Chicken feet on a plane

It is not every day you see ‘it’ and for that I’m very glad.  The first time I ever saw ‘it’ was perhaps too many years back for one to want to remember, but ‘it’, or ‘they’ were piled high in a steel bin in a chicken factory close to my home in Northern Ireland.


Let’s put this in context.  I was at college studying for my Masters in Home Economics and we had many industrial visits.  Seeing a chicken processing plant was one of them.  I was probably one of the students back then that explained “yuck” when I saw “them” in my youthful ignorance.  Chicken feet.  A full bin of them, I have never forgotten the sight.  Not that it disturbed me, more because I just did not understand why they were being sent to China as the factory guide told us.  I did not understand why?  and probably never considered the issue before this, however we were told that Chinese people ate chicken feet.

I’ve been to China countless times now, I’ve seen feet in flow wrapped packets and seen how people suck on them, seen them in soup, seen them covered in sauce, deep fried, some brown ones and some white ones.  But never did I expect to be sitting next to someone for 12 hours on a flight from London to Shanghai sucking a chicken foot the whole way.  Live and let live I say, but we can’t say that for the chicken!

‘Fifth Quarter product’ is the term used to describe items like these chicken feet and other things that are a by product of production.  Feathers for beds and pillows, intestines and perhaps other items like gelatine too, all used in other industries.  It’s extra profit for the manufacturers, but an odd sight for some.

As the chap was sucking away on said chicken foot I started to question why one would eat this, is there any benefit to eating chicken feet?  Surely for a Westerner it’s a logical thing to ask?  So I did.  I asked the chap next to me.  The response was “good for health”, a Chinese term used to describe much about food.

It’s not just the Chinese who eat chicken feet, the Vietnamese, Filipino and Korean’s also consider this to be a delicacy.  Jamaican, South Africans, Trinidadian and some South American’s also have their own versions of recipes for chicken feet.

Some say some cultures eat chicken feet so as not to waste any ‘edible’ parts of the bird.  Other’s say that the feet are good for health.  I’m in neither camp personally.

Face cream, now we are talking.  Chicken feet contain a lot of collagen, a key component in creams for younger looking skin.

The feet consist of bones, skin and tendons, but no muscles.  However they are packed with proteins, calcium and cartilage which are all required for good joint movement and help minimise arthritis and joint pain.

So there you have it.


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