Soy-free Chicken

COP26 is a pivotal moment when world leaders pause and reflect on how they can combat the spiralling of the climate crisis – however, environmentally-positive change cannot just come from those in power, consumers have to change habits too. The only way to change things is for everyone to do their bit – and that starts at the kitchen table.

Most of us probably aren’t fully aware of the backstory of the meat we buy: where the livestock was reared, how it was treated and what it was fed. Of the 900,000,000 chickens eaten in the UK each year, the vast majority will have a diet featuring soy – a bean native to East Asia which is extensively cultivated in the Americas. It is high in protein and cheap, which is why it is such a popular choice – but there’s a catch: a large proportion of soy is grown in Brazil, and to clear the land for agriculture the Amazon rainforest is deforested. This has a hugely detrimental effect in terms of destroying trees which absorb Carbon dioxide.

Indeed, even organic soy, which is more sustainably grown, still involves large quantities of greenhouse gases being released, as it needs to be shipped all the way across the Atlantic. The carbon footprint of your average £3 supermarket chicken is far higher than you may realise – and though the label may say British, the food is anything but. Furthermore, soy isn’t the most nutritious diet for a growing bird: it’s like rocket fuel, making chickens get bigger faster, but at the cost of the development of flavour and texture which comes with slow-growth on a more natural diet. When buying meat, think local – and not just in terms of where it comes from, but the food miles behind the label.

It is of the utmost importance to Morton’s Family Farm that the rare French breed cockerels we rear over a hundred days are fed on a soy-free diet and are fully free range. That doesn’t just mean the birds have space to roam, it also means that they can feed on the grass, flowers and insects which would form the basis of their diet in the wild. This lends them a more complex flavour and succulent texture, a taste of how chicken used to be before intensive farming. This wild diet is supplemented with oats grown right here on the farm to keep them healthy and happy. We even use a special mobile shed to house our chickens, so that we can move them onto fresh pastures for them to graze on – and their waste means we aren’t reliant on artificial fertilisers. As a farm, we have a responsibility to do our bit to neutralise our carbon output, which is why we use these more sustainable methods, as well as undertaking projects such as planting two hundred trees and installing solar panels, because delicious food shouldn’t cost the Earth.

To order a free-range, soy-free cockerel reared right here at Morton’s in North Norfolk (and send to you in recyclable packaging), follow this link: