Do you feel like chicken tonight? Probably. Chicken is the most popular meat in America by far. In 2013, farms across the US produced 38 billion pounds of chicken meat, compared to just 25 billion pounds of beef.
The biggest reasons why are obvious: chicken is inexpensive, plus it's tasty and it tastes good with almost everything. But it's also true that for decades doctors have warned people about the health risks of red meat, driving them to eat much more chicken.
This situation may seem like a win-win, but a new report shows that the high demand for chicken across America is making our dinner less healthy.
The huge demand for chicken meat has led farmers to raise larger birds that also grow a lot quicker. In the 1920s it took about 100 days for a chicken to be "fully grown" at 2.5 pounds. Today, by the time a chicken is 50 days old it will already weigh 6 pounds.
All that extra weight is bad for the chickens, who develop muscle tissue disorders. Research shows as many as 96% of chickens suffer from these painful conditions, and the meat they produce is a lot less nutritious.
You may have noticed fatty white stripes across your chicken breasts. These are signs of muscular disorders, and they also mean the chicken is less healthy. This meat can have a fat content as much as 220% higher.
Even if you shop for healthier chicken that's farmed in more humane conditions, it can be hard to avoid this fatty meat. If you buy your family chicken tenders or other frozen meals, odds are it's made from stripey chicken too gross to be sold in packages.
This is bad news, but it doesn't mean you need to cut chicken out of your diet. Just remember to look out for stripey cuts of meat, and avoid processed chicken products because they can be rich in fat.