Consider that whole chicken you’ve been excited to cook, eat, and enjoy with your family. Thankfully, the quality time you spend together is in your family’s control. But a major aspect of your meat’s quality rests on what it ate while it was alive, which you may not wish to put in your body. Unfortunately, you have little control over the quality of your meat especially if you buy it from more mainstream grocers.
This lack of control and limited knowledge is what Pakistan has been dealing with since receiving pork-fed chicken feed from India.
What Your Food Eats Matters
The care (or lack thereof) that goes into growing any food that we eat directly affects our bodies. Pesticides, genetic modification, and other chemical additives are a big reason why people begin to incorporate more local and organic products into their lifestyles. These foods offer comfort and familiarity in addition to a healthy, wholesome alternative.
If we look at poultry specifically, the benefits of free-range chickens who can feed naturally on grass far outweigh that of confined, factory chickens. In one study, researchers found that free-range chickens who could eat grass on top of the commercial mix diet produced eggs that were higher in omega-3 fatty acids.
Researchers also noticed that chickens that explored and ate from fresh pasture had significantly higher levels of vitamin E. In fact, an egg from pastured hens could give you up to thirty percent more vitamin E than one from a standard supermarket.
This is only one study but the amazing effect that organic diets and proper conditions can have on the meat you eat becomes evident. You become more aware of how an animal’s diet affects your body. Now with this knowledge, you may question how chickens that eat feed containing pork meat and fat directly affect you?
Pakistan Received Pork-Filled Poultry Feed from India
At the most recent Punjab Legislative Assembly one of its members, Umer Sultan Cheema, put forth a resolution that expressed concern with the state of Pakistan’s poultry meat. Cheema claimed that because pork contaminated the feed imported from India, people can’t be sure whether the meat is Halal or Haram (i.e., forbidden by Islamic law).[2,3]
For those who subscribe to Islam, these implications go far beyond simply wanting to eat grass-fed chicken over pork-fed ones. Pork is simply something they must avoid in accordance to their faith. If you recall the opening of this article, this is a prime example of the average person having little to no knowledge of what is going into their food.
While we haven’t completely confirmed the truth of these claims, it is a legitimate concern for a country that is almost entirely Muslim.
The Pakistan Poultry Association’s Zonal Secretary, Javaid Bukhari, said that “under the laws of Pakistan, the import of any ingredient that contains porcine material is banned and exporters of any edible ingredients certify that their products are free from such material.”
Bukhari also maintained that they purchased different products for their poultry feed. However, lawmakers demanded that imports of poultry feed stop altogether and urged that they use locally prepared feeds instead.
Things to Think About When It Comes to Imports
In North America (NA), there are very rigid restrictions and regulations that only allow countries to import the best quality foods. This is a relief considering that NA imports up to sixty percent of everything we eat. It seems like the country is hopefully doing what they can to ensure quality imports. So what can you do to be extra confident in your imports the next time you go grocery shopping?
Where is the product coming from? This is a simple question that can save you money and grief. Imported foods can be pricey especially depending on the season.
Do some general research into a country’s export regulations. Learn about how they treat their crops and livestock as best you can. This will hopefully give you some reassurance.
Buy local! Going this route might limit your ingredient list but you’ll be buying with a clear conscience. Take a break from major grocery chains and give it a try!
We encourage you to buy food that is grown locally (and organically). Going to the farmer’s market may seem like a rarity but they exist and they’re awesome. So are the people who run them. If you have children, take them somewhere that sells locally grown produce or raises their livestock ethically and cleanly. Form a relationship with the farmers and their families.
It is unlikely that you’ll find the same chicken supposedly entering Pakistan in the U.S. But save yourself the worry and buy as local as possible.
 Lopez-Bote, C. J., R.Sanz Arias, A.I. Rey, A. Castano, B. Isabel, J. Thos (1998). “Effect of free-range feeding on omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-tocopherol content and oxidative stability of eggs.” Animal Feed Science and Technology 72: 33-40.