Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Start Talking with your Wallet

It's been a little while since I've been on here. I know, I promised to check out the Corporate Social Responsibility Report but I've just been overwhelmed with things. So while I won't get into the Report yet, I'm going to consider something that I overlooked in the previous post.

It's something my manager said to me, "we don't eat too much beef or even pork; but if you can get chicken, sign me up for another next month", that got me thinking. I have been sharing my chicken shares with members of my office and family. While expensive (~$24.00/chicken), just the size and taste alone have sold me on purchasing these birds for consumption. But, who's going to pay $24.00/chicken?? Most families won't go this way because it's "just not affordable".

Fifty plus years ago, the most expensive item in our diet was protein. Now protein is cheap and easily purchased in any supermarket. While protein is important for proper development and regular functioning, people come to expect that protein (which should be a luxury) as something that can be easily attained for a cheap price.

Let's get some history on the chicken and how it became the most common animal on our dinner plates. The domesticated chicken we eat now has a genealogy that goes back to 7,000 to 10,000 years. It appears that the chicken's wild ancestor is the red jungle fowl, Gallus gallus from Southeast Asia, but, G. Gallus is not the sole ancestor of our common day chicken. Chickens happen to be the first domesticated animals of humans and it is this progressive history that has created our current day chicken.

Currently, 580 million chickens are raised for meat consumption (broilers) for the Canadian population and the balance to total 600 million, are raised as layers for eggs. For a population of approximately 34 million, that is approximately 17 chickens per person, per year. That's a lot of meat. And, how do you do cheap meat at grand scales? You mechanize everything, cut corners and ignore long term health and environmental conditions.

Loblaw's mandated that they would source locally the beef and pork that they get--which is a good step. But, what about chicken? Loblaw didn't mention anything about where they're sourcing their chicken from. Have you gone in to buy a whole chicken at a typical grocery store? I am pretty certain that you could get 1 fresh chicken for under $10.00.

The common excuse is affordability and the inability to enact change. We as consumers speak most clearly with our wallets. Big food corps and box stores will react to their consumers' spending habits (e.g. Wal-mart has put together an organics section because they are purely reacting to consumer demand). It is up to each of us to make the positive change. But at this point, most of us are too caught up in the trivial things that, we toss things like food to the wayside and let the big corp tell us what we will have for dinner.

Choose Veg.ca (http://www.chooseveg.ca/animal-cruelty-canada.asp)
Chicken Farmers of Canada (http://chicken.ca/)
Smithsonian Issue June 2012 (How the Chicken Conquered the World)