“Bush legs” (Russian: ножки Буша) is a prevailing term in the post-Soviet states that denotes chicken leg quarters from the United States.
The expression first appeared in 1990 when Mikhail Gorbachev and George H. W. Bush signed a trade agreement about delivery of frozen chicken leg quarters to the USSR. In those times the USSR was experiencing food shortages and “Bush legs” enjoyed wide popularity.”
Imports of U.S. poultry to Russia and ex Soviet countries began in the early 1990s, under a trade agreement signed by the Soviet Union’s last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, and then-U.S. President George Bush Sr.
The first shipments of chicken legs arrived as a bitter economic crisis gripped the country, emptying the shelves of Soviet supermarkets and forcing the government to introduce elements of food rationing. The specter of famine combined with political instability ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Used to ill-nourished and generally unappetizing domestic poultry, Russians and other EX-Soviet countries had never before seen such huge chicken drumsticks, and were quick to dub the new product “Bush legs.” Baked, braised or boiled, “Bush legs” have since become part of the everyday diet in poorer households.
Chicken legs still remain a popular and cheap food in The Commonwealth of Independent States. A Russian joke says: “Bush family members come and go, but the legs are forever.”
As of 2009, Russia accounted for some 22% of all poultry exports from the United States, the world’s largest poultry producer and exporter. Almost four-fifths of all imported poultry on the CIS market came from the United States.
U.S. poultry shipments peaked in 2001, topping 1 billion metric tons, and began to decline as the Russian government began cutting import quotas. The figure stood at 800 million metric tons in 2008 and dropped to 750 million metric tons last year. The quota was further reduced to 600 million metric tons this year and was to reach 409 million metric tons in 2012. Furthermore, as soon as the great commodity deficit of the 1990s was over, Russian public began speculating over the possible dangers of the product, citing excessive levels of hormones, antibiotics, chlorine and other chemicals.
Howewer delivery of Bush’s legs is still continuing to Kyrgyz Republic.
The reason for this are cheap price and availability of paultry the whole year, with high rates of meat prices remain high and unaffordable to the socially vulnerable. The price of beef is around 10-12 US dollars per kilogram. It is very expensive, so people prefer “Bush legs” (chicken legs), which is three times cheaper – 3-4 US dollars per kilogram even it is not healthy…