(Roughly) Daily

Chicken, out…

One week from today, millions will gather on couches across America (and the world) to watch the Harbaugh brothers’ teams duel in Superbowl XLVII.  And on the coffee tables in front of many– if not most– of them will sit heaping mounds of (now traditional) chicken wings.  But this year those mounds will be both fewer and smaller:  in all, it’s estimated that Americans will consume 12.3 million fewer chicken wings as they watch the 49ers and the Ravens than they did watching the Giants and Patriots last year.

Live Science explains:

It’s not that our appetite for these zesty, protein-rich snacks [sic] has diminished. Quite the contrary, said Bill Roenigk, chief economist and market analyst at the National Chicken Council, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group.

“Chicken companies produced about 1 percent fewer birds last year, due in large part to record high corn and feed prices,” Roenigk said.  “Corn makes up more than two-thirds of chicken feed and corn prices hit an all-time high in 2012, due to two reasons:  last summer’s drought and pressure from a federal government requirement that mandates 40 percent of our corn crop be turned into fuel in the form of ethanol.  Simply put, less corn equals higher feed costs, which means fewer birds produced…”

Consumption is estimated to be 1.23 billion wing segments during the 2013 Super Bowl– as noted above, 12.3 million fewer than last year.  Still it’s a hefty number:  laid end to end, 1.23 billion wings would stretch from Candlestick Park, the home of the 49ers, to the Raven’s M&T Bank Stadium 27 times over.

Wings have become the most expensive part of a chicken, having risen over 50% in price (to the highest on record at the U.S. Department of Agriculture), while the cost of a whole chicken is up only about 6%.

What’s a poor host to do?  It appears that, increasingly, he/she will have to revert to the older meaning of “winging it.”

[For a more substantial look at “how food intersects with public health and the environment as it moves from field to plate,” browse this series of lectures from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.]

Sources of the images above:  photo, chart


As we note that ranch dressing has surpassed the original bleu cheese as the dip of choice, we might spare an avian thought for John James Audubon; he died on this date in 1851.  An ornithologist, naturalist, and artist, Audubon documented all types of American birds with detailed illustrations depicting the birds in their natural habitats.  His The Birds of America (1827–1839), in which he identified 25 new species, is considered one of the most important– and finest– ornithological works ever completed.

Book plate featuring Audubon’s print of the Greater Prairie Chicken


Happy Mozart’s Birthday!

Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 27, 2013 at 1:01 am

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