This "next big thing" is pure bull. About as wonderful as "cage-free" laying hens crammed by the tens of thousands in barns with no fresh air or sunshine being advertised as a humane option. They made things about as bad as they possibly could, then patted themselves on the back for making significant improvements. I've got an idea: let's inoculate the entirety of the nation's boxed brownie mixes with 75% fresh pigshit, then sing our own praises when we reduce that number to 40% and thus make a demonstrably better product.
It will be interesting to see what the future brings. I can see how the Generation X'ers...so far removed from the farm have their ideas on humane animal care, and right now they are in a stage in life where they can afford high food prices. They are after all what the IRS calls D.I.N.K's...Double Income, No Kids, and flush with extra cash, but what will that look like when they have 2.5 kids, 2 car payments and a mortgage the size of Texas?
Right now organic and whole foods in general is at an all time high in terms of sales, but in my 42 years of life, I have found out that when something is at the very top, it never stays that way for long. American's as a whole are fickle, and right now prices for food is at an all time low, so I can see how people would be willing to spend more money on better food. Why not? Double the cost of something so low is not all that much in economic speak. But as the one detractor said in the article, it will jump the prices significantly. They say history repeats itself and that happened with ethanol. When ethanol was being subsidized, farmers started growing corn in record numbers, using land once planted into wheat, rye, and food grade corn. Instantly the price of bread quadrupled.
And then there is the other aspect of it...what will this do to the small production Permiculturist or Small Scale Farmer that can no longer have the argument that his niche breed is better if the average American can get the same thing, raised ethically at the grocery store? At that point, economy of scale comes into play. Again history repeats itself, and this occurred when the Organic Farmers wanted certification to allow higher prices, but it actually hurt them when big factory farms divested into organic production, used the economy of scale, and started filled the shelves in grocery stores with organic food. That was when the Buy Local food trend emerged...simply because it had too.
I find all this intriguing, with no right or wrong answers. It is just interesting to see the trends, what people predict and what actually transpires. I don't have enough detailed information to make an analysis in the short term, but predict prices for food will quadruple in the long term.
I feel so privileged to know, and have tasted, the difference!
Travis Johnson wrote:.what will this do to the small production Permiculturist or Small Scale Farmer that can no longer have the argument that his niche breed is better if the average American can get the same thing, raised ethically at the grocery store?
People often seem to be saying that permaculture will not be important until it is adopted by large scale farmers, that regenerative practices will not make a significant improvement to the world until they are done on a vast scale. I'm not saying that these "slow" chickens are regenerative, just that the "it needs to be large or it doesn't count" argument appears often in discussions of permaculture and other alternative methods of farming, here on permies.
Corrie Snell wrote:...but the point that it may kinda sorta be worse (due to needing to produce even more feed for the chickens' longer lives), is scary to think about.
Yes and no. Perhaps we (collectively) can't continue to consume McNuggets by the bucketful if "slow-growing" chickens are widely adopted. Likely feed supplies will lessen, and feed prices will rise, so folks will end up cutting back on consumption of certain products. In many ways, I think it'd be great if chicken cost the same per pound as beef.
Then again, if there were fewer price supports and subsidies (such as the ethanol example Travis mentioned above), maybe there would still be plenty of economical feed grains available to support our current consumption of chicken, even given "slow-growing" genetics.
Or, perhaps best yet, a rather sudden increase in demand (and therefore price) for feed grains causes the Big Ag chicken industry to seriously investigate and implement alternative feeds such as fruit and veggie waste (though I shouldn't be surprised if it went more the way of toxic industrial byproducts).