to 50,000 birds are packed into sheds, up to 19 birds per square metre, dimly lit to discourage movement and so they put on weight at an unnaturally fast rate.Having reached the required size twice as quickly as factory farmed chickens did just 30 years ago, the average intensively reared bird is ready for slaughter at 5-6 weeks old.
Because they’ve grown so quickly, their bones are weak, joints infected and some have difficulty walking.
What about free-range?
The labels ‘free-range’ and ‘organic’ sound reassuring. Free-range chickens must have access to outdoors for at least half their life and are slower grown, for slaughter at 8 weeks old (10-11 weeks if they are organic).
This means they don’t suffer the problems that afflict the fastest-grown chickens.Organic chickens are allowed to grow more slowly, are not given routine antibiotics or unnecessary medication, and are fed an organic diet. All organic chickens are free-range, with more outside space than other free-range birds, in smaller flock sizes and usually will have been reared to the highest welfare standards.
Having reached the required size twice as quickly as factory farmed chickens did just 30 years ago, the average intensively reared bird is ready for slaughter at 5-6 weeks old. Because they’ve grown so quickly, their bones are weak, joints infected and some have difficulty walking.
Working with chicken
Chicken is very healthy and easy to cook. What’s the best way to barbecue a chicken? For a delicious slightly smoky flavour, there is no better way of cooking chicken, than on a kettlebraai. One secret to really flavourful, juicy roast chicken is brining – i.e., soaking in salt water. Kosher chickens are always brined before selling; this is one of the reasons that kosher birds tend to taste better.
Wickedfood Cooking School and CADAC recently teamed up to offer monthly Outdoor Cooking classes. The Wickedfood/CADAC Outdoor Cooking Academy’s aim is to teach South African’s that more can be done on a braai over and above charred boerewors and a few anemic looking chops.
At the end of February we invited a host of top food editors to come and sample one of our classes – All about chicken.
A great afternoon of fun and sharing of knowledge was enjoyed by all – one journalist going as far as saying it was the best function they had ever attended.
In the class we looked at a variety of preparations for cooking chicken on the CADAC kettlebraai and gas BBQ, including:
- Easy smoked roast chicken;
- The advantages of brining a chicken prior to roasting, so as to impart a delicious flavour;
- Marinades for chicken pieces and kebabs.
Sunninghill – (011) 234-3252 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wickedfood Cooking School in Johannesburg runs cooking classes throughout the year at its purpose-built cooking studios in Johannesburg. Cookery classes are run in the mornings and evenings 7 days a week (subject to a minimum of 12 people). This team building venue is also popular for corporate events and private functions – team building cooking classes, birthdays, kitchen teas, and dinner parties with a difference.
Our cooking classes are hands-on, where every person gets to participate in the preparation of the dishes. They are also a lot of fun where you not only learn new skills, but get to meet people with similar interests. For corporate groups and team building cooking classes these classes are a novel way of creating staff interaction or entertaining clients.