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Chicken facts

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by Henrylito D. Tacio

Believe it or not, there are more chickens in the Philippines than Filipinos.  As of July 1, 2017, there were 181.05 million chickens in the country, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. In comparison, the Philippines is home to more than 100 million Filipinos.

Curiously enough, chicken is the second most favorite meat of Filipinos.  The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said an average Filipino consumes about 11.6 kilograms of chicken per year.  About 14.2 kilograms of pork are being eaten by an average Filipino every year.  Beef comes third with consumption of only 10 kilograms annually.

Among the three sources of meat, chicken is the cheapest.  As of August 2017, the price of chicken meat ranged from P136 to P145 per kilo while pork ranged from P220 to P249 per kilo.  Beef is the most expensive at P305 to P495 per kilo.

Almost all parts of the chicken these days can be eaten.  Consider the following: blood (called Betamax), head (helmet), wings (“pakpak”), intestines (“isaw”), liver (“atay”), heart (“Corazon”), gizzard (“balunbalunan”), feet (Adidas), and butt (“pwet”).  All these are sold as street food and these are dipped in special, native Filipino sauces once cooked.

COMMON COLD REMEDY

In terms of vitamins, chicken contains vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D and vitamin K.

Chicken can be cooked in several ways.  For one, it can be made into “tinola,” boiled together with malunggay and papaya and a little bit of ginger. Although touted to be an old wives’ tale, chicken soup is said to be effective in treating the common cold.

The Doctors Book of Remedies attests, however, that the old wive’s tale is now proven fact: “a cut of hot chicken soup can help unclog the nasal passages.”

Researchers at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach found that hot chicken soup, either because of its aroma or its taste, “appears to possess an additional substance for increasing the flow of nasal mucus.”

These secretions – what comes out when you blow your nose or sneeze – serve a first line of defense in removing germs from your system, the researchers said.

CHICKEN DISHES

Grilled chicken

Filipinos love to eat chicken when it is grilled.  That’s why JT Manukan and Mang Inasal are very popular during lunch breaks and dinner time.  Others, however, prefer fried chicken: Jollibee’s chicken joy and Max’s chicken come to mind.

But nothing beats chicken “adobo,” a ubiquitous dish in every household.  The term “adobo” comes the Spanish “adobar,” which means “marinade,” “sauce,” or “seasoning.”  It has been considered as the country’s unofficial national dish.

Although Mexican in origin, the cooking method of “adobo” is indigenous in the Philippines.  Pre-Hispanic Filipinos reportedly cooked their meat, particularly chicken and pork, by immersing them in vinegar and salt to keep them fresh longer.

Experts say that when Spain colonized the Philippines in the late 16th century and early 17th century, they encountered the adobo cooking process and referred to it as “adobo de los naturales” (adobo of the native peoples).

DOMESTICATION

Scholars are still wondering how chicken became domesticated.  Here’s a thought from the website, www.thoughtco.com: “Scholars agree that (chicken) was first domesticated from a wild form called red junglefowl (‘Gallus gallus’), a bird that still runs wild in most of southeast Asia, most likely hybridized with the gray junglefowl (‘Gallus sonneratii’).  That occurred probably about 8,000 years ago.

Recent research suggests, however, there may have been multiple other domestication events in distinct areas of South and Southeast Asia, southern China, Thailand, Burma, and India.

Scholars observed that domesticated chickens are less active and have fewer social interactions with other chickens. They are less aggressive to would-be predators, and are less likely to go looking for foreign food sources than their wild counterparts.

Domesticated chickens also have increased adult body weight and simplified plumage. The egg production of domesticated chickens starts earlier, is more frequent, and produces larger eggs, scholars added.

But how chickens ended up in kitchens all over the world is also a mystery.  “The chickens that saved Western civilization were discovered, according to legend, by the side of a road in Greece in the first decade of the first century B.C.,” wrote Andrew Lawler and Jerry Adler in an article published by the “Smithsonian Magazine.”

The two authors penned: “Chicken is the ubiquitous food of our era, crossing multiple cultural boundaries with ease.  With its mild taste and uniform texture, chicken presents an intriguingly blank canvas for the flavor palette of almost any cuisine.  A generation of Britons is coming of age in the belief that chicken tikka masala is the national dish, and the same thing is happening in China with Kentucky Fried Chicken.”

COCKFIGHTING

In the early days, the main reason for keeping chickens in West Asia and Egypt was not for food but rather for the popular sport called cockfighting.  You take two roosters and put them together in a  cage and they will fight over the territory.  People place bets on which rooster will win.  Oftentimes, the losing chicken dies in the fight.

During the reign of Henry II in the 12th century, cockfighting took off in England.  Four centuries later, the reigning monarch Henry VIII recognized the sport as a clean and honorable medium of diversion and he made cockfighting a national pastime.  It has been reported that a cockpit was built in Whitehall Palace, the official residence of all English monarchs.

King Henry VIII also staged cockfights attended with great enthusiasm by his loyal subjects.  It must be for this reason why the French call cockfighting as the “king of sports” and the “sport of kings.”

From Europe, cockfighting became popular, too, in the United States.  It happened when the colonist came to America in the 17th century and they brought with them the sport. Today, cockfighting is illegal in the U.S.

But not in the Philippines, where cockfighting is now considered a “national sport.”

“In the Philippines, the 6,000-year old sport of cockfighting has been transformed into a fully-legal, billion-dollar industry,” the website, www.vicecom, said.  “Known locally as ‘sabong,’ it takes place in 2,500 dedicated stadiums across the country and kills an estimated 30 million roosters each year.”

Paradoxically, the Philippines has a law that protects animals, including chickens. As stated in Section 6 of Republic Act 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act of 1988: “It shall be unlawful for any person to torture any animal, to neglect to provide adequate care, sustenance or shelter, or maltreat any animals.”

BEST PROTEIN SOURCE

“Eggs are considered to be one of the best sources of protein available,” reported James McIntosh in an article which appeared in Medical News Today. “One medium-sized egg weighing 44 grams typically contains 5.53 grams of protein.  Around 12.6% of the edible portion of an egg is protein.”

“Egg protein – the most nutritious protein known – is the standard by which other proteins are compared,” wrote Dr. Lorenzo David T. Guzman in an article which appeared in “Greenfields.”  “All the essential amino acids or building blocks of protein are present in such generous quantities in an egg.”

Although protein is more concentrated around the yolk, there is in fact more protein in the albumen. Also known as egg white, albumen accounts for most of an egg’s liquid weight, about 67%. Albumen contains more than half the egg’s total protein, niacin, riboflavin, chlorine, magnesium, potassium, sodium and sulfur.

“Eggs are also rich in other nutrients and vitamins, except vitamin C,” Dr. Guzman wrote.  The egg is a source of all the B vitamins. It is a particularly rich source of vitamins B12 and B2 (riboflavin) and a useful source of folate. The egg is also a good source of the fat-soluble vitamins A and D and provides some vitamin E.

 

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