Choice report a bitter pill
JOHN GARRETT is amazed at the findings of the Choice Consumer Group's report on organic versus factory-farmed chickens. The results released yesterday showed an expert panel found no taste difference between organic, free range, corn-fed or factory-farmed chickens. "It's incredible," says Mr Garrett, proprietor of Wholly Smoked Organic Foods in%Byron Bay.
"We sell to a range of customers, from real foodies to working families on a budget. Many buy organic on principle, but the feedback we get convinces me of the difference."
Mr Garrett sells organic only and does not stock free range or corn-fed chickens. His supplier, Barlil Chickens, claims its product takes 40 per cent longer to raise than farmed poultry, and Mr Garrett agrees their longevity produces a better flavour. "Like most animals, the flavour comes from muscle use. The older an animal is the more flavoursome the meat" he said. The lifespan of chickens has shortened significantly from an average of 70 days in the 1960s to the current average of only 40 days.
The exception to this is the organic standard which stipulates a 63-day minimum. General manager of Sunnybrand Chickens, Andrew Young, is not so surprised at the report. "There's virtually no difference," he says. "We've been saying that for a long time."
Sunnybrand produces farmed chickens as opposed to battery (caged) chickens housed in large sheds. Contrary to common belief, the birds are not given any kind of steroid or hormone supplements.
"There haven't been hormones in chickens in this country for 40 years," said Mr Young.
"It is simply a furphy that persists in the marketplace." Some medications are given if a bird is ill.