How your chicken choice could impact on the rainforest

OK, let’s get the issue of price out of the way first so that we can move on to discuss some more important aspects of poultry production. Is £9 a lot of money for a chicken?
Before you answer that question, consider this – it provides four meals and a source of stock for another two. That’s £1.50 per sitting.
Just how cheap do you want your meat to be people?
I can hear the keyboards of wrath being pelted as I post this – “people can’t afford such things”, “food needs to be cheap to improve the nation’s diets”, everyone is having a hard time etc. etc. and of course, all of that has some merit.
But as the many chicken campaigns have pointed out, there is a price to pay for all this poultry availability and personally I don’t want that price to be cruelty or damage to the environment.
Which is why I agreed to taste test a new product from Abel & Cole – rainforest friendly free-range chicken.
I had no idea that our choices in the UK supermarket could impact on farmers in Brazil where concern is mounting that the widespread use of soya in chicken feed is contributing to the deforestation of the Amazon.
My plump bird was delivered to the door thanks to Devon chicken farmer Peter Coleman who was inspired to create a soya free feed after visiting the Amazon and seeing the impact of deforestation first hand.
Peter explains “A chicken requires protein to build up its vital amino acids, the building blocks of life, particularly during its first three weeks. Protein in chicken feed comes mainly in the form of soya, GM-soya comes from North America, GM-free soya in large quantities and at a commercial price comes from Brazil. To make way for the soya crop, large chunks of rainforest are wiped out.
“The Amazon rainforest is one of the most bio-diverse regions on earth. It is home to nearly a tenth of the world’s mammal population and a staggering 15% of the world’s known land-based plant species, not to mention the thousands of people who live there”.
Perhaps in light of that, £1.50 a helping doesn’t sound quite so pricey now?
But the all important question – what did it taste like?
Well the first thing to note was how different the cooking experience was. I decided to do a straight forward lemon roast for the first of the meals and the amount of fat the roasting bird produced was so minimal that I had to add a good slug of olive oil for the spuds.
The texture was firm and meaty (no hint of wateryness) and the flavour – well flavoursome, there was no mistaking it as chicken, no blandness or rubberyness here. In fact I would go as far as saying that one of these chucks may well be ordered up for the Christmas table!
Abel & Cole’s free-range chicken is available at
What price should a chicken be?
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One thought on “How your chicken choice could impact on the rainforest

  1. When I lived in Chester, I used to buy Label Anglais chickens from my local butcher. They are free-range organic birds and endorsed by Gordon Ramsay. Price was between £9 and £12, including the giblets.
    I’d roast the bird (2 meals or 4 if we had guests) then strip the carcass (enough meat for another 2-4 meals) and make stock from the carcass. The cat had the giblets. For 8 portions plus stock that worked out at less than £1.50 a portion. And the flavour was amazing. Real, proper chicken – not rubbery, watery or fatty, just meaty and bursting with taste. I’d rather eat less meat and eat meat that tastes really good than buy factory-farmed cheap flavourless rubbish.


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