If you think that a label saying that your chicken is bred in a “friendly farm”, then you are a victim of consumerism. One interesting aspect is the changes that humans forcefully made to animals. The original ancestor of the modern chicken is the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) which was extremely similar to the chickens served on tables before the 1960s.
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The difference between today’s chickens and the red junglefowl from 2000 years ago is its natural weight as well as appearance. Your average chicken didn’t use to be white, not even in the early 20th century.
The color that you see in the picture above of the red junglefowl is the natural pigment of a chicken, the white is something imposed by corporations for farmers to breed-specific species in order to be more attractive to consumers.
Besides the imposed color of the chicken, the most important factor is weight:
- The average weight of a chicken 2000 years ago was 900 grams.
- The average weight of a chicken 60 years ago was 900 grams.
- The average weight of a chicken 40 years ago was 2,000 grams.
- The average weight of a chicken today is 4,500 grams.
What farmers started doing around 1955 is stuffing their chickens with as much food as possible in order to fatten them since the first day they hatch. T
his worked for a few years, until inflation hit harder, once again lowering the power of purchase for consumers and the profit margins. This is where corporations started playing with the genetics of chickens, making them gain weight much quicker since they hatch.
It is estimated that chickens will end up reaching the average size of a small turkey by 2030 (around 7,800 grams) at the rate consumerism keeps creating more demand.