The True Cost of Cheap Chicken

by FoodPrint

Published: 2/16/22, Last updated: 2/16/22

Chicken is mostly what’s for dinner in this country, and for many people it’s that tasty, convenient, impossibly cheap rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. For the first episode of our brand new podcast, “What You’re Eating,” we decided to look into that hard-to-resist dinner staple.

One of the questions we explore is the real meaning of “cost” when it comes to items like this. In the midst of a time of rising food prices, we’re all giving more thought than usual to what the number we see on the package actually reflects. And when it comes to meat and poultry, there’s more and more evidence that companies have been taking advantage of a volatile market to charge us more. With criminal trials in progress against poultry industry executives over proven price-fixing in the past, it wouldn’t be hard to believe they’re taking advantage of consumers now. 

Chicken companies have a long history of cutting corners on the other side of things too, offloading the costs of producing so much poultry onto the environment, farmers and the animals. Last week The New York Times ran a video opinion piece about the true cost of cheap chicken, with some agonizing footage of the lives of industrially-raised chickens in the ammonia-laden barns where they live out their miserable days. We are very glad to see more coverage of the issue of chicken farming — how bad it is for chicken farmers, for the communities who live around the factory farms and for the 9 billion chickens that are raised in the US every year.

In our podcast episode, we explore these issues and ask what it would take to change the chicken industry. We talk to a farmer doing things in a better way, the director of a certification operation that encourages better practices, a restaurateur trying to source chickens she can feel good about, and more. 

Top photo by RobertCoy/ Adobe

Listen to the Podcast

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