Georgia Magazine - October 2012 - (Page 32)

Please pass the chicken Georgia poultry rules the roost BY JANE F GARVEY . N try production. The Georgia Poultry Federation reports that an average day’s production is 29 million pounds of chicken. Including turkeys, Georgia poultry earns more money than any other agricultural product. Today, the state leads the nation in poultry production. Clearly, Georgians can’t consume all that chicken, so a good bit is exported. According to the Federation, the first quarter of 2012 set a record for U.S. poultry exports, most of it departing through the Port of Savannah. After a half-century or more of large-producer operations dominating the industry, the small farmer is re-emerging, although he’s not exactly the same as his 20th-century forebear either. For instance, some large producers are raising chickens “naturally,” which means, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, they may not contain any artificial ingredient or added color. The chicken so labeled is only minimally processed, meaning that the processing doesn’t fundamentally alter the product. Hormones are not allowed in the production of poultry by federal law. But poultry produced “naturally” is usually also raised without the use of antibiotics, although the consumer should check the packaging to be sure. Among the Georgia producers whose chickens are identified as “natural” is SpringLocated in Bulloch County, Hunter Cattle Co. has branched er Mountain Farms, in out into poultry production, but on a small scale, turning out Mount Airy, which, like some 200 pastured chickens a month. 32 More online at ot long ago, if you wanted chicken for dinner, you went out to the hen house, grabbed one by the feet, rung its neck, plucked its feathers, and then you cooked it. You didn’t do that very often, that’s for sure. Returning to this rather idyllic 19th-century urban image, city dwellers are even starting to raise chickens in their backyards, although city ordinances may take a dim view of the practice in a few places. Before World War II, chicken was a treat because it was very expensive. Most chickens were raised for their eggs, not for their meat, so that the family could trade those eggs for things that were needed at the store, such as kerosene and sugar. Today, we eat more chicken than in the mid-20th century, when we consumed less than 20 pounds annually per person in the 1940s. Fifty years later, that figure had increased more than threefold. Georgia agriculture is led by poul- Teaming up with Chef Lance Gummere, Chef Shaun Doty will open Bantam & Biddy, a chicken-focused restaurant this fall in Atlanta. Here, he prepares glazed confit pastured chicken wings (recipe, page 34) at the Morningside Farmers Market. most large commercial producers, contracts with local poultry farmers who operate under specific guidelines. However, the Springer Mountain growers adhere to additional criteria so that they can withstand inspection by the American Humane Association, according to Springer Mountain spokesman Dale Faunce. Faunce also emphasizes that these chickens are not free range. “We believe that chickens raised outdoors are stressed by predators, so we don’t let them outside.” He also says that chickens raised outdoors are more susceptible to becoming sick, then requiring treatment—i.e., antibiotics. And that’s something the company won’t do under the Springer Mountain label. In addition, Faunce points out that at Springer Mountain the feed, which contains no animal byproducts, is rigorously inspected to ensure it’s free of pesticides or other impurities. Whole chickens designated as “natural” can range in price at major grocery stores from $1.99 per pound to $2.29-plus per pound. Whole broilers, not designated as “natural,” can cost around $1 per pound or less. GEORGIA MAGAZINE COURTESY OF HUNTER CATTLE CO. T.C. BROdNAx

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - October 2012

Georgia Magazine - October 2012
Liberty Notes
Picture This?
Georgia News
Calendar of Events
Picture-perfect pets!
Adventures across the border
Around Georgia
My Georgia
Georgia Cooks

Georgia Magazine - October 2012