The Genetic Change in Farmed Foods
A mind-boggling number of chickens hints to a global challenge – supplying enough food to feed 8+ billion people. Its estimated that nearly 65 BILLION chickens are consumed each year with the world chicken population growing 10x faster than any other farmed animal. It isn’t just the growing number of chickens but also their shape and genetic changes that have been “altered” to produce more food.
Carys Bennett, of the University of Leichester, wrote an essay on the modern outlook of future animal farming. He noted that the entire biology and genetic makeup of today’s chicken is 100% different than that of an “original chicken”
Chicken domestication dates back 8,000+ years ago into ancient Asia (India & China). Chickens first came to the Americans in the 1500s as the Spanish explorers used them for egg production while sailing.
Chickens raised in the US before the 1920s were mostly via family farms for a hobby. It wasn’t until WWI that chicken/egg farming became commercialized. By the 1940s the chicken population in American cities was 50% the of the human population. Todays “factory farming” of chickens/ eggs results in as many as 30,000 hens crowded into warehouses miles long with no access to the outdoors and food literally being pumped through mechanized troughs.
Today’s chicken is known as a Broiler Chicken – one that is bred/genetically modified specifically for high meat production in a short period of time. The average chicken is slaughtered at only 5-7 weeks of age yet they carry the frame and meat volume similar to that of a fully-grown chicken 16-24 weeks. By weight, a broiler chickens weighs 5-7x the mass of its ancestors. This is mostly due to a genetic mutation that has been bred into the animal to disable its sense of being full (i.e. it literally eats all the time) and for it to be able to gain muscle and fat mass faster when eating a modern chicken diet – wheat/barley/soy/corn/ rice and canola meal.
Size Isn’t All That Matters When it Comes to Chickens (or any other meat for that matter)
Is a broiler chicken larger, with more muscle – yes. But recent studies are now confirming the meat is less nutritious. Most significant is the amount of omega-3, anti-inflammatory oils, like DHA. DHA has scientifically been shown to decrease risk for heart disease, improves focus and attention, lessening ADHD/ADD effects many people suffer with, decreases inflammation (a major contributor to almost all known health issues), reduces relative risk for cancer and support normal organ function (eyes, liver, digestion etc.).
According to the London Metropolitan University study by Michael Crawford PHD, 100grams of chicken from 1980 would have provided your body with ~170mg of DHA. Today’s 100 grams of chicken provides less than 25! (~7x less DHA).
While there was noticeable decrease in the omega-3 oils, there was a massive increase in the omega-6 fats found in boiler chickens. Omega-6 fats are known to create inflammation and increase the risks for all conditions mentioned above. The same London University study found that 100g of chicken from 1980 had 2,400mg of omega-6 fats while today’s 100 grams of chicken provides more than 6,000mg of dangerous fats.
Omega 3/6 ratios are known to be an important aspect of you overall health and brain function. The ideal ratio is 1:1 with a maximum of 4:1. The typical western dieter (aka US) holds a ratio of 1:50 some as high as 1:100.
Choosing the right Chicken and Eggs
Chicken and Eggs offer exceptional healing properties when consuming “real chicken and eggs” aka non-genetically bred/modified, non-factory farmed and most importantly not “traditional vegetarian fed.” Don’t fall victim to the classic mistake of assuming a vegetarian fed chicken is healthier – ALL CHICKENS ARE VEGETARIANS!
The challenge of today is you have to know what type of chicken you are eating AND you have to know what the chicken itself ate. Unfortunately, there are too many loopholes in the food industry to trust the labels anymore. Genetically modified chickens can be raised organically and even be labeled as “free- range” or “organic.” If their feed is organic wheat/barley/soy/corn/rice and canola meal you still see the significant drop in nutritional quality.
Ultimately the best of the best comes directly from a farm you trust. Alternatively, if your HOA allows it, you could consider raising chickens yourself in a backyard coop. It’s much easier than you think and https:// www.thehappychickencoop.com/ can point you in the right direction.
If you don’t want to raise your own but still want farm fresh chicken and eggs, look for high quality organic, pastured raised at almost all of the local farmers markets. When you have face-to-face contact with either the farm owner or worker you can get ask direct questions to know exactly what you’re buying. Better yet, visit the farm. Its a great activity for those of you with kids, not only is it education but you can find out how they raise their animals and most farms today even offer direct orders via their websites. If they have nothing to hide, they can return the favor by purchasing their products.