by Robert Mason Jr.
According to the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation (VFBF), a recent survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation indicates federally inspected broiler, or meat chicken, production and consumption have been growing for nearly a decade.
Translated to table talk, folks are eating more chicken.
“Americans eat nearly 65 pounds of boneless broiler meat per person annually—over 50% more than they ate in 1990,” the report notes. “The U.S. population has increased significantly, by 30%, during that time period, while broiler meat under federal inspection increased 124%. This year, broiler production is expected to expand another 2%.”
This is good news for Virginia farmers.
“Consumption and exports are both expected to continue to grow, along with another modest bump in production,” the report notes.
This is even better news for Virginia farmers.
“However, a global or even a U.S. recession could put the supply and demand numbers out of whack enough to curb production. On the supply side, a disease outbreak could alter the current trend, but for now cost of production measures are low and consumers continue to eat more chicken.”
Broiler chickens are Virginia’s top agricultural commodity in terms of farm cash receipts, reports the VFBF. The most recent U.S. Census of Agriculture found broilers and other meat-type chickens being raised on 966 Virginia farms. Updated statistics from the 2017 census will be available in early 2019.
Meanwhile, continued steady growth in consumer demand for chicken “is critical to Virginia’s economy even though the broiler industry is very mature here in the state,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for VFBF.
“The demand keeps broiler placements at high levels, which not only benefits poultry growers and processors, but also benefits corn and soybean farmers that produce the ingredients for poultry diets,” said Banks.
This is more good news for Virginia farmers.
The most recent U.S. Census of Agriculture posted Virginia broiler and related receipts at $918 million and ranked the Commonwealth’s chicken production 10th nationwide.
Meanwhile, the National Chicken Council forecast for 2018 projects per capita consumption of beef at 57.9 pounds, pork at 50.9 pounds and boilers at a whopping 91.3 pounds.
Any discussion of chicken consumption would be incomplete without a basket of fried chicken. All this cluckin’ leads to comparison, begging the question: Where is the best fried chicken found around these parts?
Unofficial survey results, in no particular order, would include:
• A skillet near you.
• Lee’s Restaurant in Kilmarnock for a down home meal, leg, wing and breast with two sides at a reasonable price.
• Pilot House Restaurant in Topping on Thursday nights for an all-you-can-eat chicken feast cheap.
• Bon Secours Rappahannock General Hospital Cafe in Kilmarnock for a quick chicken meal, eat-in or carry-out, on select weekdays and weekends.
• Tri-Star Supermarket in Kilmarnock for on-the-go by the piece, or bulk. Call ahead to feed an army.
However, for many here, there will never be another chicken sandwich as good as Crosby’s. Who can forget bellying up to the counter at Crosby’s Snack Bar and Mr. Crosby’s smile, commentary and blessings, as he served up a fried chicken breast sandwich?
You knew it was real—a fried whole quarter breast and wing section, bones and all, between two slices of white bread to soak up the grease.
Whether you pulled the meat and built a sandwich with a dab of butter or a dollop of mayonnaise, or you picked the chicken from the bone, dipped the pieces in Mr. Crosby’s special sauce and chased it with the bread—it was something to cluck about.
Elevern “William” Crosby Sr. opened Crosby’s Snack Bar on Route 3 between Kilmarnock and White Stone in the early 1950s and operated it for the better part of the latter 20th century. Family members continued to operate the snack bar into the early part of the 21st century.
During this time frame, chicken consumption, which trailed that of beef in the 1950s, continued to increase.
Mr. Crosby, 88, died November 16, 2005, some six years before chicken overtook beef as the most popular meat of choice in America—no doubt in part, thanks to Crosby’s Snack bar, at least around these parts.