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How Many Miles are on Your Chicken?

Posted 3/11/2013 11:02am by Jeri Villarreal.

When you choose to get your chicken straight from the farm, you would think your choice of a local farmer is a good one for not only your community , but the environment. The chicken is produced not too far away from where you live, so your reducing your carbon foot-print by purchasing direct, right? As it turns out, before you even make that hour drive out to the farm, your chicken already had a few miles on it!

Here is the equation: Source + Processing + Delivery= Total Miles

Source: Where does your farmer get the chicks from? Many people think that farmers that raise chickens for meat also produce these chicks from their own fertile eggs. This however is not usually true. Running an operation to breed the best chickens and then collect the eggs and hatch them is a job onto itself. Most poultry farms have enough to do. So they get chicks from an operation that specializes in this very thing.  Wouldn't it be nice if these chicks came from a neighboring farm? But they usually don't. Their shipped in from other states that are mainly located in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Iowa and Maine. If you're the Midwest, that's a lot of miles just to get started.

Processing: Where does your chicken meet it's end? In a perfect world, the farmer that cared for her bird would be the one to ensure that it is processed in a manner that is humane and swift. This is an act best carried out by the farmer or someone under the farmer's tutelage. However, the majority of chickens are sent off to USDA processing plants which can be a few hundred miles away! The average chicken travels 150 miles by truck to the processing plant.

Delivery: How does the chicken get to you? From the farmer, to the processing plant, sometimes back to the farmer but sometimes to some distribution point, the chicken is now making it's way to you. From here it just depends on where the farmer is shipping to.  It doesn't take a mathematician to see that mileage on chicken can really add up!

Our City Farm has taken steps to ensure that our chicken is your most sustainable choice. We source our chicks for a local hatchery and pick them up. This reduces the travel stress on the chick and allows us to see where our chicks come from. Our chicks enter the world in Troy, Missouri, just 51 miles from the farm. We then raise our chickens on Organic pasture in Ferguson, Missouri. Our chickens are then processed on-farm, by hand, requiring no additional travel, 0 miles. From the farm to you, it's just 16 miles.

Below I've gathered numbers using the closest and most popular source for chicks, the closest processing plant and closest chicken farm. The delivery point is Tower Grove Farmer's Market.

Average Local Farm: Source + Processing + Delivery= Total Miles ( 405 + 256 + 155= 816 miles)

Our City Farm: Source + Processing + Delivery= Total Miles (51 + 0 +16= 67 miles)

We'll there's the math. While there may be some other great local options for you, I believe Our City Farm is the most sustainable choice for your chicken. Just do the math.

Tags: chicken, local
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