Membership required

You need to be a Member to listen to this podcast

From €5

per month

See membership options
Episode
34

Chickens Are From The Jungle // How The Chicken Conquered The World

First published on
March 10, 2020
How Stuff Works
-
14
minutes
Animals
Food & drink
Consumption
Economics
Weird history

It's the most populous bird in the world, outnumbering humans 3:1.

Today we are asking ourselves how an obscure bird from South East Asia went from jungle floor to being eaten at a rate of two every millisecond.

Subtitles will start when you press 'play'
You need to subscribe for the full subtitles
Already a member? Login
Download transcript & key vocabulary pdf
Download transcript & key vocabulary pdfDownload transcript & key vocabulary pdf

Transcript

[00:00:03] Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English, the show where you can improve your English while learning fascinating things about the world. 

[00:00:16] Today we are talking about the chicken. 

[00:00:20] The bird that, from its humble South Asian roots, has conquered the world, at least in population terms, outnumbering humans by three to one. 

[00:00:32] Before we get right into it, let me just remind that those of you listening to this on Spotify, Google Podcasts, iVoox or wherever you may choose to get your podcasts, that you can get a copy of the transcript and key vocabulary for this podcast over on the website, which is leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:00:51] The transcript comes in PDF format for you to download, it's there on the website too, but also it now comes in animating format. 

[00:01:01] So this is a bit like subtitles, but actually way cooler because you can tap on the word and your browser should give you the definition. 

[00:01:10] And the key vocabulary is really useful because the less common words are explained. 

[00:01:16] You don't have to stop to look things up in a dictionary, and it means that you can also build up your vocabulary while listening to the podcast.

[00:01:25] So go and check that out. 

[00:01:26] It's at leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:01:30] Okay, so chickens. 

[00:01:33] Now, I obviously don't need to tell you what a chicken is. 

[00:01:37] It's the most common bird in the world, and there are about 23 billion chickens on the planet right now, and this year, 65 billion chickens will be consumed. 

[00:01:51] That is obviously a huge amount. 

[00:01:54] But let's just put it in perspective. 

[00:01:57] That means that 180 million chickens are eaten every day, seven and a half million every hour, 125,000 every minute and 2000 every second. 

[00:02:13] Whatever your views are on eating chicken, that is evidently a huge amount of chicken. 

[00:02:19] And today we are going to tell the story of how one slightly obscure bird from South Asia went from wandering around the forest floor looking for insects to being shoveled down people's throats at a rate of two every millisecond.

[00:02:41] It's a pretty interesting story, and you could also look at it as a classic example of the industrialisation of production, of how humans have shaped the world we live in to meet our needs rather than adapt our needs to what exists in the natural world.

[00:03:01] So there is a little bit of debate about where the chicken actually came from.

[00:03:07] Charles Darwin, the famous biologist and author of On The Origin of Species, he asserted, he was sure that all modern chicken had a shared ancestor, the red jungle fowl, Gallus Gallus, which lived in Southeast Asia between Northern India and the Philippines. 

[00:03:31] This bird, presumably, had a very nice day-to-day life foraging, looking for food, on the jungle floor during the day, and then flying up to the trees for the evening to avoid being eaten by predators

[00:03:46] Much like how we imagine a chicken now, it was pretty bad at flying, so getting up to the low branches of a tree was just about all it could manage. 

[00:04:01] There's still some debate between archeologists and geneticists about what other birds the Gallus Gallus bred with, but it's thought it was probably a similar bird from Southern India. 

[00:04:16] Anyway, the rise of the chicken started almost 4,000 years ago. 

[00:04:22] Remains of chicken have been discovered in the Indus Valley in modern day Pakistan, and from there it traveled up to Egypt, or rather it was transported by merchants to Egypt.

[00:04:36] And do you can imagine why it traveled so easily, why it was so easy to transport. 

[00:04:43] Obviously chickens can't really fly, so you don't have to worry about them escaping. 

[00:04:49] They are pretty adaptable to new temperatures, both hot and cold, so you don't need to constantly worry about them getting too hot or too cold.

[00:04:59] They're easy to take on a boat or on a cart. 

[00:05:03] They're easy to feed, you just need some grain

[00:05:06] They lay eggs, so they are a constant source of food. 

[00:05:11] And if you're extra hungry, well, they're pretty easy to cook as well. 

[00:05:16] So you could say that the chicken's fate as a bird that was destined to travel the world was sealed by its biology.

[00:05:27] And different civilisations welcomed the chicken in different ways. 

[00:05:33] The Egyptians became masters of artificial incubation

[00:05:38] They figured out, they found a way, to create the exact conditions that an egg needs to hatch, and they created huge egg ovens, which could hatch four and a half thousand eggs in two to three weeks.

[00:05:57] The advantage of this was, of course, that it means that the hens didn't need to sit on their eggs and they could get back to the task of laying more eggs. 

[00:06:08] From Egypt the chicken continued to spread throughout the Mediterranean and it soon became a delicacy for the Romans, who were probably the first civilisation to try to industrialise the production of chicken, keeping them in large farms and doing everything they could possibly do to fatten up the birds, to make them fatter. 

[00:06:34] It said that Roman techniques for fattening up the chickens included giving the chickens wheat soaked in wine or even feeding them lizard fat, so the fat from lizards. 

[00:06:49] After the fall of Rome, the chicken fell out of favour a little bit.

[00:06:55] As you know, it's not a particularly tough bird, and given that they no longer lived in this life of luxury in Roman farms, they didn't grow as quickly or as large. 

[00:07:09] And in the medieval times, people tended to prefer birds that were a little bit tougher, things like guinea fowl or geese. 

[00:07:21] So when did things change for the chicken?

[00:07:24] If people in the medieval era had mostly lost interest in this bird, when did things change? 

[00:07:33] Well, and I guess you could debate whether this was a positive or negative change for the fate of the chicken, things all changed when people realised that they could add antibiotics and vitamins to the food that was given to chicken, and this would mean that chickens could be raised indoors.

[00:07:55] Like any animal, chickens need certain vitamins to develop, to grow, and to process vitamin D, they need sunlight. 

[00:08:04] They need to be outside. 

[00:08:08] Chickens, naturally, in their natural habitat would spend their days wandering around looking for bits of food, not eating particularly fast. 

[00:08:18] And of course, this would mean that they wouldn't grow very quickly.

[00:08:23] Or rather they would just grow at their normal rates. 

[00:08:28] But keeping chickens inside and giving them vitamins and antibiotics now meant that they didn't need to do anything other than eat. 

[00:08:39] They could be kept in these huge farms, in very confined spaces and focus their attentions on the business of eating, the business of growing to be slaughtered.

[00:08:53] What this meant was that the price of chicken for consumers was greatly reduced, meaning that consumption levels, the levels at which chicken was eaten increased dramatically. 

[00:09:08] And whatever you might think of the actual business of chicken farming, and putting aside any kind of moral questions for one minute, it is now an incredibly efficient way if turning grain into protein

[00:09:24] It takes less than two kilos of chicken feed, of chicken grain, to produce one kilo of chicken. 

[00:09:34] And if we compare that to other animals, for pork it takes three kilos to produce one kilo of pork. 

[00:09:42] And for beef it takes seven kilos to produce one kilo. 

[00:09:47] So the chicken industry is now incredibly efficient and the price of chicken is reflective of that. 

[00:09:55] Almost anywhere in the world chicken is one of the cheapest meats available. 

[00:10:02] And its affordability has meant that it is ubiquitous, it's everywhere, and it forms a part of almost every cuisine in the world. 

[00:10:13] From a French chicken chasseur, to Chinese gong bao chicken to Caribbean jerk chicken, to the famous British roast chicken, to chicken katsu curry, there aren't many countries that don't use any chicken. 

[00:10:31] And aside from the price, the fact that chicken is so easy to raise, to grow, is a big reason for this. 

[00:10:39] But also the fact that chicken is a relatively bland, a relatively plain meat, means that cooks are free to add their own spices and sauces to it.

[00:10:51] So it can easily take on almost whatever taste the cook decides. 

[00:10:58] Indeed, the sheer scale of how much chicken is eaten is testament to just how popular it is. 

[00:11:06] If this podcast has been going on for 10 minutes now we're coming up to 1.5 million chickens having been eaten just while you've been listening.

[00:11:19] It's the sort of thing that, if human life on earth were to be wiped out tomorrow, and all historical records erased, if a new generation of archeologists arrived in a thousand years, I'm sure they would be quite puzzled by how much chicken was eaten by people all over the world. 

[00:11:41] For the ancestor of the chicken, the Gallus Gallus, the red jungle fowl, life in the jungle continues.

[00:11:49] It is free to forage, to wander around the jungle, looking for little bits of food and to retreat up to the trees when night draws in, when night comes. 

[00:12:00] But, and this is a somewhat cruel twist of fate, the population of red jungle fowl is decreasing as its habitat is gradually eroded in part due to people making way for large farms for what we now know as the chicken.

[00:12:23] As one passing thought, my parents kept chickens for a while. 

[00:12:28] We had four, I think it was, and they just had a little patch in the garden.

[00:12:35] They are actually really sweet animals, they're really friendly and would always want to come and see what you were doing, to be near you. 

[00:12:45] And they always seem to be curious about what was going on, which of course I liked a lot. 

[00:12:53] And one final point, the idea for this podcast actually came as I was walking along the street with my wife and we saw a chicken. 

[00:13:01] I pointed at it and said, 'they're from the jungle, did you know that?' 

[00:13:06] She didn't, but she said it would make an interesting idea for a podcast. 

[00:13:12] So there you go. 

[00:13:13] Chickens are from the jungle, although they've come a long way, for better or for worse, from their roots

[00:13:22] As usual, if you are looking for their transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast, you can get that on the website, which is leonardoenglish.com.

[00:13:30] As I said at the start of the podcast, the transcript is available in new animating form, so a bit like subtitles, but even better. 

[00:13:39] So do go and check that out, that's at leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:13:43] I'm Alastair Budge and you've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English.

[00:13:49] I'll catch you in the next episode.


Continue learning

Get immediate access to a more interesting way of improving your English
Become a memberUpgrade to Learner membership
Already a member? Login

[00:00:03] Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English, the show where you can improve your English while learning fascinating things about the world. 

[00:00:16] Today we are talking about the chicken. 

[00:00:20] The bird that, from its humble South Asian roots, has conquered the world, at least in population terms, outnumbering humans by three to one. 

[00:00:32] Before we get right into it, let me just remind that those of you listening to this on Spotify, Google Podcasts, iVoox or wherever you may choose to get your podcasts, that you can get a copy of the transcript and key vocabulary for this podcast over on the website, which is leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:00:51] The transcript comes in PDF format for you to download, it's there on the website too, but also it now comes in animating format. 

[00:01:01] So this is a bit like subtitles, but actually way cooler because you can tap on the word and your browser should give you the definition. 

[00:01:10] And the key vocabulary is really useful because the less common words are explained. 

[00:01:16] You don't have to stop to look things up in a dictionary, and it means that you can also build up your vocabulary while listening to the podcast.

[00:01:25] So go and check that out. 

[00:01:26] It's at leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:01:30] Okay, so chickens. 

[00:01:33] Now, I obviously don't need to tell you what a chicken is. 

[00:01:37] It's the most common bird in the world, and there are about 23 billion chickens on the planet right now, and this year, 65 billion chickens will be consumed. 

[00:01:51] That is obviously a huge amount. 

[00:01:54] But let's just put it in perspective. 

[00:01:57] That means that 180 million chickens are eaten every day, seven and a half million every hour, 125,000 every minute and 2000 every second. 

[00:02:13] Whatever your views are on eating chicken, that is evidently a huge amount of chicken. 

[00:02:19] And today we are going to tell the story of how one slightly obscure bird from South Asia went from wandering around the forest floor looking for insects to being shoveled down people's throats at a rate of two every millisecond.

[00:02:41] It's a pretty interesting story, and you could also look at it as a classic example of the industrialisation of production, of how humans have shaped the world we live in to meet our needs rather than adapt our needs to what exists in the natural world.

[00:03:01] So there is a little bit of debate about where the chicken actually came from.

[00:03:07] Charles Darwin, the famous biologist and author of On The Origin of Species, he asserted, he was sure that all modern chicken had a shared ancestor, the red jungle fowl, Gallus Gallus, which lived in Southeast Asia between Northern India and the Philippines. 

[00:03:31] This bird, presumably, had a very nice day-to-day life foraging, looking for food, on the jungle floor during the day, and then flying up to the trees for the evening to avoid being eaten by predators

[00:03:46] Much like how we imagine a chicken now, it was pretty bad at flying, so getting up to the low branches of a tree was just about all it could manage. 

[00:04:01] There's still some debate between archeologists and geneticists about what other birds the Gallus Gallus bred with, but it's thought it was probably a similar bird from Southern India. 

[00:04:16] Anyway, the rise of the chicken started almost 4,000 years ago. 

[00:04:22] Remains of chicken have been discovered in the Indus Valley in modern day Pakistan, and from there it traveled up to Egypt, or rather it was transported by merchants to Egypt.

[00:04:36] And do you can imagine why it traveled so easily, why it was so easy to transport. 

[00:04:43] Obviously chickens can't really fly, so you don't have to worry about them escaping. 

[00:04:49] They are pretty adaptable to new temperatures, both hot and cold, so you don't need to constantly worry about them getting too hot or too cold.

[00:04:59] They're easy to take on a boat or on a cart. 

[00:05:03] They're easy to feed, you just need some grain

[00:05:06] They lay eggs, so they are a constant source of food. 

[00:05:11] And if you're extra hungry, well, they're pretty easy to cook as well. 

[00:05:16] So you could say that the chicken's fate as a bird that was destined to travel the world was sealed by its biology.

[00:05:27] And different civilisations welcomed the chicken in different ways. 

[00:05:33] The Egyptians became masters of artificial incubation

[00:05:38] They figured out, they found a way, to create the exact conditions that an egg needs to hatch, and they created huge egg ovens, which could hatch four and a half thousand eggs in two to three weeks.

[00:05:57] The advantage of this was, of course, that it means that the hens didn't need to sit on their eggs and they could get back to the task of laying more eggs. 

[00:06:08] From Egypt the chicken continued to spread throughout the Mediterranean and it soon became a delicacy for the Romans, who were probably the first civilisation to try to industrialise the production of chicken, keeping them in large farms and doing everything they could possibly do to fatten up the birds, to make them fatter. 

[00:06:34] It said that Roman techniques for fattening up the chickens included giving the chickens wheat soaked in wine or even feeding them lizard fat, so the fat from lizards. 

[00:06:49] After the fall of Rome, the chicken fell out of favour a little bit.

[00:06:55] As you know, it's not a particularly tough bird, and given that they no longer lived in this life of luxury in Roman farms, they didn't grow as quickly or as large. 

[00:07:09] And in the medieval times, people tended to prefer birds that were a little bit tougher, things like guinea fowl or geese. 

[00:07:21] So when did things change for the chicken?

[00:07:24] If people in the medieval era had mostly lost interest in this bird, when did things change? 

[00:07:33] Well, and I guess you could debate whether this was a positive or negative change for the fate of the chicken, things all changed when people realised that they could add antibiotics and vitamins to the food that was given to chicken, and this would mean that chickens could be raised indoors.

[00:07:55] Like any animal, chickens need certain vitamins to develop, to grow, and to process vitamin D, they need sunlight. 

[00:08:04] They need to be outside. 

[00:08:08] Chickens, naturally, in their natural habitat would spend their days wandering around looking for bits of food, not eating particularly fast. 

[00:08:18] And of course, this would mean that they wouldn't grow very quickly.

[00:08:23] Or rather they would just grow at their normal rates. 

[00:08:28] But keeping chickens inside and giving them vitamins and antibiotics now meant that they didn't need to do anything other than eat. 

[00:08:39] They could be kept in these huge farms, in very confined spaces and focus their attentions on the business of eating, the business of growing to be slaughtered.

[00:08:53] What this meant was that the price of chicken for consumers was greatly reduced, meaning that consumption levels, the levels at which chicken was eaten increased dramatically. 

[00:09:08] And whatever you might think of the actual business of chicken farming, and putting aside any kind of moral questions for one minute, it is now an incredibly efficient way if turning grain into protein

[00:09:24] It takes less than two kilos of chicken feed, of chicken grain, to produce one kilo of chicken. 

[00:09:34] And if we compare that to other animals, for pork it takes three kilos to produce one kilo of pork. 

[00:09:42] And for beef it takes seven kilos to produce one kilo. 

[00:09:47] So the chicken industry is now incredibly efficient and the price of chicken is reflective of that. 

[00:09:55] Almost anywhere in the world chicken is one of the cheapest meats available. 

[00:10:02] And its affordability has meant that it is ubiquitous, it's everywhere, and it forms a part of almost every cuisine in the world. 

[00:10:13] From a French chicken chasseur, to Chinese gong bao chicken to Caribbean jerk chicken, to the famous British roast chicken, to chicken katsu curry, there aren't many countries that don't use any chicken. 

[00:10:31] And aside from the price, the fact that chicken is so easy to raise, to grow, is a big reason for this. 

[00:10:39] But also the fact that chicken is a relatively bland, a relatively plain meat, means that cooks are free to add their own spices and sauces to it.

[00:10:51] So it can easily take on almost whatever taste the cook decides. 

[00:10:58] Indeed, the sheer scale of how much chicken is eaten is testament to just how popular it is. 

[00:11:06] If this podcast has been going on for 10 minutes now we're coming up to 1.5 million chickens having been eaten just while you've been listening.

[00:11:19] It's the sort of thing that, if human life on earth were to be wiped out tomorrow, and all historical records erased, if a new generation of archeologists arrived in a thousand years, I'm sure they would be quite puzzled by how much chicken was eaten by people all over the world. 

[00:11:41] For the ancestor of the chicken, the Gallus Gallus, the red jungle fowl, life in the jungle continues.

[00:11:49] It is free to forage, to wander around the jungle, looking for little bits of food and to retreat up to the trees when night draws in, when night comes. 

[00:12:00] But, and this is a somewhat cruel twist of fate, the population of red jungle fowl is decreasing as its habitat is gradually eroded in part due to people making way for large farms for what we now know as the chicken.

[00:12:23] As one passing thought, my parents kept chickens for a while. 

[00:12:28] We had four, I think it was, and they just had a little patch in the garden.

[00:12:35] They are actually really sweet animals, they're really friendly and would always want to come and see what you were doing, to be near you. 

[00:12:45] And they always seem to be curious about what was going on, which of course I liked a lot. 

[00:12:53] And one final point, the idea for this podcast actually came as I was walking along the street with my wife and we saw a chicken. 

[00:13:01] I pointed at it and said, 'they're from the jungle, did you know that?' 

[00:13:06] She didn't, but she said it would make an interesting idea for a podcast. 

[00:13:12] So there you go. 

[00:13:13] Chickens are from the jungle, although they've come a long way, for better or for worse, from their roots

[00:13:22] As usual, if you are looking for their transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast, you can get that on the website, which is leonardoenglish.com.

[00:13:30] As I said at the start of the podcast, the transcript is available in new animating form, so a bit like subtitles, but even better. 

[00:13:39] So do go and check that out, that's at leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:13:43] I'm Alastair Budge and you've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English.

[00:13:49] I'll catch you in the next episode.


[00:00:03] Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English, the show where you can improve your English while learning fascinating things about the world. 

[00:00:16] Today we are talking about the chicken. 

[00:00:20] The bird that, from its humble South Asian roots, has conquered the world, at least in population terms, outnumbering humans by three to one. 

[00:00:32] Before we get right into it, let me just remind that those of you listening to this on Spotify, Google Podcasts, iVoox or wherever you may choose to get your podcasts, that you can get a copy of the transcript and key vocabulary for this podcast over on the website, which is leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:00:51] The transcript comes in PDF format for you to download, it's there on the website too, but also it now comes in animating format. 

[00:01:01] So this is a bit like subtitles, but actually way cooler because you can tap on the word and your browser should give you the definition. 

[00:01:10] And the key vocabulary is really useful because the less common words are explained. 

[00:01:16] You don't have to stop to look things up in a dictionary, and it means that you can also build up your vocabulary while listening to the podcast.

[00:01:25] So go and check that out. 

[00:01:26] It's at leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:01:30] Okay, so chickens. 

[00:01:33] Now, I obviously don't need to tell you what a chicken is. 

[00:01:37] It's the most common bird in the world, and there are about 23 billion chickens on the planet right now, and this year, 65 billion chickens will be consumed. 

[00:01:51] That is obviously a huge amount. 

[00:01:54] But let's just put it in perspective. 

[00:01:57] That means that 180 million chickens are eaten every day, seven and a half million every hour, 125,000 every minute and 2000 every second. 

[00:02:13] Whatever your views are on eating chicken, that is evidently a huge amount of chicken. 

[00:02:19] And today we are going to tell the story of how one slightly obscure bird from South Asia went from wandering around the forest floor looking for insects to being shoveled down people's throats at a rate of two every millisecond.

[00:02:41] It's a pretty interesting story, and you could also look at it as a classic example of the industrialisation of production, of how humans have shaped the world we live in to meet our needs rather than adapt our needs to what exists in the natural world.

[00:03:01] So there is a little bit of debate about where the chicken actually came from.

[00:03:07] Charles Darwin, the famous biologist and author of On The Origin of Species, he asserted, he was sure that all modern chicken had a shared ancestor, the red jungle fowl, Gallus Gallus, which lived in Southeast Asia between Northern India and the Philippines. 

[00:03:31] This bird, presumably, had a very nice day-to-day life foraging, looking for food, on the jungle floor during the day, and then flying up to the trees for the evening to avoid being eaten by predators

[00:03:46] Much like how we imagine a chicken now, it was pretty bad at flying, so getting up to the low branches of a tree was just about all it could manage. 

[00:04:01] There's still some debate between archeologists and geneticists about what other birds the Gallus Gallus bred with, but it's thought it was probably a similar bird from Southern India. 

[00:04:16] Anyway, the rise of the chicken started almost 4,000 years ago. 

[00:04:22] Remains of chicken have been discovered in the Indus Valley in modern day Pakistan, and from there it traveled up to Egypt, or rather it was transported by merchants to Egypt.

[00:04:36] And do you can imagine why it traveled so easily, why it was so easy to transport. 

[00:04:43] Obviously chickens can't really fly, so you don't have to worry about them escaping. 

[00:04:49] They are pretty adaptable to new temperatures, both hot and cold, so you don't need to constantly worry about them getting too hot or too cold.

[00:04:59] They're easy to take on a boat or on a cart. 

[00:05:03] They're easy to feed, you just need some grain

[00:05:06] They lay eggs, so they are a constant source of food. 

[00:05:11] And if you're extra hungry, well, they're pretty easy to cook as well. 

[00:05:16] So you could say that the chicken's fate as a bird that was destined to travel the world was sealed by its biology.

[00:05:27] And different civilisations welcomed the chicken in different ways. 

[00:05:33] The Egyptians became masters of artificial incubation

[00:05:38] They figured out, they found a way, to create the exact conditions that an egg needs to hatch, and they created huge egg ovens, which could hatch four and a half thousand eggs in two to three weeks.

[00:05:57] The advantage of this was, of course, that it means that the hens didn't need to sit on their eggs and they could get back to the task of laying more eggs. 

[00:06:08] From Egypt the chicken continued to spread throughout the Mediterranean and it soon became a delicacy for the Romans, who were probably the first civilisation to try to industrialise the production of chicken, keeping them in large farms and doing everything they could possibly do to fatten up the birds, to make them fatter. 

[00:06:34] It said that Roman techniques for fattening up the chickens included giving the chickens wheat soaked in wine or even feeding them lizard fat, so the fat from lizards. 

[00:06:49] After the fall of Rome, the chicken fell out of favour a little bit.

[00:06:55] As you know, it's not a particularly tough bird, and given that they no longer lived in this life of luxury in Roman farms, they didn't grow as quickly or as large. 

[00:07:09] And in the medieval times, people tended to prefer birds that were a little bit tougher, things like guinea fowl or geese. 

[00:07:21] So when did things change for the chicken?

[00:07:24] If people in the medieval era had mostly lost interest in this bird, when did things change? 

[00:07:33] Well, and I guess you could debate whether this was a positive or negative change for the fate of the chicken, things all changed when people realised that they could add antibiotics and vitamins to the food that was given to chicken, and this would mean that chickens could be raised indoors.

[00:07:55] Like any animal, chickens need certain vitamins to develop, to grow, and to process vitamin D, they need sunlight. 

[00:08:04] They need to be outside. 

[00:08:08] Chickens, naturally, in their natural habitat would spend their days wandering around looking for bits of food, not eating particularly fast. 

[00:08:18] And of course, this would mean that they wouldn't grow very quickly.

[00:08:23] Or rather they would just grow at their normal rates. 

[00:08:28] But keeping chickens inside and giving them vitamins and antibiotics now meant that they didn't need to do anything other than eat. 

[00:08:39] They could be kept in these huge farms, in very confined spaces and focus their attentions on the business of eating, the business of growing to be slaughtered.

[00:08:53] What this meant was that the price of chicken for consumers was greatly reduced, meaning that consumption levels, the levels at which chicken was eaten increased dramatically. 

[00:09:08] And whatever you might think of the actual business of chicken farming, and putting aside any kind of moral questions for one minute, it is now an incredibly efficient way if turning grain into protein

[00:09:24] It takes less than two kilos of chicken feed, of chicken grain, to produce one kilo of chicken. 

[00:09:34] And if we compare that to other animals, for pork it takes three kilos to produce one kilo of pork. 

[00:09:42] And for beef it takes seven kilos to produce one kilo. 

[00:09:47] So the chicken industry is now incredibly efficient and the price of chicken is reflective of that. 

[00:09:55] Almost anywhere in the world chicken is one of the cheapest meats available. 

[00:10:02] And its affordability has meant that it is ubiquitous, it's everywhere, and it forms a part of almost every cuisine in the world. 

[00:10:13] From a French chicken chasseur, to Chinese gong bao chicken to Caribbean jerk chicken, to the famous British roast chicken, to chicken katsu curry, there aren't many countries that don't use any chicken. 

[00:10:31] And aside from the price, the fact that chicken is so easy to raise, to grow, is a big reason for this. 

[00:10:39] But also the fact that chicken is a relatively bland, a relatively plain meat, means that cooks are free to add their own spices and sauces to it.

[00:10:51] So it can easily take on almost whatever taste the cook decides. 

[00:10:58] Indeed, the sheer scale of how much chicken is eaten is testament to just how popular it is. 

[00:11:06] If this podcast has been going on for 10 minutes now we're coming up to 1.5 million chickens having been eaten just while you've been listening.

[00:11:19] It's the sort of thing that, if human life on earth were to be wiped out tomorrow, and all historical records erased, if a new generation of archeologists arrived in a thousand years, I'm sure they would be quite puzzled by how much chicken was eaten by people all over the world. 

[00:11:41] For the ancestor of the chicken, the Gallus Gallus, the red jungle fowl, life in the jungle continues.

[00:11:49] It is free to forage, to wander around the jungle, looking for little bits of food and to retreat up to the trees when night draws in, when night comes. 

[00:12:00] But, and this is a somewhat cruel twist of fate, the population of red jungle fowl is decreasing as its habitat is gradually eroded in part due to people making way for large farms for what we now know as the chicken.

[00:12:23] As one passing thought, my parents kept chickens for a while. 

[00:12:28] We had four, I think it was, and they just had a little patch in the garden.

[00:12:35] They are actually really sweet animals, they're really friendly and would always want to come and see what you were doing, to be near you. 

[00:12:45] And they always seem to be curious about what was going on, which of course I liked a lot. 

[00:12:53] And one final point, the idea for this podcast actually came as I was walking along the street with my wife and we saw a chicken. 

[00:13:01] I pointed at it and said, 'they're from the jungle, did you know that?' 

[00:13:06] She didn't, but she said it would make an interesting idea for a podcast. 

[00:13:12] So there you go. 

[00:13:13] Chickens are from the jungle, although they've come a long way, for better or for worse, from their roots

[00:13:22] As usual, if you are looking for their transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast, you can get that on the website, which is leonardoenglish.com.

[00:13:30] As I said at the start of the podcast, the transcript is available in new animating form, so a bit like subtitles, but even better. 

[00:13:39] So do go and check that out, that's at leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:13:43] I'm Alastair Budge and you've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English.

[00:13:49] I'll catch you in the next episode.