With chicken, you get what you pay for

The recent story, “Why poultry raised in Durango can’t go to market,” (Herald, June 8) raises a whole host of complex issues. Yet, for those who want good local chicken, the simplest solution is to raise and process it yourself, avoiding most of the regulations and out-of-pocket expense.

We have done it for years, using dual–purpose, heritage breeds that mature more slowly but without stress, provide great eggs and, even when older, provide a good soup or stew.

While the processing is not my favorite task, neither is eating industrial chicken, usually raised very crowded, medicated, eating an unnatural diet, and, I would venture to say, quite unhappy.

The next best solution would be to buy from a local non-industrial producer, and be prepared to pay them a fair price for their efforts. It is unrealistic and unfair to expect such a farmer to provide you chicken at the same price as the industrial supplier that has taken all the shortcuts to provide a cheap product that ends up costing us in terms of health, the environment and our humanity.

Any retail chicken, other than a live one, will require significant regulation and therefore added cost. We can seek policies and good business models to reduce those costs, but we should not expect it to be inexpensive. Those who can pay, should. For those who cannot, we need food-assistance programs as well as policies that ensure livable wages for all in our community. I don’t think we can ever have a significant amount of good local chicken, chicken producers or healthy people if we don’t discard our expectations of cheap food.

Jim Dyer


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