Copyright J Hilton20120327making chop0014_edited-1

Photo courtesy of Janet Holt Hilton

I’ve been pondering other options for feeding our flocks aside from the Chop Concept and Grain Bake.  One of the concerns I’ve had was ensuring the bioavailability of certain nutrients. Feeding raw vegetables is wonderful. Raw food is food in its purest form. Un-messed with and untouched, fresh and nutritious, many people only eat a raw diet. I’ve been recommending the Chop Concept for years and it works. It’s a good way to feed your birds. But I’ve been trying to figure out other ways of introducing even more nutrition to my Greys’ diet. As I’ve been researching nutrition, one word kept rolling around in my brain: Bioavailability.  

I knew some foods are made more nutritious by heating. Sweet potatoes and yams for instance are made more nutritious by a quick bake.

However, there are foods that benefit from cooking as it makes certain vitamins and other nutrients more bioavalable. Okay. What is that? Bioavailability is the  degree and rate at which a substance is absorbed into a living system or is made available. In other words, it makes the nutrition easier to absorb as well as allowing other nutrients to be absorbed that might not be absorbed at all if it wasn’t cooked.

However, this isn’t always the case. Green cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, collards and kale contain more vitamins and minerals per calorie than any other foods. However, according to my research, combining some raw and steamed vegetables creates a synergistic effect between the two preparations.


Joel Fuhrman, MD, is a nutrition researcher, family physician and author of Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger and Disease FreeHe states that some nutrients are released when raw, but others need to be heated to be bioavailable. Myrosinase is an enzyme that is released only when the cell walls are damaged by chewing, chopping or juicing. This triggers a chemical reaction that activates the body’s own antioxidant system.
This provides a very effective protection against cancer. Unfortunately, Cooking deactivates myrosinase. On the other hand, other nutrients are released when cooked. So by combining the two methods of preparation, we can increase the nutrition in our flock’s diets by offering both.


According to one study, cooking certain vegetables causes an increase in the soluble dietary fiber content of vegetables and tubers and a decrease in insoluble fiber. Heat breaks down the walls of a plant’s cellular structure, which makes the nutrients bound to the cell wall or locked inside the cells more available for digestion. So by cooking certain vegetables, we can significantly increase some nutrition that would otherwise pass through the digestive system unabsorbed. However, this isn’t the case with all nutrition. Heat can also reduce the nutritional content of food. Yet bear in mind that there are some beneficial enzymes that are destroyed by the cooking process; for example: the enzyme myrosinase, whose activity forms sulforaphane, known to prevent cancer is found in raw broccoli, but it is destroyed by cooking it. However there are two vegetables who’s nutrition is actually increased by cooking: Carrots and Celery.

So what do we do?

Serve both raw and cooked vegetables!

Yes, offer both cooked and raw vegetables and you are covering your nutritional keesters more completely. A quick steaming is probably the most efficient way of breaking down those cellular walls to introduce added nutrition to your flock’s diet. Drizzle some nutritious oil over it, serve warm and you’ve got something going on. I recommend Flax seed, hemp seed or coconut oil to layer even more nutrition on to those vegetables.  So here’s my suggestion: If you are already making Chop, good for you!


However, in the next few weeks I’m going to be messing around with testing out a Cooked Chop that can be steamed, bagged, frozen and stored. Should this replace the Chop that you already make? Absolutely not. I’m suggesting that you prepare both. I’m not sure adding cooked vegetables to a raw Chop would be a good idea. So I am going to experiment with preparing a cooked Chop and see how it goes. Keep an eye out for a video!