Wed, Mar 06, 2013 - Page 12 News List

Chicken with a conscience

Free-range “non-toxic” chicken commands a premium from those escaping the horrors on industrialized poultry production

By Ian Bartholomew  /  Staff reporter

“In Taiwan’s meat and poultry industry, nothing is really, truly organic,” Chang said. He was infuriated when healthfood stores marketed his eggs as “organic,” and he laughs at the fact that he has offended many with his insistence that the consumer not be fobbed off with meaningless terms. “We cannot cheat the consumer,” Chang said. Chang has since pulled out of most marketing networks and sells direct to the customer through his Web site so he can retain control over the quality and marketing of his product.

HUMANE DEATH

Chang laughs at his early ignorance of his poultry operations, joking about spending a whole day processing 20 chickens for delivery during his first year and of being cheated by providers of poultry feed and middlemen. Now he works with a professional abattoir using humane slaughter and blast freezing equipment to ensure freshness. With a 1.2kg bird costing around NT$600, a significant premium on even high quality supermarket birds, Chang said he ships around 1,000 chickens a month and struggles to keep up with demand. Most of his customers are located in northern Taiwan, where awareness of the health and environmental issues is greater, and where a higher disposable income makes Chang’s chickens more affordable.

“People just want to know what they are getting,” Chang said, who encourages customers to come visit his farm to see things for themselves. He regularly holds lecture tours on the premises, explaining that he is not doing anything very extraordinary. He is simply going back to basics.

“I want to rear a good healthy chicken,” Chang said. “Then when I sell it to my customers, I can sleep well at night. This is all about conscience. ‘Organic’ agriculture is agriculture with a conscience. You can’t talk about agriculture any other way. What you want is a good healthy bird with no drugs or chemicals. The rest is secondary.”

More information about Hsiangting Poultry Farm can be found at the farm’s Web site: 8651315.com.

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