Sep 20, 2010

The Future of "Food"?

Genetically engineered animals are inching dangerously closer to our dinner plates today, as the FDA commences public hearings on whether to approve gene-altered salmon for human consumption.

AquAdvantage® Salmon (AAS) is the creation of Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies. The company boasts that AAS "reach market size twice as fast as traditional salmon," thereby creating a more economical and efficient meat source for producers.

...and thereby making it logistically easier for fish farms to turn into CAFOs: growing more fish in faster time with less space.

One ethical problem with AquaBounty's engineering of salmon is that they approach the fish as merely a product or commodity, with the end-goal being increased revenue for both AquaBounty and the fish producers who buy their product.

As we mentioned previously about Cornish cross chickens, animals bred for size exhibit signs of pain and muscle immobility. Considering that Cornish crosses cannot move a few paces without their legs tiring from carrying their own weight, we wonder whether AquaBounty's product will suffer any health implications from being genetically altered for size.

Sure, gene-altered salmon seem like a great idea for AquaBounty shareholders... but is it a good idea for the fish themselves?

If you share our concern over this technological innovation, Food & Water Watch provides an excellent online petition for you to voice your doubts to lawmakers. Click here, and also note that they provide phone and fax numbers for the White House, should you really want to get your point across.

Sep 4, 2010

Chicken Spotlight: Naked Neck

The recent recall of salmonella-tainted eggs has highlighted once again the problems with industrial animal production: Inhumane treatment + unclean facilities + questionable practices = diminished food security. So we figured now's a good time to fill you in on our latest venture: raising naked neck chickens.

Naked necks, also called "turkens," can be found in pockets across the globe. Rather than a breed, the "naked neck" is a gene wherein the chickens lack feathers on their neck and have significantly reduced feathers over the remainder of their body.

And what are feathers made of? Mainly protein. Because naked necks have fewer feathers, their diet doesn't require as much protein as other chicken breeds - instead, naked necks convert excess protein into eggs and meat more efficiently than other breeds!

Keep in mind that today the main breed being supplied is the cornish cross. Regardless of whether you're buying conventional or even "free range," chances are you're purchasing a cornish cross chicken. The problem with this breed is that its specifically bred for industrial production. Cornish crosses build muscle mass at such a fast pace that they cannot move more than a few feet without getting tired (hardly "free range"), and they reach market weight in a monstrous 49 days.

However our naked necks are quite the opposite. While naked necks are efficient in protein conversion, they happen to be a comparatively slow grower - reaching market weight in 10-12 weeks. But the meat it does grow is darker, richer, the skin more delicate, and the fat more yellow in color than conventional chickens. It's one of several, lesser-used chicken breeds that supply richer meat, yellower skin, and more flavorsome fat than typical breeds, and it happens to pair well with our climate and growing conditions.

We hope to have a modest flock by the beginning of October and will be sure to keep you posted on our progress.