Farmer? Action Hero? Turns out you don’t have to choose between the two – but if you’ve seen Ravi Bathe charging to the rescue in Chicken Squad, chances are it might take you a minute to recognize him as your friendly local chicken farmer (Hint: all the stars of this web series are BC chicken farmers in real life). In fact, when he’s not taking care of his farm or signing autographs, Ravi is the Chair of the BC Chicken Growers’ Association and a Director at BC Young Farmers. We asked Ravi about what chicken farming means to him, and how he wound up starring in a quirky myth-buster web series called Chicken Squad.
We Heart Local: Ravi, can you tell us a little about why you decided to become a chicken farmer?
Ravi Bathe: Well, I grew up in farming – raspberries, blueberries, and cranberries, that was the family business since 1970 – so farming is something I’ve known all my life. After university, I eventually decided that I wanted to come back to farming for my lifelong profession but I wanted to do something a little bit different – I wanted to diversify away from what the family was doing. I had a few friends growing up whose families were in the poultry business so I talked to them, did the research, went in some barns and got to see what it was like and thought this would be a good opportunity, not just for me but for my family as well.
WHL: The Chicken Squad web series you starred in (with other heroic BC chicken farmers) is hilarious! Can you tell us a little bit about why you felt like it was an important message to get out there?
RB: I’m the Chair of the BC Chicken Growers Association, and years ago myself and other chicken farmers were sitting around the table and talking about how to be a source of truth for the consumer and how to let them know what we actually do – because there are so many misconceptions.
WHL: You all look like you’re having a blast! What was it like to be part of the shoot?
RB: Oh it was a lot of fun. Especially the action scenes. But I will tell you, just like farming, filming a movie trailer is a lot of work. We were surprised how much work we put into a two and a half minute video!
WHL: Who are you hoping will see the web series?
RB: It’s directed towards a young, urbanite audience. There’s a growing gap between consumers and farmers; a hundred years ago one in three British Columbians lived on a farm, today it’s only one in fifty.
WHL: What are you hoping people will take away from it?
RB: We did a survey and found that 64% of British Columbians thought that we used hormones and steroids in our chicken feed and we need to address these misconceptions. We don’t give hormones or steroids to our chickens. In fact, they have been banned in Canadian poultry production since 1963.
WHL: How can the average consumer buy locally farmed chicken in BC?
The best way to get local chicken is to buy a fresh tray-packed or whole chicken at local stores, then you know it’s coming from a very close source.
WHL: Can you share a favourite chicken recipe with our readers?
RB: For me, in the summertime, it’s grilled chicken breasts with seasoning and a salad. I could eat that every day. For winter, my wife makes a fantastic chicken taco soup.
You can catch Ravi and other local chicken farmers in Chicken Squad, or follow him on Twitter as @chickenravi.