Team sweaters, tailgates and endless sports banter is upon us; it is FOOTBALL season and ‘merica is serving up wings just about everywhere. Annually, Americans consume 25 billion wings, which is still, the greatest invention from the city of Buffalo, NY; however, chicken wing production has a few key social and environmental concerns: 1. Chickens and chicken farmers are treated inhumanely and 2. Open lands are being used to grow chicken feed.
You thought concussions were bad…
Despite their finger lickin’ goodness, wings come from often abused chickens who spend their lives packed together in a pen with little room to move, are subjected to poor air quality and receive little to no sunlight. To keep chickens artificially healthy, a lot of chicken farms use antibiotics to keep flocks alive until they are slaughtered. That’s a big team loss as it is bad for chicken and human health.
Winging it on welfare
America’s 25,000 chicken farmers are in a losing battle subject to ever changing income from their main customers (the handful of chicken companies like Tyson and Perdue). Essentially, these “customers” lock farmers into a tournament system where they unfairly compensate farmers based on non-transparent performance guidelines that, support anticompetitive measures to severely decrease the innovation farmers could implement in order to collect a higher profit. Due to this system, farmers do not have the resources to adequately care for their chickens and their land based on their near poverty line salary set by the extreme price floor. It’s consider such a bad business practice that Tyson had a lawsuit brought against them in March. For some deeper insight into the chicken farmer plight, check out John Oliver’s coverage here:
Chickens gobbling up the land?
Raising all those chickens to produce 25 billion wings a year requires ~11.2 billion pounds of food. That’s because, on average, to create 1 pound of chicken (~10 wings) a farmer needs 4.5 pounds of food. Since chickens mostly eat corn and soy, America’s open lands, prairies and wetlands are being ploughed up to fuel our fan fare frenzy and tailgate-food-loving lifestyles.
Don’t be chicken when thinking sustainably!
There’s no need to despair. You can still get sloppy fingers eating chicken wings. Buy sustainable brands and tell your favorite bars to do the same:
😃 Green Brands to buy: Bell & Evans, Coleman Organic Chicken
😐 Yellow brands to buy in a pinch: Perdue
😡 Red brands to avoid: Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms, non-certified store brands
We didn't make this up! Read some more...
Land and poultry feed
Animal abuse and antibiotics:
Chicken farmer welfare
General reading on chicken